How to get an iPod to work in my car?
January 8, 2007 5:30 PM   Subscribe

I'd like to buy another iPod, but only if I could get it work with my '99 VW Beetle. Has anyone had any experience fitting the iPod into a car that has no auxillary stereo option?

Please, don't recommend iTrip, it works horribly in my area. Thanks in advance.
posted by dearest to Technology (17 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
UsaSpec worked perfectly for my 1995 German made automobile.
posted by SeizeTheDay at 5:46 PM on January 8, 2007

Well, I used iTrip for a while (and it seems to be more sensitive to the car than the area), but I had to give it up after it pretty much ruined the headphone port on my gen2 iPod. Also, my FM radio got stuck in mono.

Now I use a tape adapter. It's an extra cable, but the sound is a lot nicer.
posted by krisjohn at 5:50 PM on January 8, 2007

I use a tape adapter too. Good sound, very simple. I clip the ipod onto a wire I string between the central air vents. Very quick and easy. Cupholders work too. If you go this route, don't buy the cheapest tape adapter -- I've had several that start to skew towards left or right balance. Otherwise working great for me for two years plus.
posted by Rumple at 6:13 PM on January 8, 2007

Does the 99 Beetle have a CD player in the trunk? My '02 Beetle does (well, it has the ability to put one in) and Mr. Lucinda was able to run a cord from the port in the back of the radio (where the CD player would plug in) to a headphone-ish jack into which I can plug my iPod. Then I just set the radio to CD.
posted by Lucinda at 6:13 PM on January 8, 2007

I bought one of these on Ebay for my daughter to use in her (coincidence) '99 Beetle. Works like a charm.
posted by Neiltupper at 6:15 PM on January 8, 2007

Best answer: The Denison Ice-link is an adapter that replaces the CD changer in VW's. It is a direct connection and lets you use the steering wheel controls, if you have them, or the controls onthe Ipod. One source is here.
Another cheaper option is the BlitzSafe connector.
You can also go to Crutchfield and scope out their offers.
posted by pgoes at 6:19 PM on January 8, 2007

Does the 99 Beetle have the double din stereo, with the cassette player? I know it sounds cheezy, but I've found with my 02 GTI, a cassette adapter works way better than an iTrip or other FM transmitter.

Also, I've found for my GTI (while I was looking at sat radio options, for which i'm now also using a cassette adapter) that aftermarket adapters exist to get an aux in jack through the back of the radio. Sorry I don't have a link.
posted by cgg at 6:23 PM on January 8, 2007

Take the beetle to your local car audio store, and tell them you want to add an aux-in jack so you can play your iPod in the car. They will be able to tell you what options exist for your stereo, and how much it would be to install them. Chances are that they'll be able to run RCA cables from the back of the stereo, either with or without an adapter. I had this done with my aftermarket stereo; it was about $50, including labor, warranty, and the price of the adapter. The sound is crystal clear, and plugging the mp3 player in couldn't be easier. Best $50 I ever spent!
posted by vorfeed at 6:54 PM on January 8, 2007

It really depends on how much money you'd like to spend -- as people have stated above, there are essentially two non-iTrip options here. The first is the cassette adapter, and the second is the direct hook-up to the stereo (which, by the by, can be divided into two options as well, either connecting to the iPod through the headphone jack or the bottom port).

The cassette adapter doesn't have the best sound possible, but it's certainly passable and it's cheap and you can get it done in the time it takes to swipe your credit card and sign the receipt.

The direct connection requires installation, either by you or a qualified someone. The IceLink and similar gadgets basically take the signal from the iPod and makes your car stereo think that it's a CD player. If it's connecting to iPod through the headphone jack, it'll be cheaper than connecting through the bottom port. I've got one from USA/Spec (connects through the port) that has very limited functionality with my 96 BMW stereo, allowing me to select one of five predetermined playlists, but if I want to play something else, I have to unhook it, find whatever I want, and then hook it back in. That could just be a quirk of my set-up.

