One of the questions we get asked a lot is “How can I connect my iPod to my Car?” – but as each car is different, and each stereo is different, there are a number of ways you can do it.
See our whole range of iPod FM Transmitters here.
To give you an idea on some of the more popular ways to connect your iPod to your car stereo I’ve written a quick guide that should hopefully give you a better idea on how you can listen to music from your iPod in the car. I’ve tried to cover all different options here, right through from a simple iPod FM Transmitter right through to an iPod Car Kit.
If you think I’ve missed anything out or know of another method that’s not been mentioned here, leave us a comment at the end of the post.
Method One: 3.5mm FM Transmitter
This was originally one of the only ways to connect your iPod to your car stereo and is an extremely easy way to listen to your music in the car. You plug the FM transmitter into the headphone socket of your iPod, tune your car stereo in to a frequency that isn’t being used by a radio station and then set the transmitter to the same frequency. Your music is then broadcast to your stereo for you to enjoy. The transmitter has programmable memory slots that allow you to save the clearest stations to memory so that your music comes through clearly wherever you go
The FM transmitter runs on batteries and won’t drain your iPod but if you plan on using your iPod in the car, you’ll probably want to consider getting an iPod car charger. As this uses the headphone socket on your iPod, it does mean that it will actually work with any device with a 3.5mm headphone port – laptops, DVD players, portable games consoles etc.
Method Two: Dock Connector FM Transmitter
This type of FM Transmitter is essentially the same as the one above, but instead of connecting to your iPod using the headphone socket, it uses Apple’s Dock Connector. This means that the audio quality is slightly better and you won’t need to keep buying batteries as it draws the small amount of power that it needs from your iPod.
Like the one listed above it has memory pre-sets that you can use to store the frequencies of the clearest stations and you can easily switch between them using the buttons on the front of the transmitter and the ‘white on black’ display makes it easy to use at night.
Method Three: Powered FM Transmitter
The only slight downside to the Dock Connector FM transmitters is that because you’re using the Dock connector for the transmitter, you can’t use it to charge your iPod. This shouldn’t really be too much of a problem as the battery life on iPods is great, but there might be times where you find yourself running low on power.
That’s where the Griffin iTrip Auto comes in handy, it’s a car charger with an FM transmitter built in to the cable. This allows you to charge your iPhone while listening to your music through your car stereo. Functionality wise it’s the same as the ones listed above.
Also Consider: Belkin Tunecast Auto with ClearScan
Method Four: Simple Car Kit
The Venturi Kit is more than just an FM transmitter. It sits in your cigarette lighter socket in the car and has a couple of ways for you to listen to music from your iPod through your car stereo. If you’ve got an iPod Nano, Classic or shuffle you connect it to the Venturi using a 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable. The Venturi will then broadcast your music over FM to your car stereo.
If you’ve got an iPod touch or iPhone you can use the 3.5mm cable, but you’ve also got the option to stream your music over a Bluetooth connection to the Venturi, which will then broadcast to your stereo. This eliminates the need to have wires trailing across the dashboard. It also doubles up as a Bluetooth Handsfree kit in the car. It’s got a USB charger port on the side that you can use to charge your iPod too.
Also Consider: KitPerfect In Car FM Transmitter For iPod And iPhone
Method Five: Fitted Car Kit
Parrot MKi9100 Bluetooth Car Kit
If you want to integrate your iPod into your car with the minimum of fuss and installation then the Parrot MKi range of Bluetooth Car Kits are a great way to do it. Although they are primarily Bluetooth Hands Free Car kits for mobile phones, they are also designed to be full car kit’s for iPods and MP3 players too. Each kit has a music cable with a USB port, a 3.5mm line in port and an Apple Dock connector which makes it compatible with just about every iPod and MP3 player on the market.
The Audio cable is long enough to be routed to your glove box, centre console or anywhere else in the dashboard that you want to place your iPod. Once connected, the MKi9100 will show you song and artist information on it’s external display and you can control the music from your iPod using the small remote control that attaches to your steering wheel.*
As I mentioned previously, this is also a fully functional Bluetooth car Kit too so you can pair it to your mobile for handsfree calling, and can also stream music to the kit from your phone over Bluetooth.
Depending on your vehicle, installation can take as little as 15 minutes and can be done yourself quite easily as Parrot car kits use industry standard ISO connectors to hook up to your existing car stereo. Cars that don’t use ISO connections will need extra adapters.
*iPod Shuffle connects using a 3.5mm audio cable and as a result, music control and displaying song information is not supported.
Also Consider: Parrot MKi9200 Bluetooth Car Kit
Vehicle Dependant Connections
Some cars will have some iPod connectivity built in to them already. These tend to be newer cars made in the last 3-4 years. Most manufacturers will offer them as a factory fit option, and your local dealership may be able to retro fit them into your car. There are 2 different connections that you might find in your car – 3.5mm Aux in or USB.
You’ll need: Auxiliary Input Lead For iPod/MP3 Car Stereo
This is the simplest and easiest way to hook your iPod up to your car stereo and it will work with all models of iPod, but not all vehicles have a visible AUX port. Some will have one on the front of the stereo, others in the glove box and others in the centre console (similar to the image above). Chances are that unless you’ve got a car that’s relatively new (made in the last 3-4 years) or have fitted an after-market stereo you won’t have one. The AUX in or ‘Front Aux’ port is becoming a fairly standard feature now and I’ve seen head unit’s with this connection retailing for anything from £45 upwards.
If your car or stereo has one of these AUX in ports, all you’ll need to connect your iPod to it is a 3.5mm to 3.5mm audio cable and possibly a car charger to keep your iPod powered.
You’ll need: Apple iPod & iPhone USB Cable
This is another really easy way to connect your iPod up to your car stereo but is not that common. Some manufacturers will offer this as a factory fit option, and your local dealership may be able to retro fit it into your car although it could be quite expensive. If you’ve got a USB port in your car already then you just need to use a standard iPod dock cable to connect it to the car.
Depending on the set up in the car, you should be able to operate your iPod fully using your steering wheel or stereo controls – but this does vary by manufacturer though so I’d contact your dealer if you’re unsure on anything. After market Head Units with a USB port don’t always work with iPods, so if you’re considering replacing the stereo in the car, check with the retailer to make sure it’s compatible.