How to Upgrade Your Vehicle Stereo to Use Bluetooth

How to Upgrade Your Vehicle Stereo to Use Bluetooth

Do you remember CDs? It really wasn’t very long ago that we had to insert these discs into our vehicle sound system in order to listen to music.

Nowadays, however, modern and more convenient methods like Bluetooth and auxiliary jacks have taken over. Unfortunately, not all vehicles are equipped with such technology.

So today, we’re going to discuss how anyone can upgrade their vehicle stereo system to use Bluetooth.


Installing a New Vehicle Head Unit

Replacing your car’s factory head unit is a great way to introduce new technology like Bluetooth to an older vehicle. But there are some factors to consider.

DIN Standards

Car Stereo DIN standard

All head units utilize the DIN standard. This is basically the universal measurement standard for vehicle head units.

DIN measurements come in single, double, and DIN-and-a-half. To put it simply, a single DIN is about 4 inches in height, a double DIN is double that measurement, and a DIN-and-a-half is 1.5 times the size of a single DIN.

So make sure your aftermarket head unit’s DIN measurement matches that of your factory unit, or a headache is sure to follow.



Cost can vary quite a bit when it comes to installing a new head unit in your vehicle. The pricing for different units can range anywhere from $200 to $2,000. So depending on what you want from your new head unit, this could be a significant investment.

If you are doing the work yourself, you may also have to purchase tools. A screwdriver set, as well as a pry bar, soldering tools, or wire crimping tools, will be necessary. The tools you need specifically will vary from car to car, but these are the standard tools.

Of course, if you’re leaving the installation to a professional, you won’t need these tools, but you will be paying for the service. Depending on your vehicle and the head unit, this service cost will also vary.

For example, you may want a head unit that has a backup camera or your vehicle may have steering wheel controls. This technology involves a bit more work, so you may be paying extra for the trouble.



Car Bluetooth Head Unit Feature

What do you want your new head unit to do? Of course, our main objective here is to utilize Bluetooth technology.

But many aftermarket head units include many other features. Along with Bluetooth, you may want Apple Carplay or Android Auto functions.

Some head units will utilize buttons, while others will feature touchscreen displays or a combination of both. Like we mentioned earlier, some units also include backup cameras. Other units even feature navigation.

Another important function that will vary between head units is sound control. If your vehicle can now utilize Bluetooth but the sound quality is low, the new technology is going to be bittersweet. So you may want to invest in a head unit that can optimize and synergize well with the sound system in your vehicle.

Keep these factors in mind and your journey to having Bluetooth technology in your vehicle will be much easier. But what if, after consideration, installing a new head unit is not the correct move for you?


Alternative Methods

There are other ways to upgrade your vehicle to use Bluetooth. They may not pack all the features and conveniences of a new head unit, but these methods are more cost-effective and easier to implement. The two we’ll discuss here are Bluetooth receivers and FM transmitters.

Bluetooth Receivers

Car Bluetooth Receivers

This is probably the most common method used to utilize Bluetooth in an older vehicle. Your vehicle will need an auxiliary jack but otherwise, these receiver devices are plug and play.

They are powered by different methods, so this is something to consider when purchasing one. If your vehicle includes a USB port next to the auxiliary jack, a Bluetooth receiver that is powered by USB will work perfectly.

If this is not the case, there are battery-powered receivers, as well. These will need to be charged or have the battery replaced periodically, but it doesn’t require a USB port in your vehicle.


FM Transmitters

Car FM Transmitters

This is the device you will need if your vehicle lacks an auxiliary jack.

Instead of physically connecting to your vehicle’s sound system, an FM transmitter will utilize an FM radio frequency. You simply pair your phone through Bluetooth with the transmitter, tune your car radio to the corresponding FM frequency, and your phone audio will be transmitted to your car’s speakers.

In addition to not requiring an auxiliary jack, these transmitters don’t leave wires to deal with, adding an extra level of convenience.

However, the sound quality of some transmitters leaves much to be desired. Newer transmitters are alleviating this issue, though, so this device shouldn’t be counted out.



How you implement Bluetooth technology into your vehicle is up to you. But the versatility and convenience of having Bluetooth in your car are difficult to overlook.

Installing a new head unit is the best way to pack new features into your car and has the potential for the greatest sound quality. But if cost is a factor, a Bluetooth receiver or an FM transmitter will also get the job done for less money and less work, albeit for likely lower quality audio.

Whichever way you go, upgrading your vehicle to use Bluetooth is a move you won’t regret.