What Causes a Car Amplifier to Overheat?


There are several reasons why your car amplifier can get hot leading to its shutdown. The most common ones include; poor power and/or ground connections, a very low load, blown grounded speakers or maybe the bass control settings are too high.

How does this happen?

Amplifiers normally get heated when they are not operating at 100% efficiency. That is, the electric power (DC) will be converted to electric power (AC).when you change the resistance it will either go up or go down. This means that if there is less resistance more power will be put out and more power means more heat.

Inside your amplifier, there is a part that alters the amplifier’s internal voltage up, sometimes up to 100V. That is the part that generates heat and power. If your battery has a high voltage (especially if you do not need as much power) then the voltage chip does not need to work as hard. This leads to less heat being produced.

The parts that do not need to work as hard will clearly have a longer lifespan. If a chip operates at a higher temperature for a long period it will wear away faster than a chip at a lower temperature.

What other issues could affect your amplifier?

  1. A bad ground – this could be due to a loose dropped terminal that is loosely bolted to the car or a bad ground spot. It could also be because the size of the wire is too small which would then lead to thermal shut down. This is because the amplifier will not be getting the power it requires to produce the output that you need.
  2. A bad power wire – this one is almost similar to the above. That is, either because of a loose dropped terminal that is not tightly tied to the battery or that the wire size is too small.
  3. The electrical system is too weak for the power required by the amplifier – this leads to the amplifier being constrained trying to produce power that it cannot make due to lack of voltage/current.
  4. Bass boost set too high – when you have your gain/punch bass boost set too high it leads to distortion and clipping which then makes the amplifier work harder.
  5. Poor quality amplifier – they say cheap is expensive. Some cheap quality amps can lack thermal paste or pads which are used to transfer the heat from the circuits to the heat sink.
  6. Poorly designed heat sink – this means that it will not be able to consume the heat as fast as it should.
  7. If using a woofer – in the event that you are using a woofer or a set of woofers that lead to a load that is lower than what the amplifier manufacturer recommends, the amp may shut down to protect itself.


So yes, there are plenty of reasons that can lead to your amplifier overheating. The best solution is to invest in good quality amps and follow the manufacturer’s user guidelines.





About Author

Martin is a car and equipment enthusiast. Like many kids his age, he always liked cars since he was a kid and the passion stuck with him. These days, he lives out his passion on the blogosphere, giving others advice on handling equipment and car sound systems. He also enjoys teaming up with other enthusiasts and sharing the knowledge of car equipment with them, with the aim of fostering mutual appreciation. When he is not analyzing car sound systems or equipment, Martin is sampling tasty dishes in different places and exploring the world around him. He is an avid reader as well, and that energy translates well to the site.

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