Install bluetooth to car: How To Modernize Your Car With Bluetooth

How To Modernize Your Car With Bluetooth

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Bluetooth does nothing new. Even before the technology was introduced, you could make hands-free calls to Mum and stream Mobb Deep’s The Infamous through your car stereo. Bluetooth’s crowning achievement is that it allows drivers to do these things without the messy annoyance known as wires.

We despise cluttered car cabins, and wires have become one of the major culprits for quickly mucking up center consoles. If one of your 2021 resolutions is to keep a cleaner car or to simply upgrade it, it’s time for you to add Bluetooth to your cabin. 

There are good and bad ways to do this, just as there are pricier options and cheap options. Below, The Drive’s plugged-in editors untangle the wires and clearly lay out how to proceed without too much hassle. Time to get to it.

What Is Bluetooth?

Let’s begin with the basics. Bluetooth is a wireless technology that allows two devices to communicate without a plug. This technology allows you to easily connect your phone to your automobile’s infotainment system.

How Is Bluetooth Used in Cars?

Smartphones pair to cars and can sync music, text messages, maps, contacts, applications, and numerous other functions. 

Many Bluetooth receivers plug into the cigarette lighter., Anker / Amazon

Ways To Add Bluetooth To Your Car

There are good options, and there are bad options. Learn which is which below.

Bluetooth Radio Transmitter

A Bluetooth radio transmitter essentially pairs with your phone and the radio. After a radio station is selected on the device, you match the station in the car, and the sound comes through the main stereo system. The phone connects through an aux cord, while the receiver is powered by batteries, the car’s USB port, or the car’s cigarette lighter.

Bluetooth Receiver

A Bluetooth receiver can only be used with new cars that feature USB ports or auxiliary jacks. Your phone pairs with the receiver, which then connects to the car’s infotainment through one of those two methods.

Single-Din Radio

If you don’t care about having any of the modern touchscreen amenities like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, a single-din radio is one of the best cheap upgrades for an older vehicle. 

After the CD player went bad on my personal 2003 Acura RSX, I replaced it with a basic Pioneer unit. It automatically connects to my phone when I turn the car on, and it has an extra USB port, an aux port, and a microphone for hands-free calls. 

Double-Din Radio With Touchscreen

The most beautiful and technologically advanced way to add Bluetooth to your old ride is with a double-din touchscreen head unit. Not only do you add Bluetooth, you also add the upgrades that come with a massive digital touchscreen. A new Double-Din will likely give you Apple CarPlay and Android Auto compatibility, too.

Bluetooth Speakerphone

The least useful method is a small receiver and speaker that creates hands-free calls. It does not connect to the radio and does nothing with music. It only amplifies your calls and allows you to speak to it with a built-in microphone.

How Much Does It Cost To Add Bluetooth To a Car?

A simple transmitter or receiver can cost $10, while the premium head unit stereos can cost $200-500. A decent single-din head unit will cost about $100-200.

The Basics of Aftermarket Bluetooth Installation

Estimated Time Needed: 5 minutes to 3 hours

Skill Level: Beginner

Vehicle System: Stereo/Infotainment

Everything You’ll Need To Add Bluetooth to a Car

Installing a Bluetooth transmitter or a receiver is as simple and straightforward as it gets. No tools are necessary.

Parts List

  • Bluetooth transmitter or receiver

Here’s How To Setup a Bluetooth Transmitter In Your Car

The easiest how-to ever.

  1. Turn your car on.
  2. Plug the transmitter into the USB or cigarette lighter.
  3. Plug the transmitter into your phone’s headphone jack.
  4. Set the station on the transmitter.
  5. Set the station on the car’s radio.
  6. If it’s fuzzy, try another radio station.
  7. Rock out!

Touchscreens add more than just Bluetooth., Pioneer / Amazon

Consider Mobile Stereo Installation from YourMechanic

While The Drive’s how-to guides are detailed and easy to follow, no vehicle is created the same, and not all auto maintenance or repair tasks are easy to accomplish on your own. That’s why we’ve partnered with YourMechanic and their network of mobile automotive technicians to offer our readers $10 off a $70 or more service call when you use promo code THEDRIVE.

FAQs About Adding Bluetooth To Your Car

You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!


So How Do I Know If My Car Has Bluetooth?

A. There are a few ways to identify if your car has Bluetooth.

  • Scroll through the stereo options, if possible.
  • Use the Bluetooth search function on your phone to look for your car.
  • You can perform a visual inspection of the dashboard, as many cars print the Bluetooth logo on the plastic.
  • Check your owner’s manual.
  • Call a dealership for help.

