How to Find a Car Radio Code

How to unlock a car radio code for free

What to Know

  • Easiest method: Contact your local dealer's service department for the code or to reset the car radio for you.
  • Second method: Go to the automaker's website with your car's information and request the code.
  • Third method: Rely on free or paid online resources and databases.

This article explains the options for finding a car radio code. You can contact a local dealer and talk to the service department, go directly to the website of the automaker that manufactured your vehicle, or rely on free or paid online resources and databases.

How to Find a Car Radio Code

Some car radios come with an anti-theft feature that kicks in whenever they lose battery power. This feature typically locks the unit up until the correct car radio code is entered. The code is almost always specific to not only the make and model of the radio but also to that specific unit.

If the code for your head unit isn’t written down anywhere in your owner’s manual, you’ll need to have a few different pieces of information ready before you can proceed, including:

  • The make, model and year of the vehicle.
  • The vehicle identification number (VIN) of the vehicle.
  • The brand, serial number, and part number of the radio.

After you have this information, choose one of the three methods to locate the car radio code.

To obtain the brand, serial number, and part number of your radio, you typically have to remove it. If you're uncomfortable with removing and installing a car stereo, take your vehicle to a local dealer and ask them to reset the radio for you.

Official OEM Car Radio Code Sources

In order to obtain a car radio from an official, original equipment manufacturer (OEM) source, you can either contact a local dealer or request a code directly from the manufacturer.

find car radio code dealership
Your local dealership can find your car radio code, but there may be easier online options available. Photo Concepts / Cultura / Getty Images

Most automakers direct you to your local dealer, but there are a handful such as Honda, Mitsubishi, and Volvo that allow you to request your code online.

After you gather all the relevant information about your car and your radio, you can use the following table of popular vehicle manufacturers to either locate a local dealer or the official online car radio code request site.

OEM Dealer Locator Online Code Request
Acura Yes Yes
Audi Yes No
BMW Yes No
Chrysler Yes No
Ford Yes No
GM Yes No
Honda Yes Yes
Hyundai Yes No
Jeep Yes No
Kia Yes No
Land Rover Yes No
Mercedes Yes No
Mitsubishi Yes Yes
Nissan Yes No
Subaru Yes No
Toyota Yes No
Volkswagen Yes No
Volvo Yes Yes

If you decide to contact a local dealer, you will usually need to speak with the service department. You can then ask the service writer whether or not they can look up your car radio code.

There is a chance that you will be able to obtain the code over the phone, but you may need to make an appointment to actually visit the dealership. You also have the option to just take your car straight to the dealer, where they will figure out the serial number of the radio and input the code for you.

If the manufacturer that built your vehicle offers online code lookup, you will typically have to enter information like your VIN, the serial number of the radio, and contact information like your phone number and email. The code may then be emailed to you for your records.

Official Head Unit Manufacturer Code Request

In addition to local dealers and OEM online code request services, you may also be able to obtain your car radio code from the company that actually built the head unit. Some examples of head unit manufacturers that can provide car radio codes include:

Head Unit Manufacturer Offline Customer Service Online Code Request
Alpine (800)421-2284 Ext.860304 No
Becker (201)773-0978 Yes (email)
Blaupunkt/Bosch (800)266-2528 No
Clarion (800)347-8667 No
Grundig (248)813-2000 Yes (fax online form)

Every head manufacturer has its own policy in regard to car radio codes. In some cases, they can help you with any "personal" codes that may have been set by a previous owner, but they will direct you to the vehicle OEM for a "factory" code.

In other cases, they may require some type of proof of ownership to ensure that the head unit isn't stolen. Unlike vehicle OEMs, head unit manufacturers typically charge a lookup fee to find a car radio code.

Other Sources, Including Online Code Lookup Services and Databases

If the manufacturer of your vehicle doesn't have an online code request service and you prefer using an online resource to contacting a local dealer, there are both free and paid databases that may be helpful.

Another option is to contact a car audio installer in your area. Since they deal with this type of situation all the time, some car audio installers pay for access to car radio code databases. Keep in mind that since they have to pay for the information, they will typically charge a fee for this type of service.

Exercise caution when using any site that promises free access to car radio codes, especially if the site asks for your credit card details. There are legitimate sites out there that offer this type of service, but there's always a chance of contracting malware from a malicious site or falling prey to a scammer.

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