Bluetooth lets you stream audio without wires to your speakers. In cars, this lets you wirelessly connect your phone to your stereo system. You can make and receive calls and play your music and podcasts from your phone, all without connecting a single wire.
If your car doesn’t have Bluetooth it’s possible to add it. We have a few quick questions that will help you figure out exactly what to buy so that you can enjoy this capability.
Is this for phone calls or listening to music?
If your primary purpose is making and receiving phone calls, then The Wirecutter recommends that you get a clip-on speakerphone. This is a small device that will attach to your dashboard. It has a mic to pick up your voice, which it then relays to the phone.
However, if your primary purpose is streaming music and podcasts onto your car’s speakers, then you should get an FM transmitter. This device acts like a mini radio tower that’s powered by your phone. You simply tune your car’s radio to the station provided by the FM transmitter, and voila: your phone’s audio will sound from your car’s speakers.
What if I don’t have an auxiliary input?
Both of the above devices need to plug into your car via an aux-in port. That’s a small port similar to the headphone jack on your phone. It’s how the devices draw power and connect to your car’s stereo.
If you have an older vehicle, you might not have an aux-in port. In that case, you can find a Bluetooth device that connects via the cigarette lighter (it sound weird, but somehow it works), or your manufacturer might offer a Bluetooth adapter that you can find on eBay or Amazon.
Failing that, you have one last hope: an aftermarket stereo.
Do you plan on selling your car?
If you do, then approach an aftermarket stereo with care. These typically have all sorts of lights and dials that clash with your car’s design. It won’t hurt your car at all, but many potential buyers frown upon aftermarket modifications. Hold onto your factory stereo so that you can swap it out if you ever need to sell the vehicle.
The upside of aftermarket radios is that it’s not hard to find one with Bluetooth built in.
Those are our tips. Have you already made a Bluetooth upgrade? Let us know how it went by commenting on our Facebook post. And if you need help sorting through your Bluetooth options, give our service department a call.