How to Get Bluetooth Calls and Music in an Older Car

If you’ve ever wanted to pump music and phone calls through your car speakers, the good news is your car doesn’t need to have Bluetooth built in. Tethering your phone to the car via an auxiliary cord works, but it’s not always ideal. Plus with rumors swirling that future iPhones won’t have headphone jacks (and at the time of reading this, that day may have already come) even the auxiliary cord option is looking like a thing of the past.

Thanks to these accessories, you can still affordably get Bluetooth in your car if it's not built in. | Photo: Yauhen_D / Shutterstock.com
Thanks to these accessories, you can still affordably get Bluetooth in your car if it’s not built in | Photo: Yauhen_D / Shutterstock

What you need is a Bluetooth car adapter. This provides a medium for your car to receive a Bluetooth signal and then pass it directly through to your speakers. There are a couple of different options for the type of car adapter you might want.

Wired Bluetooth Adapters

Wired Bluetooth adapters stick somewhere on your dashboard, wherever you decide and generally have a few control buttons plus a built-in microphone. The microphone is for calls or voice control and the buttons are for making/receiving calls and playback, so the adapter should be placed within reach.

Photo: Belkin
Photo: Belkin

An auxiliary cord plugs in to your 3.5 mm audio in port on your car, while another attached USB cord plugs in to the power on your car.

The auxiliary card and USB stay plugged in so they continuously draw power while you’re driving. As such, wired Bluetooth adapters never need to be charged.

Tip: If your car doesn’t have a USB port either, shop around for Bluetooth car adapters that include traditional car chargers, so the USB cord can plug into one of those first.

You can get a solid Bluetooth car adapter for no more than $50 and some are often far less. Recommended is Belkin’s Bluetooth car kit currently selling for $48 on Amazon. It features multi-device pairing too so you can connect two smartphones and switch between them. More affordable choices are SoundBot’s car kit for only $17 on Amazon or Anker’s SoundSync Drive for $18. The former two include traditional car chargers.

Wireless Bluetooth Receivers

If you’d just rather charge your Bluetooth adapter separately so cables aren’t draped over your car’s dashboard, wireless options are available too, usually for around the same price as wired ones or cheaper.

Photo: Mpow
Photo: Mpow

Wireless Bluetooth receivers plug into your aux-in port like wired ones do and basically dangle out of that port as they run off of battery. Just plug yours in, turn it on and you’re good to go. These are more inconspicuous, but do need to be recharged. Most tend to get anywhere from 5 to 10 hours on a single charge.

Tip: One downside is that wireless receivers often do not have built-in microphones so making phone calls is less than ideal.

Most of them if not all charge via micro-USB cable. If you have an Android phone, you probably have plenty of those lying around anyway. But even if you don’t and your car has a USB port, you could charge the receiver directly from your car without ever having to bring it inside.

A solid option on Amazon is the best-selling Mpow Streambot for $16 with 10 hours of usage, 120 hours of standby and 1.5 hours to recharge fully. Another popular alternative is the Mediabridge Bluetooth Bullet for $20, though it only gets five hours of battery life.

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