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Car Radio keeps Changing Stations by Itself

Out of all major car audio components, the car radio is arguably the least error-prone.

But at the same time, like any other electronic device, it have certain issues for which you’ll have to be well-prepared.

One of such issues is that car radio changing stations by itself.

Many people have reported that sometimes when they’re listening to the in-vehicle radio, the head unit randomly starts to change the stations on its own.

As if it’s possessed by some supernatural being.

Why Car Radio keeps Changing Stations by Itself

Fortunately, the reason behind this is not what they believe and you certainly don’t need a priest to solve this issue, haha.

Mostly it’s due to faulty radio buttons, loose wiring, or poor grounding.

1. Faulty Radio Buttons

If you have an old car stereo, then this constant changing of radio stations can be simply due to worn out buttons.

Like most other components, buttons on a car radio come with a limited lifespan. After which, they either tend to get unresponsive or get sticky from inside. In the latter case, they will perform any operation multiple times even if you’re pressing them just once.

In some rare circumstances, it can also happen if you accidentally spill some liquid over them. This is especially true for factory car stereos where vehicle manufacturers usually go cheap on build material.

So, if you’re buttons are messing around due to wear and tear, then you should consider replacing them. On the flip side, if you’ve recently spilled some liquid over your car stereo, you should take it out of your vehicle and use an air dryer to remove the liquid.

2. Car Stereo Settings

Some car radios automatically search for new stations if the frequency changes, which makes you believe that something’s wrong with it. That’s why go through the owner manual of your car radio to see if you have any such settings.

And if there is one, turn it off to see if anything changes.

3. Faulty Steering Wheel Audio Controls

Unless your vehicle is pretty old, there’s a good chance that its steering wheel will have different buttons for controlling different systems of the vehicle, including the audio.

While these controls are quite handy and allow you to operate the car radio with only the thumb, they can stop working or start misbehaving over time – due to various reasons. And since you’re not touching anything, you’ll believe that the car radio is working on its own.

Therefore, go to a professional mechanic and let ’em examine the steering wheel buttons to make sure they’re not the culprit.

4. Electromagnetic Interference

Most of the time, a car radio changing stations by itself can be due to interference. This interference can occur due to various reasons, such as:

Loose Wiring

Closely inspect the wiring of the car stereo and make sure that none of the wiring/connectors is loose.


After this, check the ground connection of the car stereo. Make sure that the ground connection is secured and is touching the bare metal surface (no paint).


At last, you should check the humidity level around the wiring as it can cause the wires to short-circuit. The short-circuit, subsequently, results in the car radio performing random functions on its own.

5. Software Bug

In case you’ve recently updated the firmware of your car stereo, then the main issue can be a software bug. Although it’s quite rare, you cannot rule out the possibility.

To solve it, you’ll need to reset your car stereo. Below are the dedicated step-by-step tutorials for resetting different car radios.

  1. How to Reset JVC Car Radios
  2. How to Reset Kenwood Car Radios
  3. How to Reset Pioneer Car Radios

6. Old Car Stereo

In case you’ve tried all of the steps but the problem is still not solved, then the problem is with your car stereo itself. Maybe it’s so old that the main board is now damaged.

In such as situation, you can consider replacing it with a new car stereo. The good thing is that car stereo comes in a variety of sizes and prices these days. If you have a tight budget and don’t want to spend more than 150 bucks, you should go for a simple single din car stereo like the Pioneer SPH-10BT.

On the other hand, if you want extra features and have more budget to spare, a touchscreen-based stereo would be a better option.

Michael Brown is the founder of, a website that provides car audio installation guides and tips. A self-taught car audio enthusiast, Michael has been installing and modifying car stereo systems for over 15 years.

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