Add Bluetooth To Your Old Car Stereo For $25!

Add Bluetooth To Your Old Car Stereo For $25!

When you choose to daily drive a used car
which is more than 20 years old, you’ve pretty much accepted the fact that there’s going
to be a few modern necessities you’re going to have to do without. And more often than not, the problem exists
right here with the stereo. If ya lucky, your car might have a CD player
– but when was the last time you ever purchased or burnt one of these? Or even worse, your only external source of
music might have to come from one of these… the cassette tape. Eurgh.. But the biggest issue here doesn’t really
relate to the media that you’re using. The main issue is of course a complete lack
of bluetooth audio streaming. The ability to stream your favourite tracks
from sources like Spotify or YouTube is an absolute godsend in today’s modern world. And to drive a vehicle without this ability
is like stepping back into the stone ages. Now of course it is extremely easy to upgrade
your car’s head unit. You just have to pop down to your local automotive
parts store and pick up any number of head units which they have available. But to me the biggest issue with these head
units is they look utterly shit in any car built before the mid 1990s. So, if you wanted to keep your car’s existing
head unit, you probably think your next step would be to buy one of those FM transmitters
which plug into the cigarette lighter. Or perhaps even worse, one of these cassette
tape adaptors – which leaves you with an auxiliary wire hanging out of your car’s head unit. Like a tapeworm out of a dog’s ass. But the problem with both of these options
is they rely on dated technologies to get your music into the head unit of the car. The audio quality suffers as a result, and
you’ll never truly be happy. But what if I told you there’s another option? After one relatively simple and cheap mod,
that you could stream audio directly from your iPhone or Android device into your car’s
head unit. Let me show you how. Okay. Here we are with the head unit from my 1993
Ford Fairlane. It was manufactured Alpine and was available
as a premium sound head unit back in the day. It has a cassette tape slot but also a 6-stacker
CD player in the boot. So I think it’d be a real shame to have to
throw this in the bin just so we can get bluetooth audio streaming – which is how the inspiration
for this mod came about. So how does it work? Well let’s get this thing open and take a
look. Now on the top here you’ll see that we have
the cassette tape module. When this is in operation it reads the left
and right audio data off the tape, and then sends it down to the mainboard of the head
unit, where it is then amplified and sent out to the speakers in your car. The idea of this mod is that we’re going to
hijack those audio channels, and then splice in a new audio signal of our own. And we’re going to do it with one of these. This is a universal bluetooth to auxiliary
audio receiver, which can be had for around $25 Australian dollars on eBay. You’ll probably find a few different options
available online – and so long as the model you’re looking at is a bluetooth receiver,
outputs via a standard 3.5mm auxiliary plug, and has positive and negative wires so you
can hardwire it into your car – it’ll work absolutely fine. Once installed, you’ll be able to pair this
thing to your smartphone and then stream audio to it directly from the app of your choice. If we cut the end off the 3.5mm plug, you’ll
see that we have 3 different coloured wires – and the thing to remember here is that the
white is your left audio channel, red is the right audio channel, and black is the ground. The ultimate goal of this mod is to essentially
find on the tape drive, where the left, right and ground circuits are, and then splice these
wires onto it. Finally, we’ll also have to tap into a power
source, and the job will be done. Now before we begin, I just want to say that
I am not an expert when it comes to electrical work, or best practises for modifying electrical
circuits. But even someone like me can easily do this
mod with a few simple tools. You’ll need perhaps a couple of small screwdrivers
to get into the unit itself. It’s handy to have a small set of pliers just
incase. You’re going to need a soldering iron to join
the wiriing. Also some heatshrink tube to ensure everything
is well insulated, and perhaps some tweezers just incase you need to get access to some
really tightly packed wiring. So as I mentioned earlier, this mod revolves
around hijacking the tape drive’s audio channels, so we’re going to need to pull it out. This one is held in with 4 small screws… Alright, here we go. So I’ll set the head unit aside for now. Now if we have a look at this tape drive you
don’t really need to understand how it all works, so don’t be too daunted by how it looks. But you need to trace back the channels, uh,
and the easiest way to do that is to find out where it connects to the mainboard of
the head unit. So this one does it via this 17-pin connection. If we follow these circuits up the board,
you’ll notice only half of them roughly connect to this board on the top, which is connected
to the tape drive itself. So instead of 17 possibilities you’re looking
at roughly 7 instead. In order to find out which circuits are the
right ones to use you can do a couple of things. You can go on to Google and type in some of
these codes which you find on the unit itself. You might be lucky enough to find a wiring
diagram, or some sort of pin-out diagram to work out which circuits you need. Or you might get lucky and see there is a
little L and an R beside two of the pins – this will help you determine which colour wiring
you need to put on which pin. And just a quick disclaimer here before we
continue. The instructions from here on out in the video
are specific to the exact tape drive I have here in question, and the procedure that you
may have to perform will differ depending on the brand or model of the tape unit you
have. You may have to solder your wires directly
to the circuits on the tape drive. Or even on the head unit’s mainboard itself. If you’re having trouble tracking down which
circuits you need, you can also plug the head unit back into your car and start prodding
around with a voltmeter to test the voltages of the circuits you’ve found on the tape drive. Any circuits with voltages running through
them are not the ones you need – and if you can find 3 in a row which do not have any
