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How to Turn on Radio Without Starting Car – Detailed Guide

Writen by Edwin Jones

Fact checked by Andrew Wright

how to turn on radio without starting car

Feeling a little bored while waiting for friends in the car, you consider turning on the radio to catch up with some news. Yet, switching on the engine may unnecessarily burn the gas and fuel. So, is it possible to keep the radio on when car is off?

You definitely can. Check out our ultimate guideline on how to turn on radio without starting car! After only a few steps, you will be able to set up the radio and enjoy it to the fullest.

How Can You Keep the Radio on When the Car Is Off

Though back in the old days, you could only use accessories when starting the car, it is now feasible to listen to radio with car off as manufacturers already designed a function called “accessory mode.”

This mode lets you utilize the car’s accessories, such as radio, navigation, or air conditioning, even when the car is off. As a result, when you know how to turn it on, you will not only be able to listen to the radio but also use the air conditioner or search for navigation in advance.

What’s more, turning on the accessory mode often does not utilize significant amounts of power from the battery. Instead, great battery drains only occur when you start running all the crucial functions.

Yet, you may be a bit confused about how to enter this special mode because there is no button on your car monitor that explicitly mentions the phrase “accessory mode.”

So, keep reading to explore how to put car in accessory mode and turn on the radio without starting the car!

The Ultimate Guideline to Turn on Radio without Starting a Car


Depending on your car model, the way to tune in to some radio when keeping your car off varies.

For example, if your vehicle is equipped with a traditional key rather than the modern smart key system, you should take advantage of the key and the ignition system to use the accessory mode. Meanwhile, many modern cars embed a secondary function of “accessory mode” to their start/stop buttons.

Below, you will find a detailed guide on how to enjoy the radio without turning on the engine for both keyed and keyless cars. Choose the type of car that resembles your vehicle the most and try it out!

For a car with a start/stop button

When your car comes with a smart key system, entering accessory mode becomes a little bit complicated. Here are three main steps that you should follow:

Step 1: Have the key in your car

First developed in 1995, the smart key system has gained significant popularity, eventually becoming many car owners’ preferences due to its convenience. If you wish to use the secondary function of the start/stop engine button, you should make sure that your smart key is right next to you.

Step 2: Shift the gear into the neutral mode

When you let the car stay in Park mode and press the engine start/stop button right away, it will automatically turn off all the engines, including the radio. Thus, it is crucial to emphasize that you should change the mode into neutral before performing the third and fourth steps.

In some cars, you have to press the brake pedal to alter the gear shifter from the park to neutral mode. So, make sure you know how to do this with your vehicle.

Step 3: Push the button to start accessory mode

Now, after you have set the gear into the proper mode, it is time to push button start accessory mode and witness the magic. However, you should release your foot from the brake pedal beforehand. This is because every time you put your foot on the brake and press the button, it will automatically start the engine.

When the car enters the accessory mode, you can enjoy all the wonderful music and news from the radio while waiting for your friends.

For a car without the smart key system

If you have purchased an older model of automobile that utilizes a traditional key, it takes less effort to listen to the radio with the car off. Just plug the key in the ignition system and turn it to the first position! Then, when you hear the click sound, your car is ready to go on accessory mode.

Can the Accessory Mode Empty the Battery Out


Since the accessory mode itself does not utilize any power, it cannot drain your battery. However, the accessories require some power to function.

Consequently, when you take advantage of the accessory mode and excessively use a ton of devices, the battery may well run out. For instance, leaving the radio on for several hours may cut off all the power.

Unfortunately, as you may know, the battery only recharges when you switch on the engines. Thus, it is recommended that you be mindful of which accessories you run and how long they are used so that you will not have to deal with a powerless car later on.

How Long Can the Radio Operate When You Listen to Radio with Car Off

The duration that a battery can last depends on various aspects, such as the kind of accessory, the time of usage, and the battery’s condition. Therefore, it is impossible to present a concrete answer about how long the radio may last when the car is in accessory mode.

To avoid overusing the battery, you should restrict the usage of accessory mode to at most one or two hours. Or else, you have no choice but to ask for help from an owner of a functional car and practice jump-start.

How to Turn Off the Car When the Accessory Mode is Turned on

People sometimes find it challenging to turn off the car after activating the accessory mode, but it is pretty simple if you understand how to do this properly.

First, remember to keep your foot away from the brake. Then, press the engine start/stop button. After a second, you will see all the electronics inside the car turn on. This is the time when you can press the button again to finally turn your car off and go out of your beloved vehicle to appreciate some fresh air.

Final Thoughts

To sum up, it is not too complicated for you to listen to the radio with the car off. Just follow our suggestions on how to turn on radio without starting car. Then, you can freely choose a channel to alleviate your boredom.

However, since accessories like radio utilize a certain amount of power, you should only use this function within a few hours to prevent the battery from draining.

Read more: Why doesn’t the car start but the radio and lights work?

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