Playing tunes.
January 7, 2009 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Can the standard (type II, I think) stereo/CD system in a 2007 Toyota Corolla play MP3 CDs? Or what are my options?

I will be going on a road trip in a 2007 Toyota Corolla with a factory standard stereo system that I believe is the type II stereo option. Can this thing read MP3 CDs? A preliminary test of a quickly burned CD says no, but the disc was old and scratched.

2nd part. Can this stereo read CD-RW discs burned as normal CDs (ie, not MP3 CDs)?

3rd part. If all else fails is there a reasonably priced FM transmitter for MP3 players that works well in this car and is available in chain stores?

4th part. Is there an audio in jack somewhere that I missed in the manual? Again, this is a car with really no extra options.
posted by Science! to Grab Bag (5 answers total)
1) Probably not. I've only very recently (2008 and 2009) met factory stereos that would play MP3s. And they were the top-of-the-line stereos for their respective cars.

2) Maybe, but probably not. The only way to be sure is to test it.

3) All FM transmitters suck. Badly enough that I bought an aftermarket stereo instead of continuing to deal with the pain. But, that said, we had a Belkin doohickey that worked well enough (before it was stolen). Just go to Fry's or BestBuy and get one that runs off the car's DC power supply (NOT battery operated).

4) I have no idea. Even if there isn't one in the cabin, there may be the headers on the back of the stereo for Aux In (or for a trunk-mounted disc changer), but you'd have to wire up your own jack. And, of course, you'd have to pull the stereo to determine whether or not it's there.
posted by Netzapper at 6:14 PM on January 7, 2009

Here's a hack to add an aux input to a Corolla's stereo. You'd need to be fairly competent with hand tools and basic soldering, but it doesn't look too hard.

A product like this one is pricey but doesn't require soldering. It still requires taking apart the center console and removing the stereo. I recently installed a similar product in my Nissan and it's great, but it was a pain in the ass. It was really only worth doing to me, because I was doing an amplifier install at the same time. Prior to that, I was using a cassette deck adapter, which also sounds good, but I'm thinking a 2007 Corolla probably doesn't have a cassette deck.

Here's another example of such a product. The keywords to find more information about this on Google: aux input corolla 2007.

Your other questions... 1. probably won't play MP3s. 2. Probably will play CD-R(W) discs burned as audio CDs (make sure you close the session). 3. FM transmitters sound horrible. 4. Maybe! This eBay listing claims to be selling a cable for your car, and shows pictures of an auxiliary input jack. It could be showing pictures of some other car, I don't know what a Corolla interior looks like. Also, it's eBay, the seller could be full of shit.

Good luck!
posted by knave at 6:28 PM on January 7, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for those answers. I should have added that the trip will start tomorrow morning, and it's not my car so as much as I'd love to pull the stereo and install something myself that's not an option. That eBay auction is interesting. I did not check the the armrest storage area for an input jack, but I also didn't see any mention of one in the manual. Also, thanks for your opinions on the FM transmitters, after a little research I decided not to buy one and it looks like I made the right choice.
posted by Science! at 6:47 PM on January 7, 2009

Re #1: My 2003 Honda Element's cd player will play MP3 CDs and that has had no upgrades at all. I would have thought all new cd players would, but apparently not considering what Netzapper has said.
posted by miscbuff at 11:14 PM on January 7, 2009

FM transmitters are mostly spotty and fussy things when they work at all. The biggest problem is finding a frequency that works; if you're driving long distances, you'll find yourself changing the frequency fairly often. Some of the fancier transmitters will do a scan and set themselves to what they believe to be the most "open" frequency. I have a Griffin iTrip Auto SmartScan that does this. It will scan the airwaves and give you a choice between the top 3 frequencies it thinks will work (it also allows you to set the frequency manually). It works pretty well in some areas (SF Bay Area), but it has problems in other areas (Yosemite National Park). It works about 10 times better than any other FM transmitter I've seen though. The sound quality is about as good as the FM radio I get in my car. If I find that I can't get it to find an interference-free frequency, I set it to broadcast in mono instead of stereo, which usually lowers the amount of interference I get.

I bought the iTrip at a Walmart I passed while driving from Minneapolis to South Dakota in a rental car, so I know that this model is pretty easy to find. I try to keep my car's CD changer stocked with music I won't get tired of, but sometimes I end up falling back on the FM transmitter. It's usually usable enough, but it is by no means rock steady.
posted by strangecargo at 1:28 AM on January 8, 2009

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