Last Updated: 13 Jun 2019
I’m out here in my car today so that I give you a step-by-step guide on how to put Bluetooth in your car if your car only has an auxiliary jack. This is great if you have one of the new iPhones that don’t have the headphone jack anymore. But even if you have an Android phone like I do, I prefer it so you might like it too. And I’ll tell you why it’s preferable later.
Essentially, you need a Bluetooth/Auxiliary adapter. Now there are many different kinds, so I’ll tell you what I bought, and then I’ll talk about the different options of what’s available and why you might want to buy something different and not what I bought. But the setup is basically the same.
You can get a Bluetooth adapter if your car only has an aux input.
The one that I bought is an unbranded and has USB for power, and then the auxiliary port in the back. You just basically plug it all in. It also comes with a cable where you plug it in and the other end, of course, goes into a USB car adapter plug. This is the one that I already had in my car. And then you just plug the adapter into your car’s 12V Accessory Socket.
In my car, the auxiliary port is right next to the power port, so it makes it pretty convenient. Once all that’s plugged in, you turn on the car, and turn on the radio on the auxiliary. And then you can connect your device. So on your Android device, swipe down from the top. Find “Bluetooth”. Hit “More Settings”. And it should eventually find the device. When the device is displayed, we tap on it. It’ll pair and there is a sound showing that it is connected.
Now one word of warning is you can go into the settings and you have the option to turn on or off “Phone Audio”, which you may not want it to do. I turn that off on my phone. And also, you can rename the Bluetooth device. If you want to name it whatever the name of your car, go ahead.
This Bluetooth adapter automatically pairs when you turn on your car’s engine.
It does play the songs from my phone, so it works but you may have to turn up the volume. In my case, I like to turn the volume all the way up on my device, and then I can control the volume on the radio itself. I have the full range of volume on the radio.
As I mentioned, it’s great for iPhones if you don’t have the option of using a headphone jack. One thing I like about it even using an Android device is that if you turn off the car, the audio automatically stops. So if you’ll shut off the car, it stops, too. It’ll clue in that it disconnected, and it automatically stops.
Now, if you’re listening to music and you start up your car, it will start from where it left off. However, if you’re listening to a podcast, you might still want to pause it before you shut off the car because there is a few seconds delay. You might miss a few seconds of the audio.
Of course, the automatic connect and disconnect will only happen if the adapter that you buy draws its power directly from the car. There are some that you can buy that have a battery inside of it with a USB port to charge it. I specifically made sure that I did not buy one of those because I didn’t like it, and I wanted that feature of automatically starting or automatically stopping the audio and it shutting off by itself. It means I don’t have to worry about keeping track of when the battery gets low and charging it.
But you may want to consider one of those if you have a car where the power jack and the auxiliary jack are not close to each other, and you don’t want to have a big long wire running between the two.
The main reason I chose this one is that it is tiny. Like, it is literally as small as it can possibly be. I mean, it’s big enough just to fit the auxiliary jack in there and for the USB jack. So it is tiny. And it was cheap! It only cost me about $2 from China.
Spoiler Alert: It is not stereo audio.
However, it does have a downside. And this is a problem with many of the cheapest ones that you’re going to find on the Internet. Almost all of these will tell you that it is stereo audio, but what they really mean is that it outputs “some audio” on both the left and right channels. But it outputs the exact same thing on the left and right channel. It is a mono output, essentially.
This may or may not matter to you. If you only listen to podcasts in your car, then it’s not going to matter because just speech only is going to be mono anyway. But a lot of music does make use of both channels, maybe more than you think. You may have heard of songs where it’s really clear, like you can hear the sound shifting from the left to the right and then back. But even in other songs, what they’ll often do is the singer will record the same song twice, or even just part of the song like the chorus. And they will put one track or one recording on the left channel and another recording on the right channel, even though it’s singing the same thing. It makes the sound a little more full or rich. So you lose some of that. But honestly, I use this for music too, and it’s not that bad. So you may not even care about that. It is totally a matter of preference.
There are ways to check whether your Bluetooth adapter is stereo or mono.
But if you do care I’ll show you how to check for this. One easy way is to look up a stereo test on YouTube. You play it and you hear the sound. You check which channels the sound is coming out of. It’ll tell you; it should be left the channel and you check if it’s coming on the left or if it’s coming out of both. Another way is to use a multimeter, so you set the multimeter to test continuity. Then you plug in the cable to the adapter and look for continuity between the tip which is for the left channel and the second ring which is for the right channel. If there is continuity, then that means that both channels are electrically connected and can’t possibly play anything different.
So if this is something that’s important to you, then you’ll have to spend a little more. Probably more in the $20-30 range. I haven’t tried any others that are actually true stereo, so I can’t recommend any specific one. What I do recommend is that you buy it from somewhere that has a good return policy, so that you can test it out, and return it if it isn’t truly stereo. I’ll include links to Amazon, where there a lot of choices. You can check those out at least. I mean the more expensive ones should give you good audio. You get what you pay for, right?
You can find a lot of Bluetooth adapters on the market.
I did try another Bluetooth adapter which is bigger. This one came from China as well. I was hoping that it would be a true stereo, but it’s not. It has the same problem as the smaller one. The only benefit to this one is that it can remember pairing between two phones at the same time. But I don’t really care about that, maybe you would.
Head over to the eBay where I got these two Bluetooth adapters. You can also find them on Amazon. If you want to test if the Bluetooth adapter you bought plays in stereo mode, you can search for testing stereo output on YouTube.