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How to listen to MP3 in the car

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How to listen to MP3 in the car: You have to go on a long drive and, to make the ride less boring, you would like to take your music collection with you in MP3 and listen to it via the radio installed in the car. You know what I say? It seems to me a very good idea: after all, listening to some music during a trip helps to relax and make everything more enjoyable.

Before leaving, however, check carefully what kind of car stereo you are dealing with. Not all car radios, in fact, support the playback of MP3 songs (especially older ones) and even those that support this file format often offer various ways to play them. In short, stop for a moment the preparations for departure and read the directions above how to listen to MP3 in your car I’m about to give you: you will need them for sure!

So, what are you doing still standing there? Come on: get comfortable immediately, take all the time you need to concentrate on reading this guide and, more importantly, implement the “tips” that I will give you. I am convinced that thanks to the information I am about to give you you will not have the slightest doubt about what to do to listen to songs in MP3 format in your car. I just have to wish you good reading and, above all, good listening!

Preliminary operations

As I mentioned at the beginning of the post, before finding out how to listen to MP3 in your car, you need to be well informed about the type of car stereo your car is equipped with. The latest generation car radios, for example, support MP3s natively and are equipped with various types of inputs (I’ll talk about this shortly). This means that you just have to copy your favorite songs on a suitable support (for example a USB key) and insert it directly into the car stereo to listen to the music in the car having the possibility to control its playback directly from the same panel.

Listening to MP3s in cars with older car stereos, which do not have USB ports and do not support Bluetooth, is a little more complex, although not completely impossible. In the case of car stereos that only read CDs but still support the MP3 audio format, just burn a data disk to your computer and copy all the songs you want to listen to in your car onto it. If you need instructions on how to do this, check out the guides where I explain how to burn on Windows and how to burn with macOS.

If you have any doubts about the MP3 format support from your car stereo, instead, I suggest you contact its manufacturer for more information or try to do a search on Google (or any other search engine), perhaps looking for terms like “MP3 support [nome e modello autoradio]“.

How to listen to MP3 in the car with a USB stick

The vast majority of recent generation cars have one or more USB ports, which allows for listen to MP3s in your car with a USB stick. I would like to clarify, however, that some USB sockets may only have the recharge function: to find out the characteristics of those present in your car, I suggest you consult the user manual provided by the manufacturer or contact the dealer directly from which you bought it.

Once you have made sure that you are able to listen to MP3 music in your car using a USB stick, all you have to do is take your USB stick and insert the songs you want to play. First, then, turn on the computer, select the songs in MP3 format you want to insert on the stick and transfer them to the stick (if there are songs that are not in MP3 format, convert them to that format, perhaps with the help of the instructions in this guide).

Now, to make the key compatible with a wide range of devices, I recommend you format it in FAT (if it is formatted with a different file system). Also in this case, if you need to know how to proceed, please read the guide that is already present on my blog. Then you can finally pass the files from the PC to the USB stick simply by dragging them onto the USB stick or, if you prefer, by copying and pasting. If you don’t have a USB stick at your disposal yet and you are undecided on which one to buy, take a look at my buying guide dedicated to USB sticks: it will surely come in handy.

Now, grab the stick containing the MP3 audio files you want to play and insert it into the USB socket of your car. If your machine’s system software supports audio playback of songs, it will automatically start playing.

Through the control panel on the vehicle, you can select the songs to be played, activate the random playback of the songs and so on. Unfortunately, I can’t go into too much detail, as the interface visible on the car display varies from model to model.

In any case, the controls available are almost always these: Player / Playerto access the player through which to control the tracks being played; Current List / Listto view the complete list of songs and select the ones to listen to; Settings / Optionsto set the playback modes for the available tracks (eg. Shuffle, Play, Repeatetc.) and Source / Source to select the audio source to use (ex. CD, AUX, Radioetc.).

Does your car or the car stereo in it not have a stock USB socket? If you do not want to resort to the other solutions that I will tell you about in the second part of the tutorial, you can listen to music via USB by purchasing a FM transmitter with USB socket, that is a device that “communicates” directly with the car stereo system by means of radio waves. There are various types and the more advanced (and even expensive) ones also add other types of connection to be used when necessary (Bluetooth, AUX, etc.). When buying one, however, make sure that it supports music playback via USB (some, in fact, have USB ports that can only be used to recharge other devices).

