How to Find the Radio Code to Unlock a Car Stereo (4 Steps)

If you have ever replaced your car battery in your car, you may notice that your car radio is locked afterward. Here's how to find the radio code to unlock it again.

How To Find The Radio Code To Unlock A Car Stereo

Were you replacing your car battery, and when you started the car, you realized that the radio was locked?

That is a widespread problem because you often do not know that you need a radio code before it is too late.

Unlocking a radio can be difficult if you didn’t get the radio code when you purchased the car. Luckily, you are not alone with this problem, so there is a solution to this.

How to find the radio code

There are a few steps you should take when trying to find the radio code. Follow these steps to retrieve your car’s radio code.

Total Time: 10 minutes

1. Check your owner’s manual

Car Owners Manual

The first step you should take when trying to find the radio code is to check your owner’s manual. The owner’s manual is often located in the glove box or with the documents you got when you bought the car.

Usually, when the car got delivered by the manufacturer, they either glued or printed a radio card or label into the owner’s manual. This radio card can also be located on another paper together with all documents in the glove box. You can also often find instructions in your owner’s manual on how to find the radio code.

2. Visit the manufacturer’s website

Manufacturer Website

If you didn’t have any luck checking the owner’s manual, it is now time to check the manufacturer’s website. You often have to log in for this and verify that you are the owner of the car. If you have an app installed by your car manufacturer, you can often find the radio code there also. They will usually send the radio code to your email once it is verified.

Remember that this does not work with aftermarket radios. You can also try finding information about retrieving the radio code for your specific car model on related websites.

3. Visit or Call your Local Dealer

Call Dealer

If you couldn’t find any related information on their website, you can give it a try by calling your local dealer where you bought your car. If it is an authorized dealer for your car brand, they can often retrieve the radio code through their database without issues. Remember that this does not work with aftermarket radios or if you bought your car from a non-authorized dealer.

Unfortunately, this can often cost 30$ – 50$ for you to retrieve the radio code, depending on the car brand.

4. Contact a Local Car Audio Center

Car Audio Shop

If you have tried everything above and nothing seems to work, it is not time to try the last solution. This often works very well if you have an aftermarket stereo, but it can also work with original stereos.

Look on Google maps for the closest local car audio center and take your car to them and let them take a look if they can help you unlock the car stereo. Often they have special tools or information on how to unlock your car radio easily.

Aftermarket Stereo Unlocking

It is not very common for aftermarket stereos to have any locking system, but some premium brands have it. If you have an aftermarket radio, you may find the methods above impossible, and in this case, you need to find the code you got when you purchased the radio.

If it was not you that bought the car stereo or if you lost the documents you can give it a chance to call the manufacturers of the radio. Here are the phone numbers of the most known aftermarket car stereo manufacturers.

ManufacturerPhone Number
Alpine(800)421-2284
Becker(201)773-0978
Blaupunkt/Bosch(800)266-2528
Clarion(800)347-8667
Grundig(248)813-2000

Radio Code FAQs

How do I unlock my car radio without the code?

In most cars there is no easy way to unlock the radio once it is locked. If this were possible, it would defeat the purpose of coded radios, as any thief could use the trick. However, some manufacturers have still made a backdoor for their stereo systems, which you can use if you know about them. This usually involves pressing certain buttons or turning knobs while turning the ignition on and off.

Can I get the radio code from the VIN number?

Yes, you can sometimes find out what the radio code is from the VIN, and there are two ways to do this. One is to go to the authorized dealer, who can quickly find out your radio’s code. But unfortunately, many of them charge for this service, setting you back as much as $100. Another option is to take a look at websites that specialize in this type of information.

Why do cars have radio codes?

Car radios have a code to prevent thieves from stealing them from your car. You may not be aware of it, but standard stereo systems in our vehicles are expensive pieces of equipment. And as such, they are highly sought after on the used market. However, when an encoded radio is removed from a car, it locks up and becomes pretty much useless. This effectively deters burglars from breaking into cars to steal the radio.

How many digits is a radio code?

The number of digits in a radio code varies greatly depending on the manufacturer and the level of protection they have. Some cars will have four digits, while others may have as many as 15. However, in most cases, you will see blank spaces to fill in on your radio’s display, which may indicate the length of the code.

What do you do if you lose your radio code?

First, check your owner’s manual, which you usually find in the glove compartment. Most manufacturers will place a label with the radio code somewhere inside it. Another option is to go through specialized websites that offer these codes. And in most cases, this information is free. Finally, in none of this work, you can always contact your local authorized dealer. They can easily retrieve the radio code for your car once you provide the VIN and proof of ownership.

Conclusion: Radio Code

Many modern car radios have a code whose purpose is to stop thieves from stealing them. In simple words, once the radio is removed from the car, it locks up and becomes useless. But the same usually happens when, for example, changing the battery.

The only way to unlock it then is by using a code provided to the owner by the car manufacturer. And if you don’t know what your radio code is, there are two options – calling the main dealer or looking it up on the Internet.

Learn more:

Magnus Sellén
Written by:

Magnus is the owner and main author of Mechanicbase. He has been working as a car mechanic for over 10 years, and the majority of them specialized in advanced car diagnostics and troubleshooting. Certified Automotive Diagnostic Technician.

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