How to Play Pandora on the Car Radio?

It may be tempting to take your favorite music with you for your ride. If you are used to listening to Pandora in your office as you are working away, or when you are chilling at home and wondering if it’s possible to listen to Pandora on the go, the answer is Yes, you can do it.

But, how to play pandora on the car radio? Let’s find out. 

Download the app from either iTunes or Google Play, create your account if desired, Open the Pandora app on your phone and start listening. When you have Pandora installed, there are two ways to listen to it through the car radio:

1. Use an auxiliary cable. This is the most common way to get Pandora working in the car. Just plug one end of the cable into your phone or device and the other into the AUX input on your car stereo.

2. Use Bluetooth. If your car stereo supports Bluetooth, you can use it to listen to Pandora without external wiring.

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Tip: You can get Pandora no matter the car stereo you own. A smartphone is all that is needed to connect Pandora to any car stereo system. 

Today, many cars come with inbuilt Pandora functionality. More than 160 vehicle brands, including BMW, Ford, Mercedes-Benz, Chevrolet, Nissan, and Toyota, come with Pandora internet radio apps in their infotainment systems!

However, if your car does not support Pandora as a factory feature, you can search for an aftermarket car radio that comes integrated with Pandora to listen to music anywhere, anytime. An excellent example is Pioneer AWH-X490BS

In this article, I will show you more about playing Pandora on your car radio and how you can personalize the entire experience to get the best out of your radio service.

Factors to consider when installing Pandora in your car radio

Pandora is a radio service through which users can stream music from their mobile devices to their cars.

The advantage is that there are so many stations from which to choose so that you won’t feel bored on your long drive. However, there are some factors you will have to consider before installing Pandora in your car radio.

  • The hardware available on your car stereo
  • How much budget you are willing to allocate for your entertainment
  • The mobile data plan you are using.
  • The level of audio quality you want
  • Your bandwidth allocation to keep track of the data usage when streaming music

What Is Pandora Radio?

Pandora radio is an internet radio service that makes use of an intelligent algorithm for the benefit of customizing stations to your personal tastes and music preferences. What you will do is select one song (or many) that will act as the source for the new station to play. 

You are correct in thinking it’s the algorithm that comes into play here. It will automatically pick and play songs that are similar to the source song. 

Then, based on the historical data, the system will predict which kind of songs you will like, and it will play them for you.

You can even give feedback on whether the automatic suggestions are to your liking. The algorithm will also finetune the forthcoming stations and songs based on your feedback.

If you wonder if the service is free, you are in for some good news because it is. However, there are some limitations on the features and include:

  • Streaming only a limited number of hours of music every month
  • A limited number of skips per hour in case you aren’t too keen on the songs being played
  • A limited selection of the songs you can listen to

The better option is paid Pandora subscription, which comes with a few more perks. For example, if you don’t like the record you listen to, you can always skip them until you find those you love.

There is nothing more annoying than advertisements interrupting when you listen to your favorite track, so you can enjoy uninterrupted music if you opt for a paid subscription

Pandora was earlier available on the browser. But now, you can access the playlists on your computer through your mobile device or a compatible Pandora car stereo through the Pandora app.

How Pandora Works on Your Car Radio

There are two means by which Pandora works on your car radio.

Method 1:

You can play music from a smartphone connected via an auxiliary cord. 

Method 2:

You can also stream music from an integrated car radio app.

No matter which method you choose, you need to bank on a mobile device all loaded up with an active data connection. This way, you can stream music seamlessly.

When a car radio comes with an in-built Pandora feature, it makes it that much more convenient to connect an app on the radio to an app on the smartphone. This is made possible through a USB or a Bluetooth connection. 

For most modern cars, there are controls built in the steering wheels through which you can play Pandora and listen to music. There are even voice commands that allow you to control Pandora.

For car radios without the built-in Pandora app, you can still listen to music, however the process is slightly different.

Although you can still stream music from the app using a smartphone, you will not have steering wheel controls or voice commands, so with no integrated Pandora functionality, you will need the help of one from devices below to stream audio from your phone to your car stereo:

  • USB connection
  • AUX cord
  • Bluetooth connection 

How to Install Pandora on Your Car Radio

If your car is recently purchased, then in all probability, it comes with integrated Pandora functionality.

To check if your vehicle model has a built-in Pandora app, simply turn to the car manual that must have come with your purchase. In addition, Pandora has a convenient list of all vehicle models and aftermarket radios that come with the Pandora app integrated with it.

installing pandora in car radio

How Can You Stream Music on the Pandora App if You Have Integrated Pandora Functionality?

