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How do I add Bluetooth® to my car?

Three ways to get Bluetooth streaming and calling in your vehicle

Using a phone in the car

Bluetooth technology lets two devices communicate wirelessly with each other. It's most commonly seen in the form of hands-free ear pieces for cell phones and in wireless speaker systems.

Add Bluetooth to your car 

By integrating this wireless functionality into your car stereo, you can hear callers' voices over your car speakers, see incoming call information on your stereo's display, and possibly stream audio from your device to your stereo. Some universal Bluetooth adapters require no interaction with your car stereo. Most importantly, you can keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel while talking to callers.

Many Bluetooth devices also make it possible to stream music from a Bluetooth capable smartphone, tablet, or other device to your car stereo.

There are three ways to use your Bluetooth device in your vehicle:

  1. a universal Bluetooth car kit that works in any vehicle
  2. a vehicle-specific Bluetooth car adapter that connects to the factory radio
  3. a new car stereo with built-in Bluetooth capability

Option 1: Universal Bluetooth car kits

Universal Bluetooth car kits work in just about any vehicle. Some are simple, stand-alone devices with a small speaker and microphone that clip to your sun visor or mount on the dash and don't interface with the car stereo at all. These are nice because you can move them from one vehicle to another. The downside is that their use is pretty much limited to hands-free calling.

Other universal Bluetooth adapters for the car are wired to the stereo so that the music mutes when calls come in, and the calls play over your car's speakers instead of a tiny stand-alone speaker. Some of these kits also handle music streaming. The downside is that you have to remove the car stereo and connect a few wires in order to install the kit. It's a little more effort, but the result is worth it.

Option 2: Vehicle-specific Bluetooth car stereo adapters

A vehicle-specific Bluetooth adapter is an interface that adds Bluetooth to your car's factory stereo.

Installation typically involves removing the factory radio, connecting the cable to the vehicle wiring and the radio, and then installing a microphone for hands-free calling. Caller info shows up on the factory stereo's display and you answer and place calls using the stereo's controls. An included microphone clips onto your sun visor or mounts somewhere on the dash, and you hear callers over your car stereo speakers.

This is a good option when you want to keep the factory radio. Although it involves some installation work, you end up with a Bluetooth system that's fully integrated into your car stereo for hands-free phoning. Many of these systems can handle music streaming, too.

USA Spec BT45-HON3

USA Spec created this Bluetooth integration package to work in select Honda and Acura vehicles.

Option 3: Aftermarket stereos with built-in Bluetooth capability

The final option for adding Bluetooth to your car is to install a new car stereo that includes Bluetooth or offers an adapter to include it. Depending on the stereo you select, you can control many of your smartphone functions and music streaming from your stereo. When you select a radio with built-in Bluetooth, you don't have to deal with installing a separate hideaway adapter box.

Pioneer DMH-220EX Digital Multimedia Receiver

The Pioneer DMH-220EX digital multimedia receiver features built-in Bluetooth for hands-free calling and music streaming.

Because of Bluetooth's popularity, it can be found in many new stereos. That means you won't have to buy the most expensive stereo to get one with this wireless technology. So, if you're buying a new car stereo anyway, keep an eye out for stereos with built-in Bluetooth capability.

Bluetooth Logo

Easy as 1, 2, or 3

Adding Bluetooth technology to your car can be easy. At the very least, Bluetooth makes it easier, safer, and — in a growing number of states — legal, to use the phone when you're in the car. As the applications for Bluetooth technology expand, it'll become even more useful in the car as well.

If you have any questions about the best way to get a wireless connection between your phone and car stereo, contact us via phone or chat. Our advisors will be happy to help you find the solution that will work best for you. 

  • Clifton from Baltimore

    Posted on 6/9/2021

    I bought the Dual XDMA760 and didn't know it doesn't have Bluetooth. I bought it because I have a iPhone and was under the impression they would work together but it only pairs with my iPhone some times and plays pandora when it wants. I have read the manual over and over so I know I'm doing what it says, plus like I said it works "SOME TIMES "! What can I do?

  • Amy aguilar from Sparks nv

    Posted on 8/22/2020

    I just bought the car stereo few months ago.it works and good with Bluetooth with my phone suddenly my Bluetooth sign in my stereo won't work. I can't erase or deleted the memory full because the Bluetooth sign no signal. We pulled out the stereo we'll see if something wire loose or broken but nothing and still the same. I can't even use my stereo with my iPhone cause can't pair on it. What should I do?

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 8/24/2020

    Amy, if you bought your stereo from Crutchfield, you can call Tech Support for free help troubleshooting your system. If you purchased your equipment elsewhere, you can still get expert Crutchfield Tech Support - 90 days-worth for only $30. Check out our tech support page for details.
  • Brian Morgan from Howell

    Posted on 4/9/2020

    I also have this question (originally from Lynn Rice back in 2017): "Can a 2018 Ford F150 Sync 3 "pair" with a Megaboom wireless bluetooth speaker? Do the car stereos have the ability to send the music to an outside speaker? Thank you." I don't have a Megaboom speaker, but would like to output music to other bluetooth speakers.

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 4/10/2020

    Brian, a Bluetooth stereo (and connected car speakers) act the same way as a Megaboom speaker. They receive a Bluetooth signal from a device like your smartphone. So no, you won't be able to pair a car stereo with a Megaboom, but a Megaboom is a great option for a portable speaker, paired with your phone as its music source.
  • phillip virgile from kings park

    Posted on 3/17/2020

    Hey, I was wondering if you could help. I am looking for a Bluetooth device which outputs song data along with the sound. I want to use this data with a microcontroller and display it on an OLED display. Probably the device will output the data via SPI, I2C or some other interface. Thank you.

  • mike from Binghamton

    Posted on 1/18/2020

    I drive a 2009 Chevy Silverado: stock radio has a plug receptacle I use for streaming music on my iPhone. My new(er) iPhone only uses Bluetooth--I cannot plug into my radio. Is there a device I can buy that will bridge the gap without costing a bundle? And how would it work? Thanks--you guys rock.

    Commenter image

    Alexander H. from Crutchfield

    on 1/20/2020

    Mike, I'm assuming the input on your radio you're talking about is an 3.5mm mini auxiliary in. The easiest, cheapest option would be to keep a Lightning-to-3.5mm headphone adapter in your vehicle to plug into your phone. You'll also need a 3.5mm male-to-male cable to make the wired connection between your phone adapter and your stereo. We don't carry the phone adapter, but you'll be able to find them easily online or locally.
  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 10/16/2017

    Arlene, that will depend on your stereo. If your stereo doesn't and you'd like to upgrade to one that does, just give us a call. An Advisor will be happy to help.

  • Arlene

    Posted on 10/14/2017

    Can we pair 2 separate iPhone numbers to our vehicle? We were successful with 1 only phone

  • Commenter image

    Alexander Hrabe from Crutchfield

    Posted on 9/25/2017

    Lynn, no, you won't find that functionality on a factory or aftermarket stereo. For now, a receiver will only receive a Bluetooth signal from a media source like a smartphone.

  • Lynn Rice from BAYPORT

    Posted on 9/24/2017

    Can a 2018 Ford F150 Sync 3 "pair" with a Megaboom wireless bluetooth speaker? Do the car stereos have the ability to send the music to an outside speaker? Thank you.

  • Jennifer Lingerfelt from Pleasant Garden

    Posted on 4/20/2017

    I have a 2006 Honda Odyssey EXL and want to play music from my phone in my van. What's my best option?