5 Causes of Subaru Radio Not Working

A common issue that Subaru owners might face is their radio not working. This can be frustrating, especially when you rely on your car’s entertainment system during long drives or daily commutes. There can be several reasons for this problem, so let’s dive into them.

Understanding the underlying causes of your Subaru radio’s unresponsiveness is important for finding the right solution more efficiently. It is always a good idea to gather as much information as possible before taking any action. In the following paragraphs, you’ll learn more about some common reasons and potential fixes for your Subaru radio issues.

By identifying the root cause and implementing the necessary steps, you can restore your radio’s functionality and enjoy your favorite tunes once again. Don’t worry, we’re here to help guide you through this process with some friendly advice, so you can get back to enjoying your drive with a fully functioning radio in no time.

Common Radio Issues in Subaru

No Power to Radio

When your Subaru radio doesn’t power on, it could be due to a blown fuse. You can locate the fuse box underneath the passenger seat and find the exact fuse for the radio in your Subaru using the owner’s manual. If the fuse is blown, replace it, but be aware that fuses don’t usually fail randomly, so there might be an underlying cause. Also, some Subaru models have two fuses for the radio, which must be inserted in the correct order for the radio’s microprocessor to function correctly.

No Sound Output

Loss of sound or poor audio quality is a common issue with Subaru radios. Faulty wiring or damaged connections can cause inconsistent audio output or even complete silence. If you notice no sound or poor-quality sound, first check the mute function. Inspect the unit’s connections and inspect for any loose or worn cables that could be interrupting the signal.

Poor Reception

Radio signal reception might be diminished if your car’s antenna is damaged or disconnected. This can affect both AM and FM frequencies. Ensure the antenna is properly connected to the head unit, and if the problem persists, consider replacing it.

Android Auto Glitches

If you have Android Auto integrated into your Subaru’s head unit, you might occasionally experience glitches. Common issues include connectivity problems, poor voice command understanding, or navigation routing issues. To resolve these, ensure you have the latest Android Auto software installed, and try using a higher-quality USB cable for your phone connection.

CD and Media Playback Issues

The CD player or media playback functions in your Subaru radio can also encounter problems, such as skipping, stuttering, or complete failure to read a CD or media file. In such cases, clean your CD player’s lens and ensure your CDs or media files are free of scratches or other damage. Also, check for any firmware updates to the head unit, as these can improve compatibility with different media formats.

What Could Be Wrong

Faulty Wiring or Short Circuit

Faulty wiring or a short circuit in your Subaru’s electrical system can cause your radio to malfunction. Damaged wiring can lead to problems like loss of power or sound, or the radio turning on and off intermittently. Inspect your car’s wiring for any signs of wear, corrosion, or damage and repair or replace as necessary.

Overheating Head Unit

Your Subaru radio’s head unit could overheat if it’s not getting proper ventilation or if its cooling system is compromised. An overheating head unit can stop working, display errors, or shut down to prevent further damage. Ensure your head unit is properly ventilated, clean any debris blocking vents, and check for any malfunctioning cooling components.

Blown Fuses and Speakers

Blown fuses are a common issue that can cause your Subaru radio to stop working. Locate your car’s fuse box, usually found underneath the passenger seat, and refer to your owner’s manual to identify the specific fuses responsible for your radio. Replace any blown fuses to restore radio functionality.

Similarly, blown speakers can result in poor sound quality or no sound at all. Inspect your car’s speakers for any signs of damage or wear and replace them if needed.

Water Damage

Water damage can occur in your Subaru’s radio from driving through deep puddles or in case of a flood. This might cause the radio to stop working altogether, garble the playback, or affect signal reception. Assess the extent of damage and determine if the radio can be repaired or if it needs to be replaced.

Software and Firmware Issues

Sometimes, software bugs or firmware issues may lead to your Subaru radio not functioning properly. These can include glitches, freezes, or unresponsiveness. Check if there are any updates available for your radio’s software and follow the instructions to update accordingly. Doing so can resolve many common problems and improve radio performance.

How to Troubleshoot Subaru Radio

Soft and Hard Reset

When you encounter a Subaru radio issue, it’s essential to start with a soft reset. A soft reset involves turning off the car, removing the key, and waiting for approximately 15-20 seconds. Then, you can start the car again to check if the radio is working.

If the soft reset doesn’t solve the problem, it’s time to try a factory reset. To perform a factory reset, turn on the display, navigate to “Settings” from the home screen, go to the “General” tab and scroll down to find the “Factory Data Reset” option. Be aware that a factory reset will erase your radio settings and you might need to reconfigure them afterward.

Checking Fuses and Cables

Another possible issue causing your Subaru radio not to work is a faulty fuse or disconnected wires. Begin by locating the fuse box, typically found under the passenger seat. Consult your owner’s manual or the label on the fuse box to identify the specific fuse responsible for the radio.

Changing the Subaru radio fuse may solve your problem but keep in mind that fuses don’t usually fail randomly; there might be an underlying problem. Wires connecting the radio to the car’s electrical system might have come loose. Check these wires and, if needed, reconnect them to their proper connectors.

Inspecting the Speakers

Lastly, a possible cause for the radio not working might be your speakers or auxiliary cable. If you can play audio from a different source, such as a CD, streaming music, or satellite radio, but terrestrial stations don’t come in, it might be an issue with your antenna. In this case, you can consult a professional or your dealer to inspect and replace the antenna if needed.

On the other hand, if none of the audio sources work, there could be a problem with your speakers or auxiliary cable. In such a scenario, inspect the speakers for any visible damage and test with a different auxiliary cable to rule out its malfunction.


In conclusion, if you encounter a Subaru radio not working issue, it’s important to first check the fuse as it may need replacement. If the issue still persists, try to reset the radio by pressing and holding the volume knob to restart the head unit and regain functionality.

Following these steps should help you resolve most radio issues in your Subaru vehicle. If the problem still continues, it’s best to consult a professional technician or visit your local Subaru dealership for further assistance. By addressing these issues promptly, you can ensure a more enjoyable and safe driving experience.

  • Eric Williams

    I'm the founder of Daily Car Tips. I wrote articles in the automotive industry for more than 10 years, published in USA and Europe. I love sharing my knowledge and insights with fellow enthusiasts. Join me on this journey as we explore the exciting world of cars together!

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