I don't know what they're going for now, but considering I paid $200 for my connection (three years ago), I don't think it's significantly better than the tape adapter, which runs about twenty bucks. My advice is to try the tape adapter.
posted by incessant at 8:19 PM on January 8, 2007

I use a tape adaptor in my '01 Jetta. It sounds great and it cost a whole $10.

On preview: I'm not a super audiophile, but in the car, I've compared the quality of sound between the actual CD, as played by the stereo, and the same music as 192kbps mp3s on the iPod through the tape adaptor, and I can't tell the difference. There's some distortion on some mp3s if I turn the iPod's own sound up too loud, but that's easily remedied by turning the iPod down and the stereo up.
posted by liet at 8:23 PM on January 8, 2007

I'm in the exactly same situation with my admittedly less cool 99 Taurus. I took it to Best Buy and they told me that the easiest thing to do was to get a new stereo put in that has an AUX in (the tape deck in my car is broken, otherwise I would gladly use that, as I had in my old car where it worked like a dream). They have a $99 stereo with an AUX in, which, including installation comes to about $150. If you have a non-standard radio in your car (like mine), you may have to shell out a little extra for a kit that they use to make the deck fit in your car (called an OEM integration kit). Mine would be about another $50. Again, not sure if it's like that in your Beetle.

At any rate, it comes to about two hundred bucks, but it affords you some flexibility. I would still do the tape adapter thing, though, if you aren't terribly concerned about looks.
posted by rossination at 9:01 PM on January 8, 2007

The tape deck in my car is broken too in that it doesn't play tapes, but, it still works fine for the tape-adapter because that doesn't require regular advancement of the tape. Since the tape head is fine, it still works with the adapter. I suspect most tape decks break down in the tape handling and advancement mechanisms than anywhere else.....
posted by Rumple at 10:09 PM on January 8, 2007

I think the add-on Aux-in options, while not only rather expensive, will only work with factory or aftermarket stereos that have a CD-changer setting.

So that doesn't include my Toyota, or my wife's Jeep, for instance. We currently use iTrips, but hate the static. We've used tape adapters before, and they have ruined our tape players. Not that we missed them...
posted by M.C. Lo-Carb! at 7:52 AM on January 9, 2007

Best answer: @cgg: The Beetle doesn't use the double-DIN stereo like the GTI. It uses a single-DIN with a custom faceplate, to make it fit into the curvy dash.

I used to have a 1998 New Beetle, and had a similar issue. Tape adapter is the simplest and cheapest solution. (Probably $5-10.)

Replacing the factory head unit for an aftermarket one, that has an aux-in jack, is probably the next least expensive solution. I did this -- I can recommend Crutchfield, as they gave me the correct bezel pieces for a decent-looking install. It's still a bit of a PITA, though. (This is probably $50-75, or as much as you want to spend.)

The third and most elegant option, IMHO, is to use one of those CD-Changer-to-iPod adapters, like the IceLink. Those things are particularly sweet, and let you keep a totally stock look, while also running your iPod though the had unit controls. Their web site used to be, but apparently that's no longer a going concern. The main site at still works, although I don't know what the U.S. ordering situation is like. (Cost is about $200 plus install.)
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:53 AM on January 9, 2007

The denison is excellent for this purpose. I got mine + installed it at Best Buy.
posted by skepticallypleased at 1:45 PM on January 9, 2007

Response by poster: Hi sorry I forgot to tell you that my cassette adapter is currently jammed into the cassette player, rendering it completely useless as I (nor my mechanic) can get it out.

So yeah, no cassette adapter unless I get a new in dash player.
posted by dearest at 6:55 PM on January 9, 2007

Even though you said you didn't like the iTrip, you still may want to consider an FM transmitter like one of these. I've got an older version and it puts out *decent* sound. It works only on FM 89.5, which supposedly is unused in like 99% of the U.S., plus it runs off of the cigarette lighter, which may possibly give it more power.

...on looks like you can select your own frequency on the newer models. Maybe you could get one and try the 89.5 band.
posted by edjusted at 11:39 AM on January 10, 2007

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