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 thoughts on “Add Bluetooth To Your Old Car Stereo For $25!”

  1. MotoringBox says:

    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. maDSard Thung says:

    Ur genius!!

  3. milan hofman says:

    love the project 🙂 only thing i have done different, keep the tape drive all in tact and just splice the signal wires on, so you can listen to tapes and BT, (you will need a "fake" tape (one with te tape gutted))

  4. Dan Miller says:

    What if my tape deck is jamed by a tape what should I do then will it still work so long as I get the tape out of the deck that is stuck in it?

  5. DespacitoBurrito says:

    I’d just by a new head unit. This is waaaay to much work. I guess if you’re broke or wanna keep the original look of your car it’s a good mod.

  6. James miano says:

    Sell me that car..

  7. Informedia Tech says:

    removing the springs dont allow you to hear radio and you can unplug the cassete electric motor so will be less white noise onthe speakers some radios have line in on the front and some on the back even some have cd player connections that u can use to plug the bluetooth in

  8. Guido Lamoto says:

    Next step: raspberry pi3+ on a cassette…….

  9. Keny Dat says:

    This one I have to do to my 1978 PA10.

  10. CHASER says:

    too much work.

  11. buixote says:

    They look utterly shit, full stop. They also have buttons that you can't feel the difference between; worse yet *touch screens*.

  12. Joe Baker says:

    Thumbs up sir! great vid! I have also done this to my old Alpine TDA in my mk2 golf GTI. Works great! I could have still had a functioning tape deck also, however mine was faulty so i removed it. It's now around 25kg lighter! lol. Cheers mate!

  13. Sheldon Everything says:

    You should have done a phone call for us

  14. Sachin mae says:

    I have bluetooth to my car for Rs.150, equivalent to around 2 dollars

  15. Artem Ostreniuk says:

    But in case i have a cd player only, how do i switch mode so i can play music from bluetooth?

  16. Mikitech Ultrasound says:

    Very nice! The only thing I would've done differently would be to cut the ribbon cables straight out and solder directly to the board instead.

    You've done a very good job. Thank you for this video.

  17. Dejan Petkovski says:

    Why you not simple remove casette mechanism and put inside the bluetooth receiver. You don,t need.

  18. MsJinkerson says:

    there is nothing wrong with any of those formats including the 8 track

  19. Rob P says:

    The problem isn't the stereo. The problem is that your steering wheel is on the wrong side of the car.

  20. AHA Al-Saeedi says:

    Thank you ….that is the cost effective solution I've been looking for a long time….again thx!!

  21. Benjamin Woodruff says:

    I know this is a very late comment and its a cool mod. My only question is wouldnt you user the disk changer instead of the head unit Doesn't the disk changer have the 3.5mm plug and all you would need to do is tap into the 5v power? The only reason im asking is I was thinking about doing this into an older car with a cd changer and wanted to know the best approach.

  22. Isaac mondragon says:

    Original stereo vrs other Chinese knockoff head units! I'll go with original any day and add the bluetooth hack these alpines stereo are a beast in sound quality and don't match the new stereos!

  23. Fritz Pinguin says:

    Nicely done! Congratulations for this modification!

  24. Crippleback says:

    What was that he pulled from between his legs after the cd?

  25. Geoff Campbell says:

    I would have ripped the tape mechanism out entirely and installed the BT receiver inside rhe unit. Anyway, nice job!

  26. Trash barn says:

    This is perfect!
    But your on the wrong side of the car!

  27. Jason Colon says:

    This dude looks like the Australian Eddie ifft.

  28. Hayato Fujiwara says:

    omg thank you

  29. Adam Kowalski says:


  30. Simon Ludborzs says:

    You had me at 'tapeworm out of a dog's arse'. Subscribed!

  31. ArtichokeD says:

    Nice idea, good video, thanks!

  32. nikulaye says:

    Head unit wow I didn't know you can replace that

  33. nikulaye says:

    You can connect the wires to the volume potentiometer usually is before main amplifier

  34. FoxieTrix says:

    Just put the bluetooth modul inside the head unit… And bridge the contact so it thinks that a tape is fitted…

  35. Bobby C. says:

    No one else gonna mention that he heat up electrical tape? xD

  36. TryMonster says:

    haha add a bluetooth to your face

  37. Med Amine says:

    you look funny with that blue tooth.

