Connecting an iPad to Your Factory Radio


Given that iPads not only hold podcasts, music and movies but can also connect to online media sources like Pandora, iHeartRadio and Netflix, you'd expect to be able to connect them to your car stereo so you can enjoy your media collections when you're on the go. Many factory-installed car stereos include ways to connect iPads and other media devices. Even if your car's stereo doesn't have this feature, an FM modulator can help bridge the gap.

IPad Connections

  • Many factory stereos include iPod or iPhone connectors that also plug right into the dock or Lightning connector on the bottom of your iPad. Some of these just pass audio signals, while others enable you to use your car stereo to control your iPad. However, check your owner's manual since some car stereos that support the smaller devices may not support the iPad.


  • Since the iPad supports Bluetooth profiles for stereo audio and advanced audio, you may be able to sync it with a car stereo system that supports Bluetooth audio. As with the dock connector, the functionality you get from the Bluetooth connection will vary. However, some systems will give you full control over your iPad's media.

Aux Inputs

  • If your factory stereo lacks high-tech connections like Bluetooth or iPod integration, look for an Aux input. The auxiliary input is a 3.5 mm jack, just like a headphone jack, that accepts audio signals. You can use a male-to-male 3.5 mm cable to connect between your iPad's headphone jack and your car stereo. While you'll only be sending audio signals, it will still enable you to listen to your iPad in your car. If you use this method, set your iPad's volume approximately half way to prevent it from overloading your car's stereo and giving you distorted sound.

Modulators and Adapters

  • If your car stereo doesn't have an Aux jack but it has a tape deck or an FM radio, you can still use your iPad. Cassette adapters plug into your headphone jack and have a unit that looks like a cassette tape. When you insert it into your car's tape deck, you can play your iPad as if it were a cassette. In a similar vein, FM modulators or transmitters take your iPad's signal and broadcast it over an open FM frequency so that you can listen to it over your car's stereo.

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