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How to Play MP3 Songs on Your Radio

Adapt your car radio to play music from your MP3 or iPod with an add-on adapter that ensures good sound quality. It costs less than $150 and takes about an hour to install.

By the DIY experts of The Family Handyman Magazine

How to Play MP3 Songs on Your Radio

Adapt your car radio to play music from your MP3 or iPod with an add-on adapter that ensures good sound quality. It costs less than $150 and takes about an hour to install.

Buy and install an MP3 adapter

If you want to play your MP3 (or iPod) tunes through your car radio, you have two choices: an FM adapter or an MP3 adapter that installs permanently inside your dash. The in-dash MP3 adapter powers (and recharges) your MP3 player, provides better sound quality and eliminates the constant channel switching required by the FM adapter.

In-dash adapters are available in models to fit almost every factory radio made since 1992. The installation was a cinch and took less than an hour. But one warning: If you already have an external CD changer, you’ll have to give it up. That’s because the MP3 adapter plugs into the CD changer port in the back of the radio.

MP3 adapters are radio-specific, so take a mental (or actual) snapshot of your radio before you go to the adapter manufacturer’s Web site (one source is neocaraudio.com). Next, download radio removal instructions (for a small fee) from carstereohelp.com. We followed its instructions and had the radio out in 10 minutes (with no broken parts).

The most time-consuming part of the job is finding a good route for the MP3 player cable. You can route it through an opening under the dash and out to the console or glove box. Or you can hide the cable by routing it directly to the console (drill a hole in an inconspicuous location). We decided not to install an MP3 mount (they alert thieves that you have theft-worthy gear in the car). If you want one, check out “device holders” at proclipusa.com.

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