How do I get Google Maps to play on my car radio?

Google Maps is a popular mapping and navigation app developed by Google. It provides turn-by-turn navigation, live traffic information, location tracking, and other helpful tools for getting around. On mobile devices like smartphones, Google Maps uses your phone’s GPS and data connection to provide real-time navigation and routing.

You can easily get Google Maps voice navigation directions from your phone to play through your car’s stereo. This allows you to safely navigate without looking at your phone’s screen. There are a few different methods to connect your phone to your car and stream the Google Maps audio.

Preparing Your Phone

The first step is to enable developer options on your Android device. This unlocks additional settings that allow apps like Google Maps to integrate with your car’s infotainment system.

To enable developer options, open your phone’s Settings app and navigate to About Phone or About Device. Tap on Build Number 7 times until you see a message that developer options have been enabled (Source). You can also search for Developer Options directly in the Settings search bar.

Once enabled, you’ll find the Developer Options menu in your main Settings. Make sure options like USB Debugging, USB audio routing, and Disable Bluetooth A2DP hardware offload are enabled. These allow apps to output audio over USB.

Also check that you have the latest version of Google Maps installed and updated. Open the Play Store app, go to Menu > My Apps & Games, and check for any available updates.

Connecting Your Phone

To play audio from your phone through your car’s speakers, you’ll need to connect your phone either via an auxiliary cable or wirelessly over Bluetooth. An auxiliary cable offers a simple wired connection, while Bluetooth provides a wireless option. Here’s an overview of both methods:

Using an auxiliary cable is a straightforward way to connect your Android phone to your car’s stereo. You’ll need a 3.5mm auxiliary cable, which has a standard headphone jack on each end. Simply plug one end into your phone’s headphone port, and plug the other end into the auxiliary input on your car’s stereo. If your car doesn’t have an auxiliary input, you can purchase an FM transmitter which plugs into your phone’s headphone jack and transmits the audio over an empty FM radio frequency in your car. Once connected via auxiliary cable, you’ll be able to play music, podcasts, audiobooks, and navigation directions from apps on your phone through your car’s speakers. Just press play in the app on your phone and the sound will route through the cable. This wired connection provides high quality, dependable audio output. However, you’ll need to be careful not to yank your phone while driving since it will be tethered to your stereo by the cable. According to CNET, auxiliary cables are inexpensive and universally compatible between phones and car stereos.

Bluetooth provides a wireless way to stream audio from your Android phone to your car’s audio system. Most cars with stereo systems built in the last 10-15 years have integrated Bluetooth that you can pair your phone with. To do this, start by turning on your phone’s Bluetooth setting. Then go to your car’s stereo system, access the settings to enable Bluetooth pairing mode, and select your phone’s name when it pops up in the list of available devices. Your Android and car stereo will connect automatically whenever Bluetooth is active after the initial pairing process. You’ll then be able to play music, podcasts, navigation instructions and more wirelessly from your phone through your car’s speakers. Bluetooth allows freedom of movement without cables, but audio quality may degrade slightly compared to a direct wired connection. You’ll also need to ensure Bluetooth is enabled each time you start your car. According to Sony, the Bluetooth pairing process can vary across car stereo manufacturers.

Using Google Maps Voice Navigation

To use voice navigation in Google Maps, you first need to turn it on in the settings. According to Google’s Android support page, you can go to Navigation settings and toggle on “Voice guidance” to enable spoken directions. For iPhone users, the same setting can be adjusted in Navigation under Settings, as noted on Google’s iOS support page.

Once voice navigation is enabled, you can adjust the volume of the voice guidance at any time from the navigation screen. Look for the volume button in the bottom left and drag the slider to your desired level. This lets you easily control the audio volume of the spoken directions over your car stereo.

With voice navigation turned on and the volume adjusted, Google Maps can provide turn-by-turn voice guidance to your destinations. Just start navigation as usual, and the app will speak the directions through your car’s speakers using your connected phone.

Streaming Audio from Google Maps

Google Maps allows you to access turn-by-turn voice navigation directions while driving, but does not currently offer the ability to stream general audio content like music or podcasts directly through the app to your car stereo. However, there are a few methods you can use to play audio from your phone through your car speakers while using Google Maps for navigation:

Using Screen Casting or Audio Streaming Apps

One option is to use a third party app like Bluetooth Streamer Pro that can broadcast the audio and screen of your phone over a Bluetooth connection. The app streams any sounds playing on your phone, including audio from Google Maps. You’ll need to connect your phone to your car stereo via Bluetooth, then launch the app and enable casting while using Google Maps. The audio and optional video will be sent to your car speakers. Just be sure using such an app is legal and safe in your area.

Connecting to Car Stereo via Bluetooth

If your car stereo has Bluetooth support, you can pair your Android or iPhone to it and enable media audio streaming. Once connected, the turn-by-turn directions from Google Maps will play through your car speakers, but other audio from your phone will not. For the best experience, you’ll want to pause any music or podcasts playing before launching navigation in Google Maps. According to users on forums, voice navigation should take over your car speakers while in use.

