How To Keep Radio On When Car Is Off

You don’t want to miss a moment of your favorite radio talk show while driving? That’s understandable, but how do you keep the radio on when the car is off? Well, car designs have improved greatly over the years, with modern cars integrating impressive upgrades that make you enjoy your travels seamlessly. 

Talking of how to keep radio on when car is off, there are a couple of ways to do that, and mostly, this applies to newer cars. One of the ways to achieve this is by turning the key to “ACC” instead of “Start” or “Ignition.”

When in “ACC” mode, you can turn on the car’s accessories, which includes the radio – so you can listen to the radio without the engine being started.

Now, that’s one, out of the two ways to keep your car’s radio on when not driving and don’t wish to turn on the engine.

How to Keep Radio on When Car Is Off

1. Accessory Power Mode

If you look closely at your car’s ignition switch, you will spot an “ACC” label before the “Start” label. The “ACC” means “Accessory” mode on the ignition switch. When you turn the car key to this label, some electrical components of the car would power on, and that includes the radio. 

If your car uses a “Start” button instead of an ignition switch, push the button to the first position, that’s the ACC mode. Once you’re in this ignition mode, your car’s radio should power on, and you can keep enjoying your favorite channels even though the engine hasn’t been started

Note: Keeping your car in “Accessory” mode for a long time will definitely drain the battery. So, you should be careful how long you want to keep your car in this mode. 

2: Use a Power Inverter

Thinking of how that can be possible? Well, it’s possible, but quite strenuous – only recommended if you’re camping out with your car and need to listen to the radio without starting the vehicle. Power inverters convert DC currents to AC currents, which is used by most radio systems. For this method, here’s the procedure.

  • Buy a power inverter that matches the power rating of your car’s radio or stereo system.
  • Connect the inverter to your car’s battery (most power inverters come with clamps that can be attached securely to the battery terminals).
  • Now, plug in the radio into the power inverter’s AC outlet and turn on the inverter. Ensure to monitor your car’s battery charge level so the inverter doesn’t drain it up. However, some power inverters have built-in safety features that automatically shut off when the battery voltage drops too low.

Frequently Asked Questions

How Long Can You Play Radio When Car is Off?

Well, there is no specific duration. It all depends on how long your car’s battery can hold up charge while powering your car’s stereo. But then, you can definitely listen to the radio for up to thirty minutes or even longer while the car is off. 

While doing this, you should monitor the battery charge level so it doesn’t drop so low to the power that it won’t be able to start the engine again (due to low power) – requiring you to jumpstart the vehicle. 

How Do You Go Into “Accessory Mode” in a Push-To-Start Vehicle?

If you’re driving a push-to-start vehicle, here is a proven way to get into accessory mode, which would power most of the car’s electrical components without starting the engine:

  • Ensure the car is in the “Park” gear
  • Now remove your foot from the brake pedal
  • Press the “Start” button once, and your car should be in accessory mode. 

Can I Turn Off My Car Engine But Keep The Radio On?

Yeah, sure you can. You just need to put the vehicle in accessory mode, which means you’re telling the car to only power its accessories and not the engine. Putting a car into accessory mode differs depending on the ignition system.

Push-to-start vehicles follow a procedure. Keyed vehicles only need the key to be turned to the “ACC” label. But while you turn on the radio without starting the car, always keep an eye on the battery charge level.


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