Autoblog is not affiliated with the brands featured in our articles, but when you make a purchase through links on our site we may earn a commission.
Most modern cars are Bluetooth compatible, allowing you to easily connect in a matter of seconds and play music straight from your phone. While this is incredibly convenient, older cars without this feature can feel lifeless and behind the times in comparison. To listen to your music, you’ll either have to plug into the system via an AUX cable or simply listen to CDs or the radio.
Bluetooth transmitters for cars can change this, though, allowing you to jam out in any vehicle with external Bluetooth compatibility. By sending a short-range frequency that your car can pick up, these transmitters can seamlessly play your phone’s music on your car radio. With so many options to choose from, we’ve taken it upon ourselves to find the highest-rated Bluetooth transmitters and provided a handy buying guide that can help you make an informed purchase. Read on to discover our favorite Bluetooth transmitters.
Compare the highest-rated Bluetooth transmitters for cars of 2022
When riding in a car, it can be difficult to read text. The car’s sudden movements and vibrations, coupled with roads that aren’t always even, can result in a difficult reading experience for passengers and drivers alike. This can be an issue if you want to read text displayed on the dashboard or, in this case, a Bluetooth transmitter. This particular transmitter by Nulaxy, though, is very accessible and works to eliminate these frustrations. It’s easier to see the information displayed thanks to its larger screen, and you won’t have to move your head close or squint to see it. You can also adjust the transmitter’s positioning thanks to its flexible “Gooseneck” design, and its various buttons let you control playback, make hands-free calls, and much more, making this Bluetooth transmitter a great choice.
- Large screen for easy reading
- Various, easy-to-use buttons
- Hands-free calling capabilities
- Somewhat large for smaller vehicles
If you want a transmitter that won’t take up a lot of space, then look no further. This transmitter by UNBREAKcable has no cables whatsoever– yup, you read that right. Instead, it’s got a small digital display to show which channel it’s currently transmitting on, as well as a few ports for USB charging. This gadget fits a whole lot into a relatively small package– but wait, there’s more! Aside from its ports, there are also buttons that let you change channels and make calls. This device is great for most older vehicles, as it lets you charge your phone while connected to the transmitter via Bluetooth. Its small controls and display may be a problem depending on your car model though, so be sure to take that into consideration.
- Small, jam-packed design
- Voice control capabilities
- Charge your phone while connected
- Can be difficult to operate
This IMDEN FM Bluetooth transmitter is another small and compact device that won’t stick too far out of your car’s outlet. It has two USB ports, perfect for charging your phone while listening to music, and it also comes with a fairly large digital display to show which FM frequency it’s currently transmitting from. On the side of the transmitter, you’ll find its controls, which include a call button and a pair of next/previous buttons for changing songs. Because of how the digital display is positioned, the buttons will always end up below the transmitter, which can make them pretty difficult to reach. We’re unsure if this design choice was intentional, but this is something you might want to keep in mind when shopping around.
- Large digital display
- Sleek, minimalistic design
- Built-in safety precautions
- Buttons can be hard to reach
One quality of life feature that’s often overlooked when it comes to car accessories is visibility. Visibility refers to how well you can see something, and it can be pretty difficult to see Bluetooth transmitters at night, especially if you’re driving. With this LENCENT transmitter, though, you’ll be able to locate the device instantly. The transmitter has an LED border, making it pretty easy to spot at night. It also has an LED display that shows the FM frequency the device is transmitting in and two USB ports– one for charging and one for playback but feel free to plug two chargers in at once. This transmitter may be difficult to install in certain car dashboards depending on their shape, so keep that in mind if you’re in the market for a Bluetooth transmitter for your vehicle.
- Highly visible LED design
- Two USB ports for charging and music
- Anti-static design for clearer playback
- It may not fit certain cars
Our final product is the Bluetooth car kit by Kinivo. Instead of transmitting Bluetooth signals to FM frequencies, this device passes the audio signal straight to the AUX port instead. This is a good alternative to sending the signal through an FM frequency, as it generally results in higher audio quality and less delay, which can be important for making phone calls. This adapter is designed for easy use, with a pretty large circular pad that lets you accept incoming calls. You can also play music with this device, and, since it uses the car’s AUX port, you’ll get crisp and clean audio. Unfortunately, this device does require an AUX port to use, so if your old vehicle doesn’t have one you should pick up a Bluetooth FM transmitter instead.
- High-quality audio playback
- Easy to operate
- Two-year warranty and lifetime customer support
- Requires AUX port for use
Buyer’s guide for finding a Bluetooth transmitter for your car
Bluetooth transmitters allow you to quickly and easily stream music wirelessly in your car. This guide will teach you all you need to know about Bluetooth transmitters.
