Whether you have a car you don’t want to part with, or you just don’t want to upgrade to a new model only so you can play your own music, you can add Bluetooth audio to your car.
When you find out how to add Bluetooth to a car stereo, this small touch will make all the difference on those longer journeys—especially if you’re not a fan of pop music or have young kids who need to listen to Baby Shark 24/7.
Sorry—it’s stuck in our head too now!
Read on to learn how to add a Bluetooth device to a car audio system. This blog explains the best way to go about this so you can enjoy your music, even if you have a non-Bluetooth car stereo.
Reasons Why You Should Add Bluetooth to Your Old Car
Before we look at how you add Bluetooth to a non-Bluetooth car stereo, let’s ask… Why?
Modern cars are pretty much all fitted with Bluetooth as standard. You just need to find the right button on your dash, which can be a mission in itself.
Without Bluetooth, you’re stuck with trying to find your aux cable at all times. This cable connects your phone to your car via your headphone jack, so you can play your music.
By adding Bluetooth audio to your car, you get the best of both worlds—the luxury of listening to your own music while you drive and the option to turn to radio. Plus, you could:
- Use your Bluetooth headphones. While we don’t recommend that you use headphones while you drive, you would be able to connect your headphones to the car if necessary.
- Stream your favorite podcasts on your daily commute. Life isn’t just about music! Make your commute pass quicker with the voices of your favorite podcast accompanying you.
- Stop buying CDs. Save yourself time and money hunting for your favorite CDs and just use your Spotify. Plus, where do you even find CDs anymore, and how many can you really keep in your car?
- Find a cheap Bluetooth device to connect your phone to your car. The price of Bluetooth technology has come down in recent years, making it affordable and painless to purchase a new device.
3 Ways You Add A Bluetooth Device to a Car Audio System
There are three common ways to add Bluetooth to your daily drive. We talk about them all here.
Install a universal Bluetooth car kit
A Bluetooth car kit might be the best option for you! These are probably what you’ve seen before and what might have made you search for this blog.
Used to make old cars have more connectivity, these kits include a Bluetooth receiver that you plug into your car. There are many different versions of this kit, so you have to check which is best for you. For instance, does your car have a headphone jack? Or, if not, will you need to buy an FM transmitter-type kit?
The different types are explained fully in this AutoGuide blog explaining the best Bluetooth car kits!
How does it work?
Simply plug your device into the headphone jack, 12-volt socket, or USB port. It will need a power source, so make sure you either have somewhere to plug it in or that it is battery powered and full of charge.
After that, it depends on your device. A lot of car kits work on FM radio, for instance. You connect your phone to the device, it selects an FM channel, then you tune your car radio to that channel. You’ll be amazed how quickly you can find the channel and hear your music! If you select a Bluetooth receiver, these work differently—we explain below.
Often this is the cheapest way to add Bluetooth audio to your car.
Stop your search for a great universal adapter for Bluetooth audio—the TaoTronics Bluetooth Car Kit is under $24!
Install a vehicle-specific Bluetooth adapter
If you’re lucky enough, you might have a specific Bluetooth adapter for your car. We can’t help you with each specific model but try Googling or contacting your car manufacturers site.
How does it work?
In a similar way to the universal car kit.
Prices vary but are likely more expensive than a universal car kit.
Upgrade to a Bluetooth car stereo
The most expensive of the options, this involves getting a new stereo for your car and finding someone to install it. Or, if it’s that time, just upgrading your car!
How does it work?
You change your stereo, and you get a modern, Bluetooth ready stereo in your car at all times. On the extreme end of the scale, you might even get a new car—it depends how far you want to go. Some new stereos a relatively cheap and can effectively be a minor upgrade. Others might involve a mechanic to install.
Stereo prices vary, but you can expect to pay anywhere between $50 for a basic kit to $300+ for a decent stereo.
|Universal Bluetooth Car Kit||Cheaper, easier to install, and easy to use in different cars||Not a long-term fix for your problem in the same way as a new car stereo|
|Vehicle Specific Bluetooth Adapter||Perfect fit for your car||Pricier, and can only be used with your model of car|
|Bluetooth Car Stereo||You don’t have to worry about anything else—your car will have a new stereo (or, you get your new car!)||The most expensive option, will take longer to install and might involve you buying a new car (which we’re guessing you don’t want to do If you’re on this page)|
Why Do We Recommend You Choose Bluetooth Car Kit?
Realistically, we will always recommend you choose a universal car kit. Yes, TaoTronics do sell these, but it’s for more important reasons than that.
- This is the least expensive option, which is always great.
- You can use it in multiple vehicles. Take it on road trips with you even if you’ve hired a car.
- It’s really effective just by simply plugging it in. You don’t need to go through a huge installation process!
Plus, they are small and lightweight, making them super portable. You shouldn’t even notice them in your car—they shouldn’t get in the way. So, very little thinking is involved about what type you purchase beyond the practicalities.
Different Types of Bluetooth Car Kit
We mentioned before that there are different types of universal car kit: Bluetooth receiver, FM transmitter, and a third, the dedicated speakerphone. Here, we explain each one in detail.
Basically, Bluetooth receivers helps anything with speakers act as the receiver for your Bluetooth signal. Using this one-way system means your devices without Bluetooth, including your car stereo or even your headphones, can play music streamed from a Bluetooth enabled device. Whether you want to play music from your phone on your car stereo or music from your laptop from your older TV, this device does it all.
If your car already has a radio but it’s just super old, an FM transmitter might be the way forward for you. Donate your CD’s—this is a simple way of listening to modern music. The transmitter will show you an unused FM radio signal, and then you tune your car radio to that same signal. Once that is done, and your phone is connected to the transmitter, you will be able to play your music.
If none of this sounds right to you—or if you’re driving a vintage car—you might want to buy a dedicated speakerphone. This is a Bluetooth enabled speaker that you can connect your phone to, ensuring you can hear your music. This is particularly good for people who take a lot of calls while they drive.
Which Type of Bluetooth Car Kit Should You Get?
None of these options are perfect. However, they do offer you a cheaper way to listen to your own music that is also portable and hassle-free. You just need to choose the best option for you depending on the type of car you have:
- If your car has an auxiliary-audio input jack (which looks like a headphone jack), get an aux-in kit.
- If you don’t have an aux-in jack, and you’ll be listening to music more than taking phone calls, an FM transmitter is your best choice.
- If you don’t have an aux-in jack, you take a lot of calls in your car, and you value call quality over music quality, then buy a dedicated speakerphone.
How to Use Bluetooth Adapter in Your Car?
This is a video from Marc the Geek telling you exactly how to install a Bluetooth car kit from TaoTronics! Though this video is a couple of years old, the principles still apply.
- Connect the car Bluetooth adapter into your car.
- Pair your devices.
- Tune your car audio.
If you follow these basic steps, plus the detailed instructions that come with your TaoTronics purchase, you will be able to quickly play your music on your car radio in just three steps.
Conclusion: How to Add Bluetooth to an Old Car Stereo
Overall, if you’re wondering how to add a Bluetooth device to a car audio system, we recommend that you get a universal car kit. These handy devices are portable, inexpensive, and easy to select—there’s no need to spend hours puzzling over which to buy, just simply find one that will work with your car. Plus, for most people, replacing the whole stereo system isn’t an option. If this is you, give a Bluetooth car kit a try!