Best Bluetooth Car Kits Features and Pricing

bluetooth car kits
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Bluetooth car kits are the best way to add hands-free calling to virtually any make or model of car, regardless of what type of factory or aftermarket head unit it might have. The benefits of a Bluetooth car kit don't end at hands-free calling, though, and the right kit can dress up a tired old car stereo with many of the same features you find in cutting-edge car audio systems. These kits range in price from very affordable to somewhat pricey, but they still tend to be less expensive and easier to install than a brand new car stereo.

Why Bluetooth?

The primary benefit of the type of Bluetooth phone integration you see in many factory and aftermarket car stereos today is that pairing a phone to your head unit allows wireless, hands-free calling. However, some head units allow you to stream local music files to your head unit, listen to Internet radio, or even launch apps remotely on your phone.

With those features, and others, available, it's easy to feel left out if your head unit doesn’t feature Bluetooth technology, and upgrading to a brand new Bluetooth car stereo can be expensive. Bluetooth headsets do allow for hands-free calling at an affordable price, but they can also be uncomfortable to wear and tricky to answer when driving, and that doesn’t even begin to address the issue of streaming music.

While the only way to enjoy a truly seamless Bluetooth experience may be to upgrade your head unit, the right kit will allow you to add Bluetooth to any car.

 Some of the most useful kits and standalone Bluetooth gear include:

  • mounted speakerphones
  • hands-free calling kits
  • audio streaming kits
  • combination kits

Mounted Speakerphones

Bluetooth speakerphones do the same basic job performed by headsets, but they’re easier to use when you’re driving. These speakerphones are typically mounted on your dash or sun visor.

After you’ve paired a speakerphone to your Bluetooth-enabled cellular phone, you can answer calls and carry on conversations without having to touch your phone.

Some speakerphones have some sort of car stereo integration, but the main drawback of most of these devices is that they aren’t capable of muting the stereo when a call comes in.

Hands-Free Bluetooth Car Kits

These kits are similar to speakerphones, but they typically include a greater degree of integration with your car stereo. Rather than using a separate speaker to handle calls, many hands-free Bluetooth car kits are designed to plug into the auxiliary jack of your car stereo. That often allows the sound to be muted when a call comes in.

Bluetooth Audio Streaming Kits

Audio streaming kits are designed to send local music and Internet radio from your phone to your car stereo. Some of these kits broadcast on an FM frequency and others utilize an auxiliary input. If your head unit doesn’t have an auxiliary jack, then you’ll have to go with a Bluetooth streaming kit that broadcasts over the FM band. However, FM transmitters often have problems in areas where there are a lot of powerful radio stations and no real dead spots on the FM dial.

Combination Bluetooth Kits

While there are car Bluetooth kits that only facilitate hands-free calling or music streaming, many devices combine both of those functionalities into one. These combination Bluetooth kits can hook into your car stereo via an auxiliary input or an FM broadcaster, and they are capable of both streaming music and performing hands-free calls. And if you are making use of the music streaming functionality, they will typically mute the music when a call is activated.

While the additional hardware and wires of a combination kit are far from seamless, these devices are the closest approximation that you’ll get to a real Bluetooth head unit.

Pricing Bluetooth Car Kits

DeviceApproximate CostFeatures
TaoTronics Bluetooth Reciever/Car Kit$17
  • Compact
  • Siri integration
Belkin Hands-Free Kit$30
  • Mounts via adhesive backing
  • Aux connection

GoGroove FlexSmart X2
(Review)

$40
  • Aux output and FM modulator
  • Gooseneck connector.
Supertooth Visor Speakerphone$75
  • Clips to visor
  • No head unit connection required
  • Pairs two phones

Alternatives to Bluetooth Car Kits

If you don’t want a bunch of extra gadgets and wires laying around your car, then you can always consider upgrading your head unit to a Bluetooth car stereo. The only situation where that isn’t viable is if your head unit is integrated into an infotainment system, but most of those offer Bluetooth connectivity already.

On the other hand, many OEM dashes and head units are designed to make it difficult to seamlessly install a new stereo. In those cases, you can typically obtain a car stereo dash kit that will convert the oddly-shaped OEM space into one that will readily accept a single or double DIN Bluetooth head unit much more seamlessly than tacking on a Bluetooth car kit.