Q. Ok, Then What Year of Cars Has Bluetooth?

A. Virtually all new cars sold today can be optioned with Bluetooth. The technology was introduced around 2000, and it started to become more popular and common about 5-10 years later.

Q. Alright, Which Cheap Cars Have Bluetooth?

A. If you’re looking for a cheap new car, we recommend the 2020 Kia Rio LX hatchback. For $16,815, the base model comes standard with a 7.0-inch touchscreen display with Bluetooth, Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, and a backup camera. There are plenty of good options with Bluetooth today, though, including the Hyundai Accent, Toyota Yaris, Nissan Versa, or Honda Fit. There are also a host of used cars that come with the feature now as well. 

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The Drive’s Editors!

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Featured Products

Pioneer Multimedia Receiver

SoundBot Bluetooth Car Kit

Mpow Bluetooth Car Kit

How to Add Bluetooth to Your Car

Ian Allenden/123RF

In-car technology is advancing more quickly than anyone imagined, and it’s also easier to upgrade an older car with cutting-edge features than it’s ever been. Numerous aftermarket companies allow motorists to benefit from useful connectivity and safety features without having to buy a new car. Bluetooth is a great example of this — it has been around for years, and it used to be an expensive option offered solely on high-end cars, but it has become a cheap, easy upgrade on any vehicle regardless of its age or value.


  • Universal systems
  • Aftermarket audio units
  • Vehicle-specific adapters
  • FM transmitters
  • Bluetooth receivers

Further reading

  • Best radar detectors
  • Best head-up displays
  • Best car speakers

Bluetooth can be used to make phone calls (it channels the conversation through your car’s speakers) or to stream music directly from your smartphone, though some of the more basic systems are limited to calls. Either way, it’s a feature that significantly reduces distractions and allows the driver to keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times. That’s why most states have laws that require hands-free calling while driving.

With this in mind, let’s review the quick, affordable ways to add Bluetooth functionality to your vehicle.

Universal systems

If pulling wires apart just isn’t your cup of tea, the easiest way to add Bluetooth is with a universal kit, such as the iClever Himbox Plus. As the name implies, these standalone units work in just about any car thanks to a built-in speaker and microphone. Many of these systems clip onto your sun visor or can be mounted wherever you’d like with suction cups or tape.

There are pros and cons to these systems. On the plus side, many universal kits can be easily moved from vehicle to vehicle, so if you do a lot of car swapping and don’t want to pay for multiple units, you can just take the device with you. Unfortunately, systems that don’t wire into your factory audio unit won’t be able to integrate with your phone’s music apps. Note that mounting the device with tape could leave a nasty mark on your dashboard.

There are a few universal devices that will wire into your head unit and can add music streaming to the list of functionalities, but that makes the installation process a bit more complicated. These devices usually range in price from $15 to $30.

Aftermarket audio units

Replacing your vehicle’s head unit is a great option for those who want the greatest range of audio functionality. This process does require some labor, and you’ll need to embrace the aftermarket look of your new system, but most devices come with easy-to-follow instructions. With patience, common tools, and a couple of hours, most people can replace their stereo system. Don’t want the hassle? Many electronics stores offer installation for around $100.

There’s a broad range of replacement stereo systems on the market. Fortunately, even the most affordable units feature Bluetooth integration for hands-free calling. As you work your way up the price ladder, features like Bluetooth music streaming, complete smartphone integration (so you can access your phone’s apps through the car stereo), text messaging (reading your messages out loud so you keep your eyes on the road), and voice commands become available. You can even add units featuring Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.

The sheer number of devices on the market also means you’re likely to find a unit that closely matches your stock setup in color and design. Prices for these devices start as low as $40 and swing up to several hundred dollars for a more feature-rich unit. Top brands such as Pioneer, Alpine, and Kenwood currently offer an array of affordable options.

Vehicle-specific adapters

If you love the look of your vehicle’s stock stereo system and don’t mind getting your wires crossed (no pun intended), then a vehicle-specific adapter with Bluetooth functionality may be perfect for you. Crutchfield and other retailers sell a wide array of them.

The best part of a factory adapter is that it has been specifically engineered for your make and model vehicle, so you’ll have the best possible audio quality and vehicle-specific installation instructions. If you just want Bluetooth for hands-free calling and possibly music streaming (some systems are restricted to phone audio), then there’s no need to replace your entire head unit.