How do Bluetooth FM transmitters work?
To a lot of people, Bluetooth transmitters seem like they’re nothing short of magic, as they let decades-old vehicles play songs wirelessly. But how exactly does this work? It’s actually a fairly simple process, and it involves using new technology to convert modern signals into older ones.
While wireless technology is more of a modern thing, we’ve actually had wireless signals for decades in the form of radio. FM was the premier channel for high-quality audio, and it’s still used today to broadcast music. Even cars made decades ago support FM radio, and this is where Bluetooth transmitters come into play.
For Bluetooth transmitters to work, you first need to connect your smartphone. When you play audio on your phone, the transmitter receives that audio signal, much like a pair of wireless earbuds or a wireless speaker. But instead of playing the audio, it converts it into a radio signal at a frequency of your choosing.
Once you’ve started transmitting audio in a certain frequency, you can then use your car’s radio to tune into that same frequency, and boom– your old car is now wirelessly playing music from your phone. It’s a pretty roundabout way to get wireless music, but hey, it works, and it’s quite convenient too.
How to make use of a Bluetooth transmitter in your car
Choose an unused frequency
When setting up the frequency you’ll be tuning into, pick one that isn’t used by a local radio station. This will let you listen to these stations if you ever feel like it, giving you the freedom to choose between your music and a radio DJ. There are plenty of unused frequencies in any given city or town, and all you need is one empty frequency to get started.
Charge your phone through it
Bluetooth transmitters have several features that make them pretty convenient beyond just music playback, and one such feature is the addition of charging ports. Bluetooth transmitters don’t require that much power to function, and rather than have that excess power go to waste, you could instead use it to charge your phone.
Not all Bluetooth transmitters have charging ports, but those that do typically have a USB port with a lightning symbol above it, signaling that it’s meant for charging. These ports don’t offer as much power as dedicated USB charging ports, but it’s better than nothing when you’re on the go.
Make calls with it
You can actually make calls with a Bluetooth transmitter if you really want to. The transmitter will most likely use the microphone of your smartphone, so have your phone close to you if you plan on making a call.
It’s important to remember that, when calling in this manner, others can also listen in on what the other person is saying by tuning in to the same frequency. The range of Bluetooth transmitters is pretty short, so they’d have to be pretty close to your car to actually eavesdrop, but this is possible. If you really want to keep things private, it’s probably better just to make a call directly from your smartphone.
How to choose the right Bluetooth transmitter
Find the right size and shape
Bluetooth transmitters are available in many different sizes, and this can be due to design choices and accessibility options. Finding the ideal size will be helpful if you want to make the most out of your transmitter.
Large Bluetooth transmitters that extend upwards are great because they provide a lot of accessibility. You don’t have to bend down to look at the frequency number, and you can easily press the provided buttons with little to no problem. These transmitters do take up quite a bit of physical space though, which is why you may want something else if your vehicle’s dashboard is on the small side.
Smaller Bluetooth transmitters are great if you like to minimize the clutter on your dashboard. They don’t take up a lot of space, and they can also often serve as mini charging ports, allowing you to top off your phone’s battery at the same time. The only issue with this is that smaller transmitters also have smaller buttons and controls, which can be annoying and make them a bit more difficult to use.
At the end of the day, both types of transmitters do the same thing, so it’s really down to whether you prefer accessibility or functionality and space efficiency in your vehicle.
Look for extra features
To gain an edge over competitors in the market, companies will often add unique features to their products to appeal to potential buyers and stand out from alternatives. An example of this would be the charging ports we mentioned earlier– not all transmitters have chargers, but those that do are often considered a better value than transmitters without charging ports.
Bluetooth car transmitters can also include larger screens, easy-to-use buttons, and various other handy features. These can affect your experience with a transmitter in a big way, so think about which features would benefit you the most and go from there.
How we choose our favorite Bluetooth transmitters for cars
The Bluetooth transmitters on our list are chosen based on a number of factors. We take into consideration things such as design, build quality, shape, and any additional features. We also take a look at user reviews, which can give us a better idea of what using the transmitter is like firsthand.
People also asked
Q: Are Bluetooth transmitters usable in any vehicle?
A: As long as the vehicle has a working port to plug the transmitter in, as well as a working radio, then it should support most, if not all, Bluetooth transmitters.
Q: Can anyone tune into the frequency of my Bluetooth transmitter?
A: Technically, anyone can tune into the frequency emitted by your transmitter, but the range is small enough that it will almost never be a real cause for concern.
Q: Are Bluetooth transmitters legal?
A: In the US, low-powered FM transmitters are legal, so the Bluetooth transmitters you might use in your car are safe for regular use.