voltage running through them it’s certainly a good place to start. In my case I got lucky by Googling some of
these codes. The first one here is ground – where I’ll
need to connect the black. The second one is white – which is the left
audio channel. And the third one is red for the right audio
channel. Okay, now that we have the board on the end
here loosened, you can actually get a really good look at that ribbon cable with the 7
circuits being transferred between the boards. So the 3 that we want are these first 3 here. So I’m actually going to cut this ribbon cable
up to the third circuit. So now that I’ve cut the 3 circuits out of
the clear ribbon cable here, I’m now going to cut down inbetween each of them, so that
I can sort of separate them off. So what we’re gonna do now is strip back some
of this clear plastic so we can get access to the wire(s). If you do a little cut on each side of the
wire, you can usually just pull the plastic straight off. And it’s given us a nice little length of
wire on each one to solder on the wires from our bluetooth receiver. However, before we do that we need to work
out where the wiring from the bluetooth receiver is going to come through the casing of this
head unit, and connect into these 3 wires. One thing to consider about that is the actual
size of this bluetooth receiver. In my Fairlane there’s a fair amount of space
below the head unit. So what I’m gonna do is actually poke these
wires up through this hole here. The location you choose for the wiring to
enter the unit is particularly important, because you’ve gotta remember that once the
tape drive is back in place – if the wiring comes out directly underneath this thing it
might be quite difficult to fit it. So what I’m gonna do is just keep the wiring
coming through there and pull this thing aside. And I’m also gonna strip off some of the wiring
here. Now I am far from the world’s best solderer,
but I think even that turned out alright. So now we’re just going to put the heatshrink
down over these connections so that they don’t short out on anything. The heatshrink I’ve used here is probably
a little bit big for the wiring, but it’s still on there pretty firmly so it’s not going
to go anywhere. Now that we’ve got our wiring soldered on,
I just need to put this board back to where it needs to be sitting, and bend these little
mounting brackets back into place. This mod revolves around head unit thinking
that there’s a tape being played in the drive. So in order to make that happen you can actually
get a proper tape, strip the insides out, and then have it permanently loaded inside
the drive. Or alternatively, and I think this is a better
way, you can simply remove any springs from the drive unit itself, which will allow it
to sit down in the loaded position without a tape fitted. So I’m just going to use the tips of my scissors
to pull that spring from its little seating, and remove it. And then we need to do the same with this
one here on the top. After those two springs are removed, you should
be able to push it down so that it’s in the loaded position. This will trick the head unit into thinking
there’s a tape fitted, and it’ll attempt to play it. Now that that’s done, we can fit it back into
the head unit. With the module mounted, we can now work on
powering it up. When it comes to powering this bluetooth module
you’ve got 2 different options. The first is to join red to red – the red
wire is a constant power source which means it’ll be running even when the vehicle is
turned off. I am not personally comfortable with because
it may drain the battery if the vehicle is not driven for extended periods of time. So my preferred option is to join it to the
yellow, which means it’ll only receive power once you’ve turned the key to the “accessories”
notch. So I’ll be splicing this red wire on to yellow,
and for the ground wire you simply have to find the black wire in the harness, and then
attach that one to there. And because I can’t get heatshrink around
these I’m simply going to wrap them in electrical tape. Once the power for the bluetooth module has
been connected, we can now put the head unit back together and install it into the vehicle. And that’s the end result. Now the process may differ depending on which
head unit you’re working with – but the end result is going to be the same. You’ve got the bluetooth module which needs
to be hardwired into your head unit’s wiring harness. And you have your 3 signal wires – your white,
red and black, which need to be attached somewhere on to the tape module inside. It’s really as simple as that – so let’s go
try it out. So! We’re back in the Fairlane with our new bluetooth-enabled
factory head unit, and from the outside it looks as though nothing has changed – which
is the real beauty of this mod. Because I’m able to retain the existing 1990s
facade, but with a little bit of modern technology thrown in. Let me show you how it works. So firstly, I’ll just switch it on. So here we are on the radio mode. If we swap to tape mode… and the drive will
start playing the imaginary tape, which is not in the drive. So, if we grab our phone and go to the bluetooth
settings, you’ll see that there is a new device available called ‘Sky International’. The name of your bluetooth module will differ
depending on where you’ve purchased it from. So let’s go ahead and try to connect to that. Pairing. Okay. So that noise we just heard was the bluetooth
module confirming that this phone has now been paired. So we can now try and play some music through
it. Now for this example, I’m going to be using
a royalty-free song track from Soundcloud – because I don’t want YouTube to hit me with
a copyright infringement. So here we go! The great thing about this mod is that all
of the settings on your head unit will continue to work as normal. Such as ‘LOUD’… which ups the bass. Or you can play around with the bass… or
treble settings independently. Now of course this bluetooth receiver will
basically play any audio out of your phone, so you can switch to an other app such as
YouTube, and it’ll work perfectly fine. So there you have it. Fully-functioning bluetooth in your car for
under $25. Now I imagine there’s going to be a few of
you in the comments section which are going to have a rib at me about my soldering skills,
or ways I could have done it better. But in the end, I’ve had a system like this
running in my car for more than 2 years, and it has worked absolutely fine. So what did you think? Let me know in the comments below, and I’ll
see you next time.

