All new cars already come with Bluetooth compatibility, which makes it easier to stay connected safely while driving. A lot of older cars lack this tech feature, but there’s no need to go to a dealership to buy a new car just to have it. There are a lot of aftermarket solutions so drivers of older cars can enjoy wireless calling or music streaming.
Bluetooth is a wireless technology standard for connectivity and exchanging data. It’s built into all smartphones. With Bluetooth, you can stream your music on your car’s stereo and even control the songs directly from it. More importantly, you can make hands-free phone calls on the speakers – a great step toward better safety while driving.
The problem is, most older cars don’t have built-in Bluetooth in their stereo systems and the only way to connect your smartphone to the stereo may be with an AUX cable, which isn’t useful for making calls. Don’t worry though. There are plenty of aftermarket Bluetooth solutions on the market for every need – you can connect via the AUX cable, via the FM transmitter, replacing the CD changer, or even a standalone Bluetooth solution with a built-in speaker. You can even change the whole stereo head unit to a new one with built-in Bluetooth, but that can be a very expensive solution.
Here we will take a look at the best solutions for every type of car stereo, for newer and older ones, without looking at replacing head units, as they are entirely different products.
We’ve compiled a list of the top 10 best Bluetooth car kits you can buy for your car, with a detailed description on every one of them.
Table of contents
- 1. Editor's Pick: TaoTronics Bluetooth Receiver/Car Kit
- 2. SoundBot SB360 Bluetooth 4.0 Car Kit Hands
- 3. Belkin Hands-Free Bluetooth CarAudio Connect Aux
- 4. Nulaxy Bluetooth Car FM Transmitter
- 5. Motorola 89589N Sonic Rider Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone
- 6. SOAIY S-32 Voice Command Hands-free Bluetooth In-car Speakerphone
- 7. TIANSHILI Bluetooth FM transmitter
- 8. Anker Roav Bluetooth Receiver with Bluetooth 4.1
- 9. Yatour Digital Music CD Changer Bluetooth Car Adapter
- 10. Elecwave Bluetooth 4.1 Car Receiver
1. Editor's Pick: TaoTronics Bluetooth Receiver/Car Kit
Our top pick comes from TaoTronics; we like its small dimensions and that it’s very easy to use – it plugs directly into the AUX port on your vehicle, so it doesn’t take up any space or use any cables. You will need a cable to charge it, but you won’t do that too often, as the battery can last up to 10 hours on one charge.
It comes with a built-in microphone, which means that it can be used for making phone calls as well as listening to music wirelessly. However, the microphone is of a lower quality and picks up everything from the surroundings. The TaoTronics has built-in buttons for control of songs or your phone call and it can even activate Siri or Google Assistant with a touch of a button.
Thanks to the Bluetooth 4.1 built into this product, you can expect very good sound quality while listening to music. Despite that, it sometimes doesn’t connect to your smartphone automatically – you’ll need to do it from the settings on your phone. On the positive side, it’s one of the cheapest ways to add a Bluetooth functionality to your car and it has a lot of features.
2. SoundBot SB360 Bluetooth 4.0 Car Kit Hands
The SoundBot Bluetooth car kit is a great solution for people who need a smartphone charger as well. It comes with a 12v socket charger with three USB ports – the first one can be used for powering the Bluetooth receiver, while the others can be used for charging the devices you connect to it. We think that every Bluetooth car kit that draws power from USB should have this kind of charger built right into it.
Despite the added bonus of a charger, the SoundBot SB360 doesn’t have a built-in battery, so it must be connected all of the time to the charger and your car stereo via AUX cable. This means that there will be a mess of cables on your dashboard. The unit itself is diminutive, even though it has three big and easy-to-press buttons.
The sound quality from the SoundBot is very good and we can say the same for call quality – the microphone is good at picking up your voice from all of the noise associated with driving. It has a Bluetooth 4.0 chip inside, which is not the newest one, but it also supports A2DP for higher quality wireless audio. All in all, a great product if you don’t mind the cables.
