How to play your iPod in your Vehicles

by Contributing Writer; Updated June 12, 2017

Todays music is more often stored digitally rather than on Tapes, Records, and CDs. The iPod revolutionized the way we store and listen to music, but playing them in the Vehicles is a hassle Vehicles some. Many of you already have the "iTrip" or other "FM Transmitters", but are unsatisfied with the sound. In this article I will explain the other alternatives to connecting your iPod to your Vehicles stereo.

Under The Hood:

 How to play your iPod in your car (Without static ridden FM adapters)

Check to see if your car already has a connection available:

Many new cars come with an "auxiliary port" right from the factory. If one of these ports are available it will often be near your power port or in your center console. Some vehicles have an auxiliary port right on the face of the radio itself. To connect your iPod to one of these ports go to Radioshack, Best Buy, or even your local drug store, and purchase a "3.5 stereo to 3.5 stereo cable" The next step features a picture of this cable. Connect one end of the cable to your ipod's headphone jack and connect the other end to your car's auxiliary port. Press the "Aux" button on your radio, turn the ipod volume 90% up, and then control the volume from your stereo thereafter.... that's it!

If you don't have an auxiliary port in your vehicle, but you do have a newer car, or even an "AUX" or "SAT" button:

Your vehicle can most likely be fitted with an Auxiliary port at your local car stereo shop. These adapters run anywhere from $100 to $300 installed depending on the vehicle you drive. Considering a CD changer only holds 12 CDs and costs just as much, these adapters are well worth the price.

The installation of these adapters involves burying a module behind your dash, and making a connection to the back of your radio. Often times the installer will simply run a wire to an easily accessible place where you can plug it into your iPod's headphone jack.

Some Manufacturers of these interfaces: USA-Spec Peripheral PAC SoundGate VAIS

You can find these adapters online but you are much better off purchasing them at your local shop. Often times the vehicle information and the adapter will match perfectly, and then you pay someone to install it only to realize it's the wrong one for your particular radio. You will be stuck paying return shipping and an additional installation charge. DON'T make this mistake, let a professional handle it and pay for it ONCE.

If your vehicle supports it and you have disposable income, you can purchase an ipod "Interface":

The difference between an Auxiliary input adapter and an Ipod Interface Adapter is that the latter will actually charge and CONTROL your iPod right from the button on your radio. Only some vehicles are compatible with these interfaces, usually very new vehicles. Many will only control "playlists" or just support "track up" and "track down".

Some Toyota and Lexus vehicles with navigation systems can actually display all the song information on your screen, as well as control all functions of the ipod. If one of these adapters are available for your car then you should go for it, as you can leave your iPod plugged into your glovebox or center console and never have to touch it. I have also seen many newer GM vehicles support this function.

If no adapters are available for your car:

You have two options; replace your stereo, or use an "FM modulator". I will save the stereo replacement for another how to article. To simplify things we will be discussing FM modulators only.

An FM modulator works on the same principle as your "itrip" or other FM Transmitter. The difference between an "FM Transmitter" and an "FM Modulator" is that an FM Modulator uses a "direct connection" to your radio through the antenna port, and requires a power source. The result is very good sound with no interference from other stations.

To clarify: remember when you hooked up your first VCR, and you had to be on channel 3 or 4 to watch a video tape? Well an FM modulator works exactly the same, only you will have to be on 88.1 or some other station.

Unless you are very mechanically inclined, you will also need a shop to install this, the price will typically be about $100 to $125 installed. If you have an exotic car, or even a newer car you may need some extra parts called "antenna adapters" that cost an additional $15 - $30 more.

Items you will need

  • An ipod (or other Mp3 player

  • The make/model/year of your vehicle

 Can I Play My iPod in a Mercedes E350?

Ready to Rock

The 2015 E350's standard Bluetooth system makes connecting an iPod or other MP3 player simple. Turn on your iPod's Bluetooth feature. Next, enable the E350's Bluetooth system by pressing the "SYS" button on the dashboard and navigating to the "Settings" menu on the display screen. Select "Activate Bluetooth." Next, press the "TEL" button on the dashboard. Select "Connect Dev" from the onscreen menu. Select "Search for phone from vehicle." Select "Start Search." When it shows up, select your iPod Touch from the onscreen list. A pass code will appear on your iPod and on the car's display screen. If they match, select "Confirm" on the car's screen and then "Pair" or "Confirm" on your iPod. Your iPod is now connected to your car's audio system. You can browse and play your music collection using the vehicle's audio controls, located on the dashboard's touchscreen display and on the steering wheel.

 How to Play an iPod in an MDX

Press the "Open" button on the front edge of your center console to open the compartment lid. Inspect the interior of the compartment. Inside you'll find a small hole.

Insert the 3.5mm audio cable into the console hole. Ensure that it's fully connected.

Insert the opposite end of the 3.5mm audio cable into the audio port on your iPod. This is the jack the headphones normally plug into.

Turn your Acura MDX on. You can crank the engine or you can simply turn the key to "Acc" or "On." The radio must be on for the iPod to work.

Push "Disc/Aux." This switches the input from the radio to the auxiliary input that your iPod is connected to. You'll now be able to listen to the iPod in your MDX.

Items you will need

  • 3.5mm audio cable

 How to Play an iPod in a Volvo S40

Plug your iPod's connector cable into the bottom of the iPod. Then plug the other end of the connector cable (the USB end) directly into your 2010 Volvo S40's iPod/USB audio jack. If you don't have the 2010 S40, skip this step.

Look for an auxiliary audio jack on your Volvo's console. This is also called a 1/8-inch stereo mini jack and is identifiable as a small hole like you might use for headphones. Plug one end of a male auxiliary audio cable into this jack then plug the other end into your iPod.

Select "Aux" from the S40's audio settings, using the marked button. If you need help finding the auxiliary audio jack or the auxiliary button, consult your Volvo manual. Once you've connected the iPod and selected "Aux," you can play music directly from the iPod.

Items you will need

  • Auxiliary cable (optional)

About the Author

This article was written by the It Still Runs team, copy edited and fact checked through a multi-point auditing system, in efforts to ensure our readers only receive the best information. To submit your questions or ideas, or to simply learn more about It Still Runs, contact us.