Car technology has evolved rapidly over the years and chances are, if you have a newer model car, you'll at least have some of the modern tech perks available right now.
Take Bluetooth connectivity, for example. We sometimes take it for granted but the convenience of having your smartphone automatically connect to your car's audio system without lifting a finger is definitely something that's a must-have for many people.
Owners of older cars with outdated audio equipment may feel left out for not having any of the fancy connectivity options but fortunately, there are ways to gear up your car into the 21st century with Bluetooth capabilities.
Here are three ways to get a Bluetooth connection in a car that doesn't have the feature built into it.
1. Bluetooth Adapters
The cheapest and quickest way to get Bluetooth in a car, especially older models, is via Bluetooth adapters. They come in a wide range of connectivity options and they can virtually work with any car.
These Bluetooth adapters usually come with built-in batteries that can be recharged via USB.
Let's take a look at the options:
- Connect via Aux-In jack
Check your car if it has a built-in aux-in port, usually found on the audio head or the center console. This port looks like a headphone jack and it's used for connecting an external gadget like an MP3 player or a smartphone directly to your car's audio system via a 3.5 mm audio cable.
To ditch the wire, you can get a Bluetooth to Aux-in adapter that connects directly to this audio in jack. Since this is a direct connection, this method will sound better than the interference-prone FM transmitters.
Bluetooth Aux-In adapters are also cheaper. You can get a decent unit, like this TaoTronics Bluetooth Receiver/Car Kit from Amazon, for as low as $15.
- Bluetooth Adapter with FM transmitter
Older cars that don't have aux-in ports can go either one of two options. The first method is to use a Bluetooth FM transmitter. These adapters create a mini broadcast station and they transmit the sound via a user-specified FM frequency.
Some units like this VicTsing Bluetooth FM Transmitter even have large displays and built-in mics for hands-free calls.
The downside with these units is that they're prone to radio interference and the audio quality is not the best. However, if your car is new-ish and it lacks an aux-in port, these kinds of Bluetooth adapters may be your only option.
- Bluetooth Cassette Adapter
If your car doesn't have an aux-in jack but it still rocks a cassette player (yeah, remember those?), you can opt for a Bluetooth cassette adapter instead. These types of units are inserted in your car stereo's tape slot like a regular cassette and some models even have built-in microphones for wireless calling.
As with any cassette player, the audio quality depends on the condition of your tape head so your mileage may vary but chances are, going the cassette player route will still sound better than an FM transmitter.
You can purchase a Bluetooth cassette adapter like the ION Audio Cassette Adapter right now at Amazon for about $20.
2. Standalone Bluetooth Systems
Another good way to add Bluetooth to any car is with standalone Bluetooth speaker systems. These units have built-in speakers and microphones and they work separately from your car audio system.
These units come with suction mounts for the windshield and clips for the car visor so you can position them any way you please inside your car. Since they're standalone units, you can even move them from car to car.
Most standalone units, like the Solar Bluetooth Car Speakerphone we sell in the Komando Shop, even support contact lists, one-touch dialing and hands-free operation. Oh, and apart from USB charging, this particular unit can be charged via its built-in solar panel.
If you don't mind not connecting to your car's audio system speakers, a standalone Bluetooth unit may be the one for you.
3. Bluetooth-capable audio head units
This other method for adding Bluetooth to your car may be the best option, functionality and sound-wise, but it can also be the most expensive - replacing your whole audio head unit with a Bluetooth enabled one.
Although you can do this yourself with enough technical skills and the right tools, professional installation is recommended. Coupled with the price of the audio head itself, this option can get expensive.
The upside to this method is you can choose the features that you want and higher-end units can even integrate with your phone's music streaming apps, text messaging and hands-free functions.