How to Connect Your Android Phone to Your Car Audio System

Want to enjoy your favorite music, podcasts, or audiobooks while you drive? The answer is to hook your phone up to your car.

But what is the best way to play music or audio from your phone through your car stereo? We’ll show you all the different methods, like Bluetooth and USB, that will let you connect your Android phone to your car audio.

Listen to What You Want While Driving

Most of us enjoy music while we’re driving, but often the radio doesn’t play the tunes that get you rocking. While CDs are a good choice, they scratch easily and you have to swap them often. So what can you do if you want to play music from your phone in the car? How do you connect your smartphone to your car radio?

As long as you have a safe place to mount or place your phone (our list of the best MagSafe car phone mounts should help) and the necessary range (or cable) to send a signal to your in-car audio system, you can use an Android phone for your audio entertainment while driving.

After all, if you’re going to use Android to find your nearest electric charging point, and navigate with GPS apps, then it makes sense to rely on your phone for music in the car too.

The options below will allow you to play music stored on (or streamed via) your Android phone, through a typical car audio system. We’ve also highlighted an option that you should steer clear of…


PSA: Don’t Use Your Phone When Driving!

Although we’re discussing the use of a smartphone while driving, it is important to understand just what this means. While you’re not making calls or texting, the device is still running. As such, taking your hand off the wheel and eyes off the road to change track, find a new radio station, switch audiobook chapters, or load a new podcast is dangerous. It’s even illegal in many areas, just like taking a call or texting.

You should not do anything that distracts you from actually driving.

Wherever the phone is while driving, don’t touch it. If you need to make a change to the music, you should either:

  • Rely on one of the passengers (preferably one in front).
  • Use steering wheel mounted controls, if available.
  • Find a safe place to pull over (bearing in mind the importance of being able to pull away safely later) and make the changes.

For the safest experience, however, just leave the music alone until it’s time to stop. If worse comes to worst, you could switch to broadcast radio.

How to Connect Your Phone to Your Car

Old Car? Try an Analog Aux Cable

If you want to connect your phone to aux in the car, then here’s what you need to know.

The most obvious solution is to use an analog cable (like this model from StarTech) connecting the 3.5mm headphone jack on your phone (assuming your phone still has one) to the line-in port (or aux port) on your car’s audio system. They’re easy to find offline or on Amazon, and simple to connect.

For instance, you might have a standard line-in connector mounted on the front of your car audio system (or elsewhere on the center console), providing easy access. Alternatively, you may need to run the cable into the dashboard to hook up your phone.

Older audio systems with a cassette tape player allow you to use a cassette adapter. This is a small, low-cost device that connects to the headphone jack on your phone and allows you to play music into the car audio system.

New Car? Use Bluetooth

Many modern car audio systems have Bluetooth as an option for playing music across a short-range wireless network. To take advantage of this, begin by activating Bluetooth on the car audio system, making sure that it is discoverable.

You’ll need to check your automobile’s handbook to find out how to do this.

On your Android device, open Settings > Device Connection > Bluetooth and set it to On. (You can also find your way here by pulling down the notification shade and long-pressing the Bluetooth button.) Wait for the screen to update and display your car audio system, then select it to pair.

Once done, your phone should automatically pair with the car in the future. On long journeys (especially if you’re also using Google Maps or some other GPS app), you should keep your phone charged while driving.

No Bluetooth? Try a USB Cable

Wondering how to connect your Android phone to your car with a USB? Here you go.

Like Bluetooth, some modern car stereos have a USB port that you can use to connect external storage devices. This enables you to then browse your library of tunes through the car audio system.

Hooking up an Android phone this way is simple. If a USB cable came with the audio system, then simply connect your phone with a suitable adapter. Otherwise, identify the USB port on the unit and connect your Android device.

Once connected, your Android phone will need to be switched to storage mode. Drag down the notification bar and tap Charging this device via USB. Switch the Use USB for option to File transfer (differs according to Android version and manufacturer). You will then be able to navigate your Android phone’s library on your car audio system.

The type of USB your phone has will determine what audio files you can listen to.


The standard data/power cable for older Android devices, this should enable you to connect your phone to your car and enjoy your music collection. However, that’s it. This option is no good if you’re planning to stream music from, Spotify, or Pandora, as it is purely for playing back MP3s stored on your device.

USB Type-C

With USB-C, there’s a good chance that the connection will support audio (some earlier examples of the connection do not, however). As such, you may be able to connect your USB-C cable from your phone to the USB port on your car’s entertainment system and enjoy streamed audio as well as MP3 data files. You’ll find the right USB-C cable on Amazon.

Connect Using Android Auto

If you’ve got a more recent Android device and a relatively modern car, then you may be able to connect the two using Android Auto.

Android Auto is a Google app that allows you to use some of your phone’s features while on the go. To use Android Auto you will need an Android phone with Android 6 Marshmallow or newer, a compatible car stereo, and a high-quality USB cable to connect your phone to your car.

Google also has a wireless version of the Android Auto app, aptly named Android Auto Wireless. To use Android Auto Wireless to connect your Android phone to your car you will need an Android device with Android 11 or newer. Check out how to use Android Auto here.

Last Resort: FM Transmitter

If Bluetooth isn’t an option for you, consider an FM transmitter.

This is a device that connects to your phone and broadcasts (over a very short distance) to your car stereo. Switching to the FM band on the radio should then let you wirelessly enjoy the audio playing on your phone. Some FM transmitters connect to your phone’s headphone jack, while others rely on your phone’s Bluetooth connection, essentially giving your car radio Bluetooth capability. Either way, most require constant power from your car’s charger.

Smartphone design differs considerably between manufacturers. As such, you should take the time to find a solution that works well with your device. We’ve covered the best Bluetooth car adapters worth a look.

What About an FM Transmitter App?

If you’re still searching for how to connect your phone to your car radio then you might be tempted to try the FM transmitter approach using an app.

However, we would strongly recommend against this. Our research reveals that such apps are almost always adware, and Android devices don’t ship with the necessary hardware to broadcast on the FM band.

Indeed, apps listed as “FM transmitters” on Google Play are very poorly rated, a situation that doesn’t change until legitimate streaming apps (with no transmission feature) begin to appear in the search results.

In short, FM transmitter apps are at best a waste of time, and at worst they can be complete scams.

Let Your Phone’s Audio Entertain You While Driving

With the wealth of new ways for playing music in your car from an Android device, you should be able to hook your Android phone to your car in no time.

If you don’t have a modern phone or a modern car, then you also have the option of USB cables and 3.5mm audio cables, just in case. This last option also includes the increasingly rare cassette tape adapter.

These are not your only options—you can use Android Auto now. Wirelessly connecting your phone to your car is easy and convenient. In fact, the only real problem is that you have two volume control options to keep track of.

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