Car Care

How To Turn On Radio Without Starting Car

If you are used to driving and operating a conventionally keyed car, but then you end up sitting in the driver’s seat of a keyless car, you may feel like you are in somewhat unfamiliar territory.

In older keyed vehicles, all you have to do is turn the key to the very first ‘click’ to reach accessory mode. In newer push-button start vehicles, you can enter accessory mode by pressing the ‘ENGINE START/STOP’ button once without pressing the brake pedal.

Simple tasks that you are very accustomed to carrying out may suddenly be much more difficult to do.

Even something as simple or mundane as turning on or off the car radio or turning on the electric power to the vehicle without starting the engine can be a confusing challenge.

Keyless Car Vs. Older Models 

In vehicles with a ‘normal,’ old-school key, just about anyone is able to smoothly perform many basic actions without even thinking about them at all. You can perform several different tasks with the flip of your wrist. 

It’s a little different, however, when you are sitting in a keyless car that you may not be used to operate.

Newer model vehicles come with a keyless entry and keyless start remote. They also include a push-button located inside the vehicle that is able to start or stop the engine. These vehicles do not come with a secondary button or switch to be able to put the car in accessory mode, though.

Easier In Older Models 

Automobiles have been an integral part of society for many generations now. So, doing things like turning on the radio without starting a car or even turning on the windshield wipers in a vehicle you have never driven before are simple tasks that anyone can do.

There have, however, been some recent changes to the fundamental ignition system in automobiles that have made the interface quite different for those who are unfamiliar. These days, keyless entry and keyless starting systems are becoming commonplace.

How To Turn On Radio Without Starting Car

These new, innovative ignition systems offer many conveniences and actually end up making using a vehicle a lot easier than it used to be. There are, however, certain things that have completely changed as a result of the recent user-interface switch that has occurred.

So, we wrote this article for people who are unfamiliar with newer cars so that they can know how to access some of their basic functions.

How Do I Operate The Push Button Start And Accessory Power In My Vehicle?

To enter accessory mode:

Step 1: Make sure that the key is in the vehicle

Step 2: Put the gear shifter in park

Step 3: Make sure to NOT put your foot on the brake pedal 

Step 4: Press the ‘ENGINE START/STOP’ button one time

Doing this will not turn on all of your vehicle’s electronics, however. So, if you are wanting to be able to use higher-power accessories such as climate control and power window, you are going to need to press the button a second time.

If you press the ‘ENGINE START/STOP’ one more time, it will turn off all power in the vehicle .

To start the engine:

Step 1: Make sure that the key is in the vehicle

Step 2: Put the gear shifter in park

Step 3: Press your foot on the brake pedal 

Step 4: Press the ‘ENGINE START/STOP’ button one time

Can You Listen To The Radio With The Car Off?

Yes, but it will eventually drain your battery. A decent car battery can make it through a few hours of listening to your radio with the engine off. If your battery is in great condition, then you should be able to listen to your radio for several hours without a problem.

How Long Can You Listen To The Radio With The Car Off?

The answer to that question depends on many factors. Things like the health of your battery along with specific electrical characteristics related to the vehicle and sound system.

There is no way to give someone a specific figure as different car batteries have different Amp-hour ratings. The general rule of thumb, however, is that a car battery will usually be able to start a vehicle as long as it stays above around 12.5 volts.

Will Listening To The Radio Drain My Car Battery?

Yes it absolutely will. Of course, leaving your headlights on for just a few minutes can cause your battery to fail to be able to start your car. A radio, on the other hand, uses much less current than headlights.

So, it may take much longer for a radio to drain a car battery, but it will still happen. If you listen to the radio for too long, your battery voltage will fall too long and you will then no longer be able to start your vehicle.

Also, it is important to remember the louder you play your music, the more current your head-unit and amplifier will draw from the battery.

It’s A Good Idea To Keep An Eye On Your Voltage

There are plenty of low-cost Cigarette Lighter Voltmeters on the market that will help you keep an eye on your vehicle’s voltage while you are listening to the radio with your engine off.

This volt meter comes with a USB 3.0 and a USB C port so you can charge your phone and tablets. This device is Power Delivery 3.0 compatible and supports fast charging with iPhone, iPad, and Android devices that support the feature.

While the USB A-type port uses quick charge 3.0 and supports fast charging on any QC 3.0 device such as the Galaxy S, Note, and Pixel 4 range of devices Both USB ports together support charging 2 devices at up to 30 Watts at the same time.

