Subaru Outback Radio Not Working – Causes & Fixes

The Subaru Outback is well-known for its dependability and capability on the road due to its rugged durability and adaptability. However, even the most dependable vehicles can develop problems now and then. For some Outback owners, the most infuriating of these problems is a malfunctioning radio.

The 5 most common causes for a malfunctioning Subaru Outback radio are as follows:

  • Disconnected wires
  • Fuse issues
  • Physical damage
  • Water damage
  • Faulty amplifier
  • Outdated software
  • Antenna problems

Of course, pinpointing the problem behind a faulty radio is only half the battle. For the remainder of this guide, I will focus on how to resolve the problems listed above.

Subaru Outback Radio Not Working—Causes and Solutions

Let’s dive deeper into the causes of why your Subaru Outback radio isn’t working correctly and what you can do to fix the problem.

Please note that the following are merely general outlines and that the specifics may vary depending on the model year of your Outback, as well as the severity of the problem or damage. If you’re uncomfortable trying to DIY the problem to nonexistence, I suggest reaching out to a professional mechanic.

1. Disconnected wires

A radio may stop working if the wires that connect it to the car’s electrical system have come loose. Sometimes the radio will power on, but there will be no audio output.

  1. Find the wires that have come loose from their connectors and reconnect them to fix the issue. The radio must be removed from the dashboard so that the wiring behind it can be accessed.
  2. Read the user manual to figure out how to detach the radio from the dashboard.
  3. Remove the radio from the dashboard by undoing the screws and slowing pulling the unit out.
  4. Check for disconnected or damaged wires.
  5. Fasten the disconnected wire harnesses to their original position.
  6. Check the amplifier and speaker wires to ensure they are secured in place.
  7. Reinstall the radio into the dashboard and test it out.

In extreme cases, you may need to solder wires back in place. Unless you know what you’re doing, you should get the radio checked out by a professional mechanic.

2. Fuse issues

Fuse issues

Blown fuses are a common problem that can be brought on by a variety of issues, such as a short circuit or an electrical surge. If the radio suddenly stops working, check for a blown fuse and replace it with a new one. In most cases, you’ll only need a couple of tools to accomplish this task.

  1. Inspect the fuse, which is located underneath the steering wheel or inside the engine bay.
  2. If the fuse is inside the engine bay, use an open-end wrench to open it up.
  3. Locate the fuse and disconnect it.
  4. Replace the fuse with an appropriate fuse of the same amperage rating.
  5. Test the radio to see if it works.

3. Water damage

During a flood or driving through a large puddle, your Outback’s radio may stop working. The radio may not pick up any signals or play them back garbled even if it turns on, or the radio may fail altogether.

The first step in fixing this issue is determining if the radio can be fixed or replaced. Depending on the damage, drying the radio and replacing the broken parts may fix it. If the radio is severely damaged, replacing it may be cheaper.

  1. Disconnect the radio from the dashboard.
  2. Inspect the radio for interior and exterior damage.
  3. Try drying the radio for 48 hours by placing it in a dry room.
  4. Try reinstalling the radio to see whether it works or not.
  5. If the radio still doesn’t work, you may need to replace it entirely.

4. Faulty amplifier

The radio’s audio signal can be boosted by using an amplifier, which allows for louder playback through the speakers. If the amplifier is broken, the radio will either make distorted noises or make no noises at all.

  1. Look for the amplifier, which should be underneath the dashboard or in the trunk area. Consult the owner’s manual for the precise location of the amplifier.
  2. Turn the vehicle on and, using a multimeter, check the voltage of the amplifier. If it has a reading of between 11 and 14 volts, the amplifier is working correctly. If it’s lower than 11 volts or doesn’t register a reading, the amplifier needs to be replaced.
  3. Replace the amplifier with a new one with an identical amperage rating.

5. Outdated software

Subaru Outback radios can have issues with outdated software. Radios can break if their software is outdated. Outdated software can also make the radio’s interface difficult to use.

Update the radio software to fix this. You can download the radio’s latest software update by doing the following:

  1. Turn the vehicle on.
  2. Turn on the infotainment system.
  3. Go to the Settings menu.
  4. Go to the General menu.
  5. Tap Check for Updates.
  6. Tap the Download Now button if there is an update available.

6. Antenna problems

Antenna problems

Antenna problems can cause a variety of issues for the radio in a Subaru Outback. If the antenna is damaged or not functioning properly, it can affect the radio’s ability to receive a strong, clear signal. This can result in poor or no reception or in the radio being unable to tune in to certain stations.

  1. Inspect the antenna for physical damage. The antenna should be located on the roof of the vehicle.
  2. If the antenna is damaged, replace it with a new one.
  3. If the antenna doesn’t appear to be damaged, test the sound system out by playing MP3s via Bluetooth or an AUX cable. If that works but the radio still cannot pick up radio signals, the antenna will need to be replaced.

7. Physical damage

Depending on the severity, Subaru Outback radio damage can cause a variety of issues. Dropping or bumping the radio could damage internal components, causing it to stop working.

To fix this, assess the damage and decide if the radio can be repaired or replaced. Replacing damaged components may fix the radio if the damage is minor. In severe cases, replacing the radio may be cheaper.

  1. Visually inspect the radio for any visible signs of damage.
  2. Test the radio to see if it is functioning properly.
  3. If the radio is not functioning properly, remove it from the dashboard and open it up to assess the internal components.
  4. Determine whether the damage is minor and can be repaired or if the radio needs to be replaced.
  5. If the radio can be repaired, replace any damaged components as needed.
  6. If the radio needs to be replaced, purchase a new one and install it according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

How to troubleshoot a broken radio in a Subaru Outback?

Turn the vehicle on and try tuning the radio to different stations. If the radio doesn’t produce any sound, some of the wires may have been disconnected, the fuse may be blown, the software may be out of date, or the radio may be physically damaged. If it produces garbled noises, the radio may have faulty amplifier or antenna issues.

Again, if you’re unsure how to proceed to diagnose or to fix the problem, you should take your Subaru to a professional mechanic or, ideally, a licensed Subaru mechanic or dealer.

Can you get an aftermarket radio for a Subaru Outback?

The radio in your Subaru Outback can be swapped out for a newer model. You’ll need to check the wiring and mounting hardware, as well as make sure the aftermarket radio is compatible with your vehicle. In addition, some manufacturers’ warranties may be voided if you choose to upgrade your car’s radio.