Troubleshooting CB Radios

No matter how well you plan out a CB installation, or if you use the highest quality parts, sometimes you will run into problems with your CB radio.  This guide to troubleshooting CB radios will help you find and correct some of the most common problems that plague CB operators.

Each section below lists a problem and the potential solutions for it.  A link to more information is provided when available.  This guide assumes you are using a stock, unmodified radio with a standard CB antenna. As always, if you can't find what you need here, you can contact us for more help.

 

CB Radio Has No Power

No lights come on the radio.  There is also no sound.  You cannot transmit or receive. 

Check power cord connections

Make sure the power cord connections are attached correctly.  If your radio has a power plug, make sure it is seated well. 

Check Fuse

Make sure the CB radio's fuse is not blown and that it is seated correctly.

Check On/Off Switch

Make sure the power is switched on.  The on/off switch for most radios is paired with the volume knob.  You should hear a 'click' as you turn it clockwise, indicating the radio's power is on.

Check Ground Connections

Make sure the CB radio's ground wire is connected to a good chassis ground in the vehicle. 

Check Battery/Power Connections

If your CB radio is not connected directly to the battery, make sure the fuse panel or extension wire it is connected to has a good connection to the battery. 

Check Auto Electrical System

Make sure your vehicle's electrical system is operating properly.

 

Inoperative Channel Selector

When you turn the channel selector knob, the channel does not change.  The channel may show 9, 19 or W and a number.

Disengage Channel 9/19 switch

Many radios come with an instant channel 9/19 switch.  Make sure this is not on.

Disengage Weather Operation

Many radios come with a weather operation mode.  Make sure this is not on.

 

Dim or No Channel Light

 The channel light does not come on.  There may be sound and you may be able to transmit and receive.  Other lights may be on the CB radio

Check power cord connections

Make sure the power cord connections are attached correctly.  If your radio has a power plug, make sure it is seated well. 

Check Fuse

Make sure the CB radio's fuse is not blown and that it is seated correctly.

Check Ground Connections

Make sure the CB radio's ground wire is connected to a good chassis ground in the vehicle. 

Check Battery/Power Connections

If your CB radio is not connected directly to the battery, make sure the fuse panel or extension wire it is connected to has a good connection to the battery.

Check LED Off or Dimmer Switch

Some CB radios have the ability to dim or turn off the face lights, or even just the channel indicator.  Make sure the lights are not switched off.

Check Auto Electrical System

Make sure your vehicle's electrical system is operating properly.

 

Blows Fuses

The CB radio repeatedly blows fuses, despite the correct fuse type being used.  Fuses may blow when the radio is switched on, or when the CB microphone is keyed up.

Check power cord connections

Make sure the power cord connections are attached correctly.  If your radio has a power plug, make sure it is seated well.

Check CB Antenna Connection/Cable

Make sure the CB antenna and coax are connected properly.  They should be screwed in tight with all caps and weather protectors in place.

Check Ground Connections

Make sure the CB radio's ground wire is connected to a good chassis ground in the vehicle.

Check SWR/CB Antenna Connections

Check for a high standing wave (see How to Tune a CB Antenna).  Check the antenna and cable for shorts and continuity.

Check Battery/Power Connections

If your CB radio is not connected directly to the battery, make sure the fuse panel or extension wire it is connected to has a good connection to the battery.

Check Auto Electrical System

Make sure your vehicle's electrical system is operating properly.

 

No/Weak Transmit

Your CB comes on, but you are not getting responses when you try to transmit.  You have confirmed that someone on your frequency is listening, but does not pick you up.

Check CB/PA Switch

If your radio has a PA feature, make sure the switch for this is in the CB position.

Check power cord connections

Make sure the power cord connections are attached correctly.  If your radio has a power plug, make sure it is seated well.

Check CB Antenna Connection/Cable

Make sure the CB antenna and coax are connected properly.  They should be screwed in tight with all caps and weather protectors in place.

Fully Press CB Microphone PTT Button

Be sure you are pressing the CB microphone button all the way in.

Check CB Mic Connection/Plug/Cord

Make sure your CB mic is plugged in securely.  Check for breaks or damage to the plug and cord.  Check the pins in the radio for damage as well

Check Ground Connections

Make sure the CB radio's ground wire is connected to a good chassis ground in the vehicle.

Check SWR/CB Antenna Connections

Check for a high standing wave (see How to Tune a CB Antenna).  Check the antenna and cable for shorts and continuity.

Check Battery/Power Connections

If your CB radio is not connected directly to the battery, make sure the fuse panel or extension wire it is connected to has a good connection to the battery.

Check Auto Electrical System

Make sure your vehicle's electrical system is operating properly.

 

Output Power Meter Indicates Lower Than Normal Reading

Your power meter is not going all the way up anymore.  For example, it used to go to 4, it now only goes to 2.

Check CB Antenna Connection/Cable

Make sure the CB antenna and coax are connected properly.  They should be screwed in tight with all caps and weather protectors in place.