  38. Ossian Haufe says:

    The best part is the pic of you with the blue tooth 🤣 I tried to connect my cellphone to MotoringBox, but it failed 🤭😂

  39. Cristian R32 GTR says:

    I used one of those fucking tape deck things on my 99 Lexus before I wired up the plug aux from eBay

  40. typeman5 says:

    What about using a Bluetooth fm transmitter? Works great for my old car

  41. Scott Edick says:

    dude double check your voltage hookup. vast majority of cars. the yellow is constant 12v. the red is the acc you hooked it in reverse. so double check it dude. see what your car is hooked up as. here in the usa our cars are the stated yellow 12v. red acc.

  42. whatarewedoing says:

    haha wtf no way would someone do this

  43. Evan Hartmann says:

    Would it be possible to solder it to the circuitboard on the cassette player and the AM FM radio input so that no matter what you are on in your car you have Bluetooth in the background?

  44. Liam Ainsworth says:

    Can this be done on a 08 citroen c4 picasso it's only got a CD player

  45. Jason Larson says:

    Why go through all that when their are devices that just plug into your cig lighter slot. My daughter bought one and it works for her car just fine.

  46. Mark Flint says:

    Why strip back the ribbon cable ?
    Solder the cables directly to the PCB

  47. electrified gaming says:

    thats a cool mod but wouldn't you lose more modern features such as subs and rear audio along with a more updated audio chip vs upgrading the stereo

  48. Peter Davidson says:


  49. max rouyon says:

    hilarious thumbnail

  50. cgwworldministries says:

    You can just buy a stereo at Walmart for $15~$20 that has Bluetooth built in.

  51. Tumpa Talapatra says:

    The thumbnail made me click laughing.

  52. MrVsbt1 says:

    Tape worm out of a dog's arse 🤣🤣

  53. crix says:

    Thanks, budget Nicholas Cage.

  54. John N says:

    Great video! Crazy I didn't think soemthing like this was even possible. Thank you, the video was very well planned, and explained every step

  55. Vlad Yarotsky says:

    Often those head units have auxiliary input wired in the header or as additional plug or header and enabled by some sort of switch or jumper on the rear of the unit. You probably shoud've told to check that first.

  56. FreerunMediaService says:

    I noticed that the unit had a microphone so i would do a little more work and make a switch so you still can switch back to the tape and bring out the microphone in the bluetooth unit so you can use the call option as well.

  57. ggin nj says:

    I might have gone with the gutted cassette – and not cut, but soldered onto the existing connections – this way your tape unit could still play tapes if you had any! – Since you chose to cut the wires and remove the springs, might have well also cut the wire to the motor – so it's not spinning happily for no reason. I also was thinking (i know, enough already) maybe attache the blue tooth unit to the side of the radio if it had the width clearance in case you didn't have the clearance on the bottom to clear the entry….

  58. Cordell Ruzewski says:

    That is a genius solution. Thank you for sharing

  59. The chosen Path says:

    Would this solve my turbo smoke issue ?? Haha quite clever really I used to love taking electronic stuff apart as a kid & changing wires around etc , circuits boards look so complicated but are pretty simple really…I’m on the sofa cause I fell out with the misses , she prob thinks I’m chatting to other girls or watching porn or something only if she knew the truth 😁😂

  60. The chosen Path says:

    Subscribed funny bloke with some good life skills 👍🏻

  61. Mike Hunt says:

    What about a CD player

  62. Larry D Marsh Jr says:

    I don't know about Australia but in the US the yellow wire is memory and draws constant voltage red is the switched power.

  63. Default333 says:

    Thanks. Your video really helped. I can now get Bluetooth in my car as well. Is there a way to connect a mic though.?as it can then also be used for hands free calling

  64. Doodz Avancena says:

    in that case the cassette motor always rotating when it operates when switch to tape mode. Why not try disabling switches.

  65. Bllizz' says:

    For information, the « Blaupunkt Bremen SQR 46 DAB » is a new head unit with a retro look, but it’s expensive.

  66. Tim Kimaiyo says:

    Big fan of DIY projects,Great job bro

  67. TimothyTim PSP says:

    My first of your videos. Awesome work! You make quality content!
    Take it from me TimothyTim PSP 🙂

  68. GoliathAngelus says:

    nice idea if you still have a cassetteplayer

  69. Oskar Strandman says:

    Maybe get rid of the BT-reciever casing, and fit the board directly inside the Stereo unit?

  70. stuffnva says:

    Why cut the ribbon cable? Simply connect to the solder points on the tape drive and have the use of both.

  71. diggleboy says:

    This is a great solution I am going to consider installing. I dislike using the Motorola T505 bluetooth via FM transmitter to stream my music etc., because anyone else tuned to the same radio station can hear it too that is within close proximity to my car! Mind you, the T505 is extremely reliable and very convenient. It still holds a great charge. I've had to change the condenser microphone in that bluetooth unit and it still works. It's well over 10 years old.