Installation time and difficulty will depend on the manufacturer, but most systems require you to remove the factory stereo, wire in the adapter, and route a wired microphone to the back of the head unit. When all is said and done, you’ll be able to make and answer calls via Bluetooth through your factory system. In addition to maintaining the stock aesthetic, these adapters are usually pretty cheap, with the average setup costing less than $100. Luxury automakers generally charge more for their devices, but hey, what else is new?

FM transmitters

Buying an FM transmitter is one of the cheapest ways to add Bluetooth to your car, especially if you drive an older model that lacks an auxiliary input. It’s a phone-shaped device that plugs into your car’s cigarette lighter and broadcasts a signal over a clear FM frequency. Set the transmitter to 106.3, for example, tune your radio to that frequency, and you’ll hear the music streaming from your phone or your MP3 player. Most FM transmitters let you make hands-free calls, too.

You can get a decent FM transmitter like this Nulaxy unit for about $20. We like this solution because it’s affordable, for one. There is no installation required, either. You simply turn the unit on and set it to your desired frequency. Since FM frequencies vary from region to region, this will take some tweaking if you typically drive long distances. A station that’s clear in, say, Reno, could broadcast ’90s hits in Salt Lake City. You’ll often find yourself resetting the station during your travels. Another potential challenge is finding an open frequency. In a major city like San Francisco, it is often easier said than done. In remote areas, static can wreak havoc on your audio experience, too.

Bluetooth receivers

When you have a Bluetooth receiver, you can quickly pair a Bluetooth-ready device with our car’s aux input through a compact device. The options are limitless. Once you’ve made the connection, you can do a variety of things, such as play music through your car’s sound system, make or take hands-free phone calls, and much more. 

Bluetooth resembles an FM transmitter and works in similar ways. Neither of them requires radio waves in order to connect to other devices. Bluetooth gives you a clear, crisp, static-free sound, which always beats a shakey FM frequency. Keep in mind that your car still does need an auxiliary input to use Bluetooth. Most modern car models have these already built-in, but many older models do not. If older car owners want to take advantage of all Bluetooth offers, they must purchase and install a new stereo system with Bluetooth capabilities. 

Thankfully, in today’s world, you can select from a wide range of Bluetooth receivers. You can expect to pay around $20. As always, the more advanced the technology, the higher the price. One of our favorite receivers is the Mpow. You’ll quickly notice its sleek and attractive design, which aids its aesthetic appeal. But what makes it stand out is its list of unique features. The Mpow offers a downloadable mobile app that helps you locate your parked car in a parking lot or crowded place. This receiver can also successfully connect to two different devices at the same time. Using this feature, you can stream music on your iPod while still making a call on your iPhone. 

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How to make Bluetooth in the car and connect to it

All electrical signal connections in automobiles are made with copper wires, even after the mass appearance of many microcomputers and data buses in electronic equipment. At the same time, most household gadgets have long been dispensed with extra cables, using wireless data transfer interfaces. One of them, standardized under the name Bluetooth, is most commonly used to connect digital audio sources to end devices, including telephony.

Contents of the article:

  • 1 Why Bluetooth is needed in a car
  • 2 How to install Bluetooth in a car
    • 2.1 1. Install a head unit that is already equipped with wireless communication
    • 2.2 2. Connect audio through a Bluetooth adapter 90 008
    • 2.3 3 Bluetooth speaker
  • 3 How to connect to the car’s Bluetooth

Why you need Bluetooth in your car

The Bluetooth interface uses the centimeter range of radio waves as a carrier frequency. This is a convenient electromagnetic energy, which requires very compact transceiver equipment for implementation, and long distances are not needed here, a few meters of reliable communication are enough.

The equipment includes digital codecs that provide the necessary digitalization of the analog signal with a sufficiently high quality.

Depending on the connected channel, it can be either simply confident for most users or providing a level of confidence for the most demanding listeners. No worse than the most common MP3 digital music storage formats with the highest bitrates.

Previously, all kinds of players for magnetic and digital recordings on cassettes and CDs were installed in cars. Now a typical medium is a flash drive or smartphone memory.

Often a tablet is installed in the car, it does not differ fundamentally from a smartphone, the same computer running a mobile operating system.

Read: How to install a tablet in a car instead of a radio and navigation

You can transfer the digital audio stream from such gadgets to the final amplifier of the car music system using the same shielded wires. But this is not always a good way in terms of matching signal levels, as well as interference conditions.

And certainly the connecting wires will cause inconvenience. Hence the reason for the ubiquity of Bluetooth in car multimedia. It is connected to play music, as well as the operation of mobile phones.

Ways to install Bluetooth in a car

Older car models did not include such a useful communication channel as part of a radio or other multimedia device.

