How to Install an iPod Cable to a Car Stereo

by Aaron Wardell
Connecting your iPod to your car stereo is as easy as plugging in a cable.

Connecting your iPod to your car stereo is as easy as plugging in a cable.

Listening to your iPod or iPhone in your car can be far preferable to commercial radio. Hooking it up to your car's audio system is another story. Depending on the age of your car, you might only need a simple cable. If your car is older, however, a more complicated fix may be in order. Your solution will probably depend on your level of electronic expertise.

Auxilary Jack

Locate your car's auxiliary jack, usually located somewhere on the center console. If it's not immediately visible, refer to the owner's manual for its location.

Plug the 3.5mm stereo cable into your iPod's headphone out jack. Plug the other end into your car's auxiliary jack.

Using your car's radio controls, select the auxiliary input. Use the "input" or similarly-labeled button to do this. If you can't find the button to change the input, refer to the car manual.

Play music on your iPod. If you've done everything right, you'll hear it through your car's speaker system.

Tape Adapter

Insert the tape adapter into your car's tape player while the radio is on. Make sure it's facing the proper direction -- don't force it.

Insert the metal 3.5mm adapter into your iPod's headphone out jack.

Play music on your iPod and adjust the volume controls on your car accordingly.

Wireless Transmitter

Plug in the power adapter to your cigarette lighter. A light will usually indicate that it's working.

If necessary, connect the power adapter wire to the wireless transmitter. Set the desired frequency.

Connect the transmitter's 3.5mm audio connector to your iPod's headphone jack.

Tune your car radio to the default frequency of the transmitter from Step 2.

Play music on your iPod and adjust the volume levels on your car and iPod accordingly.

Adding an Auxiliary Connection

Using the screwdriver, remove your car stereo from the front chassis.

Carefully pull out the stereo. Don't disconnect any plugs or connectors.

Locate the auxiliary output jack. Since each car stereo is different, refer to the instructions provided for it. If the stereo is factory-installed, you'll need to obtain a brand-specific adapter plug.

Plug in the adapter into the back of the stereo. Plug in the 3.5mm or RCA stereo cable into the adapter. Now run the cable underneath the stereo (or around it) so it can be re-attached to the front chassis. Remove additional paneling as needed to clear a path for the cable.

Re-install your car stereo, making sure to keep all connections secure. Plug in your iPod to the cable, turn on your car stereo and find the button on the front panel to switch it to the auxiliary input. You should hear music playing through your car speakers.


  • Brand-specific car stereo adapters can be obtained at specialty car stereo shops or online.
  • Depending on the model and make of your car, you may have to remove more than the stereo to ensure a solid installation of the iPod cable. If you're not comfortable with this, hire an expert.
  • When installing an auxiliary cable to the back of your stereo, additional steps may be required for a clean and safe installation. Always refer to the owner's manual for safety precautions and additional instructions.


  • When removing your car's stereo, be careful not to jostle or damage the wires running behind it.

Items you will need

  • 3.5mm stereo cable
  • Tape or CD adapter
  • Stereo RCA cable
  • Tools for removing your car stereo
  • Adapter plug for car stereo

About the Author

Aaron Wardell is a freelance writer, professional musician, audiophile, cell phone nut and computer geek. He holds a master's degree in vocal music performance from the University of Cincinnati. His true passions include anything related to classical vocal music and it's performance, including opera, oratorio and choral music.

Photo Credits

  • Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images