What Does Bluetooth Capable Mean on Car Stereos?

By Neal Litherland

As technology becomes more advanced, it becomes more of a necessity for different electronics to be able to communicate with each other. While a computer can "talk" to a printer, it makes life a great deal easier if an Internet-capable cell phone can also speak that printer's language. This is what being Bluetooth capable is all about, and it is becoming more common from cell phones and laptops to car stereos.


Bluetooth is an industry specification that describes how mobile phones, computers, personal data assistants (PDAs) and other technology can be easily connected. This is done through the use of a short wave, wireless network. Essentially, all these different devices are on the same computer network and data may be freely transmitted between them.


Any device that is Bluetooth capable means it can recognize other Bluetooth capable devices and speak to them. If a cell phone and computer are both Bluetooth capable, they can exchange data between each other once they are connected. While this began with cell phones and hands-free handsets, Bluetooth technology has extended to other areas, including car stereos.

Stereos and Phones

If a car stereo is Bluetooth capable, it means that it can interact with other Bluetooth devices. If a Bluetooth-enabled stereo system in a car is connected to a Bluetooth-enabled cell phone, several new options are created. The phone may be answered by voice, and caller data will show up on the stereo display. In addition, the caller's voice will play over the car's speakers, making it easy to understand as well as making driving while talking on the phone a great deal safer.

Stereos and Music Devices

The more obvious use of Bluetooth-enabled stereo systems is to forego the need for CDs and other recorded music. If a music-enabled cell phone, or another Bluetooth music device, is connected to a car stereo, then music from that device may be played over the car speakers.

Getting Bluetooth in Your Car

For those who want to use Bluetooth technology in their car stereo, there are a few options. The first is to buy a stereo system that comes with Bluetooth technology and have it installed. The second option is to buy an adapter for a specific stereo and install it so that the existing stereo system becomes Bluetooth enabled. The third is to get a universal Bluetooth kit that does not interact with the car at all but is useful for hands-free calling while driving.