But you can install this function yourself, everything you need is commercially available, and several options are possible.

1. Install the head unit already equipped with wireless

This technique is widely used and available. Everything you need is already in the “head”, you just need to connect an amplifier or speakers and establish a connection according to the instructions for the gadget and radio.

The resulting set is no different from the standard equipment of a more advanced version of the car.

At the same time, this method also looks the most expensive, since head units are not cheap. However, the result will be high-quality communication with support for a hands-free phone, navigator and digital music from a mobile device.

In many cases, other useful applications will also work, for example, mirroring the screen of a gadget with all applications.

2. Connect audio via Bluetooth adapter

Similar designs, consisting of a small printed circuit board or block, are commercially available. Connection methods can be different:

  • through the existing audio connector of the AUX type radio;
  • independent signal output from the head unit amplifier, here you will need to know the circuitry well or use one of the ready-made solutions;
  • connection via USB port if the head unit has one.

When using this method, which is technically the simplest and cheapest, several possible problems will have to be solved: separate on one of the stabilizer chips;

  • minimization of interference, you will have to monitor the wiring of ground wires, take into account the features of the adapter and radio for separating signal and power negative circuits;
  • the choice of the adapter itself, it must support the codec of the required quality, stereo signals, the presence of a microphone input for “hands free”;
  • coordination of the signal level with the input of the radio amplifier when connected independently.
  • The power of the adapter is taken from the head unit connector, the pin is selected, which receives voltage when the ignition key is inserted, so that there is no energy consumption in the parking lot.

    3. Bluetooth speaker

    This is a stand-alone wireless audio playback device. They work completely independently of regular music.

    Can be equipped with a microphone and memory for digital music recording and playback independent of an external gadget. Usually they have a built-in battery, but they can also work from the on-board network.

    How to connect to the car’s Bluetooth

    Permission to communicate must be issued by both devices involved.


    If there is a built-in bluetooth, it is activated by a standard button, after which the name of the mobile device appears on the display, where Bluetooth is already enabled.

    The adapter works immediately after power is applied, its signal is visible on the gadget screen.

    Mobile phone

    Here Bluetooth is activated in the “Settings” menu item. After installing the engine or active button, a list of available devices will appear. The same is done with one of them, corresponding to the radio or adapter.

    Sometimes you will need to enter a pin code. It is important that both devices support the same protocol, they are constantly changing, outdated ones may not enter the connection.

    Installation of Bluetooth, AUX in a vehicle

    Every year, dozens of new products appear on the market for devices and programs for electronic equipment for vehicles. Installing Bluetooth, AUX is a fairly convenient and cost-effective way to increase the functionality of electronics. However, it is necessary that this work be performed by an experienced craftsman who will verify the correct connection.

    Why do I need a Bluetooth module?

    A Bluetooth connection to your car radio via AUX provides more than just the ability to play audio and video files from your phone. This significantly increases driving safety, because in this way you can answer calls without picking up a smartphone and, accordingly, not be distracted from the situation on the road.

    Manufacturers of car accessories offer different versions of the Bluetooth module. Devices with improved technical characteristics have a wide range of functions:

    • through the car’s audio system, you can play music from the phone, as well as calls;

    • uninterrupted support for two devices or phones;

    • bi-directional noise reduction option prevents sound distortion regardless of its range;

    • compatible with apt-X decoder – thanks to this, you can play CD-format music;

    • after turning on the car engine, power is supplied to the receiver, as a result of which the system automatically connects to the smartphone;

    • compatible with other Bluetooth devices that support the A2DP format.

    It should be noted that for convenience, the vehicle owner may prefer a model with a magnetic base. Devices of this type are distinguished by a simple installation method that does not involve mechanical impact on the dashboard. In addition, if necessary, the fixture can be removed without the use of any tools. Magnetic base Bluetooth sticks securely to the surface, so you don’t have to worry about possible damage when driving at high enough speeds or driving over bumpy areas.

    Installation of Bluetooth, AUX in “Expert-Auto”

    One of the upgrade services provided by the masters of the auto repair shop “Expert-Auto” is the installation of Bluetooth, AUX. Thanks to the well-established work of the service, customers can count on a number of advantages:

    • an assessment of the current state of the car’s electronics, on the basis of which specialists can choose the most suitable option so that it meets the technical specifications and works without failures;

    • at the choice of the owner of the vehicle, different Bluetooth and AUX are provided, differing in characteristics and price;

    • quick installation or replacement of devices;

    • obligatory check of serviceability of functioning of systems, and also their interaction with other electronics;

    • guarantee for the work performed;

    • favorable prices.