Why won’t my bluetooth connect to my car? Have you ever had a situation where the Bluetooth feature in your car stopped working for no clear reason? When that happens, you can’t pair up your smartphone with the car’s stereo system and use the features that come with it.
This can be quite frustrating, especially if your daily driving routine relies a lot on this useful feature. In our previous article, we learned what Bluetooth is and how it works in your car. In this article, we will cover the most common problems causing connectivity issues and ways to deal with them.
Why won’t my bluetooth connect to my car?
Sometimes, your smartphone may refuse to pair up with the audio system in your car, or the connection may break up on its own. When this happens, there are several tricks you can use to get it working again. If turning the audio system off and on again doesn’t help, try some of the steps explained below.
Start by making sure that both the smartphone and the audio system are ready for connection. In certain cases, the problem can be as basic as the Bluetooth feature accidentally being turned off. Check the settings for both devices to see if the Bluetooth option is on and that they are in discoverable mode.
On smartphones, this is a straightforward job but can be more complicated with the audio system. If you are unsure how to do this, consult your car owner’s manual.
While Bluetooth connections work at distances up to 30 feet, it requires much closer gaps during the pairing process. When trying to pair them up, hold your phone close to the dashboard and the head unit itself. Also, make sure there are no obstructions between the two. Once connected, you can place the smartphone in your pocket, briefcase, or any other place of your choice.
Bluetooth compatibility between devices
In theory, all Bluetooth devices are compatible, making it possible to connect all of them together with no additional steps. In real life, various devices use different versions of this communication protocol, which can sometimes cause pairing issues.
If you suspect this might be the case with your setup, try installing a software update for your smartphone. As the latest software version will always work with all older variants, installing the latest version available should do the trick
If the Bluetooth connection in your car cuts out occasionally, you should check several basic things. One of them is making sure that your phone isn’t low on battery. Since Bluetooth draws a lot of power, some smartphones will turn it off while in power-saving mode.
You can also check the list of devices connected to your audio system, as some of them might interfere with the connection of your phone. Remove any devices you are not using and check if that makes any difference.
Incompatible bluetooth versions
While Bluetooth is supposed to be universal, devices that employ different versions of the standard can sometimes conflict. Even though there’s a chance your head unit uses an older version of Bluetooth than your phone, both devices should still work together in most circumstances.
A notable exception is when one device uses something called Bluetooth Smart. These devices can only pair with devices that are Bluetooth Smart-compatible. If you have two devices that refuse to connect, do some research to determine whether those devices are compatible.
Bluetooth devices are too far apart
Bluetooth devices typically remain paired at distances of about 30 feet, although with increasingly poor functionality, depending on obstructions. These devices work better when closer together, but proximity is particularly important when it comes to pairing Bluetooth devices.
If your devices refuse to connect, remove any obstructions between the two devices. Once you pair your phone with your car via Bluetooth, it should remain connected when you put it in your pocket, backpack, or car phone holder.
Insufficient battery power
If you used Bluetooth on your phone before, you might have noticed that it can use a lot of electricity and cut down on your operational battery life when it’s active. For this reason, some devices enter a power-saving mode when battery life is low, which shuts off Bluetooth.
You might be able to turn Bluetooth back on manually, or you may find that charging your devices is the only way to get them to pair correctly. In any case, it’s a good practice to make sure your devices are fully charged or plugged into a power source if you have trouble getting both to connect.
Bluetooth is disabled on your device
If Bluetooth isn’t working on your Windows 10 PC, it could be disabled in the system settings. The same issue can cause Bluetooth problems on Macs. Likewise, if Bluetooth isn’t working on your iPhone or Android device, check the settings to make sure Bluetooth is enabled.
Devices are not in pairing mode
When you pair your phone to another device, make sure the phone’s Bluetooth is on and that the accessory device is in pairing mode. For devices with a single multi-function button, this usually involves powering down the device and then powering it on with a long press until it enters pairing mode. If the device has an LED, it typically flashes blue and red when in this mode.
When pairing a phone to a head unit, you typically make one or both devices discoverable, depending on how each one is set up. If your devices are set as discoverable, and you still can’t see one device from the other, you may be dealing with a Bluetooth compatibility issue.
