How to Keep Radio on When Car is Off? – The Easiest Way Tutorial


Written by

Rafeal Hart


Fact-checked by

Norris Howe

how to keep radio on when car is off

Waiting in the car can be boring, especially when you need something to listen to. Did you know you can keep playing music in the car with the engine off?

You can use several methods to keep your car radio on, so whether you want to relax or stay informed, these methods will help you.

Read on to understand each step on how to keep radio on when car is off, safety considerations, and more. Fasten your belt!

A Guide to Keep Radio on When Car is Off


1. For car with a start/stop button

Cars with start or stop buttons are categorized as pre-2011 and 2012 to 2015. Here are the steps on how you can listen to radio with car off if your car has a start/stop button:


Step 1. Locate the start/stop button.

Step 2. Check and turn off everything else in your car.

Step 3. Press the start/stop button for a while until the radio comes on.

Step 4: Shut off the radio afterward by pressing the same button for some seconds.

2. For car without smart key system

To turn the engine off but keep the radio on without a smart key, all you need to do is turn on the accessory mode(ACC). When the car is in accessory mode, you can listen to music in your car without starting the engine.

Still, it is a great way to conserve power since it doesn’t use large amounts of energy from your battery unless you start running crucial functions. To turn on the accessory mode, here are the steps:


Step 1. Turn off the engine.

Step 2. Long press the “PWR” button for some seconds.

Step 3. Shift the car into park while depressing the brake pedal

Step 4. Switch the key to the “Accessory Mode” position.

>Note: You can directly switch your ignition to a notch. Additionally, the steps may vary depending on the car model.

Based on Car Radio Models

Keeping your car radio on without starting car based on radio models will depend on the specific make and model of the car. Not all methods offer the same capability. Here are the different radio models:

1. Keyless models before 2011

Before 2011, the keyless car models were already in use. Here are the steps on how you can leave radio on in a keyless car:


Step 1. Remove your foot from the brake pedal.

Step 2. Hit the start button.

Step 3. Your car is now in accessory mode. You can listen to music.

>Note: This method works well for car radio models before 2011. All new models have a different approach for cars such as, honda civic and Ford.

2. Radio models from 2012 to 2015

Radio models ranging within these years vary compared to the current models. So, the steps will be slightly different on the models.

Step 1. Lift your foot off the brake pedal to disengage it.


Step 2. Activate the e-brake and transition the vehicle into Park mode.

Step 3. Place your foot on the brake pedal and change the gear to neutral.


Step 4. Simultaneously take your foot off the brake pedal as you press the stop button.

Step 5. Transition to park mode to turn off the engine as the radio keeps playing.

3. Models after 2015


These car models are more advanced. They come with an extra layer of protection, and they will notify you if you are doing anything wrong.

Here, to keep the car radio on with ignition off, simply press the engine’s start button. It will be your best entertainment option without starting your car. To keep radio on with push to start directly puts the car into accessory mode.

Troubleshooting Common Issues, Battery Drain Prevention

Car radios experience issues, from no power in the head unit to battery drainage. Below are some standard troubleshooting issues and various tips to prevent battery drainage:


  • No Power

Power issues are common in a car radio, especially with the head unit. If the power doesn’t reach your car’s head unit, you might have an alternator problem. Alternator issues may be due to vehicle age or lack of capacity.

You might also experience such when your fuse is blown. You may have to replace the car stereo system or fuse to fix such.

  • Overheating

While overheating is commonly associated with the amplifier, sometimes, even the car stereo can experience overheating. This is very common when the car stereo stays on longer or stereo cables come into contact.

To resolve this issue, you might have to check the wiring, fix any cable gauge, or replace the car stereo system if it’s burning.

  • Sound Issues

Sound problems include sound cutting off or poor bass from your speaker. If you experience such, you might have to check the connection of the speaker cable from the amplifier. Still, you might have to check the speaker terminals.

  • The Car Radio Is Not Turning On

If your car radio fails to turn on, the first troubleshooting step should be checking the power cable. This could be a wiring issue. Check if the power cable is correctly connected and if it is passing current.

You can do this with a multimeter. If the cable doesn’t supply power, it is faulty and needs replacement.

Preventing battery drain


Battery drainage is common, especially when listening to your radio with the engine off. To prevent it, consider various fixes.

  • Firstly, ensure to turn off the radio when the car is parked. Leaving your radio playing when the engine is off can quickly drain your battery.
  • Secondly, keep a check on your battery voltage and health. If you notice any signs of wear and tear with your battery, replace it to prevent any future drainage issues.
  • Lastly, if you don’t plan to drive your car for some time, consider disconnecting the battery to prevent future battery drain. Long periods of inactivity can impact your battery’s health.

Helpful Tips


How Long Can I Listen to Radio With Car Off

For most modern cars with very powerful batteries, you should be able to listen to the radio with the car off for 10–15 hours before your battery is drained.

Although, if your car is much older, radio still on when car off can last 2–5 hours before your battery is completely drained

However, the time you can listen to your radio with the car off might not be so oblivious, as it depends on various factors. Factors such as your battery quality, the type of car, and the condition of your vehicle could influence the length of time.

Still, the power required to run your sound system might affect the length of time. If your car uses aftermarket sound equipment, such as subwoofers, they could drain your battery more quickly.

Similarly, if you like playing loud music with high volumes or using amplifiers, your battery could be drained much faster.

>Note: Keeping your engine running for some time would be a good idea, especially if you plan to be at the drive-in all night.

Does Accessory Mode Drain Car Battery?

Yes, the accessory mode drains your car battery, especially when the radio is still on when the car is off. However, it might take time. It will take some time, depending on several factors.

  • First, it will depend on the length of time your car is in accessory mode.
  • Secondly, the health of your battery. Still, the temperature outside and the electronics running in your car. If your car is left in unfavorable conditions, it might last a few hours or less before your battery is completely drained.

Keep in mind the accessory mode allows you to use your accessories, radio, and windshield wipers while your car engine is off. Thus, it uses power but doesn’t recharge the battery since your car engine is off, making the accessories drain the batteries.

Will Aftermarket Power Kits Void the Car Warranty?

No, aftermarket power kits will not void your warranty. The only way your warranty can be voided is if proven that the new part installed caused undue damage.

To protect your warranty, you need to ensure your modifications are well-fitted and your car can withstand the additional power. All you need to do is to be proactive. For instance, if upgrading your turbo, ensure you upgrade your brakes too.


We conclude our exploration of how to keep radio on when the car is off; we have covered several methods, including different models and keyless options.

By carefully following each step of every method, you can keep your radio on when the car is off. You have also learned that you can listen to the radio when your vehicle is in accessory mode without starting your car.

Investing in aftermarket radio accessories is vital in your radio staying on without draining your car’s battery. So, use the outlined methods to keep your radio on and enjoy your favorite music.

5/5 - (2 votes)