Listening to music while driving or in the passenger seat is one of the best ways to fight off boredom.
With Bluetooth connectivity being a standard feature in modern vehicles, you can play your well-curated playlist from your phone instead of making do with whatever radio station is within range. But what if your music doesn’t play through Bluetooth?
In general, your music may not be playing through Bluetooth in your car because Bluetooth doesn’t support streaming. It could also be because you need to do a clean reinstall of the music app, like Spotify. It’s also possible that you need to clear the Bluetooth shared data or phone cache.
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Tip: If your phone is connected to your car’s Bluetooth but can’t stream music through the speakers, check the music player or streaming app, e.g., Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube, and make sure it’s updated. You can also do a quick reinstall of the app.
Still doesn’t work? Try a clean reinstall of the music app on your phone.
In the article below, I talk about the possible reasons why your music isn’t playing through your car’s Bluetooth. I’ll also share a few tips on what you can do to fix the problem for a given scenario.
Why Car’s Bluetooth Supports Phone Calls but Not Streaming?
If you’re able to pair your phone with your car’s Bluetooth and make or answer calls without any problem but can’t seem to stream music, it’s because phone calls and streaming use different communication protocols.
Devices can only communicate with each other if they operate on the same protocol.
Phone calls use the hands-free profile (HFP) or hands-free communication protocol, and all modern cars are designed to support this.
Music streaming and high-quality stereo sounds, on the other hand, use the A2DP or advanced audio distribution profile. To put it simply, streaming multimedia content from your phone requires that your car’s audio or infotainment system also support the A2DP profile.
There are instances when a car’s Bluetooth supports HFP but not A2DP. This problem is usually prevalent in the older models, mainly because of software and hardware limitations in their Bluetooth receivers.
The HFP uses older and simpler technology, whereas music streaming requires a much bigger memory and computing power, which was previously too costly.
There are also instances when a car’s Bluetooth supports both profiles but not automatically.
When this happens, you can manually activate or enable the music streaming option through your car’s Bluetooth pairing menu.
You can also unlock this option through diagnostic tool interventions and software upgrades.
Check this video explaining the HFP and A2DP profiles:
How to Add a Bluetooth Receiver to Your Car?
You can add Bluetooth support in your car for both calls and music streaming by adding a Bluetooth receiver to your vehicle’s radio.
Simply plug the receiver into the 3.5-millimeter (1.14-inch) auxiliary plug or input jack and pair your phone with it. The jack is usually located around the center controls or center console.
Don’t forget to switch the audio source on your car’s radio screen to AUX IN.
The music you play or stream from your phone will now be sent to the receiver, and you should be able to hear your music.
Bluetooth receivers come in different configurations: 12-volt, USB-powered, and battery-powered. Your car may support one or multiple receiver types, but USB models are more common.
There are also cars without an auxiliary input. And if yours is one of them, you can use an FM transmitter. Most new FM transmitters also double as Bluetooth receivers.
The device sends audio signals to the stereo by broadcasting them over an open FM radio frequency instead of through an auxiliary cable. So all you need to do is tune your stereo’s FM tuner to the right frequency and hear your music being streamed from your phone.
Check out this YouTube video demonstrating how you can add a Bluetooth receiver to your car:
Do I Need to Reinstall the Phone’s Music Streaming App?
If your phone is connected to your car’s Bluetooth but can’t stream music through the speakers, check the music player or streaming app, e.g., Spotify, Apple Music, or YouTube, and make sure it’s updated. You can also do a quick reinstall of the app.
Still doesn’t work? Try a clean reinstall of the music app on your phone.
A clean reinstall is more thorough than a quick one, and it’s usually a helpful step as it cleans the cache. Note that a clean reinstall will force you to re-download whatever music and podcasts you have in your library.
As an example, here are the steps to perform a clean reinstall of Spotify on certain phone models like Android 6.0, iPhone, iPad, etc.
If the clean reinstall doesn’t work, try unpairing your phone and the Bluetooth, restarting your phone, then pairing the two again.
How to Find Bluetooth Connection Issues Between Devices?
You need to make sure that your car’s audio system and your smartphone are ready for connection.
The problem could be as simple as the Bluetooth connection being accidentally turned off or the Bluetooth pairing not being done correctly. In this case, check the settings for the two devices to make sure their Bluetooth option is on and in discoverable mode.
Distance could be another cause. In theory, two Bluetooth-enabled devices can transfer data even if they’re 30 feet (9.14 meters) apart, but during the pairing process, you’ll need to be much closer.
When pairing, hold your phone near the dashboard and see that there are no other objects between your audio system and your phone.
Can Bluetooth Be Incompatible?
Compatibility issues between your Bluetooth devices could also arise, especially considering that these devices may be using different versions of software or operating systems.
Over the years, the Bluetooth standard has gone through multiple versions, with version 5.2 being the latest upgrade released in 2020.