Check SWR/CB Antenna Connections

Check for a high standing wave (see How to Tune a CB Antenna).  Check the antenna and cable for shorts and continuity.

Check Battery/Power Connections

If your CB radio is not connected directly to the battery, make sure the fuse panel or extension wire it is connected to has a good connection to the battery.

Check Auto Electrical System

Make sure your vehicle's electrical system is operating properly.

 

Reports of Jarbled Speech

Other CB users are reporting that your transmissions are jarbled or hard to understand.

Check CB Mic Connection/Plug/Cord

Make sure your CB mic is plugged in securely.  Check for breaks or damage to the plug and cord.  Check the pins in the radio for damage as well

Turn Down Mic Gain/Power Mic

If your radio has a CB mic gain knob, try turning it down (counter clockwise).  If you have a power mic, try turning the power down on that. 

 

Reports of Channel Bleed Over

You transmit on one channel and other CB users report you are coming in on other channels as well.  For example, you transmit on channel 12 and you are picked up on 11, 12, and 13.

Check Ground Connections

Make sure the CB radio's ground wire is connected to a good chassis ground in the vehicle.

Turn Down Mic Gain/Power Mic

If your radio has a CB mic gain knob, try turning it down (counter clockwise).  If you have a power mic, try turning the power down on that. 

 

Power On - No Sound

Lights come on the radio.  The transmit indicators and meters suggest you are transmitting, but you get no sound. Test transmissions from other CB users may not come through.

Check CB/PA Switch

If your radio has a PA feature, make sure the switch for this is in the CB position.

Check power cord connections

Make sure the power cord connections are attached correctly.  If your radio has a power plug, make sure it is seated well.

Check Squelch Adjustment

Turn the squelch all the way counter-clockwise.  You should hear static.  Now turn it back clockwise just until the static stops. 

Switch To Active Channel

It is entirely possible there is just no one transmitting on the channel you are on.  Try another channel. 

Check CB Antenna Connection/Cable

Make sure the CB antenna and coax are connected properly.  They should be screwed in tight with all caps and weather protectors in place.

Check Ground Connections

Make sure the CB radio's ground wire is connected to a good chassis ground in the vehicle.

Check SWR/CB Antenna Connections

Check for a high standing wave (see How to Tune a CB Antenna).  Check the antenna and cable for shorts and continuity.

Check CB Mic Connection/Plug/Cord

Make sure your CB mic is plugged in securely.  Check for breaks or damage to the plug and cord.  Check the pins in the radio for damage as well

Check RF Gain Control

If your radio has an RF gain control, make sure it is turned all the way clockwise.

Check Battery/Power Connections

If your CB radio is not connected directly to the battery, make sure the fuse panel or extension wire it is connected to has a good connection to the battery.

 

Poor/Low Voice Reception

You receive transmissions, but they are garbled, very quiet, or otherwise hard to hear. 

Check Squelch Adjustment

Turn the squelch all the way counter-clockwise.  You should hear static.  Now turn it back clockwise just until the static stops. 

Switch To Active Channel

It is possible the CB users transmitting on your frequency are very far away.  Try another channel. 

Check CB Antenna Connection/Cable

Make sure the CB antenna and coax are connected properly.  They should be screwed in tight with all caps and weather protectors in place.

Check Ground Connections

Make sure the CB radio's ground wire is connected to a good chassis ground in the vehicle.

Check SWR/CB Antenna Connections

Check for a high standing wave (see How to Tune a CB Antenna).  Check the antenna and cable for shorts and continuity.

Check CB Mic Connection/Plug/Cord

Make sure your CB mic is plugged in securely.  Check for breaks or damage to the plug and cord.  Check the pins in the radio for damage as well

Check RF Gain Control

If your radio has an RF gain control, make sure it is turned all the way clockwise.

Check Battery/Power Connections

If your CB radio is not connected directly to the battery, make sure the fuse panel or extension wire it is connected to has a good connection to the battery.

 

Weak Receive - Close TX

You receive transmissions, but they are faint/weak, even though you have confirmed the transmission source is close by.

Check Squelch Adjustment

Turn the squelch all the way counter-clockwise.  You should hear static.  Now turn it back clockwise just until the static stops. 

Check CB Antenna Connection/Cable

Make sure the CB antenna and coax are connected properly.  They should be screwed in tight with all caps and weather protectors in place.

Check Ground Connections

Make sure the CB radio's ground wire is connected to a good chassis ground in the vehicle.

Check SWR/CB Antenna Connections

Check for a high standing wave (see How to Tune a CB Antenna).  Check the antenna and cable for shorts and continuity.

Check RF Gain Control

If your radio has an RF gain control, make sure it is turned all the way clockwise.

Check Battery/Power Connections

If your CB radio is not connected directly to the battery, make sure the fuse panel or extension wire it is connected to has a good connection to the battery.