5 Things to Try if Your Satellite Radio Keeps Cutting Out

Got issues with your SiriusXM radio cutting out? Let us come to the rescue! We’re going to cover the 5 most common satellite radio issues and then show you how to troubleshoot each one.

1. Physical Obstruction

Trees

Your radio may have lost contact with the satellite due to some obstruction. You might have issues with the radio cutting out if you’re driving your car in any of these situations:

  • A tunnel
  • A thick canopy of trees
  • The mountains
  • Next to tall buildings

How to Troubleshoot This

There’s not much you can do in this situation if there’s a large obstruction, like a tunnel, except to move your car. Your SiriusXM radio will receive a signal as soon as you leave the tunnel or another area with a lot of blockage between your car and the sky. According to SiriusXM, your satellite radio works best with a clear view of the southern sky.

To determine that physical obstruction is the only issue with your radio, you need to troubleshoot the other issues on this list to rule them out.

2. Failing Tuner

Channel failure

Your satellite radio tuner is responsible for receiving the signal from the satellites. (Read more about how the process works here). Sometimes the tuner will fail to work properly. When that happens, it’ll have a hard time picking up the signal, decoding the data, and then converting it into different channels.

How to Troubleshoot This

If the message you’re seeing is “channel not available” or “channel not subscribed,” try other channels first. It may not be a tuner issue at all but something specific to that channel. To determine that your tuner is the issue, you’ll have to eliminate all of the other potential problems on this list first. If the antenna, wires, and other parts look good, then the tuner is probably the cause.

3. Bad Wiring

Wiring

There may be a break, weak point, or loose connection in the wiring between the SiriusXM antenna and the tuner. Or there could be the same issues in the wiring between the tuner and your stereo. This can affect the sound quality and it may cause the radio to cut out often.

How to Troubleshoot This

With the radio playing, physically inspect all of the wires running between the SiriusXM antenna and the tuner, as well as the tuner and the stereo. If you see a “check tuner” message, make sure the SXV300 tuner connection is plugged securely into the head unit. Wiggle the connectors, and flex the wiring near the connectors. Listen for any disruption in the sound. (All of these wires are low voltage wires, and flexing them is perfectly safe.)

Did you know that weather and traffic channels sound different than the other channels you receive through SiriusXM satellite radio? These channels use different audio technology than the others, so if you’re worried your connection is off because of a unique sound or tone if may just be the channel you’re listening to.

4. FM Adapter Interference

FM Modulator

Sometimes an FM adapter will get interference from another FM radio transmitter. This often happens when you’re traveling to another city or area. If you have an FM modulator and if your sound quality is compromised, then FM adapter interference may be the culprit. You can read more about FM adapter interference here.

How to Troubleshoot This

First, check your SiriusXM menu and find the setting that shows you the exact frequency that your FM adapter is using. Then check the car stereo to make sure it is set to that exact frequency. Sometimes the car stereo tuner knob or button will get bumped just enough to create bad sound. If those settings are correct, slowly tune your car stereo up or down from the FM adapter frequency. An FM station broadcasting near the frequency that your adapter is using can cause interference. Try choosing another frequency for the adapter.

5. Antenna Issues

Fail antenna

Image Credit: The Amp Lab

Sometimes the antenna is bent, broken, not securely plugged into the cradle, or simply malfunctioning. Often times, the radio will display an error message that says something like “antenna not detected”.

How to Troubleshoot This

Let’s try the easiest fix first, which is turning off your SiriusXM radio head unit, waiting 10-30 seconds, and then turning it back on. This will restart the antenna and sometimes correct the issue. If the error message persists, you may need a new antenna.

If you’re not certain, check for a physical issue with the antenna, you’ll need to physically inspect it. See if the antenna is bent or broken. If it looks like the antenna is still in good shape, then it might not be securely plugged into the cradle (if you’re using a dock & play or portable radio). Always make sure the Magnetic Mount Antenna cable is firmly plugged into your SXV300 tuner.

Try unplugging the antenna and then reinstalling it to see if the problem goes away. Also, with SiriusXM Radio playing, try flexing the antenna cable along it’s length and at the connection points. If there is a disruption in the sound, you’ll need a new antenna.

Categories: Satellite Radio