How to Listen to Online Radio in Your Car |

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How to Listen to Online Radio in Your Car

Discover how to listen to online radio in the car, and take your favourite internet stations on the road with you.

Lucy Rowe

by Lucy Rowe in Tips

Last updated 21.04.2023

How to listen online radio

Whether it’s a cross-country road trip or a quick zip around the city, every drive is better with a good radio station. And drivers can listen to way more than the terrestrial radio stations that FM/AM car radios pick up.

It's easier than ever to listen to your favourite online radio station from your vehicle. All you need is:

  • A mobile internet connection
  • A device that connects to the internet
  • A way of connecting your device to your car stereo

    And in some lucky cases, this is all rolled into your car’s entertainment anyway! Keep reading to learn how to listen to online radio in your car.

    4 Ways To Listen to Online Radio In Your Car

    1) Smartphone Bluetooth

    This is one of the most common ways to connect a smartphone to a car stereo. Using this method, you can stream internet radio on your mobile and through your car speakers.

    Check your car stereo has Bluetooth connectivity. Search through the media options and look out for the Bluetooth symbol. If all else fails, check the manual! Sometimes the Bluetooth function is a little tricky to find.

    The screen and buttons of an car stereo. The screen shows a song playing and the Bluetooth symbol shows tis on the right hand side of the screen.
    Bluetooth offers a wireless way to connect your smartphone to your car stereo.

    If it does have Bluetooth, turn it on. Then turn on Bluetooth on your smartphone. You'll usually have to select your smartphone on your car stereo media options, and vice versa. Pair the car stereo with your smartphone. Sometimes a code will pop up to ensure you’re pairing the right devices with each other.

    A black 12-volt to bluetooth adapter. The adapter is plug shaped, with an LED display, a dial, 2 USB ports and skip forward and skip backwards buttons.
    A Bluetooth adapter connects smartphones to older car stereos, if they have a 12-volt port like a cigarette lighter.

    Once paired, whatever you stream through your smartphone will now play through your car stereo. Stream your favourite internet radio station through your browser or its app. And voila, you'll be listening to an online radio station in your car.

    2) Aux-in Cable

    If your car stereo has a 3.5mm aux in port, you can use an aux-in cable to connect your smartphone to it.

    Of course, more modern smartphones have sadly done away with their 3.5mm headphone jacks. If you're smartphone is one victim, you'll need either a USB-C to 3.5mm adapter as well, or a lightning to 3.5mm jack adapter.

    A black cassette tape with an aux-in cable attached, set against a white background.
    A cassette to aux-in adapter can connect smartphones to older car stereos.

    By using an auxiliary cable between your smartphone and car stereo, you can stream any audio on your phone and it'll play through your car stereo. So to listen to online radio in your car, it's a case of streaming a station through your browser or an app.

    3) Car Infotainment System Apps

    Can you download apps directly into your car stereo? If so, you may have all the components to listen to online radio in your car.

    Browse the Play Store and find your favourite online radio station’s app. If the station doesn’t have one, or it’s not compatible, then you can download a general radio player app. Like TuneIn or iHeart Radio and then find your favourite radio station.

    This relies on the radio station being listed in these directories. If not, you’ll have to connect your phone via Bluetooth.

    Side Note

    Of course, listening to online radio requires an internet connection. Some cars like the Mercedes A-Class range, the Volvo XC90 and Toyota Prius all have their own WiFI hotspots you can pay a monthly subscription for. But if not, the alternatives are using your smartphone as a hotspot or buying a portable internet device.

    A car dashboard, showing revs, miles per hour, and the car's current entertainment: android auto.
    Android Auto let's you control your essential smartphone apps through your car dashboard - including radio players!

    4) Android Auto or Apple CarPlay

    Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are the way you can make your smartphone apps accessible through your car stereo. And this includes entertainment apps, like radio player apps.

    Android Auto Compatibility

    If you have an Android phone running Android 8 Oreo, Android 9 Pie or Android 10, you can download the Android Auto app from the Play Store.
    For smartphones running Android 11 or above, Android Auto is already installed.

    Check if your car, or aftermarket car stereo is compatible.

    CarPlay Compatibility

    If you have an iPhone 5 or above, you can download the CarPlay app from the App Store.

    Check if your car is compatible.

    Image shows the interior of a Volvo car. The right half of a steering wheel with the car's infotainment display directly to the right of it.
    CarPlay lets drivers control a radio app alongside other essential apps from the dashboard. Image credit: Volvo

    Using Android Auto or Carplay To Listen to Online Radio

    To use either of these app, you usually have to connect your smartphone via a USB cable to your car stereo. Once connected, your cars display will mirror Android Auto or CarPlay.

    Sadly, only certain apps approved by Google or Apple will work on your cars display. But this does includes radio player apps like BBC Sounds, TuneIn and Pandora.

    From here, you can select which internet radio station to listen to. If it’s not listed on radio player apps, or you just don’t like them inserting adverts - you could play the radio station through an app on your phone. Just be sure you don’t try to control this through your phone whilst driving.

    To Round Up

    With smartphone ownership widespread, many drivers can listen to online radio in their cars. In most cases, if your car has a stereo then there's a way to connect your smartphone to it. Now we've covered how to listen to online radio in your car, what will you be tuning in to? Let us know over on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or TikTok.

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