Most modern cars are equipped with technology to easily listen to music with your phone. But there’s no reason older car owners should be left without entertainment. Bluetooth car adapters can bring almost any car into the 21st century.
Depending on which option you choose, you’ll need one of three options in your car: a lighter socket, a cassette deck, or an auxiliary input.
If you own an iPhone 7 or later or an Android device without a headphone jack, you’ll have a slightly more clunky setup. This requires using a dongle that restores the much-needed headphone jack for these products.
1. Best Bluetooth FM Transmitter: Nulaxy
An easy way to cut back on errant wires in your car is to use a Bluetooth FM transmitter. You’ll need an FM radio and a cigarette lighter/power socket for this to work. An FM transmitter allows you to select a frequency on your radio, and listen to the audio on your phone through the car radio.
The Nulaxy Bluetooth FM transmitter is a popular choice that comes in six different finishes. It allows you to charge your phone, plus it includes an auxiliary jack and SD card slot for more reliable audio.
The Nuxaxy transmitter is not a small device, but it gets plenty of points for sound quality and reliability. That said, it’s definitely not the only option available in this crowded category of Bluetooth car adapters.
If you’re looking for a more compact FM transmitter, the Anker Roav takes up far less space when plugged into your lighter socket. In addition to a compact design, it also has two USB ports for charging your phone.
2. Best Hands-free Calling Adapter: SoundBot
If your primary concern is safely taking phone calls in your car, you have several options worth considering. One of the best is the SoundBot SB360 hands-free kit. You can mount the device in your car, allowing you to select the ideal spot for phone calls based on your car’s dashboard design.
The SoundBot connects to your phone using Bluetooth. It plugs into your car’s audio system using an auxiliary cable, so your car must have an aux input for this to work.
For hands-free calling, the SoundBot also has a little clip that makes it possible to attach the device to your clothes. This keeps the mic as close as possible for better sound quality during phone calls.
Another option for hands-free calling that operates in a similar way is the Besign BK01. The Besign turns on automatically when you start your car and syncs up with the last connected phone. It also brings voice assistant capability to your car without the need for Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
Speaking of Siri or Google Assistant, you can add them to your car with the Avantree CK11. This little device is different from others in that it doesn’t actually connect to your car speakers. Instead, the Avantree is a mini-speaker that clips onto your visor, placing the audio and mic right in front of you.
3. Best Bluetooth Aux Adapter: TaoTronics
Another compact option among the best auxiliary adapters for your car is the TaoTronics Bluetooth Receiver. You can connect two phones to this device simultaneously using Bluetooth. It offers convenient access to volume and playback controls right on the receiver. However, its placement in your car might make it difficult to access those controls while driving.
The device offers up to 10 hours of listening or hands-free calling.
Another solid option is the Mpow Bluetooth Transmitter, which will cost a little more. This is due to its dual purpose: you can use it outside your car by plugging it into your non-Bluetooth headphones or home speakers and beam music straight from your phone.
In addition to giving your car radio Bluetooth capability, you can, of course, also use it to take calls in your car.
4. Best Cassette Adapter: Sony
If your car is pretty old, it probably doesn’t have an auxiliary input. But it likely does have a cassette deck. Even if you’ve still got tapes from the 80s and 90s, a cassette adapter will put that cassette deck to much better use.
Just place the cassette adapter in the slot and insert the 3.5 mm audio plug in your phone’s headphone jack, and your phone is connected to your car’s stereo. Unsurprisingly, there aren’t too many options for cassette adapters, but a few have distinctive features and a pretty low price point.
The Sony Car Connecting Pack is among the highest rated in its class on Amazon. It’s compatible with tape decks where you insert the cassette with the tape opening facing the side. It comes with a four-foot long cable, which is probably longer than you need.
While this Sony product won’t cost you much, it’s actually one of the most expensive options. If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly choice, you can snag the Insten Cassette Adapter for a bargain price.
The Insten adapter has a 3-foot long cord and is currently Amazon’s best seller in the cassette adapter category.
Which Bluetooth Car Adapter Is Right for You?
Should you have a choice of more than one of these categories, you might need a little more information before deciding which one to buy. If making phone calls is more important than listening to music, stick with one of the hands-free options.
If music and podcasts often keep you company as you drive, you’ll find that these options are among the best ways to play music from your phone to car stereo. But some are better than others. For reliability, go the auxiliary route. FM transmitters are a convenient and universal option. Cassette adapters aren’t recommended unless they’re your only option.
And for more on this topic, take a look at these great ways to get more out of Bluetooth on your Android device.