Outside signal interference
Although you’re more likely to run into Wi-Fi interference in your home or office, public Wi-Fi networks and hotspots can interfere with the Bluetooth in your car as well. If you use a mobile hotspot in your car, switch it off. You may be able to turn it back on without any issue once the devices have paired.
USB 3.0 connections can spit out interference in the same 2.4 GHz spectrum used by Bluetooth devices. The issue is related to poor shielding, and you’re more likely to run into this problem in your home or office than in your car. That said, if your laptop uses USB 3.0 and is sitting in the passenger seat, look at it as a potential source of interference.
Essentially any electronic device that bleeds into the 2.4 GHz spectrum can interfere with the pairing and operation of Bluetooth devices. If possible, pair your devices in a different location. For internal Bluetooth devices in cars, pair with the vehicle turned off or with accessories like car power inverters unplugged.
Why can’t I play music through bluetooth in my car?
There are cases where your smartphone connects to the car and appears to work as it should at first. Still, the audio system refuses to play music from your phone, although it allows you to take calls without issues.
If you are driving an older car, chances are the root of this problem lies within the audio system itself. When cars first started using Bluetooth, they used a simple communication protocol called a hands-free profile or HFP.
Although being able to transfer phone calls through the audio system, this system couldn’t cope with high-quality stereo music. This was because of both hardware and software limitations, made to cut production costs.
To stream music from your smartphone, the audio system in your car must support an advanced audio distribution profile or A2DP. In most cases, software upgrades or diagnostic tool interventions can unlock this option.
Why is Apple CarPlay not working?
Eventually, most iPhone users get the dreaded “Apple CarPlay connection failed” message from their infotainment system. In many cases, this happens after updating your iPhone with the latest software version. Dealing with this problem can sometimes be difficult, as it is not limited only to Bluetooth connection issues.
Just like with any other gadget, the best place to start is restarting the device. If you are experiencing any Apple CarPlay issues, turn off and restart the infotainment system. Have in mind that every system is different, so check your vehicle’s manual to see how to reset the infotainment system. You can also reset your iPhone. Just in case.
Another thing to check is if CarPlay is enabled and not blocked. This can be on your iPhone or within the infotainment system. In some cars, you have to enable the CarPlay feature before you can start using it. The best way to do this is by checking your vehicle service manual.
If using restrictions on your iPhone, you may have disabled CarPlay by accident. To make sure, navigate through the settings menu until you find the restrictions tab. Scroll down until you find the CarPlay tab, and turn it off.
How do I fix my bluetooth not working on my Android?
There are several reasons why Bluetooth may not work on your Android device, although it usually comes down to two scenarios. Procedures are similar for most Android smartphones, as they use similar software and interface. Start by resetting network settings, which you can find within the general management menu of your phone.
By doing this, you will return Bluetooth, Wi-Fi, and other network settings to their defaults. With some luck, this simple step will solve your connectivity issue, although you will have to reset all Wi-Fi connections.
There are cases where some Bluetooth applications installed on your smartphone interfere with its operation. To disable them, navigate through the settings menu until you find the Applications tab. Here, select system applications and scroll down until you find one called Bluetooth share.
Open the info tab for this application and then clear both storage and cache within sharing options. With this done, move back and select the force stop tab to turn off the application. Repeat this procedure for another application, called Bluetooth or BT Tools. Once it’s done, go back to the home screen and restart your smartphone. After this, the Bluetooth option should work.
How do I know if my car has Bluetooth?
Although some vehicles have a “phone” button, they might not have a Bluetooth feature built-in. The easiest way to find out if your car has Bluetooth is to click on the “phone” button and read the message on the infotainment display.
When in doubt, you can also have a quick look at your car owner’s manual — it should be covered in the “Multimedia” section.
When did Bluetooth come out in cars?
Bluetooth first appeared in cars in 2001, providing hands-free calling via the cabin’s speakers. Since then, Bluetooth has significantly gained in popularity and now comes with other functionalities, including wireless music streaming.
Why is my car not showing up on Bluetooth?
Make sure you pair your device with the audio system first, and you should see your car appear on the list.
If you still can’t find your car’s Bluetooth in there, the car’s and phone’s Bluetooth versions might be incompatible, the devices might be too far apart, or the car/phone is already connected to another device.
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