Why Do Car Amplifiers Get Hot And Shut Down? How To Keep Your Car Amplifier Cool

Why Do Car Amplifiers Get Hot And Shut Down? How To Keep Your Car Amplifier Cool

Why is my amplifier heating up and turning off? What are the issues when an amplifier gets too hot? These are common questions many car owners ask themselves.

An amplifier can heat up and shut down for several reasons. Four of the most prevailing are: blown/grounded speakers, poor power and/or ground connections, low impedance (load), or too high Gain / Punch Bass control settings.


Short-circuited speakers

One of the reasons Why car amplifiers get hot is due to shorted speakers.  If you have a shorted or grounded speaker to the vehicle chassis, the amplifier will continue to try to supply power to it. When it does, it “sees” a state that causes it to heat up quickly and eventually shut down. The problem can go unnoticed long before the amplifier completely shuts down to protect itself if you are using amps that can play into a direct short for a long period.

Insufficient ground/power

If your ground or power cables are too small for the amp you are using, a shutdown can also occur because the amplifier is not receiving the power it needs to provide the performance you want. Use at least 8-gauge of power and ground cable to power any amplifier you use. Your ground wire should be less than 18 inches, the same size as the power cord, and screw directly into a sturdy, thick steel section of the chassis that has been scraped off of any paint or primer for the best grounding. Your positive power should connect directly to the vehicle’s battery with a good quality battery adapter and be fused within 18 inches of the battery itself. The correct installation of your power cables will generally improve the performance of your amplifier.


Low impedance

If you are using a subwoofer (or a combination of woofers) that delivers less load than the amplifier manufacturer recommended, the amplifier may turn off for protection. Most often, two 4-ohm woofers connected in parallel for a 2-ohm load, and then the amplifier is bridged with this load. However, the amplifier is designed for 4 ohms and not for 2 ohms. The amplifier then “sees” or detects a low impedance and tries to follow it, but heats up because of the extra power it is trying to get. When it gets too hot, turn it off for protection.

Bass & Gain amplification

The most obvious thing to do is to check the Gain and Punch Bass settings. The gain adjustment (or control) is a level control that regulates the amplifier to work with the electronic components used before the amplifier.

Essentially, you tell the amp how much signal you’re putting into it by dialing-in the gain control so that the amp faithfully reproduces the signal. If you set the gain too high, the amplifier will immediately make full power, and you will have distortion and clipping problems. (The same thing goes for the Punch Bass control.)

If you set the gain too low, the amp will make full power, but may not sound as loud and clear as it should. You may think you are getting much volume. If you are not sure of how to properly configure your amp or punch bass controls on your amplifier, we recommend that you contact your local mechanic for help.

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