How to Test a CB Radio?

After you’ve found the answer to what is the best CB radio for you, then it’s time for making it work.

If you have set up your CB radio with an antenna, and tuned it to the right degree, then you are almost done. Now, to assess if you have done it all correctly, you need to test your CB radio. We’ll teach you how to do that in this article.

Hopefully, you will not only be able to do this on your own but will also be able to explain it to others by the time you are done reading. So, let’s begin!

General Test

First of all, you have to know that CB radio operates on 40 channels around 27 megahertz frequency in the shortwave band. Citizen’s band falls under personal radio service (PRS).

For testing a brand new CB radio, you will need a meter and a power supply. Check if your radio has everything it should have. There should be two cords, one positive and one negative, ensure you know which one is which. Generally, the red cord is the positive one, and the black one is negative.


Ensure that the microphone is plugged in. Then plug the radio in the power supply. As an insulator, you can use a plastic tape. Use the insulator to keep the wires apart. Otherwise, there is a possibility of blowing a fuse. Check if the power supply is working, and then turn on the radio.

Then check if that the short CB antenna is mounted when you turn the radio on. Otherwise, the radio can get damaged. If the radio is working, you should hear sounds. Plug the meter to the radio. Then use the microphone of the radio. The meter should go up, indicating that you have power.

To check if you have modulation, set the modulator by switching the modulation key on your meter. Then, speak to the microphone of the CB radio and check the meter. If you have modulation, then your radio is all ready to use.

Troubleshooting Tests: CB Radio Has No Power

Check your power cord connections and make sure they are all attached correctly. If there is any plug, ensure that it is well seated. Make sure the power has been switched on.

You may also check the fuse of the radio and ensure that it is not blown. Check the in-line fuse on your CB radio’s power cord. If it is burned out, the radio will not turn on.


If the radio is not directly connected to the power source, make sure the extension wire or fuse panel has a good connection to the power source. Also, ensure that the car’s electric system is working properly.

Troubleshooting Tests: Inoperative Channel Selecting Knob

This issue occurs when you turn the channel selector knob to change channels, but it does not work. Many CB radios come with a switch that makes the channel go instantly to channel 9 or 19 for emergency situations. Make sure that if your radio has that switch, it is turned off.

Many CB radios also come with a weather operation mode. If your radio has that, make sure it is turned off as well.

Troubleshooting Tests: Channel Light Is Not Showing or Dimmed

You will face this problem when the channel light does not turn on. There might be sound coming to your radio still, and you may be able to transmit or receive messages. The other lights on your CB radio may work fine too.

Ensure that your radio’s fuse is intact and not blown. If the radio is mounted in a vehicle, make sure the ground wire is connected properly to good chassis ground. Provided that the radio is not connected directly to the power source, ensure the extension wire or fuse panel is well connected to the power source.

Some CB radios have the function to turn off or dim the lights, even just the channel indicator light. If your radio comes with those, make sure they are turned on. Check the car’s electric system and ensure it is working properly.

Troubleshooting Tests: Weak Transmit from the CB Radio

This problem occurs when your radio turns on and works properly, but you do not get responses when you transmit messages. Someone on your frequency may listen but report that they did not pick your transmission up.


If your CB radio has a PA feature, turn the switch for it in CB position. Ensure that the antenna of your CB radio and the coax cable are both properly connected. They should be tightly screwed in with weather protectors properly on. When transmitting, make sure the microphone PTT button is pressed all the way in.

Tune your antenna properly. Check the mic plug or cord and ensure it’s plugged in properly. As already mentioned above, check the battery & power connections, power cord connection, and the electric system of the car.

Troubleshooting Tests: Blown Fuse

A CB radio is very prone to blowing fuses, sometimes even after using the correct fuse type. Fuses may blow when the microphone is keyed up or when you switch on the CB radio.

Most of the tests for this type of problem have already been mentioned. Check the connections of the power cord, the antenna, the coax cable, ground wire if in a vehicle, battery, and extension wire; make sure they are all connected and set properly.

Troubleshooting Tests: Jumbled Speech

This problem may be reported by other CB radio users if your transmissions are hard to understand or jumbled. In this case, make sure the microphone is plugged in correctly and check to see if there are any damages on the cord, the plug, or the pins.

If your CB radio contains a mic gain knob, turn it down by rotating it counter-clockwise and see if the problem remains. And if there is a power mic, try turning it down too. The issue may also occur from an antenna not being properly tuned, so check that.

Troubleshooting Tests: No Sound

This problem is when the radio is powered on, it works fine, but there are no sounds coming from the channels. As mentioned before, check the PA switch and make sure it is switched on the CB position.

Check power cord connection, antenna & coax cable connection, ground cord connection, battery connection, mic plug or cord connection and ensure they are all on properly. If there is an RF gain control, ensure that it’s turned clockwise all the way.

Try turning the squelch counter-clockwise as far as the knob goes, then turn it back clockwise just till the static stops.


There is also a possibility that the channel you are on does not have anyone transmitting messages; switch to other channels in this case. Your microphone may not be working, so try using an external speaker to check.

So that’s it, we are done. Hopefully, we have covered all the different types of tests that you may need in order to successfully test a CB radio. Now that you know how to test a new one and do basic troubleshooting, transmit away!

Read Related Posts ⁄

Leave a Reply