Amplifier Protection Mode Troubleshooting

One of the more confusing car stereo problems can be when an amplifier goes into protection mode. One minute it's working and the next minute it's not, usually with the green power LED on the amp turning to red or orange. Here's a brief troubleshooting method that will hopefully help you if your amplifiers ever go into protection.

1. Try to determine the cause. Amplifiers can go into protection mode for several reasons. Knowing what happened before it quit working can help determine how to fix it. Did the amp malfunction as soon as it was turned on? Did it happen after blasting for hours (may be thermal overload and it needs to cool)? Did it cut out after you hit a bump (a wire connection may have come loose)?

2. Tear it down. Get the amp down to it's most basic state. Remove all of the speaker wiring and RCA wiring and leave only the power, ground and remote leads connected. If you still have a problem in this state then either your amp is defective or you may have an installation problem such as the amplifier touching metal.

Remember that an amplifier should only be connected to the vehicle through the power and ground terminals. Mounting the amplifier to the metal of the vehicle, including putting the mounting screws into metal, can cause problems for your amplifier. Always mount the amplifier to a non-conductive surface. An easy way to accomplish this is to mount the amplifier to a wood board and then mount the board to the vehicle. Don't let the amp touch the screws used to moun the wood board and don't use screws so long to mount the amp that they go through the board and touch the vehicle.

3. If the amp is OK in this torn down state start reconnecting wires until you find what causes the problem. Add the RCA cables first. Then add the speaker wires one at a time. If the speaker wires cause the problem then they are probably touching metal. Check to make sure that a speaker wire isn't being pinched somewhere between the amp and the speaker. Also check that the speaker wire or speaker terminals aren't touching the vehicle metal near the speaker opening. Rear decks and door panels can easily touch unprotected speaker terminals if not properly installed.

If you believe your amplifier is defective contact the manufacturer first. Many have flat repair rates that are very affordable and cover parts and labor as well as return shipping. However local repair shops may be cheaper if it is just a small repair. Compare the manufacturer's repair rate to that of a local shop. If you don't know the reputation of the local shop it may be better to send it to the manufacturer who will have working knowledge of the amp and parts readily available.


You may also be interested in How to Install Your Own Car Stereo System . It covers many topics including in depth car audio amplifier installation and wiring. Click here.


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