100 Replies to “Add Bluetooth To Your Old Car Stereo For $25!

  1. If you're about to comment something like "Just buy a new bluetooth headunit for $10 from X" you're missing the point. This video is for those who want to retain their factory headunit so their dash looks stock standard, but are interested in enabling bluetooth audio streaming without using FM transmitters or bluetooth/wired tape adaptors. FM transmitters or bluetooth tape adaptors "do the job" and if you're happy using those, that's awesome. But they're passing your audio through the FM band or through the head of the tape drive, and the sound quality may be affected.

    Also, as stated I am not an expert when it comes to electrical work, but the mod outlined in the video has worked brilliantly for a number of years. Thanks for watching.

  2. my car is to new (2005) to use the tape deck method or i would own one by now 🙁 but it is to old to have any other input like a AUX or blue teeth of any kind crying face

  3. Why are you not soldering to one of the 2 boards and leaving the wires intact so the tape deck still functions?

  4. okay, but when the unit has no tape button, and tapes are only played when they are inserted? I think my unit was build so.

  5. It's still a ridiculous amount of effort & risk just to keep a stock looking under powered inferior sounding cheap non RCA POS.. oh I meant OEM deck. Watch the display stop working shortly after your done. A car stereo doesn't cost 6- 700 dollars anymore so security isn't as big a deal these days. Plus everyone else has touch screens & computers in their dash soooo…..

  6. Ebay sells everything from unamped bare boards for 12 volts to 50 watt 2 channel 12 volt bluetooth boards. I'm going to go with the bluetooth cassette Amazon sells as my factory radio has no room for another board. No wire hanging out, just turn it on and put it in.

  7. I have the same system in my car but with only a different module using aux out. Streaming music is completely awesome but when I receive a call, the sound from the other side does not play from the speakers. It's like the connection deactivates itself for the call and when the call ends the music keeps playing through the speakers. Before bluetooth when I was using the aux cable, I remember myself hearing the other side on call. Do you have the same situation and do you have any suggestions?

  8. Instead of an aux casset tape just get a bluetooth one off amazon for about $30 and you dont have to take your whole radio out

  9. Good on you mate! The drone really made the episode great! By the way, I saw where you were standing by the tree on the end scene. LOL

  10. Mind you many cars have a rear or boot socket to plug in a bluetooth fm transmitter out of the way. I bought a couple of fm earplug socket transmitters £2.20 each 7mins to fully charge 11/2 hrs running time leave it plugged to socket charging when using. The fm transmitter lets any radio nearby sometimes a couple of streets away tune into your music lol. Mind you in a city like London there seems to be no free fm channel to broadcast constantly on without interference.

