The days of flipping through radio stations to find a good song or fumbling to change CDs that are too easily scratched in your car are over. Now, it’s so easy to play the music you want, or better yet, a good podcast or audiobook. All you have to do is hook up your phone so that it plays through your car speakers. Then you get to listen to the sounds that you love, with little or no break going from house to car to office and back again.
If you’re wondering about how to connect your Android phone to your car audio system, we have five easy ways for new and old cars that you can try. In modern vehicles, it’s often a simple case of plug and play. However, it’s not always a straightforward process to get your phone connected. It all depends on what’s available in your car. Don’t worry though, there are plenty of workarounds for those cars without the most current connectivity options. There’s even an option for your beautiful older cars that still have a tape deck in them.
Let’s take a look at five simple ways to connect your Android phone to your car audio system:
How To connect with aux cable
We’re starting easy with the auxiliary port. This is a standard 3.5mm port that appears in almost all cars being made today and has done for the last 10 years at least. If you’re not sure what it looks like, it’s the same port that you use to plug headphones into in your phone – the old round port, not the newer USB C port that some Android phones are using now. What you’ll need is a cable that has that 3.5mm jack on both ends – one side to fit into your phone and the other to fit into the port in your car.
In modern cars, this port is often located on or near the radio face on the dashboard or in the centre console between the front seats. In older cars, you may find that the port has been hidden behind the stereo. If you aren’t sure, give your car make, model and year a Google and you should be able to find out where the port is if there is one.
Then it’s a simple case of plugging your phone in, selecting the AUX setting on your car stereo and playing your audio file from your phone. Depending on the set up of your car, you may have to navigate between songs or files on your actual phone, or you may be able to use the steering wheel controls.
How to connect with USB port
This method is similar to using your aux port, but the option of USB is usually only found on more modern cars from the last five years or so. You can use the cable that came with your phone for charging and connecting to your computer, and plug your Android phone directly into your car. Again, the port is likely to be found near the radio face on the dashboard or in the centre console. Some vehicle designs hide the port in places like the front or centre cubby holes – just check your car manual or Google the model and year of your car.
If you are using your phone to play audio files, you will most likely need to have the files actually stored on your device. Streaming doesn’t always work via USB in cars. Another option is to put your music, podcasts or audio books onto a flash drive and pop that into the USB port. That way, you can leave your music source in your car and not worry about running down the battery on your phone while you drive.
How to connect with Bluetooth
Many cars come standard with a method of pairing your phone to your vehicle via Bluetooth. For older cars, you can also buy a Bluetooth kit that turns your car into a handsfree world for answering and making calls, and for streaming audio from your phone.
Your first step is to go to settings on your Android phone and make sure you have Bluetooth enabled and that your phone is set to being visible or discoverable. Then you need to go to the settings in your car and tell it to search for devices. Your car will give you a pin that you need to punch into your phone. From there, your phone should be connected. What’s more, it should automatically connect each time you get into your car and turn the engine on. Just make sure to keep Bluetooth turned on for your phone.
How to connect with FM transmitter
If you have no built-in options in your car, then an FM transmitter is a great way to get your phone connected. The device essentially takes over an un-used radio frequency and plays whatever your phone is playing. You get both wireless options and wired devices when it comes to FM transmitters. You’ll have to pick the one that works in your particular setup in your car. Just remember that being able to plug your phone into the transmitter is likely to give you a more stable connection for playing music.
Once everything is set up, tune your car radio to the frequency you’ve chosen for your device, and your audio files should start playing through your car’s speakers. If you live in a mountainous area, it’s a good idea to get a transmitter that can automatically scan for free frequencies as you’ll likely find that what works on one side of a mountain isn’t available on another side of it. This may cause some breaks in your audio playback, but it shouldn’t be any worse than your car automatically looking for another frequency of the radio station you’re playing.
How to connect with cassette tape deck adapter
Now we’re going totally old school! If your car still has a tape cassette player, then it’s very likely that it’s too old to have any of the above built-in connection options. You could buy a Bluetooth device if you want to go wireless, or you can get one of these nifty little devices to plug directly into your phone.
A cassette tape deck adapter will physically link your car to your phone and allow you to play audio through the stereo off your phone. You simply pop the tape-like device into the cassette deck on the front of your radio and then plug the wire into your phone in the 3.5mm audio port – the same place you would plug headphones in. Your car will automatically read the audio coming from the tape, which is whatever you’re playing off your Android phone.
Extras to make connecting your Android phone to your car audio system easier
Two extras you might want to consider getting to make life a little easier if you’re using your phone for entertainment in your car: a dashboard phone holder and a phone charger for your car.
When you have your phone mounted on your dashboard at an easy angle to glance at while driving, it makes life a lot simpler. You can see what song or audio file is playing, and navigate through your audio library quickly (as long as you aren’t actually driving when you do so).
Secondly, having a way to charge your phone in your car is fairly important if you’re going to be playing music through it when you drive. It would not be ideal to break down or arrive at your destination and your phone is dead.
Enjoy your audio the way you want to
Whichever way you end up connecting your phone, you know that you’ve done the right thing. It’s great to have your selection of music, as well as podcasts or audiobooks, whenever you hit the road. Connecting your phone also means that you have almost unlimited options for listening. You can stream music from so many different apps – Google Play, YouTube, Spotify, just to name a few. You can even stream your favourite radio stations from all over the world.
Just remember to stay safe on the roads and set up your audio playback before you drive off. If you want to change between songs or playlists, do so when you are at a complete standstill or get a passenger to play DJ. Wherever possible, you should also make use of steering wheel controls to ensure you don’t get distracted when driving by needing to check what’s happening on your phone.
The power is in your hands once you connect your Android phone to your car audio system. Simply create the ultimate driving playlist for each road trip you head out on, or for your daily commute. Then connect your phone to your car and drive happy.