How To Turn Your Old Car Stereo into a Bluetooth Radio

By | July 9, 2022

Having Bluetooth built into your car or truck radio is a nice feature to have, from playing music to hands-free calling.

Answering calls is the most used feature of a Bluetooth car stereo, but listening to your favorite songs via a smartphone or other Bluetooth device is no doubt a nice option to have.

But What if Your Car Stereo Has No Built-in Bluetooth?

Adding Bluetooth to any car stereo is easily done with an FM transmitter or units that use an audio line-in.

There are many low-cost kits available that come in different designs and features.

The kits are low-cost items that are easy to hook up and have your vehicle stereo system Bluetooth ready in minutes.

How To Add Bluetooth To Your Old Car Radio

  1. The car stereo is set to an open frequency that no radio station broadcasts on.
  2. how-to-add-bluetooth-to-your-old-car-radio-2017

  3. The FM transmitter is then set to the same frequency.
  4. how-to-add-bluetooth-to-your-old-car-radio

  5. The transmitter can then talk to any Bluetooth device and broadcast it over the speakers of the car through the radio.
  6. how-to-turn-your-old-car-stereo-into-a-bluetooth-radio-2017

Most kits are FM transmitter kits, which basically transmit to your car stereo the same way a radio station does.

Setting up a kit is easy and can be done in a few steps.

There are also auxiliary audio line-in kits that use a standard 3mm audio jack line that plugs into a stereo.

Below are some of our favorite options for low-cost FM Bluetooth car kits.

As always, be sure to read the reviews on Amazon, forums, here, or elsewhere to be sure a unit is a good fit for you.
*This post contains affiliate links.

Our Picks for Best FM Transmitters

  1. Nulaxy KM18
  2. Nulaxy Wireless in-Car Bluetooth FM Transmitter Radio Adapter Car Kit

    The Nulaxy KM18 is a nice Bluetooth FM transmitter kit that has a nice display and works very well.

    It has a built-in microphone, SD-card slot, 1 USB port, and a 3.5mm audio line-in for any non-Bluetooth device.
    Best FM Transmitters 2020 Nulaxy KM18
    The hands-free calling works nicely along with playing music from a smartphone or from an SD Card.

    It is a low-cost unit that is a good buy for those on a budget and looking to upgrade a car stereo.

  3. IMDEN
  4. IMDEN Bluetooth 5.0 FM Transmitter for Car, 3.0 Wireless Bluetooth FM Radio Adapter Music Player FM Transmitter/Car Kit with Hands-Free Calling and 2 USB Ports Charger Support USB Drive

    IMDEN makes this small unit that converts any car radio into a Bluetooth stereo.

    Like all FM units, the radio is set to an open frequency, and the IMDEN is then set to the same frequency. It will automatically transmit over the speakers.
    Best FM Transmitters 2020 IMDEN C57
    It is a stubby unit and doesn’t have much length, which makes it ideal for cigarette lighters that are located on the dashboard. If your vehicle’s cigarette lighter is located deep in a console, then another unit would be better.

  5. SoundBot SB360
  6. SoundBot SB360 Bluetooth 4.0 Car Kit Hands-Free Wireless Talking & Music Streaming Dongle w/ 10W Dual Port 2.1A USB Charger + Magnetic Mounts + Built-in 3.5mm Aux Cable …

    SoundBot makes the SB360 model that is built with more length. This makes it more ideal for cigarette lighters that are inside a console or deep in the dashboard.

    It is an FM unit that also has two USB ports to charge devices. The extra USB charging ports are nice to have since many units don’t have this feature and limit charging when only one cigarette lighter is available in a vehicle.

  7. Sumind
  8. (Upgraded Version) Bluetooth FM Transmitter, Sumind Wireless Radio Adapter Hands-Free Car Kit with 1.7 Inch Display, QC3.0 and Smart 2.4A Dual USB Ports, AUX Input/Output, TF Card Mp3 Player

    This unit from Sumind has a nice display that is adjustable to fit the user.

    It has two extra USB ports on the top and a nice control layout.

    The phone button is in the center and easily pressed for any incoming or outgoing calls.

  9. AGPtek
  10. AGPtek Upgraded Protable Car Aux Bluetooth Adapter, Bluetooth Receiver for Mp3 Music Streaming Sound Speaker System, Hands free Audio Adapter, Bluetooth Car Kits with 3.5mm Wireless Aux Jack Receiver

    AGPtek builds this unit which plugs into a 3.5mm audio line.

    This makes it ideal in areas that have many radio stations broadcasting or while traveling and different stations coming in over the FM frequency used by the Bluetooth adapter.

    Large cities often can have so many stations they can interfere with an FM transmitter-style unit. If you live in such an area and have a radio with an audio line-in, then it is worth a look.

If your car stereo has no built-in Bluetooth, then adding it is an easy task to do.

There is no need to replace the existing stereo with another expensive unit as a cheap low-cost conversion kit is quick and easy to do.

Of course, it will not improve the sound of your car system, so if it is an old unit and sounds horrible, it may be time for an upgrade.

If your system still plays fine, then a small kit will be all you need. Since it is using the existing system, the kits only sound as good as the built-in unit.

Fm type units are the most used, but Aux line-in units also work well and can be of benefit in areas that have a lot of FM signals.

This is also true for those who travel a lot, as an open signal may start broadcasting from a station. An audio line-in-style unit would work better in such a scenario.

What works for one person may not work for another, so be sure to read the reviews on Amazon or elsewhere to be sure a unit is right for you.



3 thoughts on “How To Turn Your Old Car Stereo into a Bluetooth Radio

  1. Henri

    Hi Kevin,

    Do you want to listen specific to the radio or not, just some music or your personal click with some radio station ?
    Those answers can make a wholelot difference money wise.

    greets Henri,

  2. Karl V. Matthews

    There’s another 3.5mm line in Bluetooth device that’s about as big around as a silver dollar. It’s called the Blue Jax. It’s a simple setup. Just pair it with your phone, plug it in to your aux input on your stereo and your listening in minutes. Everything is controlled by the big multi-function button in the center of the device. All the instructions are included with the device. It’s rechargeable via micro usb charging cable, such as your phone charger. Give it a try, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. Plus for around $30, it’s worth a shot. I wouldn’t do without mine, especially to eliminate the aux cord which always got tangled or hooked on something. I got mine at Best Buy, but I’m sure they’re available elsewhere.

  3. Kevin Baxter

    I have a car radio installed into a caravan, everything works fine but if I want to listen to the radio outside or in the awning then I have to turn the volume up to an unacceptable level. Is it possible to take the radios audio output and connect a bluetooth transmitter so it can also connect to a bluetooth speaker.
    Thanks for your help


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