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How To Connect Your iPod to a Car Stereo: Multiple Methods

When it comes to oldies but goodies, the iPod is right up there. You probably have one around somewhere and if you’re like us, maybe you want to fiddle with it and connect it to your car. Why not? Maybe get a few more years of fun out of yet another Apple purchase?  If you’re looking for a quick project, check out the different ways to connect your iPod to a car stereo.

Connect Your iPod Using 3.5mm FM Transmitter

Initially, this was one of the only ways available for hooking an iPod to a car stereo system. It is an extremely easy way to listen to your vehicle’s music. All you need to do is to plug your car stereo’s FM transmitter into the iPod’s headphone socket. Then, tune your car stereo into a frequency that is different from the one being used by the radio station after which you set the transmitter to the same frequency. Your music will then be transmitted to the stereo. Transmitters usually feature programmable memory slots that enable you to save the clearest stations. This ensures that your music comes through clearly despite your location.

Dock Connector FM Transmitter

This method is nearly the same as the one discussed above. However, it uses Apple’s Dock connector instead of the headphone socket. This translates to slightly better sound quality and it draws a very small amount of power that it requires for operation from your iPod. Just like the 3.5 mm FM transmitter, it has memory pre-sets allowing you to store the frequencies of the clearest stations thus you can easily switch between the frequencies using the buttons located in front of the transmitter. There is a “white on black” display that makes it easy to use at night. The only slight disadvantage of using the Dock connector transmitter is that it doesn’t allow for charging of an iPod. However, this shouldn’t be much of a problem as iPods feature great battery life although there are times you might find yourself running low on the power of your iPod.

man using a smartphone
Image credit: nito103, Deposit Photos

Connect Using Car Kits

There are two types of kits available in the market; simple car kits and fitted car kits. An example of a simple car kit is the Venturi Minikit for iPod. This is more than just an FM transmitter sitting in your car’s cigarette lighter socket and provides you with multiple ways of listening to your iPod music via the car stereo. Use your classic or shuffle iPod Nano to connect to the Venturi using a 3.5mm audio cable. The Venturi broadcasts your music over the FM to your car stereo. If you’ve got an iPhone or iPod touch, you can as well stream music over Bluetooth connection to the Venturi which then broadcasts the music to your stereo. This avoids having lots of wire trails across the car’s dashboard. There is a side USB charger port that allows you to charge your iPod.

For easy integration of iPod to the car stereo, use fitted car kits like Parrot Evolution Bluetooth Car Kit. These are basically Bluetooth hands-free car kits designed for mobile phones but can also be used for MP3 and iPod players. Each kit features a USB port with audio cable, Apple Dock Connector, and a 3.5mm line-in port. This makes the kit compatible with almost every MP3 and iPod device on the market. The audio cable is long enough hence you can root it to your center console, glove box, or any other place in the dashboard that you would wish to place the iPod. Once you connect the Parrot Evolution Bluetooth Car Kit, it will show you the song playing and the artist information on its external display panel. You can control your music via the iPod using a small remote control attached to your car’s steering wheel.​

Connect Your iPod Using 3.5mm Aux-in

So far, this is the simplest way of connecting your iPod to a car stereo system and is compatible with all iPod models on the market. However, not all cars feature visible AUX ports. Some come with the port in front of the system, others in the center console while others in the glove box. Chances are that unless you’ve fitted an aftermarket stereo system in your vehicle or bought the latest car models in the last three to four years, you don’t have one. This auxiliary jack is usually labeled “headphone jack” is becoming a standard feature in almost all vehicles. Plug one end of the AUX cable into your vehicle’s auxiliary input jack and the other end into your iPod.

Hand Pressing Car Bluetooth Control
Image credit: HighwayStarz, Deposit Photos

Connect Your iPod via USB Input Jack

Although not common, this is another easy way of connecting an iPod to the car stereo system. In older car models, it is offered optional though can get if fitted into your vehicle’s stereo at a quite expensive cost. For newer cars, the USB cable interface is offered standard and you’ll just need a standard dock cable to connect it to your stereo. In most cases, this method allows the information in your device to be displayed on your car’s radio display. This option allows you to charge your iPod directly using the USB port. It is recommended that you bring your device to full volume to give you full control using the vehicle’s interface.

Connect Your iPod via Cassette Player Adapters

If your vehicle is equipped with a cassette player, you can do away with the feeling that your stereo system is outdated. Let’s just say your stereo system is “finely aged”.

All you need to do is buy a cassette player adapter featuring a 3.5 mm auxiliary that allows you to connect your stereo to your iPod. Just fit the adapter into your cassette player as you would do with an actual cassette. Then, plug in the accompanying auxiliary cable into your iPod. This method enables you to control your music through a radio panel, so you should consider turning your device to full volume.