Why is Bluetooth connected but no sound in car?

Connecting a phone to a car’s audio system via Bluetooth for music playback is common nowadays. However, many drivers have experienced the frustration of having their phone “paired” but no sound coming out of the car’s speakers when playing music. Others have run into issues with poor audio quality, distortions, or a delay between when the music plays on the phone and when they hear the sound in the car.

This problem of “paired but no sound” is a surprisingly widespread annoyance that can leave drivers without the ability to access their music libraries on long road trips. Based on discussions on online forums, incompatibility between a phone’s media formats and a car’s system seems to be the root cause in many cases.

Paired But Not Connected

Sometimes Bluetooth devices will be paired but not connected. Paired means that the devices have authorized and validated the link between them, but being connected means that they are actively communicating and streaming data. So it is possible for devices to be paired but not connected if there is some interruption in actually transmitting the audio.

Common reasons for being paired but not connected include the car audio system being turned off or set to the wrong mode like FM radio instead of Bluetooth. Some cars also have multiple Bluetooth profiles, if the media audio profile is not selected in your phone’s Bluetooth settings, you may have connectivity issues.

Connection Issues

Sometimes the problem is with the Bluetooth connection itself between the phone and car stereo system. These connection issues usually arise from interference, range limitations, or software bugs:

  • Check that the phone and car stereo are within 30 feet for stable Bluetooth connectivity. If they are too far apart or have objects obstructing the signal, it can cut out.
  • Other devices using Bluetooth or WiFi in close proximity can also interfere and disrupt connections.
  • Issues are commonly reported with Bluetooth connectivity in the Google Pixel phone as per the source (https://support.google.com/pixelphone/thread/16201522/music-suddenly-not-playing-through-car-speakers-when-connected-to-bluetooth?hl=en). Trying solutions like forgetting and re-pairing the devices often resolves it.
  • Software bugs in either the phone operating system or car stereo firmware can also be a culprit. Try updating them to rule software out as a possibility.

Incorrect Audio Output

One common reason why your phone may be connected to your car’s Bluetooth but you can’t hear audio through the car speakers is if the audio is still being routed through your phone’s speakers instead of switching over to play through your car audio system. This often happens when there is an issue either on the phone side or car side in properly managing the audio output channel.

To fix this, first go into your phone’s Bluetooth settings. Locate your car’s Bluetooth device listing and ensure the “Media Audio” or “Call Audio” setting is ticked to go through your car system. Often this gets accidentally switched off for some reason, preventing your phone audio from routing properly.

Additionally, check your car stereo Bluetooth settings or audio output settings, and make sure “Bluetooth streaming” is enabled or that the car audio is set to play Bluetooth device audio. Sometimes when using USB/Aux input modes it can disable Bluetooth audio streaming, so check that Bluetooth audio is actively being routed through your car speakers.

Conversely, if you had wired media like a charging cable connected, it’s possible audio could be routing out of the charging port instead of through Bluetooth. Check any wired connections you may have and make sure Bluetooth audio is still active.

With proper audio output settings enabled on both your phone and car stereo, you should be able to get Bluetooth audio from your phone apps, music, and calls to successfully play through your car speaker system.

Check Car Audio Settings

Many Bluetooth no sound issues can be resolved by adjusting your car’s audio settings. Here are steps to troubleshoot your car’s audio system:

1. Check the audio source setting – make sure your car is set to play audio from the correct Bluetooth or external device source.

2. Adjust the volume – turn up your car’s audio volume and make sure it’s not muted.

3. Check audio EQ settings – if your car has an audio equalizer, try setting it to default or neutral settings.

4. Verify volume on device – independently confirm your connected phone or Bluetooth device volume is also turned up.

5. Try different car sources – switch your car audio to FM radio and verify sound comes through the speakers to isolate the issue before troubleshooting your Bluetooth device connections.

Following these car audio system checks can resolve common no sound problems with Bluetooth pairing and streaming in vehicles. If the issues persist, investigate phone and car software next.

Phone Media Volume

Sometimes, the issue is that your phone’s media volume has been turned down or muted when connected to your car’s Bluetooth, even if the call volume remains at normal levels. Your iPhone allows you to set separate call and media volumes, so one could be muted while the other is still audible.

To check this, go to the Settings app on your iPhone and ensure the media/music volume is turned up high enough to hear audio through your car’s speakers. You may also go into the Bluetooth settings for your car connection to see if a separate media volume exists and can be adjusted higher.

Resolving incorrect phone media volumes often resolves the “no sound but Bluetooth connected” issue in cars. Just ensure your iPhone’s media/music volume is up, specifically for the Bluetooth device sending audio to your car speakers.

Phone Audio Focus

Another common reason Bluetooth audio may not play in your car, even though your phone is paired and connected, is because other sounds on your phone can take audio focus away from your media player. For example, if you start navigating directions on your phone, that will cause the navigation voice alerts to take priority and pause any music playing over Bluetooth. Incoming calls will also take audio focus temporarily.

This is an intended functionality on iPhones and other smartphones to allow important alerts to interrupt media playback as needed. To check your iPhone’s audio focus settings, go to Settings > Sounds and check that the “Change with Buttons” and “Pause with Music” options are enabled under Focus Settings. Finally, be sure to quit any other apps using audio like navigation or calls to see if that resolves your Bluetooth music issues.

Source: https://www.businessinsider.com/guides/tech/no-sound-on-iphone

Phone Software

Bugs or updates to phone software or apps can sometimes cause Bluetooth audio issues. For example, an iOS or Android OS update may inadvertently break Bluetooth connections. Music apps like Spotify or Apple Music could also push out buggy updates that disrupt audio output.

Try rebooting your phone and testing audio with different apps to isolate the issue. If a music app update appears to be the culprit, downgrading to a previous version of the app may resolve the problem. For iOS devices, resetting network settings can also help refresh Bluetooth connections.

As a last resort, backing up your phone and performing a factory reset will eliminate any software gremlins. Just make sure your contacts, photos, and other data are safely backed up first. Restoring to an earlier OS via iTunes or Android recovery tools is another nuclear option if a system update is to blame.

Car Software Issues

Bugs or incompatibilities with your car’s infotainment, Bluetooth, or audio system software can prevent a proper Bluetooth connection. Car software is complex, involving communication between phones, infotainment systems, Bluetooth protocols, and audio components. Any issues on the car side can disrupt the Bluetooth pairing.

Manufacturers periodically release software updates to fix bugs and improve compatibility. It’s important to check for and install available updates for your car. The manufacturer’s website will have instructions on how to check your car’s current software version and download the latest update. Dealer service centers can also assist in checking for and installing updates.[1]

For example, some Audi, BMW, and Mercedes owners have reported Bluetooth issues after iOS or Android updates that were resolved by updating the car’s software. The new phone OS was incompatible with the old car software. After the update, the Bluetooth connection worked properly again.[2]

So if your phone’s Bluetooth won’t connect or work correctly in your car, check for a software update from the manufacturer that can potentially fix Bluetooth problems. Keeping your car’s software up-to-date is key for maintaining compatibility.

When to Seek Repair

If the Bluetooth audio issue persists after trying the troubleshooting steps above, you may need to have your car or phone repaired. Repairing the Bluetooth system specifically can get expensive.

According to Jerry, a full car stereo replacement costs $200-$500 on average while top systems run $1,000-$3,000. Fixing individual speakers ranges from $50-$200 depending on the part. Overall, Bluetooth repairs don’t tend to cost more than a standard audio system issue.

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