A little over year ago I moved out of New York City. Like most people there, I lived blissfully without a car. After moving to California, I realized immediately that a) I need a car and b) I need a car with Bluetooth so I can chat in full stereo while stuck in traffic.
Vehicles with Bluetooth connectivity allow you to tap into the car’s stereo system for calls – clearly an upgrade from using a mobile’s speakerphone. Most of these hooked up cars also tend to have a strategically placed microphone placed on the driver side.
If your car has Bluetooth, you should definitely whip out the manual and figure out how to pair it with a smartphone. But, if you’re still riding around in mom’s old minivan without the built-in functionality, here’s a few ways to add Bluetooth without replacing your ride.
Directly from the Car Manufacturer
First of all, get in touch with your car’s manufacturer to see if an official Bluetooth solution exists. It’s possible that your car might already be outfitted with an additional microphone, compatible stereo, and even volume controls. All you might need is the actual Bluetooth component. Sadly, these components don’t typically come cheap.
Get a Bluetooth Stereo
If there’s no official option from the car’s manufacturer, upgrading the stereo is likely your next best option. Sites like www.crutchfield.com do a thorough job of helping you to find a stereo that will fit in your car’s dash.
Once you find a stereo that fits, choose one with Bluetooth. The least expensive ones typically come with a microphone integrated into the stereo itself. Pricier options feature an external, movable mic for positioning the mic closer to the driver.
There’s some other fun Bluetooth features that might be included in these stereos:
- Phone Book Access (PBAP)—with this feature your stereo’s display will act as a caller ID complete with a contact list for easy dialing.
- Message Access (MAP)—this add-on allows you to access text messages on-screen and many can even read them aloud or capture dictation.
- Advanced Audio Distribution (A2DP)—so you can play music from your smartphone through your car’s speakers.
Convert Bluetooth to FM
If you don’t want to replace the whole car stereo, a cheaper and less time consuming option are gadgets like Belkin’s $99 CarAudio Connect FM Bluetooth.This product routes your calls and music over Bluetooth, broadcasting them on an FM radio channel. The downside? Going under a bridge might interrupt your conversation.