How to Test a CB Radio: How do I know if my CB is Working?

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You’ve bought the CB radio of your dream, now it is time to play with it. But before doing that, you need to make sure the thing is working right.

And that’s where comes the need of knowing how to test a CB radio?

No worries, if you don’t know what you’ve got to do to make sure, the antenna you’ve put up is getting the signal, or you’ve tuned it the right way to get crystal clear audio on the CB. I’m here like always to take you through the nitty-gritty process and explain all the details you need to test the device on your own.

Just stay with me.

How to test a CB radio?

How To Test A CB Radio

There are two types of testing for your CB radio. The one is where you just got the radio and put together it to make sure it is working fine. And the other one is troubleshooting it for various problems.

We’ll look into both of them.

Let’s start with the general test.

General Test:

You first need to get a meter and a power supply before testing your recently bought CB radio. And before starting testing it, make sure all the parts of the CB radio are there.

Now, check the radio got two cords. One will be positive and the other one as you can guess will be the negative one. You must know which one is which otherwise testing it won’t be possible.

For instance, if the cord colors are red and black, usually the red one is the one that is positive while the black one is the negative one. It is better to have the wires apart. For that, you can use plastic tapes as the insulator.

Ok, done with identifying the cords? Then move on and get the mic plugged in the CB. After that, plug in the CB radio to the power supply. Make sure the power supply is working. If it is, then just turn the radio on for the next part.

You should have the antenna already mounted on the radio before you turn it on. If you’ve got all that right, then there will be sound coming out of the radio. The next thing you do is take that meter that you’ve got previously. Now, plug that in the radio and use the microphone then. Reading on the meter will show if the radio got the power or not.

You can check the modulation too if you’ve got it or not. To do that, all you need is to switch the modulation key on the meter. After that, start speaking on to the mic and look at the meter. If there is modulation, then the CB radio is good to use.

Troubleshooting tests:

There can be various issues with the CB radio. And for that, there are various troubleshooting tests that you might need to perform to isolate the problem that is causing the radio to not work.

Let’s take a look at them one by one.

No power:

If there is no power on the radio, then you’ve got to look into the power cord. Make sure it got attached to the radio right. Also, you need to check whether you’ve got the switches on or not.

Besides that, there might be some issue with the radio’s fuse. That’s why you need to check to make sure it didn’t get blown. Unless it didn’t burn, the radio should work.

For those, who’ve got the CB radio installed on the car, they should check their car’s electrical system. Possibly, the car is not able to give the power to the radio itself, which is why it isn’t working.

Channel knob not working:

In many cases, there is a problem with the channel selecting knob. You turn the knob, but no changes are happening on the radio.

That might be because there is a channel selecting switch on the radio that needs to be turned on before you do that.

Otherwise, it won’t work.

Channel light not showing:

Your radio is working just fine. But you can’t see which channel you’re on right at that moment on the display because the light isn’t working on the radio.

It can happen.

In that case, the first thing you need to make sure the fuse is intact. For those users who’ve got the radio mounted in the car, they should check if the ground wire connection is done right. If your connection to the radio isn’t directly to the power supply source, then you’ve got to check the wire extensions to make sure they didn’t come off of the power source.

Maybe your problem isn’t that complex at all. Maybe the CB radio you’ve got in your home got a button to turn off the channel indicator light. So, you can look for it and turn it on and the problem will get solved like that.

Weak Transmissions:

You’re transmitting, but there is no one picking up the signals. That can happen with CB radios. In that case, the radio wave isn’t going the intended distance.

Solving that problem is possible in a couple of steps. First of all, you need to check the CB antenna and get it in a higher position to get better transmission and reception signal. Also, check to see whether the coax cable of the radio is connected to the radio.

Some radios got a PA feature. If your one has it too, then turn it to a CB position to get better results. Also, make sure to press the PTT button all the way through. Sometimes not pressing the button right is what creates the problem.

Besides all that, check your mic whether it got connected to the radio properly. Other than that, look into the power connections, battery, and the electric system if you’re using the CB radio using your car’s electric system.

Blown Fuse:

In many of the troubleshooting cases, you’ve seen that the blown fuse can cause some severe problems in the CB radio. That’s why make sure to use the right type of fuse and check out all the connections properly to avoid such issues.

No sound and Jumbled speech:

Not getting any sound from the channels, then you should check the PA switch. Maybe it got turned off. Switch it to the CB position, and the problem would get resolved.

For some getting the sound isn’t the problem. It is the other way around, where the transmissions get jumbled that you can’t understand anything.

Check the mic to see if it got connected to the radio the proper way. If the radio got a mic gain knob, use it to turn the thing counter-clockwise to see if the problem disappears. Even not having the antenna tuned right can cause the problem, check that out too.

Also read: Why you need to increase CB radio Watts and how?


Why does my CB have so much static?

There can be many reasons for the static. It can be due to engine motions, other broadcasts, or even just electrical wires getting each others way. You can use the squelch function to reduce the static.

How far can a 4 watt CB radio transmit?

Using a 4 watt CB radio, you can transmit up to 4-6 miles in an open terrain, where else that range can be around 1½ – 3 in the urban areas.

How do I know if my CB Mic got broken?

You can use the meter to check if the needle moves when you use the CB mic. If it doesn’t move, then your CB mic got a blown final.

How do you troubleshoot a CB radio?

I’ve talked about the various troubleshooting scenarios of CB radio above. But to sum it up, there can be issues with your power, channel knobs or light, transmission quality, sound quality, and many other things.


Knowing how to test a CB radio can be an important skill. You don’t have to ask for expert help, just because there is something wrong with the radio. You can check what’s the problem, and solve it on your own if you know what is causing the transmission issue in the device.

So, take time, go through the problems mentioned above, isolate it, and then take care of it to get the radio working again.

Till then, I will come with some more radio tips for you.

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