3. Belkin Hands-Free Bluetooth CarAudio Connect Aux
This Bluetooth car kit has a design that is similar to the Roav by Anker, with the difference being that it can be plugged directly into the 12v socket or your cigarette lighter socket. It even has an additional USB port, so you can charge your phone while using this device.
However, if you do that, there will be three cables making a mess on your dashboard, which is certainly not ideal and the device doesn’t even come with a rechargeable battery. In its defense, the Belkin Bluetooth car kit can offer great sound quality and call quality. The microphone comes with a built-in noise canceling. You’ll need an AUX port to be able to use the Belkin product.
Even though it is very easy to use and has built-in buttons for direct control over your calls or music, the Belkin can’t compete with the best because of its price – it is simply too expensive for what it offers. If you find a good deal, this is a great product, but for the price it is offered right now, you’d be better off with other products higher on our list.
4. Nulaxy Bluetooth Car FM Transmitter
Some of the products on our list only work with cars that have stereos with an AUX input. But what if your car doesn’t have one? Then, an FM transmitter might do the job, as every car stereo has an FM antenna built-in.
The Nulaxy Bluetooth Car FM Transmitter connects to your phone via Bluetooth and then sends the signal to your stereo via an FM frequency. Don’t worry – you can choose the frequency on the transmitter, so it doesn’t interfere with the FM radios in that area. If it does interfere with some FM stations while you’re traveling, just change it to another frequency.
The best thing about this device is that it has a lot of functions already built into it, like a microphone, a manual switch, buttons for changing tracks and even a built-in display. It also has an SD card reader that can be loaded with a lot of songs – in this situation, not even your phone is required. The manufacturer deserves high marks for the built-in USB port, which you can use to charge your phone. The device connects on your 12v output or your cigarette lighter port.
The drawbacks of this and of any FM transmitter are that it doesn’t produce the same sound quality when listening to music and in calls like products that connect via AUX input. The Nulaxy can also sometimes disconnect from your phone when driving over a bumpy road, which is certainly not ideal.
5. Motorola 89589N Sonic Rider Bluetooth In-Car Speakerphone
Bluetooth FM transmitters are a great way to connect your phone to your car’s stereo if you don’t have an AUX port, but none of them offers stellar call quality. If you talk a lot while driving, the Motorola Sonic Rider Bluetooth speakerphone is the best solution, as it offers amazing call quality.
With the Motorola speaker, you’ll not only hear other people clearly, but they will hear you clearly as well. The built-in microphone is great at reducing ambient noise and catching your voice, while the powerful 2-watt speaker is loud enough even in busy environments. Thanks to its small size and the mechanism that attaches to the sun visor, the Motorola Sonic Rider will not take a lot of place inside your vehicle.
This speaker has voice controls as well – you can answer or hang up a call with “answer” or “ignore”, and can also connect to two phones at the same time. The built-in battery is good for an astonishing 45 hours of talk time and 5 months of standby.
The Motorola is really great for those who spend hours talking on the phone, but it will do nothing for music listeners. If you mostly listen to music via your phone, an FM transmitter is a better (and much cheaper) solution, as the Motorola can’t connect to your car’s speakers.
6. SOAIY S-32 Voice Command Hands-free Bluetooth In-car Speakerphone
The Motorola speaker that sits higher on our list is one of the best Bluetooth solutions if you talk on your phone a lot, but for a lot of users, it may be too expensive. If you still want to make a lot of calls from your car, but don’t want to break the bank, try the SOAIY Bluetooth Speaker that.
It may not have the same call quality as the Motorola, but for a lot of users, it will be good enough. The microphone is very good at picking up your voice though, which is something that you can’t say for a lot of Bluetooth car kits.
The SOAIY product even has built-in voice commands, by communicating with Siri or Google Assistant. Thanks to this, you can even ask for the weather, any web information or make a call entirely hands-free. It can be connected to two devices at the same time and has a battery that can last up to 8 hours. This may sound fine, but the Motorola has juice for 45 hours.
