How to Improve AM Radio Reception in Car

Boosting the AM radio reception in your car is not an easy task for everyone. It’s a big headache as most AM radios in cars are prone to interference because of poor signals, obstructions, weather disturbances, and electrical appliances.

Compared to FM radio, AM has poorer audio quality, yet, it’s a top choice for long-distance broadcasting. You may have heard an unusual popping, hissing, or buzzing while tuning into a station on your car radio. That’s exactly what weak reception sounds like! AM radio interference in a car typically arises from spark plugs, which results in white noise or static.

So, how do you improve the AM reception in your cars and trucks? Well, there are a few easy steps one can follow to get clear and noise-free AM signal reception. We are going to discuss these easy tips and tricks and tricks in this article.

What causes AM radio interference in Cars?

An easy way to identify AM reception problems in cars is through the type of sound you’re receiving on your radio. Buzzing, clicking, and popping sounds are indicators of electrical interference; whereas hissing and distorted sounds are usually reception-related issues.

  • Radio interference in car typically originates in the electrical accessories, ignition system, or the charging circuit.
  • Moving traffic is another source of interference. If you’re noticing a buzzing sound, which increases as your engine speeds, it’s most likely a case of a faulty or uncompressed vehicle engine.
  • On the contrary, if you’re hearing a rapid ticking that is proportionate to the engine speed, there’s some issue with the vehicle’s ignition system. 
  • Electrical components, such as the windscreen wipers and indicators, can also cause interference. You can identify it by checking is the noise reduces or disappears when you switch off the component.
  • If you hear a burst of buzzing and clicking sound effects, you are most likely experiencing electrical interference. This may arise from nearby street lamps. To identify if the street lights are the source of interference, try noticing if the interference increases when you’re near the lamps.

How to improve AM radio reception in a car?

Here are five different steps you can follow to get better AM reception in your vehicles:

1.      Identify the source

Finding out where the interference is coming from is the first step to improving your car’s AM radio reception. Components, such as the car’s built-in CD player or the alternator, can be the potential sources of static and noise. If the problem increases with the engine speed, you can install a noise filter, such as the HerMia amplifier booster with a noise filter ring. Besides suppressing static, it will help with poor reception.

2.      Inspect your car radio’s ground connection

Sometimes the accessories and components aren’t the problems. In fact, the whine or hum could come from a weak ground connection. Check your radio’s ground by removing the head unit and dash panels to reveal the ground wire. Usually, it’s secured to the chassis or device frame. If the wire appears to be defected, corroded, or lose, you will need to fix it to get rid of the static.

3.      Check the antenna

If the problem doesn’t lie in the components or the ground connection, the next suspect is the AM radio antenna. Turn off the unit and unplug the antenna. Turn it back on and listen for white noise. Although you may not receive powerful signals, still listen and notice the same noise you heard before. If it works in reducing the interference, then you may need to change the antenna or antenna cable. Another way to fix it is to re-route the cable so that it’s not running parallel to any other wire or electronic device. You can also follow this method to rearrange any other connection or wire that may be running close and interfering.

4.      Ground loop

A ground loop is when you face static while plugging in external devices, such as an iPod or while playing the CD player or radio. Installing a ground loop isolator is one way to fix the issue.

5.      Amplifier

In some cases, it’s the amplifier causing the static. To rule out whether the amp is the source, disconnect the cables and determine if the noise goes away. If the amplifier appears to be the issue, rearrange the cables or invest in high-quality patch cables.

Ways to boost AM radio reception in Vehicles

  • Opt for a high-quality replacement antenna and make sure the placement is correct.
  • Always use the right cables and pay extra attention to their routing.
  • Change the spark plugs to see if the interference reduces, or use noise suppressors to tackle the issue.
  • Avoid using in-car chargers as it causes white noise.
  • If all else fails, inspect the head unit to see if it’s damaged or defected. If the radio seems to be the problem, upgrade to a higher-quality AM radio to avoid future reception issues.

You should also check out our article on boosting AM radio reception at home to learn a few more tips.


The unwanted static on your AM radio could result from several sources. The accessories and components present in a car often cause electrical interference as buzz, hum, and whine-like sounds. In order to resolve the issue and improve AM reception in the car, you must first identify the source. Follow the strategies mentioned above to isolate and tackle the source. You can also use an aerial extension lead along with a metal rod connected to probe around the vehicle.