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How to Get Bluetooth Audio in Your Old Car

And it won’t cost you a fortune.


Problem: You want to listen to music and answer calls from your phone while you’re driving, but your old car doesn’t have Bluetooth. Also, you don’t have an AUX or USB cord to link the two. What do you do?

Answer: Get a Bluetooth receiver. It’s inexpensive and, because you can change tracks via a remote, it will probably encourage you to keep your eyes on the road. Before buying, however, you need to know which kind of receiver will work best in your car.

First, determine what kind of inputs your car has available. Most cars will have a 3.5mm AUX input. If your car doesn’t have a USB port, some Bluetooth receivers will require you to purchase an inexpensive USB charger (like this one) that plugs into the car’s 12-volt DC outlet (a.k.a. the cigarette lighter). And of course there are non-Bluetooth solutions as well.

The Bluetooth Solutions

A Wireless Connection

Anker SoundSync Drive

Best Overall: Anker’s Bluetooth receiver is easy to use and reliable. The remote mounts near your steering wheel or radio volume knob, so you can easily change tracks. If your car doesn’t have a USB port, you’ll need USB car charger with this device — it’s powered by a USB source to then sends audio through the AUX port. The only downside is that switching from one Bluetooth device to another can be annoying: you have to unplug the receiver to turn it off, toggle Bluetooth on the two devices (one off and the other on), and then plug the receiver back in to find the new device.

Buy Now: $20

iClever Himbox HB01

Skip the Extra Car Charger: The iClever is a great alternative to Anker’s mostly because it can be connected to one device while charging a second thanks to a built-in USB port (no need for the USB car charger). It has similar audio quality, but the iClever uses a magnetic mount for its remote (while Anker’s is adhesive-mounted), which means you won’t have to deal with a gooey mess when you need to eventually remove the receiver.

Buy Now: $25

The Non-Bluetooth Solutions

Stay Analog

GOgroove FlexSMART FM Transmitter

Your Own Radio Station: If your car only has a CD player, try an FM transmitter. It can receive audio via Bluetooth, but it also has a 3.5mm input; the device transmits the audio over a radio frequency. You can then tune your car radio to the appropriate station to hear the audio. FlexSmart’s offering is also a great way to lessen your phone time on the road, featuring track control, call answer/decline buttons and a built-in microphone. The unit plugs directly into a DC outlet, and the 3.5mm input should let it work with any device (assuming, of course, you’ve got a dongle for your iPhone 7).

Buy Now: $34

Insten Tape Deck Adapter

If You’ve Only Got a Tape Deck: This is your last resort if you have an old car. Insert the Deck Adapter into your tape deck, connect the 3.5mm cable to your device and start playing. The quality won’t be as good as Bluetooth, but it works.

Buy Now: $5

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