Prevent Your Car’s Amplifier from Overheating

If you have aftermarket sound in your vehicle than you have an amplifier and understand the importance of this non-audio producing component. Think of your amp as the life source of your system. Without this piece your aftermarket project might look pretty, but it will produce absolutely no sound. With that being said, you must take special care of your amp because any imperfections or damages will distort your sound.

Section Description
1. Amplifier Quality The biggest factor causing your amplifier to overheat is the quality of the amp. Lower grade amps, waste power which turns into heat.
2. Ventilation Your amplifier needs room to breath. Make sure it is not installed upside down or underneath any carpeting.
3. Improper Installation When you first installed the amp, did you run your wires and ground properly? If the previous two sections were not the issue you are going to want to check on the wiring and the ground.
4. Amplifier Protection Mode If your amp is in protection mode, something is wrong.There can be an internall issue causing the amp to overheat, or it is an external issue with the wiring and ground. Check both variables to ensure you properly troubleshooted the problem.
5. Conclusion Ultimately higher quality amplifiers are less likely to overheat. Never cheap out on such a critical component. Your aftermarket speakers will thank you.

And I am more than confident to say that if you are dealing with aftermarket parts, you have overheated at least one amplifier during your DIY career. I know I have, and there is nothing more frustrating than replacing an amp for such an avoidable reason. Here are some tips and tricks I have picked up since I started working here at Sonic Electronix that I want to pass onto you, so you can avoid this predicament in the future:

1Amplifier Quality

Let’s start with the biggest factor influencing amplifier overheating; amplifier quality. Higher quality amps are designed to optimize the power provided by your vehicle’s battery and alternator. Cheap amps waste more power than they actually use, which means all this wasted power turns into heat causing your amplifier to overheat. Basically if you’ve properly installed your amplifier in a location that does not obstruct air flow and you keep wondering why on earth your amp keeps overheating; it’s cheap and time for an upgrade. Brands like Hifonics, JL Audio, NVX and Rockford Fosgate are prominent manufacturers with prominent products, including amplifiers.


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Next let’s talk about ventilation. As we all know heat rises, so you should never mount your amplifier upside down or underneath carpet. You want it to have as much clearance above it as possible, so heat can dissipate away from the amplifier and air can flow inward. If you mounted the amp in a way that allows for ventillation but you find it is still overheating, you will want to invest in a cooling fan for you amp in order to blow heat away from your amplifier.

3Improper Installation

Next we have another big factor contributing to amplifier overheating; mismatching the speaker’s power specifications to the amplifier’s specifications. Match the load of the speaker to the amp as close as possible, this enables the amp to power the speakers without wasting any power which turns into additional heat. Also during the install process, make sure your ground connection was done correctly. The most efficient ground connection is when the wire is touching the sanded metal at the frame. Ensure this ground wire is not touching any paint or preexisting nuts and bolts.

4Amplifier Protection Mode

One outcome of overheating is that your amplifier goes into protection mode. The cause of this is either excessive playtime which in fact is directly correlated to overheating your amplifier. Another possibility is that you’re either a reckless driver or you were driving on bumpy roads which lead your wiring to loosen. To troubleshoot this problem to determine if your amplifier is overheating or simply improperly wired, you first have to disconnect everything from your amp except the power, ground, and remote turn on wires. Which means you disconnect all speakers, subs, RCA’s, and bass knobs from the amplifier. Once you power up the amp, if it still reads in protect mode, you have a defective amplifier and it needs to be replaced to optimize your sound quality. However, if the amplifier powers up properly, it is an external issue and you should contact our Technical Support for assistance. (661)-257-4737


In conclusion there are three things you should take away. The installation process plays a huge influence in reducing the heat your amplifier endures. Next you have to consider if the unit was installed in a location that allows for proper ventilation. And if those two factors aren’t the culprit for overheating, it seems you purchased a cheap amplifier that needs to be replaced.

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Born in a subwoofer box, music has always been my passion. At the proud age of 9 I began driving. The two eventually met and led to my career at Sonic Electronix.

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