How to Use MP3 Players With Car Stereos

by David Weinberg

An MP3 player allows you to take your music collection with you wherever you go. Most MP3 players have a 1/8-inch jack for your headphones. You can use this jack to connect the player to your car's stereo. To determine the best connection method, you need to identify what kind of input is compatible with your car stereo.

Connections

Examine your car stereo receiver. Look for a small, auxiliary input port. The port may be marked "AUX IN" or "Auxiliary Input." It should be just large enough to fit a standard headphone plug. Some stereos may have this connection on the back of the receiver; check the owner's manual for your stereo for technical specifications. If your stereo has an auxiliary input port, you will connect your MP3 player to this port using a 1/8-inch patch cable.

Look for a cassette tape deck on the front of your car stereo receiver. If the receiver has a tape player but no auxiliary input port, you will connect your MP3 player using a cassette tape adapter.

Verify that your car stereo has a working FM radio tuner. If your car stereo lacks both a cassette player and an auxiliary input port, you can connect your MP3 player using an FM transmitter.

Patch Cable

Plug one end of the 1/8-inch male-to-male patch cable into the headphone port on your MP3 player.

Plug the other end of the 1/8-inch patch cable into the auxiliary input port on your car's stereo receiver.

Turn your MP3 player on, set the volume to 80 percent of its maximum level and begin playing a song.

Turn on your car stereo and press the "Input" button until the screen displays "AUX" or "Auxiliary" and you can hear the music on the MP3 player through the car's speakers.

Cassette Tape Adapter

Insert the cassette tape portion of the cassette tape adapter into your car stereo's tape deck.

Plug the 1/8-inch headphone jack on the end of the cassette tape adapter's cord into your MP3 player.

Adjust the volume on your MP3 player to 80 percent of its maximum level and begin playing a song.

Turn on your car's stereo and press the "Input" button on the receiver until the screen displays "TAPE" and you hear the music on your MP3 player through the car's speakers. Your stereo receiver may have a dedicated "Tape" button that you should press instead of an "Input" button.

FM Transmitter

Turn on your car stereo. Press the "Input," "FM" or "Band" button to switch the stereo into FM mode. Scan through the radio channels to find an empty frequency. For example, if your radio jumps from 100.7 to 102.1 while you are scanning through stations, then the space between is empty.

Install batteries in your FM transmitter or plug the transmitter into a working 12-volt power socket in your vehicle. Press the "Power" button to turn on the FM transmitter.

Adjust the FM transmitter to broadcast on an empty frequency. Most FM transmitters use a switch or a button to change the frequency. Consult the owner's manual for your FM transmitter for specifics about your particular product.

Plug the FM transmitter's 1/8-inch headphone jack into the matching headphone port on your MP3 player. Begin playing a song on the MP3 player.

Tune your car stereo to the same frequency as the FM transmitter. You should hear the music from your MP3 player. If you hear static, change both the car stereo receiver and the FM transmitter to another channel.

Items you will need

  • 1/8-inch male-to-male patch cable
  • Cassette tape adapter
  • FM transmitter

About the Author

David Weinberg began writing in 2005 at New College of Florida, composing articles on history and political science for publication within the school and for online circulation. Weinberg has been a professional outdoor educator for more than five years with experience throughout the United States.

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