Radio Stays on With Ignition Off? Find Out How to Fix It!


Welcome to the Ultimate Guide on How to Fix a Car Radio That Stays On With Ignition Off!

Have you come across some unpleasant upshots because your car radio won’t turn off? Can’t seem to do anything about it? Do not worry, you are not alone.


Car radios don’t use up a great deal of energy. However, they can eat up your car battery quickly. Your battery can also run out in a matter of hours if it’s worn out.

Now you might be wondering what causes a car radio to keep functioning with the ignition off. Luckily, I have discovered common reasons behind a non-stop working car radio.

Radio Stays on With Ignition Off?

If your car radio stays on when car is off, it may be due to incorrect head unit wiring. But, how do you rectify the faulty head unit wiring? After much thought and experimentation with my car, I’ve chosen to use the positive outcomes to aid others in need. In this guide, I will disclose some possible reasons behind a faulty car radio and how to correct it.

Show it to me already!

Why Does Radio Stay on When Car Is Off?

Other than the incorrect head unit wiring, there can be a lot of reasons for faulty car radios. There are many instances in which your car radio refuses to turn off. One example is when you open your car door or attempt to turn the ignition switch on.

Let’s find out potential reasons why the radio stays on when the car is off and the door is open.

  • Wrong Head Unit Wiring

If you have an aftermarket head unit and installed it yourself, it may be due to the wrong wiring. It may be easy to install an ordinary or aftermarket radio. However, you must know which wire is specifically related to the radio function.

Car radios come with one ground wire along with two power wires. They work in a way that one power wire remains blazing while the other gets hot only when the ignition switch goes into the accessory position.

You might have gotten the power wire connected in the wrong place. Thus your car radio keeps blaring without stopping. For instance, the radio will keep blaring if you have fixed the power wire in the ever-hot power supply.

  • Malfunctioning Door Switch

A faulty door switch can cause your radio to turn off if you open the door. It happens because this switch disengages the radio signal. This is why you find your car radio turned on when you open your car door. 

  • Damaged Ignition Switch

A damaged ignition switch can also support the constantly blaring car radio. In most cases, the ignition switch malfunctions and delivers the remaining accessory power if the key is missing. In reality, your car radio should turn off when the ignition turns on and must only turn on when the ignition goes into the off position.

  • Radio Shut-Off Delay

Many cars’ radios have a feature called “shut off delay.” This feature makes the car radio switch off for a few seconds or minutes after you turn off the car. Generally, the delay time is between 30 seconds and 5 minutes.

  • Worn Out Key and Ignition Cylinder

The ignition cylinder is the power tool that supplies energy to different parts of your car. A worn-out ignition cylinder won’t be able to share power with the sensor. Due to this, the car radio does not shut off since it didn’t receive a signal from the sensor. If the key or ignition cylinder is weary, you can take out the key when the switch stays in on or accessory position.

How to Turn off Radio When Car Is Off

  • Look Over Head Unit Wiring

Your car radio can remain on even after you switch the ignition off. Therefore you need to examine your head unit wiring, especially if the issue has occurred since the first installation. See if the memory wire (yellow) and trigger wire (red) are in the correct power sources.

Other than that, you should also look out for any corrosion or damage to the wiring. The damaged wire may also cause the radio to stay turned on.

  • Examine the Ignition Switch

Assess if your car’s ignition switch is functioning correctly. To test the ignition switch, turn on your car once and then turn it off. If you find two power wires hot and fail to locate any power supply that heats up only when the ignition turns on, you can tell the ignition switch is the culprit.

You will need to change the ignition switch. You can easily switch the ignition switch if your car is an old model. However, if it’s a new model, you may need help from a professional.

  • Inspect the Key and Ignition Cylinder

The issue remains with the mechanical ignition cylinder rather than the electrical switch. In case of a worn-out cylinder, you can turn the key while the switch is in the accessory position. Ensure that the ignition switch is off when you take out the key. Ultimately, switching a worn-out cylinder with a new one will help you correct your car radio. You may need to reach out to a mechanic and spend around $400 to replace the cylinder.

  • Confirm if Car Radio Is on Shut Off Delay

A built-in feature of your car radio may allow it to stay on for a specific time. Many car radio models develop unique features that stop them from turning off, especially when you want to switch them off.

Switch off the ignition, take out the key and close the car door. Hang on for a few minutes and check if the radio turns off. If you find it still on, see if the dome lights switch off when you close the doors. If the dome lights stay on, ask for help from a professional mechanic.

Wiring of a Car Radio

To understand the wiring diagram of a car radio, you will need to take out the head unit. Once you uncover the radio, you will encounter many different colored wires. So what wire contributes to which function? Here, I have mentioned each colored wire and its functions to help you correct your faulty car radio.

  • Yellow Wire

This wire is known as a constant wire. It directly connects to the car battery and supplies power to the car radio. Furthermore, it works as a memory backup.

  • Blue Wire

The blue-colored wire is a remote power antenna wire. This wire tends to give 12 volts of power to the radio and activate the power antenna along with its amplifier.

  • Red Wire

The red wire is also known as the accessory power wire.  It turns on with the car engine. Moreover, this wire causes the radio to switch on.

  • Orange Wire

The wire is called the illumination wire. In other instances, you may call it a dimmer wire. You may see both black and orange wires categorized as dimmer wires. Generally, both of these wires have the same purpose, but the dimmer (orange or black) will stay within 0V and 12V.

  • Black Wire

The wire is known as the car stereo’s ground wire.

  • Grey Wire

These are the last set of wires that operate for the front speaker channels. Grey is the positive wire, and black is the negative one.

  • Green Wire

In the set of green wires, you will see half of them entirely green and another half will be lined with black color. These are the wires working for the back left speaker leads.

  • Purple Wire

Similar to the set of green wires, purple wires do the same. However, they collaborate with the back right speaker leads.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is my radio on when my car is off?

If your radio keeps playing when you switch off your ignition, it may be due to the wrong wiring of the receiver. It usually happens when you install the radio by yourself.

Will the car radio consume the car battery while the engine is off?

Yes, the car radio will consume the car battery if it stays on for a long time. Especially if you have an aftermarket radio, it will devour a lot of battery. However, if you have purchased an OEM factory radio, there is minimum to no chance of a dead battery.


With the presentation of the wiring system of a car radio, I hope you figure out how to correct your continually playing radio. By going through this guide, you can assess the actual issue of your car stereo and try to resolve it yourself. However, if you fail to rectify the radio by yourself, you can take help from a professional.

Last Updated on October 11, 2023 by Brian Beasley

Written by Danny Reid

Hey, I'm Danny, and I know how hard it can be to find the perfect audio gear. Need a new stereo, amp, speakers, or subs? Don't worry – my blog is here to help you cut through the noise! My mission is to give you the best reviews, so you can make the right decision for your audio needs. And if you ever get stuck thinking, "Where does this blue wire go?" don't worry – I've got tons of cool tips to help you out of any jam. So come along with me on this fun, sound-filled adventure, and let's find the perfect audio setup to make your tunes really sing!