All of the digital stations have disappeared on my car radio

Why have all the digital channels disappeared from my car radio? This was quite a long time ago but I could not find an answer anywhere.
– Susan

A sudden loss of all DAB digital radio stations, rather than just a few, could suggest a problem with the radio or the antenna.

Digital radio stations are transmitted from multiple transmitters, so even if there was a problem with one transmitter this would not normally affect every station that you should be able to receive.

There are some checks which you could do in the car. If the car stereo is an aftermarket unit, i.e. one which replaces the radio that came with the car, it could simply be that the aerial connection has come loose. Aftermarket car radios can normally be removed with special keys allowing you to check the connections. These keys cost a few pounds online or from a car audio retailer if you don’t have them.

Windscreen aerials are normally quite reliable as they are inside the car, but there could still be a problem. Some DAB car aerials have a separate film antenna to the rest of the aerial system. If this connection is poor the radio may not find any stations. New windscreen aerials are fairly cheap and you could try replacing this.

If you use a DAB adapter like a Pure Highway you could check the connections on the unit. There could be a problem with the aerial on the windscreen too. If your adapter was installed recently you could check if it’s still within the warranty period. New DAB adapters are reasonably priced, particularly the Pure Highway 200, and installing a new one could be an option.

Factory-fitted DAB radio

All car radio aerials can be susceptible to damage and faults. Car owners often ask online about problems with FM reception as well as DAB.

Check that the long part of the aerial is screwed into the base on the car roof. It could have become loose over time. Also check that the aerial isn’t damaged or bent. Going under a car park barrier could have impacted the aerial.

Car radio aerial bases can also be affected by water ingress where a seal has perished or split. It can be more difficult to see if this is the case, but corrosion here could cause reception problems.

Factory-fitted infotainment systems can be quite complex and contain more functions than just the radio. Sometimes these can appear to work slowly, be stuck in a single mode or not switch on. A software update may be available for the unit. If your car has an infotainment system and is under warranty it would be worth speaking to your local dealer or the manufacturer.

An independent car audio installer should be able to look at the radio and aerial to diagnose any problems.

Whether the DAB radio is built-in or an aftermarket radio or adapter there is normally an option to do a ‘factory reset’. This could be worth trying too.