Car dealers know that people take their in-car entertainment seriously. Visit any dealership (they’re all listed on DexKnows) and the salespeople will be delighted to explain it all. But let’s start with a trip back in time.
As soon as cars started rolling off production lines, people wanted music on the move. Car radios appeared in the 1930s, record players in the 50s (apparently there was a problem with the needle skipping – who would have thought?), then came the 8-track and cassettes. All but the radio are gone, yet there are more choices than ever, whether it’s favorites from your own collection, tunes that match your tastes, or you’re willing to take whatever a DJ serves up. Let’s look at five options.
Plug in your iPod
Many new cars have a USB port where you can plug in your iPod or iPhone and play music through the car’s audio. This also makes it possible to operate the iPod through the car’s audio controls, meaning less fiddling and more eyes-on-the-road time. If you use a different MP3 player, you haven’t been forgotten. Most can use the USB port, or if all else fails, put your favorite tracks on a flash drive and plug that in.
Older cars and those with less fancy equipment usually have an AUX port somewhere that lets you plug into the audio system. You won’t be able to control your device from the car, but you’ll still have your music.
If you’ve got a smartphone, you’ve almost certainly got Bluetooth wireless connection capability. Providing your car has the same – and almost all new cars do – you can use an app like Pandora, Spotify, IHeartRadio or Stitcher to stream music or talk radio through the car’s sound system. Ford owners who store their music in the cloud will soon have access to it from their cars via Sync AppLink and Amazon Cloud Player.
If you drive long distances, you’ll know the frustration of going out of range of your favorite radio station. That doesn’t happen with SiriusXM satellite radio, no matter where you roam. And many of the 140-plus channels are commercial-free.
Many new cars come equipped with a satellite receiver and an initial free period, but when that runs out, you’ll need to sign up. Depending on the package, this costs around $15 per month. Or if you want satellite radio in an older car, it is possible to buy a separate receiver.
Yes, cars still come with CD players, so you don’t have to transfer your old collection onto a flash drive or MP3 player. And don’t forget, you can still burn tracks to a CD, like the old mix tapes. If there’s a unique compilation you want to enjoy, this is how to do it.
It’s not just for the golden oldies. A radio is still a standard part of every vehicle sold, works the way it always did, and is free, paid for by all those irritating commercials. But it’s there and it’s easy, ideal for when you forget your iPod or are just open to being surprised by some new sounds or classics from before your time.
Whether you’re buying a new car or just want to take your music collection on the road, there are more options than ever. Find a car dealer on DexKnows and ask them to show you what’s new.