How to keep your Radio On when your Car is OFF

Have you ever had a long day at work and pulled up to your house after a hectic commute and all you want to do is sit in the car and listen to your favorite song while trying to find a few minutes of peace? Maybe you went to pick up a friend who was taking longer than expected and wanted to listen to music without draining your gas tank.

In this day and age, gas prices are more expensive than ever and the evidence showing us just how much our oil consumption is damaging our planet’s environment continues to grow.

There’s no reason why we should be senselessly throwing away our money and contributing to hurting the state of the environment when we don’t have to be. Today we would like to teach you a few out-of-the-box solutions that can allow you to continue to use your car’s radio and other electronic features without turning on the motor and uselessly wasting precious fuel.

Let the Music Play…

How To Keep Your Radio On When Your Car Is OFF?

Automobile technology is evolving as rapidly as the rest of the world around us and manufacturers are constantly finding new ways to attract consumers with new features designed to improve your comfort and driving experience.

Most new vehicles are equipped with modern features such as push-button start, touchscreen radio monitors, and voice-activated controls. Sometimes understanding all of the details and exactly how they work can be mysterious and confusing because they do not follow the same protocols as we are used to, especially if you have been driving for decades.

Just twenty years ago, this question would have been a lot simpler to answer. If you are someone who has not purchased a car that was manufactured in the last decade, you may be thinking “how can there be a whole article on this topic when the answer is so simple?” Simply turn the key to the second ignition position and there you have it!

  • The Traditional Method: Most of us have grown up and learned to drive a car that was equipped with a mechanical ignition because, for most of our lives, this was the industry standard. A mechanical ignition typically has 3 positions; OFF, Accessory and ON. Turning the key past on would ignite the engine and the car would continue to run when the key was turned back to the ON position.

In this case, all you have to do is:

  • Turn the key one click to the Accessory position in order to turn on the radio without starting the engine and wasting your gas. The ON position gave you similar access to all the electronic features of your car without requiring ignition either. If you are someone who owns a car with a mechanical ignition, the solution is as simple as that.

Now it’s time to address the more complex world of keyless or Push-button start vehicles and how to turn on your radio without actually turning on the engine. The method that works for your car will likely be determined by the year in which it was manufactured. Because the market is so competitive, the industry-standard tends to change within a year or two because manufacturers adapt their own vehicles to keep up with the innovations of the competition.

Keyless Cars Made Before 2011:

  • In the earliest days of keyless cars, drivers were especially confused as to how to engage the electronic features of their vehicles without starting the engine. Many did not realize that the Accessory and On modes still existed and could be accessed, just through a different method.
  • These models required you to remove your feet from both pedals while the car is in the Park position in order to access these modes. Once your feet are removed from the pedals and the car is parked, simply tap the start-stop button twice very quickly and you will see that the engine has indeed turned off, yet the radio continues to play. Remember that the car must be in Park and there must be no pressure on either the throttle or brake. To restart the engine from this position, simply push the start-stop button again one time and you will hear the engine start.

Radio Models from 2012-2015:

  • Now let’s move on to how you can keep your radio on without the engine running in slightly newer model vehicles. When your car is in Park, once again you need to remove your foot from the brake, but this time, you must engage the emergency brake as well. The next step is to put your foot back onto the brake pedal and shift your car into neutral. It’s very important that the emergency brake is indeed engaged or else the car will begin to roll.
  • Once the emergency brake is on and the car is in neutral, all you have to do is press the start-stop button once and your vehicle will go into Accessory mode. At this point, you are able to put your foot on the brake, put the car back into Park, and disengage the emergency brake. All that’s left to do is relax and enjoy your music without the sound of the engine running in the background.
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Vehicles Manufactured after 2015:

  • Luckily for us as consumers, manufacturers recognized the complexity of accessing the Accessory and On modes in earlier models and have made the process much simpler in newer vehicles. In models manufactured after 2015, all you have to do to put your car into Accessory mode is to quickly press the start-stop button while making sure that your foot is not on the brake pedal. You should hear your radio turn on at this point.
  • From Accessory mode, you can easily move your car into On mode, powering all of your electronic features, by repeating the same process. Make sure your foot is off the brake again and quickly push the start-stop button again. You can start the engine directly from either of these modes by applying pressure to the brake pedal and holding the start-stop button down until you hear the engine start.

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Knowledge Is Power

Technology is evolving faster than most of us can manage to keep up with and we are often unaware of all the features newer vehicles have to offer or how to access the more basic ones that we desire to use. Scanning through a thick owner’s manual can grow frustrating very quickly if we are unable to find the information we are searching for. Thus, many of us turn to the internet to answer questions and address the problems that arise with our vehicles.

There are countless situations in which you may desire to play your radio without wasting your gas to sit in one spot. For many of us, music is therapeutic and we turn to it in order to cheer us up, prepare ourselves for a stressful situation, or simply escape from our own thoughts for a few minutes.

Not to mention that it is impossible for us all to ignore all of the reminders that our cars are slowly hurting the planet. So why contribute to that in any way when you don’t have to? Enjoying your favorite song when you need it most shouldn’t have to come with the cost of feeling guilty.

Now Go Enjoy Your Tunes

We hope that this detailed guide has provided you with a solution as to how you can keep your radio on but your engine off in whichever vehicle you happen to own. For many of us, the radio is one of the most important features of our car and it is incredibly frustrating when you are unable to access it at the moment you want it. Now hop into your car, turn the radio all the way up, and find your happy place!

Any Further Questions?

Q-1. Does this method also work in a vehicle that has a gated shifter rather than the traditional vertical model?

In cars with a gated shifter, the process is very simple. While the car is running and in the park, move the shifter slightly to the right and push the start-stop button. You will hear the engine turn off but the radio will remain on. Then you can return the shifter back to its normal resting position.

Q.2. I have tried the method listed above for the manufacturing year of my car but it still won’t work. What do I do?

This article provides general guidelines based on the industry standards for the models manufactured during those years, but there are always exceptions. Try all three methods outlined in the article to see which suits your specific model. If that does not work, you may need to consult the owner’s manual or contact the dealer/manufacturer for further instructions.


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