Top 6 Reasons Bluetooth Won't Connect (in Your Car, at Home, etc)

Phone won't connect? Headphones giving you grief? Don't despair!

When Bluetooth doesn't connect, it can be frustrating. Whether you're having problems with Bluetooth in your car, at home, or somewhere else, the good news is that it can almost always be fixed.

Information in this article applies to most Bluetooth-enabled devices, including Bluetooth car stereos and Bluetooth headsets.

The Most Likely Reasons Bluetooth Won't Connect

When you can't connect a Bluetooth headset to your phone or Bluetooth car kit, there are several potential causes. These problems range from compatibility issues to interference from other devices.

Before you investigate further, it's always a good idea to restart your device. If it's still acting up, here are some likely culprits.

01
of 06

Incompatible Bluetooth Versions

bluetooth versus aux in car audio quality

Eric Raptosh Photography / Blend Images / Getty Images

While Bluetooth is supposed to be universal, devices that employ different versions of the standard can sometimes conflict. Even though there's a good chance that your head unit uses an older version of Bluetooth than your phone, both devices should still work together in most circumstances.

A notable exception is when one device uses something called Bluetooth Smart. These devices can only pair with devices that are Bluetooth Smart-compatible. If you have two devices that refuse to connect, do some research to determine whether those devices are compatible.

02
of 06

Bluetooth Devices Are Too Far Apart

bluetooth headset carputer voice control

Zoovroo / CC By 2.0 / Flickr

Bluetooth devices typically remain paired at distances of about 30 feet, although with increasingly poor functionality depending on obstructions. These devices work better when closer together, but proximity is particularly important when it comes to pairing Bluetooth devices.

If your devices refuse to connect, remove any obstructions between the two devices. Once you pair your phone with your car via Bluetooth, it should remain connected when you put it in your pocket, backpack, or car phone holder.

03
of 06

Insufficient Battery Power

Battery indicators at partial and full

If you used Bluetooth on your phone before, you might have noticed that it can suck up a lot of juice and cut down on your operational battery life when it's active. For this reason, some devices are designed to enter a power-saving mode when battery life is low, which shuts off Bluetooth.

You might be able to turn Bluetooth back on manually, or you may find that charging your devices is the only way to get them to pair correctly. In any case, it's a good practice to make sure your devices are fully charged or plugged into a power source if you have trouble getting both to connect.

04
of 06

Bluetooth Is Disabled on Your Device

Shutting off Bluetooth functionality on a smartphone.

Wachiwit / Getty Images

If you have problems with Bluetooth on Windows, it could be disabled in the system settings. The same issue can cause Bluetooth problems on Macs. Likewise, if Bluetooth isn't working on your iPhone or Android device, check the settings to make sure Bluetooth is enabled.

05
of 06

Devices Are Not in Pairing Mode

The Marshall Major II Bluetooth headphones

Marshall Headphones

When you pair your phone to another device, you typically have to make sure that the phone's Bluetooth is on and that the accessory device is in pairing mode. For devices with a single multi-function button, this usually involves powering down the device and then powering it on with a long press until it enters pairing mode. If the device has an LED, it typically flashes blue and red when in this mode.

When pairing a phone to a head unit, you typically have to make one or both devices discoverable, depending on how each one is set up. If your devices are set as discoverable, and you still can't see one device from the other, you may be dealing with a Bluetooth compatibility issue.

06
of 06

Outside Signal Interference

hands-free bluetooth phone call

ML Harris / The Image Bank / Getty Images

Although you're more likely to run into Wi-Fi interference in your home or office, public Wi-Fi networks and hotspots can interfere with the Bluetooth in your car as well. If you use a mobile hotspot in your car, switch it off. You may be able to turn it back on without any issue once the devices have paired.

USB 3.0 connections can spit out interference in the same 2.4 GHz spectrum used by Bluetooth devices. The issue is related to poor shielding, and you're more likely to run into this problem in your home or office than your car. That said, if your laptop uses USB 3.0 and is sitting in the passenger seat, look at it as a potential source of interference.

Essentially any electronic device that bleeds into the 2.4 GHz spectrum can interfere with the pairing and operation of Bluetooth devices. If possible, pair your devices in a different location. For internal Bluetooth devices in cars, pair with the vehicle turned off or with accessories like inverters unplugged.