High Accuracy Voltage Monitor

This device has a bright LED display and lets you effortlessly monitor your vehicle’s system voltage with a high degree of accuracy. This is an easy and effective way to know the SoC (State of Charge) of your car battery in real-time.

All you have to do is keep an eye on the number. If the number starts to fall, don’t let it fall below 12.5 volts.

Remember, most cars are going to be able to start so long as the battery is at or above around 12.5 volts. So, if you are listening to music or using other parts of your car’s auxiliary power system with the engine off, you could use a device like this to keep tabs on your battery.

So, car makers have developed a way to use their keyless system to keep your infotainment system on while turning off the engine.

This device and devices like it offer an excellent value for the money. For less than $15 you can get a voltmeter that will prevent you from unwittingly draining your car battery while at the same time providing 2 USB charging ports. 

How Do I Add Bluetooth To My Car Stereo?

Wireless music has come a long way. Now, there really is no sacrifice in quality or performance by going wireless. The problem is, however, that there are millions of fully functioning, great-sounding audio systems still in service that do not include Bluetooth functionality. 

If you are wanting to add Bluetooth connectivity to a radio head-unit that does not include the popular wireless feature, you can use one of several available Bluetooth Audio Adapter Boards Here is one by DROK:

This board is convenient and easy to install because it has a wide input voltage and requires minimal current. So, that means you can attach this board to anywhere there is power in your vehicle. 

This Bluetooth board will work with any radio that has a line-in or auxiliary input. If your radio doesn’t have that, you could always get an FM radio transmitter like this one that will work with any FM radio receiver.

How Long Can A Car Sit Before The Battery Dies?

This short and simple question has a long and complicated answer. The short and somewhat incomplete answer is that if a car battery is not attached to a vehicle, it can last up to 6 months and still be able to start a car.

If you leave the battery connected to a sitting vehicle for a long period of time, it will drain the battery at a much faster rate than the battery’s own self-discharge rate.

This is because even though the lights and electronics appear to be completely off, there are still many small chips and regulators that are always powered up when a battery is connected.

Just like any other lead-acid car battery, you will have to charge it, just not as often as you would if it were attached to the vehicle. Make sure to charge your battery at least once every 12 weeks.

Can You Turn The Engine Off And Keep The Radio On In a Mazda?

Yes. If the engine is already running in a Mazda that uses a push-button start, all you have to do is shift into neutral or park and then press the stop/start button one time. Doing this shuts the engine off and leaves all the infotainment electronics running.

How To Turn On Radio Without Starting A Nissan Altima?

Nissan uses the same methods as all the other major auto manufacturers. So, if you are trying to use your Nissan’s audio system without starting the engine, simply press the ENGINE START/STOP button once without pressing the brake.

How To Turn On Radio Without Starting The Engine In A Toyota 


Toyota is also on board with using the same defacto standard as the rest of the automakers. That is one of the great things about this newer, more simple system. Most of the time they work the same even though they are competing to be the best. 

How Can a Battery Damage an Electronic Control Unit ECU?

A Surge in power from using a heavy-duty jumper pack to start your vehicle, however, can create a power surge in the ECM (Electronic Control Module)/ECU. The short duration high voltage surge that is employed by low-cost jump starters can easily destroy components on the ECU’s circuit board. 

Also, if you are receiving a jump start from another vehicle and happen to hook the cables up backward, you will more than likely destroy your ECM/ECU. 

Generally, those are going to be the only way that a battery-related system is going to kill your ECU.

There are, however, some other rare circumstances that could destroy your engine control unit. One of those would be if your battery had bad cells and caused your system voltage to run too low for too long. 

Some old cars have ECMs that will become damaged if they are on and running for too long at a low voltage. 

Conclusion

It can be frustrating when you are not used to a new type of user interface. When you are not used to a keyless system, it can be a little confusing how to do basic things in a car. Of course, in traditionally keyed vehicles, turning the key to the very first ‘click’ enters accessory mode. 

These new ignition systems are, well, new. So, there are really not any standards yet. All of the manufacturers are creating their own systems and those systems compete with each other to be the most user-friendly. 

Simplicity, however, usually wins when it comes to industrial user-interface design. So, because of that, the auto manufacturers are creating a standard by accident.

So, in push-button start vehicles, the accessory mode can be entered by pressing the ‘ENGINE START/STOP’ button once without pressing the brake pedal.

We hope this article was helpful in sorting out some of your unfamiliarities with newer push-button start vehicles. You may also wonder if that is legal to leave lights on while driving. 

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