7. TIANSHILI Bluetooth FM transmitter
Another Bluetooth FM transmitter, but this one is for those on a tighter budget. It can work with any car stereo, which is a big plus and it’s very small. This means that you can connect it to your 12v socket and forget about it. Despite its small dimensions, it has a built-in screen that shows the frequency of the FM band, fast-charging USB port, and even an AUX port if you have it in your car. This inexpensive Bluetooth car kit also has a card reader for all your songs – no smartphone required. So, in reality, this is a “4 in 1” solution.
Despite all that, don’t expect the highest sound quality of this Bluetooth receiver and that’s especially true for the call quality. It’s also not as easy to use as other products – the buttons are too small to be used while driving and the screen is readable, but it looks like the ones from decades ago. Anyway, we can forgive all of this, because the price is one of the lowest of any Bluetooth car kit on the market today.
8. Anker Roav Bluetooth Receiver with Bluetooth 4.1
Anker is a reputable manufacturer of Bluetooth accessories and external batteries, with a reputation for building high-quality items for a very low price. The Roav by Anker is one of their best products and sits in the second place on our list thanks to a combination of features like high-quality connectivity, great sound, and reasonable price.
This Bluetooth car kit will work only in cars with AUX interface – if you don’t have an AUX plug, read on to find other FM transmitters or standalone Bluetooth solutions. If you have AUX, this is one of the best all-around Bluetooth car kits. It works on the Bluetooth 4.1 standard and has a built-in CSR chipset, both of them helping it produce very high-quality audio.
The Roav also has a built-in microphone with a noise-canceling feature that works great at reducing the ambient sound. We also like that this Bluetooth car kit has shortcuts for pausing a song or making a phone call built right onto it for easier use while on the go.
However, there are some downsides. The Roav by Anker is powered by a USB cable and has no built-in battery, so you must have one in your car or use an adapter plugged into the cigarette lighter port. This means that you’ll have two cables hanging around, which is certainly not ideal.
9. Yatour Digital Music CD Changer Bluetooth Car Adapter
If you want a Bluetooth solution that will feel like it’s built into your vehicle, this one is great. It’s important to note that you have to pick the correct product for your specific car model — here we’ve chosen kits for Toyota, Lexus, and Scion as they are very popular, but there are a lot of different makes available. This is due to the different connectors in various car models.
The Yatour Bluetooth car adapter takes the place of the CD changer of your car. Even if your car doesn’t have a CD changer, the built-in stereo should have the installation for it and you can still use this product. Thanks to all of this, it sits in your glovebox or your trunk and feels like a factory built-in system – it powers on every time you power your vehicle on. You’ll only need to find a place for the microphone on your dash.
After installation, the Yatour is very easy to connect to and after that, it will connect automatically every time you enter your car and start it (the stereo must be on CD mode). It offers great sound quality and great call quality, almost like a factory solution. The price is a little higher, but we think it will suit a luxury vehicle greatly, as it can’t be seen from anywhere in the cabin.
10. Elecwave Bluetooth 4.1 Car Receiver
The first item on our list may be wireless while you’re using it with the built-in battery, but not when you need to charge it. If you don’t want any cables in your car, then the Elecwave Bluetooth 4.1 Car Receiver is the best option for you.
The manufacturer thought of a great design solution where one part of the product goes into the 12v socket (or cigarette lighter socket) and the other connects to your car stereo via AUX cable. The part that connects to your car stereo has a built-in battery for 6-10 hours of listening or talking time and charges via wireless inductive charging when connected to the part that sits into your 12v socket. The sound and call quality are good enough, but if you want other people to hear you well, we’d still recommend the Roav by Anker Bluetooth car kit.
This design makes the Elecwave product entirely wireless, but it has some limitations. When you charge it, you can’t use the Bluetooth receiver. Sure, the Mpow product that sits atop of our list needs a cable for charging, but can be used while you do that.
On the positive side of things, the Elecwave can communicate directly to Siri, which makes it very advanced for the low price it is offered. It also has two fast USB charging ports built into it, which is a rarity in Bluetooth receivers.
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Photo credit: TaoTronics