Why Does My Amp Cut Out When I Turn the Volume up

There are some things that should never malfunction. Your music system is one of those things. And it’s particularly true for whatever system you have in your car. There is almost nothing worse like being on the road and not having access to the speakers that you paid for.

But more often than not, when you are playing music at those high volumes, you notice that the amp in your car cuts out. There are quite a few reasons for this. We will tell you all about the problems and their possible solutions in this post.

Amp Shuts off after Certain Volume

One of the most common occurrences of amp getting cut off is when the volume is high. Typically, this happens because something is wrong with the amplifier or you have messed up the settings.

But before you get into that, you might also want to make sure that your speakers are actually capable of handling the volume you are at. It is not uncommon for some of them to get overpowered because of the discrepancies in the settings.

Overpowered System

In this context, overpowered usually means that the amp has an RMS rating that is higher than what the speakers connected to it are equipped to handle. So now, you must check and see if your car’s batteries are in good shape.

Then you must look into the wiring of the source of your audio and check if it is charged properly. If that’s a yes then you must look into the power of your amplifiers and make sure that they match the power of the speakers.

So for instance, if you have an amp with an RMS rating that is 100 watts, you need four speakers with 25 watts (RMS) each. They must be connected in a parallel circuit which brings their overall rating to 100 watts to match the amplifier.

Time to Check the Wiring

Now, if you’ve checked that already and are still wondering, why does my amp cut out when I turn the volume up, here is a possible answer. You can start by looking into your amplifier’s protection circuit. Most modern systems come with these to make sure that the amp doesn’t get damaged when you take it beyond its capacity.

When it is not that, you must check your amp’s wiring. Sometimes, channels 4 or 5 are not connected properly to the speaker.

If you have an amp with four channels, you might have to check the speakers. You must start looking into the source of the audio and the amplifier settings too. If you have an amp with five channels, you have four speakers and one subwoofer. For this model, your speakers will get cut off when the volume is high because the grounding or the connection to the speaker is bad.

You can fix this problem by replacing the stock wiring. Instead, get thick 0-gauge wires made of copper. This allows the electrical system of the car to pass more current through the circuit. What you essentially do when you go for this option is, you replace three of the main wires of the system.

First is the wire that connects the positive terminal of the car battery to the car’s alternator. Second is the wire that connects the negative terminal of the battery to the car’s shock tower bolt. Third is the wire connecting the battery’s negative terminal to the car engine.

It’s a Voltage Problem

Another answer to the question, ‘why does my amp cut out at high volume?’ is that there is a problem with the power. Your amp draws current from your car’s electrical circuits. So, if you notice the amp cutting in and out it might be because the voltage has dropped to a dangerously low level.

To solve this problem, you must get a power capacitor or a power cap and connect it to the audio system in the car. This will store charge from the car and use it when needed like when your amp gets very hungry.

Once you do this, you will also notice that your headlights will no longer go dim momentarily when the bass starts to do its thing because the power cap reduces the burden on your car’s circuits. And you can rest assured that the voltage drop is also being taken care of in the same breath.

You can also get a battery that can take more stress from the audio sources. For this purpose, 12-volt deep cycle batteries are recommended because they are designed with these needs in mind.

Deep-cycle batteries also contain metal plates that can handle fixed currents for a long time when compared to your standard factory made car batteries. A standard battery is only meant to tackle your regular electrical items like headlights, fog lights, electric windows and mirrors. Anything that is extra will require some outside help.

Now, instead of replacing the battery, you can add a second battery, a deep cycle model, to make sure the voltage doesn’t drop when the volume is high. But remember that this is more expensive than adding a power capacitor. But once you do, the alternator does not feel as much pressure when the bass gets to business.

Managing the Gain

Another possible answer to the question—‘why does my amp shut off when I turn up the volume?’ is that the gain needs to be managed. Every car has a shock alternator that can manage a small audio system. The word small here can be defined as 500 watts RMS. Some might even go higher than that but it depends on what kind of a car it is. So, check yours.

However, you might want to replace it with an alternator that delivers a higher output if you want to go for more than 1,000 to 2,000 watts RMS. The alternator with higher capacity will make sure that the amp does not shut off when it gets hungry which happens at higher volumes.

The alternator is a part of the electrical system of the car. It is in the engine bay and makes sure that the car battery is charging while you drive.

Car Audio – What Would Cause an Amp to Cut Out?

If you have a subwoofer, there is an added component to your problems. It’s possible that the sub is old and got overheated. But it’s not just a matter of age. Several other factors like bad quality, poor grounding, no air flow, audio clipping and bad settings can cause thermal overload.

This is when your amp enters protection mode to make sure that it doesn’t get blown. Typically, not getting enough air is the cause of overheating. In that case, you must check its mounting and ensure that it is not delivering more than it can. But you must also check the other components to make sure that the entire system is safe.

Your subwoofer is at fault if there is a wiring or an electrical problem with its circuit and connections. You might also encounter overheating on a hot day when the air conditioner is put to work.

And since a lot of subs come with amplifiers that are in the trunk or under the seat, you have a problem. These are places where the air conditioning cannot reach and you might not even have to wait till the volume is turned up.

The organic solutions here are to make sure the equipment is moved to a place with ventilation like at the back of the back seats. You might also want to try cleaning up the trunk for better airflow. But one of the most effective solutions is to get an enclosure box for the sub. A cooling fan is also not a bad idea.


Q: How to Stop the Amp from Clipping?

A: Clipping often leads to distortion. This means you need an amp with more power. But before you get a new one, you must adjust the gain of the current amp and see if it works out.

Q: How to Fix My Amp in Protection Mode?

A: This is actually not advised because it is done to keep your system safe. However, if you have taken measures to that effect, you can unplug it from the unit and turn it on. If it works, the head unit is the problem and if not, you must check the power with a multimeter. When the car is on, it should be 12v. Otherwise it should be 11v.

The Bottom Line

Now, there are many answers to the question—‘Why does my amp keep cutting out? If you were looking for a quick checklist,here’s 9 ready-made reasons.

  • Amp is in protect mode
  • Bad ground
  • Amp overload
  • Amp clipping
  • Amp overheating
  • It’s drawing too much current causing voltage problems
  • Gain settings are wrong
  • Something is wrong with the wiring (check for shorts)
  • Subwoofer is blown

Start by eliminating each one of these to get to the root of the problem.

Last Updated on November 11, 2021 by Danny Reid