How to play anything on your car radio

Wouldn’t long trips be more enjoyable with your favourite albums, podcasts or audiobooks? So why not ditch the radio and CDs and take control of your car stereo with your smartphone or tablet?

If you ever get sick of repetitive radio playlists or loud advertisements, there are three ways that you can connect your smartphone or tablet to your car stereo.

1. Headphone jack/aux input
One of the simplest ways to connect your smartphone, tablet or portable music player to your stereo is to use the headphone jack or auxiliary (often shortened to aux) input. While they can’t be found on all car stereos, they are common on newer cars. Have a look for a small (3.5mm diameter) hole on the stereo or nearby. It will be the same plug that your headphones connect to your smartphone with. If you find one, you now need a ‘male to male 3.5mm audio cable’. These can be bought on eBay for a few dollars, or should readily available at any local electronics store.

Once you have an audio cable, plug one end in to your device and the other end in to your car stereo.  Now you may have to look for a ‘Source’ button on the stereo. Once located, press it until ‘Headphones,’ ‘Aux’ or ‘Input’ is selected. Once you have this set up, anything that you play on your connected device will come through your car’s speakers. The volume will be controlled by your device and the stereo, so make sure that you don’t accidentally have one of them turned all the way down.

2. Bluetooth
Have a look at your stereo, and through the manual, for any mentions of Bluetooth, or this symbol:

If your both device and car support Bluetooth, you can wirelessly connect your device. If your car supports this, you will also probably be able to use it to answer phone calls hands-free in your car.  

3. FM Tuner
If neither of the above are supported by your car, the FM tuner is the answer for you. This is a small device that plugs into a smartphone, tablet or music player and then broadcasts the music over FM radio. Because the devices are small and low power, the signal is weak and won’t make it much further than your car. Although occasionally you might drive past someone using the same FM frequency, and your signals may mingle.

Now that your car stereo is a little smarter, you’ll just have to find something to listen to. How about some podcasts?

Related articles:
Best free music listening services
Am I too old to hire a car?
How to listen to podcasts

Written by YourLifeChoices Writers

YourLifeChoices' team of writers specialise in content that helps Australian over-50s make better decisions about wealth, health, travel and life. It's all in the name. For 22 years, we've been helping older Australians live their best lives.

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