  11. I plan to do this with my radio but with just a Bluetooth board itself. It’s my understanding that the Bluetooth connection is a one-and-done connection. As in, if my friend wanted to pair their phone while I drive them around, I’d have to unhook the radio and then hook it back up and have my friends phone connect to the Bluetooth.
    Does anybody know if adding a button or switch to the power of the Bluetooth module/board would properly reset the Bluetooth connection? I tried reaching out to a few companies in particular but haven’t heard back

  12. Nowt wrong with cassette tapes. Just stick tge bloody thing in and play. Only use fast foward for end of side. If you feel you want to skip tracks get better music.

  13. Hi, In the process of performing this mod on an afla romeo 159, I've found the circuit diagram (nothing is labelled on the circuit board) and it seems that theres one data line coming from the cd player rather the a left and right. Any idea where I'd be able to post the circuit diagram to get a little help working out where to tap in to get this to work?

  14. Good thing is that there are also Bluetooth cassettes. But this mod should be useful for those old CD only head units

  15. i used the cassette with wire in 2009 in my first car fiat 128 , was soo happy with it till i bought FM transmitter in 2010 and found the difference in quality , now i have no car at all and both devices are really useless, and that is how is the world works .

  16. Hey mate I've done this and it works however I am getting a buzzing and whining sound from the speakers. When I use the bluetooth cassette tape its fine, it's only when I switch to bluetooth. Any advice

  17. all aftermarket headunits these days look like shit and lack in quality. back in 2007 we got a clarion db456mc cd player installed, and that was a respectable looking thing. nice layout, no obnoxious styling and a premium feel to the touch (basically didnt feel tacky and shit) and most importantly great sound.

  18. Wayyyyyy too much work. So much easier to just slap an aftermarket head unit in the thing and be done with it. I care about functionality far more than aesthetics.

  19. After attempting, and failing to successfully change to battery in my iPhone (the phone actually won't start now) I'd be afraid to do this.

  20. Recently tried this with an old bmw radio, I’ve got it working and the audio is clear but it is very quiet. Pretty much have to have it at full volume to listen to music. Any ideas on why this might be? I’ve ordered another Bluetooth adapter to see if that fixes it. Any help would be appreciated 🙂

  21. why did you cut the ribbon cable??? Just solder onto the points on the board. When you (for whatever reason) want to play your Cassette deck, it will still work.

    Just don't play the tape while using your Bluetooth device. Simple common sense.

  22. Nice opening picture reminding us that Bluetooth is named after the Danish king Harald Blåtand (Bluetooth) who lived 1000 years ago.

  23. Because listening to your car stereo through a wireless blewtooth earpiece in mono is so much better than the stereo sound out of the regular car speaker system!

  24. You do understand that yellow is constant and red is ignition on this unit don't you? You kinda defeated the purpose of trying not to drain the battery. It probably won't be enough to cause an issue unless you already have a weak battery. But still wanna make sure the correct information is getting out there. Still a cool mod for anyone wanting to hack an OEM headunit.

  25. Cool mod, What i like about this mod 1st off if would be thieves are looking they will pass you by. 2nd It keep a old radio out of the trash. 3rd keeps the old classic look of the dash. The only thing I would change is solder the wire to the pins so you could keep the old tape deck working. but that's a personal choice . All in all I think its a great idea . Awesome Job

  26. by disabling the cassette mech, you now can listen to fm or am as the deck thinks a cassette is in all the time.

  27. who else has tried this? I went off the TA2025P chip and it resulted in horrible sound quality, so I went off the main audio processor chip and it was worse quality lol. tried on the wires going from the cassette drive board to main board and got nothing but high's and no volume control :/. unfortunately the radio in my 03 chevy has no pinout on the boards and I cant for the life of me find any kind of diagram or boardview of the boards in the radio :/ I'm assuming I need some resistors or caps inline, but I have no idea. using a tape aux results in no high notes, sounds very muddy and low quality.
    And being a chevy I would have to invest $100 in adapters to run an aftermarket and retain door chime, steering controls, factory amp, and OnStar, plus buy a radio.

  28. I remember my childhood when some eats blue berries their teeth becomes blue…then teasing starts calling blue tooth ….but in your case its done by blue marker looks funny🤣🤣

  29. Second case is when u got one bad blakened teeth…we used to tease him by saying …blue tooth that time their was no blue tooth tecnology…who know this name is gona so popular😃😃

  30. I have an 04 Colorado and I want to do this, but the thing is it has a cd player in it. I don't know if this will be the same process.

  31. Great video. Awesome solution. Just wondering if phone calls are blue toothed as well? May need to add or use phone mic for voice.

  32. Thanks for this video, what I will do instead buy this Bluetooth receiver I will use one from old jbl speakers and installed in to radio

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