Blaring your favorite tunes in the summertime with the windows rolled down can come at a cost. Sooner or later, even the best speakers from the best audio systems can blow out over time. Loud and lots of heavy bass music is notorious for blowing out speakers.
If you notice that the quality of your sound is a bit off, you may have a blown or partially blown car speaker. A blown speaker is a common term that most people use to describe a speaker that is not working properly, whether its sound quality has worsened, or that it doesn’t produce any sound at all.
Sometimes, fixing a blown car speaker will be relatively affordable, but it is more likely that you will be needing a new pair of speakers if the ones in your car are completely torn apart.
Before your car speaker completely stops working, there should be several indicators that it will or may blow out soon. The two most obvious being audible rattling and popping noise coming out of the speakers and unbearable distortion even at moderate volume. With that in mind, what actually causes speaker to blow out? How to tell if your car speakers are blown out? More importantly, how to fix a blown car speaker?
These are the type of questions that will be running through your mind when one of your car speakers blows out. In this article we’ll try and outline the signs, causes and fixes of a blown car speaker.
How to know if your speakers are blown
There are varying degrees of blown-out car speakers. A speaker that’s completely blown out will have no sound at all, and you may experience unbearable buzzing at high volume levels.
If your speakers tend to sound a bit off or that you suspect blown speakers, set your volume at a low- to mid-level, and listen for distortion. If you hear any hissing or fuzziness, and turning up the volume makes it worse, use your audio system’s balance and fader controls to isolate the faulty speaker.
Using your system’s equalizer, set all of your levels to “0” and set the balance to the middle. By adjusting the balance and fade to focus specifically on the speaker or speakers in each of the four corners of your car, you’ll have a better chance to narrow things down a lot.
If you only hear unpleasant sounds like popping or rattling, or if you don’t hear any music at all, it’s highly likely that one of your speakers is blown.
Furthermore, a drastic lack of bass is usually a good hint that your speakers have partially blown out.
Turn the volume up, remove the speaker grill and gently place your hand on the speaker’s cone. If you can’t feel any vibration or thump coming from it, that’s a sign of a blown speaker, but it can also be caused by broken wiring connections.
Keep in mind that this is not the most reliable way to test speakers, but it’s another option you can try before spending money on a new pair of speakers.
By a multimeter
Using a multimeter is one of the best and most effective ways of checking a speaker’s electrical response. Speakers that are in good working condition typically should have an impedance of 4 or 8 ohms (or what they were rated for). If you find that a speaker has an extremely high, or even infinite, impedance, it’s definitely blown.
What causes car speakers to blow?
Generally speaking, car speakers blow out for two main reasons:
- Mechanical failure: This typically happens when the cone of a speaker is forced to move further than it was designed to.
- Thermal failure: This happens when a speaker is heavily overpowered. The excess power generates heat buildup, which can soften the glue that holds some components together. Overpowering a speaker can also make its internal components either melt or burn.
Poorly designed sound system, amplifier clipping, and turning up volume too high for extended periods of time can also make speakers blow. It’s also possible for a speaker to fail due to age and normal use. This is especially true with OEM speakers that are cheaply made compared to high-end aftermarket speakers.
A severally blown speaker won’t produce any sound at all. A partially blown speaker on the other hand may make some noise such as buzzing, static, crackling, or fuzzy distortion.
Since car speakers can make noise or blow for a number of reasons, it’s important to make sure your speakers are actually blown before replacing them, even if they make no noise at all.
Is it worth fixing a blown car speaker?
Well, it depends. The first step is to determine whether the issues are severe or not. Minor damage such as tiny rip, splits, cracks or tears in the speaker cone can be fairly easily fixed with a sealer designed for speakers. However, if the damage is overwhelming, blown out car speaker repair cost can go through the roof. This is especially true if the voice coil is the culprit as the latter takes time and effort and it’s much more difficult to be repaired, at which point it’s just not worth it, and you’re better off buying a new pair of speakers.
Nevertheless, if you decide to fix it, locate the make and model of the speaker on the magnet and find the corresponding reconing kit for your type of speaker. A reconing kit includes a new cone, voice coil, spider, dust cap and gasket.
How to recone a speaker
Fixing a blown speaker : Step by Step
Step 1: Unmount the Speaker
- If the faulty speaker is in your car’s dash, you can easily replace it by removing the grille, which is held down by screws or friction fittings. However, if the faulty speaker is mounted in your car’s door, you’ll need to remove the door panel to unmount it.
- Next, unplug the wiring harness connected to the speaker.
- Pull the speaker out of its opening.
Step 2: Remove the cone & surround
- Using a sharp knife, cut around the outer rim of the cone as well as by the base, near the dust cap.
- Slide the edge of the knife between the inner portion of the speaker and the surround and pry it off
- Cut around the edge of the spider and remove it. The spider is the yellow piece that sits on the magnet.
- To easily remove the lead wires from the terminal, use a soldering iron to apply heat to them.
Step 3: Remove glue residue & clean the basket
- Use a knife, flat blade cutter or sandpaper to scratch out the dried glue remains. You might also need to use glue solvent to remove the old glue from the speaker frame.
- Dust or dirt shouldn’t affect the quality of the speaker, but it might be a good idea use a compressed air cleaner to blow away dirt and dust.
Step 4: Assemble the new voice coil
- Before replacing the old voice coil with the new one, make sure you clean the voice coil gap properly. Next, simply put the voice coil back into the position where the old coil is used to be.
- Mount the spider around the voice coil.
Step 5: Mount the new cone & Attach the gasket
- Apply some glue to the new cone, and set it in the air gap.
- Center it over the voice coil to make sure it fits correctly.
- Carefully place the cone in the gap.
- Apply a small amount of pressure to the cone, and allow a few minutes for the glue to dry.
Next, Attach the gasket
- Apply some glue to the new gasket and mount it.
- Give it a few minutes until the glue is dry.
Step 7: Mount the dust cap
Apply some glue to the new dust cap and mount it over the voice coil.
Step 8: Solder the wires
Use the soldering iron to solder the wires to the terminals.
Step 9: Re-mount the fixed speaker & Test it
- Now that you’ve fixed the speaker, re-mount it back into its opening and test it to check if it’s working properly.
- Test the speaker at a low volume, and gradually increase the volume.
Most of them time, all you need to determine if a car speaker is broken is by carefully listening to how it sounds. Distortion, buzzing, and speaker crackling are good indicators that something is wrong with your speakers.
While it is certainly possible to repair a blown car speaker, it usually isn’t worth it. Blown out car speaker repair cost could potentially exceeds the cost of a new pair of speakers although there are some exceptions, especially if the speaker isn’t seriously damaged, and that you are comfortable doing the repairs yourself.