CAUTION- Do this BEFORE upgrading  iOS or before getting a new iPhone
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(Note, this article was originally published September 17, 2013 when the iPhone 5 was released.  It has been updated for newest iOS 10–steps haven’t changed since iOS7)
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The Best Way to Listen to you iPhone Music in your Car

Submitted by on August 31, 2010 – 6:04 pm2 Comments

Listening to music in cars is almost as old as the automobile itself.  The first portable radios were car radios back in 1922. The first known car radio is said to have been invented by an 18 year old student to fit into his Model-T.  Ah, teenagers and their way of making what they want happen…

When driving in my car, I want to listen to music too.  My music.  I remember a number of years ago we would go on road trips and bring a huge binder of our CDs.  We liked having a soundtrack to go with the miles of beautiful country.  It’s so much easier now.

Occasionally I’ll turn on the in-dash radio, but I’ve spent time and money downloading songs from iTunes, and those are the songs I like to listen to most of the time.  In fact, digital music and having my music on my iPhone (or any smartphone) has been one of the great inventions.  I always have my music with me.

Auxiliary Input on In-Dash Stereo

Cars manufactured in the past 2 or 3 years have accommodated our desire to listen to our portable music players and phones.  Most new model in-dash stereos have an auxiliary mini jack input.  Connect a mini-jack cable to the auxiliary jack on your in-dash stereo (available at RadioShack or anywhere there are portable music player/smart phone accessories), and connect the other end to the headphone input on your iPhone/smartphone or player.

Change your stereo input to “aux” or “auxiliary” and Voila! Music will play from your car speakers.

iPod/iPhone Dock Option

Most new cars (90%!) have an iPod/iPhone integration option. In 2010 this option has become standard on many cars.  Simply attach the iPod /iPhone to the connector (looks like the one you use to connect to your computer) and switch to the iPod input on your car stereo.

Aftermarket iPod/iPhone Dock Option

If you did not get a car with an iPod/iPhone dock, you still may be able to enjoy the easy convenience of a direct connection to your car stereo. A car stereo installer may be able to fit your in-dash stereo with an aftermarket iPod/iPhone dock.  At over $199 for installation alone, this can be the most expensive option.  Still, it is convenient.

FM Transmitters are an Inexpensive Option

The least expensive way to get music from your iPhone to your car speakers is through an FM transmitter.

An FM transmitter connects to your iPhone (either through the iPhone docking connector or through the headphone jack).  It then broadcasts the music signal to your car FM radio on a chosen frequency.  That is, you pick a station, say 95.5, on your FM transmitter, tune your car FM radio to 95.5  and you can hear music from your connected  iPhone/iPod/iPad.

The sound quality is nearly as good as a docking station or auxiliary connection.

Monster Cable’s iCar Play Wireless 1000 FM transmitter has the best dynamic range of any of these transmitters.  This means that the music sounds better in the car than it does when playing iTunes through speakers on my home computer.

Still, the FM transmitters rely on your car stereo’s ability to pick up its signal that is broadcast.   Radio interference is possible from nearby powerlines, neighboring radio stations–those at 95.3 or 95.7 when you are tuned to 95.5–or driving into an area where there is now a strong radio station where it had previously been a free station.

The new models of FM Transmitters that I have tested are much better at locking its signal onto a station than previous versions.  In fact, there were times that we arrived in a new town, turned off the FM Transmitter, and found that there was a strong radio station there.

FM Transmitters come in a wide range of prices from about $35 to $100.  I tested out the major brands and have compared how well each work. Check out my findings here.

For a great site that lists all options for listening to music on your car stereo check out MP3YourCar.  Just put in your car’s make, model and year and discover the best way to hook up your portable music player in your car.


  • when it comes to car radios, i prefer to use either Alpine or Pioneer. they are really great brands*'”

  • Ines says:

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