Ignition causes radio reset

Recently I’ve started having problems with my radio when I turn the key in the ignition. The radio turns off, stays off until I hit the on/off button, and loses all the preset stations. This doesn’t happen every time, but it’s done this four-six times in the last six days.

Is this a harbinger of electrical problems to come? What might be causing this problem?


What year/kind of car? Aftermarket radio? Or factory installed? More info please.

It could be a symptom of a failing battery. Most auto stores will load test your battery for free.

The problem is with the power circuit for the memory of the radio. There is a bad connection on that wire somewhere. The memory requires power at all times to keep it alive so a power wire is run from the battery to the memory wire of the radio. Through a fuse for protection of course. Somehow the power is being interupted. Possibly at a terminal connector.

Or maybe the radio has an internal battery that holds the memory and it is going bad.

I didn’t include vital information; the radio was factory-installed; the car is a 1998 Toyota Camry.

Is this a harbinger of electrical problems to come? What might be causing this problem?

You betcha, it’s probably a symptom of electrical problems to come. There’s a small chance that it is a loose or corroded connection in the “keep alive” 12 volt power to the radio that maintains presets when the ignition is off. But it’s a lot more likely that it is a symptom of battery or alternator problems and that the next thing that will happen is that you will get in the car, turn to key and hear a click but the engine won’t turn over.

I wouldn’t have believed that an older car could still start when the battery voltage was so low that it couldn’t maintain radio presets … until it happened to me a few years ago in an elderly Mazda 626.

As tardis suggests, get your battery and charging system checked. The good news is that fixing battery/alternator problems is rarely outrageously expensive. A few hundred dollars if it is the alternator. Less if it is the battery.