CB Radio Not Receiving- Troubleshooting Guide

CB radio not receiving is a common problem most CB users face. If you’re receiving transmissions but they sound hard-to-understand and garbled, you most likely have weak reception. Troubleshooting the reception problem of CB radios is an easy job. This article explores helps you understand how it can be done.

According to legal guidelines, your CB is restricted to a broadcast strength of up to four miles. Keep in mind; the signal strength depends on the environment, geographical factors, and interference by obstacles. So, even though you have the right CB and antenna system, but are not receiving any signals, here’s how to increase the range!

Why is my CB Radio Not Receiving?

If your CB is not receiving, you will need to first identify the source of the problem by inspecting all connections and components of your radio. This is the essence of any troubleshooting practice.

When the CB is transmitting fine, but receiving audio is poor, then it’s certainly not a feed-line issue. Additionally, if you have turned the squelch control all the way down, and the volume is up, but you don’t hear white noise, then the device may be defective. And, if you’re using a wired headset, the cable may be bad. Try using a different headset to rule out this cause.

Try setting up your CB on an antenna system that works efficiently to check if the receive works. If you still receive nothing, then you may need to check with a trained technician. Check the coax continuity using a continuity tester. Keep in mind; the braid and center conductor must not touch.

Some Cobra CB radios have microphones with the receive wire. Even though transmit may work, if the receive cable is broken; you may not hear any sound. Identify if it’s occurring because of a poor microphone connection. Spread the connecting pins on the radio for a secure connection. Better yet, try to install a new microphone. As some truck beds are not grounded well, it may hamper the receive signals. Therefore, you may need an external magnet mount antenna for the roof. Or, create a good chassis ground in your truck and connect the ground wire to it.

Connect the jumper wire to the input’s DC Ground, touching it to the radio’s TX pins. If the device doesn’t key up, inspect the voltage regulator chip. If you see no difference in the DC voltage, then it may be bad and in need of replacement.

Troubleshooting CB Not Receiving Issue

Here is a go-to guide on troubleshooting the reception problem of CB radios:

  • Adjust the squelch control by first turning the knob counter-clockwise until you hear static. Next, switch it back clockwise until the noise disappears.
  • Refer to the product manual to see if all the buttons and knobs are set correctly.
  • Tune into an active channel to receive stronger transmissions.
  • Ensure that the antenna and coaxial cable have a secure connection.
  • Adjust the SWR and antenna connections. You need the SWR as close to zero as possible!
  • Inspect all connections for any damages or shorts.
  • Gently spread the microphone connection pins using a flathead screwdriver. This will help ensure a better connection.
  • Maintain a good connection to the battery.
  • Rotate the RF gain knob all the way right.
  • Do not forget to tune your antenna!

How to get better CB Reception

  • Choose an antenna that is suitable for use with your CB radio. Opt for longer antennae as they offer best reception. Avoid purchasing scanner whips as they don’t pick CB frequencies well.
  • Install the antenna at the highest position, ideally the truck roof, where it can pick signals from all around. Keep in mind; any nearby obstacles will hamper radio signals coming from that direction.
  • Ideally, you should set the squelch at the center so that it minimizes white noise and static, but can still listen to other users. Rotating the knob all the way up will minimize your reception range.
  • The cable running between the CB and antenna must be twist-free. Make sure that the two have a secure connection.
  • As mentioned above, truck beds aren’t grounded well. Therefore, it’s better to opt for a no-ground antenna when installing it on a non-metallic surface.
  • The garbled and hard-to-understand audio may result from a blown speaker. If the radio’s speaker is the cause, try connecting an external speaker for better voice reception.
  • Use a standalone SWR meter to check the ratio. If there’s a reading of 3.0 or higher, there may be a connection issue.


Using a CB radio at high SWR may damage the radio; therefore, it’s critical to tune the antenna and adjust the SWR. Not doing so may lead to a broken CB radio with muffled and incomprehensible audio. If you are transmitting but not receiving, you can rule out the antenna and coax line-related issues. For a Cobra CB, try replacing the microphone as it may not be receiving because of a broken wire. Also, try a different antenna and antenna cable. And, don’t forget to adjust the RF and squelch controls to increase your receiving range. If you don’t hear static at all, your CB may be broken.