    It would have been good to disconnect the tape drive motor to prevent the annoying mechanical sound of the tape drive mechanism when the head unit volume is at zero or listening to quiet music while sitting in the quiet car.

    This is a great solution! Thanks for sharing such great detail!

  72. Kevin Kelley says:

    I could never drive on the left side of the car. It would totally screw me up.

  73. Lee Bakker says:

    "Great Days"

    not the jojo great days smh

  74. Douglas Allen says:

    pretty cool 3

  75. tyler henry says:

    I bought a old nakamichi headunit cassette with a disc changer and 2 rca in ports and did it that way but it was about 150 dollars but the radio looks stock in fact even the new nakamichi headunits look good they dont look like something out of tron

  76. zachary parsley tech life says:

    Look really good

  77. slice says:

    why am i watching this i dont even have a car

  78. Michael Palmisano says:

    Good video but if we talking about quality of sound your actually better off with your wired cassette tape in your cassette player , or installing an aftermarket AUX cord, or yes even buying a cheap 20 dollar head unit. Reason being is Bluetooth audio streaming absolutely sucks compared to a cd or aux wire , wireless connections will never compare to wired connections. Do your own test.. play a song through Bluetooth , than play the same song through Aux cord ,or USB An you'll see the sound quality is much on the Bluetooth .

  79. Jan-Fabio Resch says:

    There is a stereo from Blaupunkt for 10$,
    4x20W speaker,Bluetooth,FM/AM but no CD slot!

  80. Pteris Vittata says:

    Big thumb for a sarcastic humor. Regards from Russia

  81. John Kurc says:

    "A tapeworm out of your dogs' ass" LOL

  82. Stephen Bungay says:

    Nice little hack, but my preference would be to keep the tape unit useable so it not only looks original, it can also function as originally intended.

  83. eri says:

    25 dollars? You can get way cheaper ones that do the job fine.

  84. sebastian says:

    just don't try to use your radio

  85. Rico Suave says:

    The thumbnail got me

  86. Antonio Rivera says:

    I just connect a small Bluetooth device (receives and transmits depending on which you want to do) into the 3.5mm jack in the car and send music from phone. A lot less work than what the video showed.

  87. ZurekPage says:

    Time to swap back my car stereo 😎

  88. Steve Richmond says:

    Or you could just connect the output of the Bluetooth adapter to the input of the Aux cassette adapter, run the wire out the back, and eliminate half of the steps necessary here

  89. Edward Arakelian says:

    Well done mate

  90. atranfanatic says:

    So would this work on a 2003 Gm Delco AM/FM CD stereo in my 2003 Pontiac Grand Prix GT?

  91. Timothy Gonzalez says:

    What if your radio doesn’t have a tape drive?

  92. Ein Felder says:

    Waste of time faffing around cutting and stripping the ribbon cable. Just solder to the existing points on the board. That way the tape still works, for what it's worth. The bluetooth module could easily be mounted inside the tape drive body. That car must have been inside a vacuum it's whole life. Can't think of anywhere in Oz that it wouldn't have dust and stuff in it. We used to put our franger boxes in the tape drive for quick access at the drive-in.

  93. John Day says:

    I like the style and ease of viewing of this video. Very well edited and easy to follow. However, it is not electrical that you should be referencing, It's electronic. Yes, there is electricity in the Alpine Head Unit, but it's not what makes the radio, cassette player, or anything else function. Electronics is what makes those things possible. Also, by removing the springs on the cassette mechanism and causing the cassette to function while the cassette button is pushed, you've decided to reduce the lifespan of the audio head unit. If you don't have a replacement Apline head unit purchased for your car, start looking now. BTW, do you have the Alpine Head unit's Model Number? I'd like to pull the circuit diagram and see if there was a better place to add the audio output lines to the Alpine. Thanks for sharing!

  94. dlinemusic says:

    Is it the same process for a unit that has a CD player?

  95. Richmo 6 says:

    That was unbelievable!
    I can't believe you spent $25 dollars on that POS car,… ha ha ha.
    Nice work nonetheless- thanks for the research and video.

  96. Adeel Cyril says:

    Superb mate! I applaud your ability to execute this well thought out task! 👍👍👍

  97. Aleksandar Lomas says:

    good cassete is beter then any mp3…..

  98. Paul Stubbs says:

    I'd probably try and include a small relay to switch the audio so the cassette still works – not that I probably would use one – but if I did it as per the vid sure as hell I'd want to play an old mix tape etc.

  99. deaddy57 says:

    Thanks for the mod, I am getting tired of the cassette cord hanging out!

  100. M V says:

    Is there a comment that Eddie won't give it a ❤?

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