You can avoid compatibility problems by updating the Bluetooth software on your phone. The latest version of your phone’s software should work with any version of your car’s Bluetooth.
Intermittent Music Streaming
If music from your phone plays via your car’s Bluetooth but cuts occasionally, check your phone’s battery first and make sure it’s not low.
Bluetooth draws a significant amount of power, so your phone might turn off or go on power-saving mode, resulting in an intermittent connection.
Another thing you can check is the list of devices that are connected to your car’s audio system. Some of these devices might interfere with your phone’s connection. Remove them and see if your streaming improves.
Why iPhone or Apple Carplay Does Not Work?
If you’re using an iPhone and your car has a smart interface, chances are you listen to your favorite music through Apple’s CarPlay. However, connection failures can happen after you update your phone with its latest software version.
When you get the “connection failed” notification or experience CarPlay issues, you can begin by restarting or resetting your phone.
You can also restart your car’s infotainment system. So it would help if you check your car’s manual and learn how to reset the infotainment system properly.
You may also need to check whether your CarPlay is enabled, especially if you’re using it for the first time. This is because the CarPlay feature needs to be enabled in some cars before starting using it. Again, check your car’s manual for this.
Moreover, if you’ve set up restrictions on your iPhone, you may also have accidentally disabled CarPlay. So, navigate through your phone’s settings menu and look for the restrictions tab. Then, scroll down to the CarPlay tab and turn it off if it’s on.
If you have problems playing music through your car’s Bluetooth and you are using iPhone but not CarPlay, try the solution shown in this video:
How Do I Stop Bluetooth From Connecting to Other Devices?
Another possible reason your phone’s music won’t play through your car’s Bluetooth is that the latter may be trying to connect with another device.
If your car’s Bluetooth is trying to establish a connection with another phone, tablet, or laptop, it’ll have trouble pairing with your phone.
Older Bluetooth models would simply try to connect with the last device it has been paired with.
Make sure to unpair any device that your car’s Bluetooth is trying to connect to. For example, if you’re using an iOS device, you can remove it by tapping on its name and then tapping Forget this Device.
With Android phones, simply tap on the device’s name and select Unpair. Or you can just turn that other device’s Bluetooth altogether.
How Do I Delete Bluetooth Shared Data and App Cache?
Android devices allow you to choose the information that you share. So, for example, you can choose to share your phone’s audio, media, text messages, and contacts with your car via Bluetooth.
If you don’t need to share all these data, you can deselect some of them to give way to the data that requires processing.
There are also times when some apps will interfere with your car’s Bluetooth operation. Clearing the Bluetooth cache will help fix the issue.
To clear the Bluetooth cache for an iPhone or any iOS device, you need to unpair all your devices. First, go to Setting, then select Bluetooth, select the info icon, and tap on Forget This Device.
To clear the Bluetooth cache for Android phones, just go to Settings, then System, select Advanced, then Reset Options, select Reset WiFi, Mobile & Bluetooth. Then restart your phone or tablet.
Other Tips and Tricks
If none of these solutions seem to resolve your issue, try some of these tricks.
Adjust the Volume of Your Car’s Stereo Receiver
Sometimes, the solution is so easy that we end up ignoring it and looking for bigger issues. Nevertheless, it’s worth looking into these minor issues as well.
Perhaps you can’t hear the music playing because your car speaker’s volume is too low. Make sure that the volume is loud enough for you to actually hear the music.
Adjust the Volume on Your Phone
Even if your car’s stereo is loud enough, you may still not hear the music if your phone’s music player or the music streaming app is on mute. By adjusting the volume, you’ll be sure that the music will be audible.
Pair Your Car’s Bluetooth With Another Device
To troubleshoot the issue, you need to isolate the cause. In other words, you need to see which device is causing trouble: the phone or the car. So, unpair the two devices and grab a different phone to do a quick check.
Pair this second phone with your car’s Bluetooth and play music. If music still doesn’t play, then the problem may be your car’s infotainment system or Bluetooth connection. For this, you might need to call in a technician or a professional to find out for sure.
But if the music plays with this second phone, it means your first phone is problematic.
Play Music Through Another App or Streaming Service
The problem could be the media app or streaming service installed on your phone.
Try another app or player and see if it plays music without issues. For example, if you’re using Spotify, check YouTube. If YouTube works, then it’s Spotify that’s causing the problem.
Moreover, if the problem is about the music not playing through your car’s speakers, even with the Bluetooth connection, but it is audible through your phone, you can try toggling the airplane mode on and off.
If music from your phone won’t play on your car’s speaker through Bluetooth, there are many possible reasons for it.
Possible fixes can be as simple as unpairing the devices and pairing them again to actually buying and plugging in a separate Bluetooth receiver. There’s nothing wrong with trying out several solutions and then failing before you get the right one.
The important thing is to be smart about what’s causing the issue. Look into the more plausible scenarios before doing the trial-and-error technique; otherwise, you may cause more damage to your devices.