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If the amp is hooked up properly it will completely power off and the battery will be fine. What's the watts of the amp? Do your headlights dim when the stereo is on?

Bcae1.com will help you greatly. I highly suggest you buy the full version of his site as the information it has is laid out extremely well. Its cheap anyways, and provides more knowledge than college level classes would.

If the remote wire is correct then chances are your battery is just plain old or your alternator is now insufficient.
 

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You think it could be the amp. At one time the amp started to smoke, but hasn't since.
A sure sign that some component has failed. Sell the amp and buy a new one.

Another thing is that you can hear speakers turn off. You could always get a house stereo with rca outs and run an extension cord to the car, hook the boom box's output to the amps input, and see if you get sound. If an amp is turned up to a higher output level sometimes the speakers will have a very quiet hiss.

There should be a small LED on the amp, and with the ignition off it should go out as well.

crutchfield.com go there ask questions for any gear your interested in. They will give you professional advice, for free. They can recommend the best amp for your application, price range, and audio preference. You can even ask more questions about the responses they give you and you'll always get great information.
 
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