While natively streaming background audio during navigation is not yet a Google Maps feature, using a streaming app or Bluetooth connection provides workable alternatives. Just ensure to test any solutions safely before driving.

Alternative Navigation Apps

While Google Maps is the most popular navigation app, there are several alternatives worth considering:

Waze – Waze emphasizes real-time traffic conditions and crowdsourced reports from users. It offers features like speed limit warnings and police alerts. However, it may be less accurate for addresses and lacks some Google Maps features like offline maps or Street View (Source).

Apple Maps – For iPhone users, Apple Maps offers integration with iOS and Siri. It has improved in accuracy recently. Downsides are fewerPoints of Interest, and no Street View or offline maps (Source).

HERE WeGo – HERE WeGo provides offline maps for over 100 countries and turn-by-turn voice navigation. It lacks real-time traffic data and crowdsourcing. The interface is sometimes less intuitive (Source).

While no alternative matches Google Maps in all areas, options like Waze or Apple Maps may suit specific needs better. Testing different apps can determine the best navigation experience for each driver’s priorities.

Aftermarket Stereo Options

If your car doesn’t already support Apple CarPlay or Android Auto, you can upgrade to an aftermarket receiver to get this functionality. Many aftermarket car stereos now come with CarPlay and Android Auto built-in, so you can easily use your smartphone’s maps and music apps right on your car’s display.

When shopping for an aftermarket stereo, look for ones that specifically say they support CarPlay and Android Auto. Two top brands to consider are Pioneer and Kenwood, which offer stereo models starting around $300-400 that include both smartphone mirroring platforms. Installation is often straightforward with a wiring harness adapter, but you may need to enlist professional help if your car requires custom dash work.

Going with an aftermarket stereo is the best way to add CarPlay, Android Auto, and other modern tech features like Bluetooth and touchscreens to older vehicles. Just make sure to get one specifically designed for your car’s make and model for a quick install. With an aftermarket stereo, you’ll be able to easily access Google Maps or any other navigation app right on your car’s display.

Using Google Assistant

Google Assistant can provide voice-guided navigation in your car through a feature called Driving Mode. To enable Driving Mode on your Android device:

  • Open the Google Maps app.
  • Tap on your profile icon in the top right.
  • Select “Settings” then “Navigation settings.”
  • Turn on “Driving mode.”

Once enabled, you can activate Driving Mode by saying “Hey Google, let’s drive,” “Hey Google, start driving mode,” or “Hey Google, navigate to [destination]” (source). Google Assistant will provide turn-by-turn voice navigation through your phone or car speakers.

To play the voice navigation on your car stereo, you need to connect your phone to the car. Most modern cars allow you to pair your phone via Bluetooth or a USB cable. Once connected, tap the audio source on your car stereo to switch to your phone’s Bluetooth connection. The Google Assistant directions should now play through your car speakers.

Alternatively, you can cast the Google Maps directions from your phone to compatible Android Auto or CarPlay systems using the cast button in Maps. This streams the voice guidance audio and map interface to your car’s infotainment screen (source).

Troubleshooting Issues

Bluetooth connections in cars can sometimes run into problems that prevent your phone from connecting or streaming audio properly. Here are some common issues and potential solutions:

If your car stereo is having trouble finding or pairing with your phone, the first step is to check for any software updates on both devices. Outdated software is a common culprit for Bluetooth issues, so updating to the latest versions may resolve connection problems (1, 2). You can also try resetting or unpairing and forgetting the Bluetooth connection on both your phone and car stereo, then repairing them.

Once connected, you may find the Bluetooth audio is not coming through or is cutting out. This could be due to interference from other devices, low battery on your phone, or connectivity issues. Try adjusting the position of your phone to maintain line of sight with the car stereo. Issues with specific apps like Google Maps could potentially be fixed by restarting the app or your phone. For persistent disconnections, check the wiring harness and antenna connections to your car stereo.

If the Bluetooth connects but there is no sound, first ensure the volume on your phone and car stereo is turned up. Check that media audio is not muted on your phone. Go into your phone’s sound settings to confirm the media audio is being routed to the Bluetooth device. Finally, consult your car stereo manual to ensure you have enabled pairing for both calls and media audio.

While software glitches are common, faulty hardware in your phone or car stereo could also be the culprit. If you cannot resolve connectivity issues, consider consulting a technician to diagnose potential component failures.


In summary, there are a few main ways to get Google Maps navigation and audio streaming to your car radio:

  • Connect your phone to your car stereo via Bluetooth to enable hands-free calling, voice navigation, and audio streaming.
  • Use an auxiliary cable to play Google Maps audio through your car speakers if Bluetooth is not available.
  • Upgrade to an aftermarket stereo that is compatible with Android Auto to directly integrate Google Maps into your car’s infotainment system.
  • Install a smartphone dash mount to comfortably view Google Maps on your phone while keeping hands on the steering wheel.

If you need any further assistance getting Google Maps set up for navigation and audio in your vehicle, consult your owner’s manual, mobile device help guides, or an experienced technician. There are also many online forums and videos that may provide helpful tips. With some preparation and testing beforehand, you’ll be able to enjoy seamless navigation from Google Maps on your next drive.

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