Mother and son listening to music in the car

How to Stream Music in the Car? (Multiple Ways)

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There is nothing like serene music rocking in the background while you are out on a long drive with your friends and family. Streaming music in cars has been a custom ever since it came into being. The trend started with the radio and has now evolved into fancy stereo players that provide a home theater-like experience in a moving vehicle, which is quite an achievement. Let’s take a look at the numerous ways you can enjoy this experience.

You can stream music in your car via a CD player, aux cable, USB, Bluetooth, and radio. It depends on the car’s head unit. Advanced ones support more features compared to their older counterparts. 

Let’s discuss each of these features in detail and see how you can use them to the fullest extent.

How to stream music in a car using an FM transmitter?

FM transmitters are the cheapest way to stream music in a car. Simply plug it in the power port and switch it on. Connect your phone to the device and start streaming music. The transmitter will take the audio signals from your phone and relay them to the car’s head unit.

Here is a step-by-step process demonstrating how to stream music in your car.

1. Locate the power port of your car.

2. Take the FM transmitter and insert it into the port.

3. Use the Bluetooth on your phone to connect to the transmitter. 

4. Look at the transmitter to see what frequency/channel it’s on. 

5. Go to your car’s head unit and tune the radio to the ‘same’ frequency as your transmitter.

6. Make sure it’s a static channel and not an active one. 

7. Now whatever you play on your phone will also play through your car speakers via the transmitter. 

The transmitter is not only the simplest but also the most cost-effective solution to this issue, simply because most old cars do not have a USB, Bluetooth, or even an aux port. However, all of them have an FM and that’s where the transmitters shine.

Instead of changing the entire head unit (because you cannot simply install a Bluetooth functionality or USB feature to old incompatible head units), you can buy a small device that only costs a few dollars at the most. It’s true that the setup comes at the cost of some sound quality, but it’s hard to complain given the price tag. 

If you are looking to buy one of these then I recommend the IMDEN Bluetooth 5.0 FM transmitter. It’s not only compact and easy to use, but it also supports fast charge which is a necessity for most contemporary devices.

FM transmitter from Amazon
FM transmitter from Amazon

Note: Pick a static channel that’s not too close to active radio frequencies, otherwise you will lose connection to your phone and pick up the stream from the respective radio station.

One common issue with FM transmitters is static noise. Check out this article where I give you tips on how to get rid of this annoying issue.

How to stream music in cars with only hands-free calling?

To stream music in cars that only allow you to make calls, you will need an app to trick the car into thinking that you are actually making a call when in reality, it plays it via a mono single channel and routes it via Bluetooth to the car speaker.

Older cars (usually ones manufactured between 2000-2013) only allow you to make hands-free calls using Bluetooth. It will not allow you to play music and the only workaround is to use a mono router app. So if you own a Lexus, Ford, BMW, Chevy, Toyota, Honda, or a Mercedes-Benz for the last two decades, you have come to the right place.

1. Pair your phone with the car’s Bluetooth. 

2. Make a test call to see if the connection is working.

3. Install the Mono Bluetooth Router app on your smartphone.

4. Launch the app and switch it on.

5. Check your head unit and see if it’s showing you are making a call.

If everything is working fine up until now, then anything you play on your phone will sound through the car’s speakers. Do note that it’s a mono channel and not a stereo so the music quality will be severely downgraded from what you are normally used to. But you cannot complain since it is a ‘free’ solution to a potentially complicated problem.

How to use a Bluetooth receiver to stream music in the car?

Bluetooth receivers are small devices that pair with your phone via Bluetooth and plug into your car’s head unit. Now, anything you play on the phone is transmitted over Bluetooth directly into the audio port of your car.

Here are the steps to set up the Bluetooth receiver:

1. Make the Bluetooth receiver fully charged. 

2.  To Pair it with our phone press the pairing button on the device and switch on your phone’s Bluetooth.

3. Tap when the name shows up on your smartphone Bluetooth list. 

4. Insert the Bluetooth device into the aux port of your car. 

5. Now anything you play on your phone will be transmitted over to the car’s head unit. 

Some devices come with a battery so you will have to charge them now and again in between during sessions. 

While most phones are still sticking with headphone jacks, the majority of the flagship devices, even the ones in the mid-range, have done away with headphone jacks, making it difficult to stream music while driving. 

Phones without headphone jacks are a serious problem for car owners who relied solely on the aux cable for music playback. Changing the entire head unit simply for a Bluetooth feature is not recommended because it’s quite expensive. Getting a Bluetooth receiver is a better and more affordable solution and it offers better overall sound quality compared to the two solutions mentioned above.

I recommend the COMSOON Bluetooth 5.0 Receiver simply because it offers way more than 16 hours of backup on a single charge. It even comes with noise cancellation, hands-free calling, and dual connection so you can connect two devices at the same time.

How to use an iPod 30 Pin connector cable adapter to stream music in the car?

Many old cars used to offer an iPod 30 Pin connector cable. These cables were made exceptionally for iPods and to use them, you will need a Bluetooth adapter that plugs into it. Here are steps you need to follow:

1. Take the adapter and insert it into the iPod integration cable. 

2. Switch on the Bluetooth on your phone and pair it with the device.

3. Once connected anything you play will play through the car speakers. 

These iPod connectors were common in German vehicles such as Audi, BMW, and Mercedes. They have continued the feature ever since, but if yours is an older model with such an integration consider yourself lucky. The overall sound quality is superior to an FM or even a Bluetooth receiver.


What are the best apps for streaming music in a car?

Some of the best apps for streaming music in a car are Spotify, Google Play Music, Pandora, iHeartRadio, and AppleMusic. 

What’s the best way to stream music in your car if the head unit is not working?

If the head unit is not working then it’s best you buy a dedicated speaker and use your phone’s Bluetooth to play music on it.


Modern cars support all forms of music input. If you are considering an upgrade then I recommend getting one with an aux input because it offers the best sound quality among all the options suggested in the article. If you are spending money best, do it on something of superior sound quality. Hopefully, this article has resolved all your issues with the topic. Until next time, happy listening.

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