Step 1: Open the Pandora app from your car radio

Step 2: Download and install the Pandora app on your Android or iOS smartphone. 

Step 3: Now connect the smartphone to your vehicle’s audio/infotainment system.

Although newer models may allow Bluetooth connection, you should plug the iOS device into the USB port. Likewise, the Android device should be connected via Bluetooth.

Step 4: You can now register and sign in to your Pandora account. Open the Pandora app on your phone and click the Pandora icon on your vehicle screen. 

You should know that if you rely on an iPhone, then Pandora should be opened on the phone. The phone doesn’t have to work, but the Pandora app needs to be opened in the background, otherwise, it will not function properly. 

And that is all!

Once these four steps are done, you can enjoy the ride with all your favorite tracks playing in the background. 

When your phone is connected, you can control it directly from your car’s dashboard.

You can do so much, like sift through various stations, skip songs that don’t appeal to you, pause music if you have to attend a call or carry on a conversation with the people in the car.

You now have full controls using the head unit, and you can even give thumbs up or thumbs down to the songs that Pandora will suggest for you.

Moreover, the steering wheel will allow you to adjust the volume and skip songs as you please and even stations by simply holding down the skip button.

If you are the type who likes to find everything you can when a song blows you off your seat, you can always bookmark songs and artists and find out every little detail you want to know later.

How Can You Stream Music on the Pandora App if You Do Not Have Integrated Pandora Functionality?

Even if your car radio does not have an integrated Pandora app, it doesn’t matter. You can still listen to the songs, but the process is slightly more complicated, and you can control the app only through your phone.

Without the built-in app, you can stream tracks using a USB, an auxiliary cord, or a Bluetooth connection.

Since this method does not accommodate Pandora with your car’s radio, you will have to perform functions like selecting stations, skipping tracks, controlling playback, and whatever else you want to do, all on your phone.

What Makes Pandora Great for Listening to Music on the Drive?

If you love listening to tracks on your long drives, you are not the only one. This is why Pandora has developed an internet radio service to listen to music and chill in your car. 


The highlight feature that makes Pandora’s radio service stand out is how easy it is to install and listen to all your favorite songs and artists. Just start with the name of your favorite song or go with your favorite artist or genre, and Pandora will take care of the rest. 

There is also the personalizing feature that allows you to “thumbs up” all your favorite songs while they are being suggested so that you can listen to more of the same every time.

Don’t like something? No matter, just “thumbs down” it to never hear it again or at least not unless you want to.


Everyone has different tastes in music, which is why the musicologists at Pandora have put together hundreds of music and comedy genre stations. 

You can make a selection from more than 700 music and comedy genre stations, so that’s plenty to choose from!


You can now take your favorite music everywhere you go. You can select your favorite stations and listen to your favorite songs not just in your car or on your phone but also at home or on the web.

If you want the best out of your music experience and listen to great music on the road, Pandora is a great choice.

How Much Data Is Used up by Pandora Car Radio?

If there is one thing that Pandora does not do is it does not allow downloading and playing songs online.

This contrasts with services like Spotify, which allows you to download music and play them offline anytime you need.

When using Pandora, you will have to be connected to the internet all the time, and this is when data usage can be a concern.

You can connect either through WiFi or a data connection. If you have limited data allocation, you will need to keep track of the data consumption to ensure you don’t go over the limit.

With the mobile data, you will get lower streaming quality of 64 Kbps and smaller file sizes, and there is another catch! Lower streaming quality also affects the audio quality.

In this setting, when you listen for an hour, you will only be consuming 28.8 MB of data. So if you have a 1 GB plan in place, you can listen to music on Pandora every day for around an hour for the entire month and still not exceed your limit.

This is a great mobile data consumption saver but at the cost of the music quality.


Listening to songs or comedy tracks is a great way to pass the time when you are on a long road trip.

It will help you to stay alert and refreshed throughout the journey. While you may have listened to FM/AM radio or even songs on your phone, there is the Pandora car radio that has a lot to offer to music lovers.

It is a flexible, convenient, and easy to set up car radio that comes with an extensive range of stations catering to different tastes in music and is found on so many car vehicle brands.

Whether you have integrated Pandora functionality or not, you can still listen to your favorite tracks easily. 

Pandora gives you complete control over the kind of music you listen to and personalize your experience by selecting your favorite tracks.

The integrated app allows you to fully adjust how you want to control the stations and listen to tracks you like the way you want.


Welcome to ImproveCarAudio! I am Martin, and I love to write about everything related to car sound systems. I strive to provide the most accurate and helpful information about car audio through extensive research, as well as my experience with car audio installations.

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