Best Bluetooth Car Adapters

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The 5 best Bluetooth car adapters

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While self-driving cars are making some serious advancements, the one in your driveway might be a bit less cutting-edge. So your car doesn't have built-in Bluetooth; no problem. The best Bluetooth car adapters upgrade your vehicle's wire-free capabilities for relatively cheap. At the very least, your Bluetooth adapter should be able to play music and make hands-free calls through your car's stereo system from your smartphone — but you should also consider the means of connection and the additional features while shopping.

First, know which ports your car has. Some adapters plug into your car's 12-volt auxiliary power outlet (also known as a DC connector or, formerly, your cigarette lighter). Others use the auxiliary (or aux) input that looks like a headphone jack, and some might even work through a car's cassette player.

Even if your car has a few of these ports to choose from, each type of adapter has its pros and cons. For example, an adapter that plugs into the 12-volt outlet won't need a power source, but it'll probably require that you tune your Bluetooth to a specific radio station. Aux adapters, on the other hand, play straight through your car (no radio frequency required), but they often need regular recharging.

Not all adapters with the same plug-ins are created equal, either. Some have screens and on-device buttons so you can better control the adapter. Others have one or several USB ports, so you can charge your phone at the same time. Some even have built-in lights and sensors that help you monitor your vehicle's battery condition.

These five Bluetooth adapters come in a wide range of types to suit most cars, and they have some pretty cool additional features, too.

1. The fan-favorite Bluetooth car adapter

The Nulaxy Bluetooth adapter has more than 40,000 reviews and a 4.4-star overall rating, all because it's reliable, easy to use, and comes with several awesome features. (At under $20, it's also pretty affordable.) This one plugs into your car's 12-volt power outlet and uses a vacant radio frequency so you can make hands-free calls and listen to your music. In addition to its convenient on-device buttons, single USB charging port, and flexible gooseneck, it also has a large, easy-to-read screen that even lets you check up on your car's battery voltage. Last but not least, it works with most cars and most smartphone models.

  • Connection type: 12V power outlet

One reviewer wrote: "This thing works so well and everyone I meet is always impressed. My brother, mother, and fiance all have one of their own because it's just so easy to use! Automatically pairs when I get in the car and the physical buttons are great so I can skip songs without looking down from the road. Makes me look at my phone way less while driving."

2. A compact option with 2 charging ports

Maybe a screen and a gooseneck are more than you need. In that case, opt for the Anker Roac SmartCharge Bluetooth adapter. It's both a transmitter and receiver that plugs into your 12-volt outlet so you make calls, stream music, and charge two devices at once while you're at it. Even though it's tiny and unobtrusive, it has built-in echo-cancellation to reduce background noise during calls — all for less than $20. (The trade-off: It's incompatible with some car models, so check the list at the bottom of the description before you purchase.)

  • Connection type: 12V power outlet

One reviewer wrote: "Small, affordable, and sounds good. Not stellar sound quality, but great for most people. Looks great and functions well."

3. The option for better sound quality

There's a lot going on with this one: It requires a 3.5-millimeter jack, has a multifunction button that sticks to your dash, and comes with an additional USB charger that goes into your car's power outlet. That said, for someone who wants crystal-clear audio through their car, the BESIGN Bluetooth car kit is worth it. Why? It has a built-in noise isolator, which grounds the audio to prevent buzzing and echoing. It's capable of receiving both calls and music, and according to reviewers, the sound quality is incredible for both.

  • Connection type: 3.5-millimeter jack

One reviewer wrote: "Ok, rarely have I ordered a product that was exactly what the manufacturer and reviewers said it was and did everything exactly as I had hoped with no setup problems or installation issues. [...] The sound I heard through my car speakers using Pandora and Amazon Music was INCREDIBLE. Much better than when I was using an aux-in audio able to listen to my music through my phone...and MUCH LOUDER."

4. The easiest to use

It really doesn't get much easier than the Mpow Bluetooth receiver, so if you have a 3.5-millimeter jack and don't need radio stations, this one is definitely the easiest way to go. Simply plug it into your car's auxiliary input to enjoy hands-free calls with its built-in mic and music with a 66-foot Bluetooth range. Reviewers also note that after the first setup, it connects automatically. The only downside is that since it doesn't connect directly to a power source, you'll have to recharge it after about 12 hours of use.

  • Connection type: 3.5-millimeter jack

One reviewer wrote: "Super easy to use. After the first use all I have to do now is turn the little device on and it connects to my phone automatically without having to fuss with it and or my phone: Size is good too, blends in seamlessly with the car."

5. The best Bluetooth cassette adapter

If your car has a cassette player instead of an aux port, the Arsvita cassette receiver offers a solution. Slip it into the cassette drive, and between the premium chip and the Bluetooth 5.0 tab that hangs out, you'll be able to make calls and listen to music through your car's stereo using your phone. It supports most smartphone models and its rechargeable battery lasts for up to eight hours.

  • Connection type: cassette player

One reviewer wrote: "I have an older vehicle with a cassette player. [...] Man, do I wish I picked this gadget up earlier! [...] Play music, use the button to play or pause the music, answer calls. Once you pair the first time it will pair sooooo fast the following times."

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