How to Connect an iPod to a Vehicle

by Benjamin Aries Google

    The Apple iPod is one of the best-selling personal music players in the world. In fact, over 300 million of these devices have been sold since 2001, according to TechCrunch. Many people use iPods while driving to listen to music. Several different options are available for connecting an iPod to a car stereo system. Some methods can be used on any vehicle with a stereo, while others require a special Apple-branded connection cable.

    Using an Audio Cable

    Step 1

    Purchase an auxiliary audio cable that is designed for a music player. This cable is usually "male-to-male," meaning that it has a positive plug on both ends. All iPods feature a 3.5mm headset jack, which can also be used in a vehicle.

    Step 2

    Connect one end of the audio cable to the standard headphone jack of the iPod. Plug the opposite end into the compatible port on the car stereo. This is often labelled "Auxiliary In," "AUX " or "Line In."

    Step 3

    Use a cigarette lighter adapter to provide power for the iPod. Many manufacturers, including Apple, offer these units. Without this adapter, it is possible to play music using the iPod's battery, although the maximum play time is reduced.

    Step 4

    Turn on the car stereo, and press the "Auxiliary" or similar button to select the cable audio source. Activate the iPod, and press "Play" as if headphones were connected. For best control, adjust the audio volume using the car stereo dial instead of on the iPod.

    Using a Wireless Transmitter

    Step 1

    Use a wireless FM transmitter if the vehicle does not feature a line-in audio jack. This wireless device is sometimes called a "modulator," and allows the iPod to transmit directly to the stereo tuner.

    Step 2

    Place batteries in the wireless unit, if required. Alternately, plug the device into the cigarette lighter adapter of the vehicle. Connect the audio plug of the transmitter to the headphone jack of the iPod.

    Step 3

    Check the wireless unit for the available frequency range. This is usually marked in a standard FM radio format, such as 98.7 MHz. Some transmitters can be set to a desired frequency, while others are preset with limited options.

    Step 4

    Turn on the vehicle stereo, and select the "FM radio" option. Tune the radio to the same frequency that is marked on the transmitter.

    Step 5

    Press "Play" on the iPod. Listen to the audio quality from the vehicle stereo. If the music drops out or has static, move the wireless unit closer to the stereo, or closer to the vehicle antenna.

    Step 6

    Re-tune the wireless transmitter to another frequency if the audio quality remains poor. Tune the vehicle stereo to match this frequency. Experiment with several FM radio frequencies to find the setting with the lowest interference.

    Using an Apple Car Kit

    Step 1

    Use the Apple-branded iPod connector if it is available. This iPod connection is sometimes included on the vehicle stereo system, or as part of an aftermarket kit. This type of connection can play music, charge the iPod, and control the song list all from one cable.

    Step 2

    Plug the iPod connector into the bottom port of the music player. The iPod normally turns on automatically once it is connected. Otherwise, activate the iPod manually.

    Step 3

    Connect the car kit into the cigarette lighter adapter, if it is not already hard-wired into the vehicle. The iPod indicates that it is receiving power, and should display the charging icon on the screen.

    Step 4

    Press "Play" on the iPod. Adjust the volume using the car stereo dial. Use the buttons located on the car kit or the stereo to change songs without having to touch the iPod.


    • If you have an older car stereo with a cassette tape deck, you can purchase a tape deck adapter for your iPod.


    • Place the iPod in a safe place while driving. Avoid leaving the music player loose on a seat or center console, as this can cause you to become distracted. Consider purchasing an iPod vehicle mount, which holds the unit in place in a cup holder or on the dashboard.

    Required Items

    • Vehicle Audio Adapter
    • Vehicle Power Adapter

    About the Author

    Benjamin Aries has been involved in digital media for much of his life and began writing professionally in 2009. He has lived in several different states and countries, and currently writes while exploring different parts of the world. Aries specializes in technical subjects. He attended Florida State University.

    Photo Credits

    • Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images