After purchasing an FM transmitter with USB plug, you can connect it to your car turning on the machine panel and inserting the device into theLighter: If all goes well, the transmitter should turn on automatically.

Once this is done, turn on the car stereo, select the function Tuner (in order to activate the radio), log in on the frequency that is shown on the display of the FM transmitter and insert the USB key into the appropriate socket of the device. Easier than that ?!

How to listen to MP3 in the car without USB

You would like to know how to listen to MP3 in car without USB, maybe because your car does not have this type of connection? In that case, you can count on other connection systems, including that one Bluetooththe CD and modern “intelligent” reproduction systems. Let me tell you a little more about it.


One of the solutions that you can consider to listen to MP3 in the car is to resort to the connection Bluetooth. Thanks to this wireless technology, in fact, it is possible to play the songs on your smartphone / tablet quickly and easily. If your car does not support this type of connection, you can buy an external device that can allow you to connect your mobile device to your car without any difficulty.

The procedure for connecting your devices to the car via Bluetooth may vary from one car to another: for this reason, before carrying out the first configuration, consult the user manual of your car and take a look at the guide in which I explain in more detail how to connect the phone to the car via Bluetooth.


If the car stereo in your car is somewhat outdated and only supports classic music CDs, you have no choice but to take your MP3 songs and burn them to a Standard audio CD. This way, even if you can only put a few songs on each disk, you should still be able to listen to your favorite songs in the car.

To quickly transform MP3s into audio CDs, I recommend that you use the programs that I pointed out to you in my article on how to burn an audio CD. If, on the other hand, you have not yet purchased CDs to copy your favorite songs to, take a look at my buyer’s guide dedicated to CDs for music.


Verbatim CD-R 80 700MB – Pack of 25

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Blank CD-R Maxell 624841.40, 80min. 700MB in bell of 100 pieces

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Maxell 624036 CD-R 700MB, 80 min, Pack of 50

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AUX cable

Another way to listen to MP3 in the car is to connect one of your devices to the car using a AUX cable equipped with two 3.5 mm connectors, which must be inserted into the AUX IN input of the car and into that of the mobile device in use.

Connecting the smartphone to the car via AUX cable is pretty simple: you have to insert the cable connector into the AUX IN input of the car (usually located near the cigarette lighter or, in any case, not far from the car radio) andInsert the other connector into the input of your smartphone / tablet. Then he presses the button AUX located in the car radio controls (if not present, repeatedly press the button to switch from the radio to the CD player, until the display shows AUX).

Once you have connected your mobile device to the car via the AUX cable, you can finally play the music on it. If you don’t have an AUX cable at your disposal, know that you can easily find it both in electronics stores (especially the most well-stocked ones) and online ones, such as Amazon.


Amazon Basics – Cable de audio estéreo (connector macho de 3,5 mm a con …

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Philips SWA 2066 W / 10 Cassette Adapter for Car Radio (CD / Cassette …

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Smart systems

If you have bought a car of the latest generation, it is likely that it supports Smart connection systems, which allow you to connect your devices to the vehicle in a rather simple, fast and “intelligent” way. These systems not only allow you to play music on portable devices, but also offer multiple additional functions: among other things, they allow for example to answer calls, send messages and much more.

If you have a device Android compatible, you can use Android Auto which, at the time of writing, is supported on more than 400 car models (click here to view the complete list). Carplayon the other hand, it is the solution designed by Apple for users in possession of iPhone And iPad: as of this writing, it is compatible with over 200 car models (click here for the complete list) and allows you to connect your device to the machine via USB or wirelessly.

If your car does not support a Smart system, you can think of installing a car stereo compatible with this technology: if you want to know more, take a look at the guides dedicated to Android Auto and Carplay and also take a look at the following products .


Pioneer SPH-DA120 Car radio, AppRadio, CarPLay, Double DIN, Black / Antra …

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