Although Bluetooth may not have been originally intended for use in your car , this technology has made it possible to establish huge positions on both automotive and original equipment. Because head units come with native Bluetooth features Increasingly, the problem of Bluetooth devices refusing to connect is something that more and more people will face on a daily basis.

If you encounter a situation where your phone refuses to connect to the head unit, or speaker Bluetooth suddenly stops connect to your phone, there are a number of issues that could be related to the bug. These issues range from compatibility to interference, often from unexpected sources, and all of a sudden this «universal jack» can seem significantly less versatile.

Reasons why Bluetooth cannot connect to a phone that is not connected
Alex Dos Diaz @Lifewire

Most Likely Reasons Why Bluetooth Won’t Connect

If you’re facing pairing or connection issues in your vehicle, here are five of the most common reasons why your Bluetooth device won’t connect. It is recommended that you restart all running devices before continuing your investigation. If it still works, here’s what might still be causing you problems:

  • Make sure your Bluetooth devices are compatible with each other.
  • Place Bluetooth devices close together and make sure there are no obstacles between them.
  • Make sure your Bluetooth devices are turned on and fully charged or connected to a power source.
  • Make sure your devices have Bluetooth turned on and are ready to pair.
  • Remove all sources of interference.

Read on for more details.

Are the devices compatible?

If you’ve never connected this particular headset and phone, or phone and head unit, or phone and Bluetooth car kit, start by checking that the devices are indeed compatible.

Although Bluetooth is assumed to be cross-compatible in most cases, the reality often differs from the idealized hypothetical. So it’s actually quite easy to run into situations where devices using different versions of the standard refuse to play with each other.

The good news is that newer versions of Bluetooth are designed to work with all older versions of Bluetooth, so the fact that car radios tend to lag behind other consumer electronics isn’t usually an issue. Even if there’s a chance that your head unit is using a much older version of Bluetooth than your phone, technically they should still work together most of the time.

One notable exception is when one device is using what is called «Bluetooth Smart» as these devices can only be paired with Bluetooth Smart compatible devices.

So if you have two devices that outright refuse to connect, it’s a good idea to look into whether they’re actually compatible.

Too far apart? Proximity Matters When Pairing

Bluetooth devices tend to stay paired, albeit with increasingly weaker functionality, for about 30 feet, depending on obstructions. They tend to work better when they are closer together and there are fewer obstacles between them, but proximity is especially important when it comes to pairing.

So if your phone refuses to connect to your car radio via Bluetooth and you have it hidden somewhere, you can try to get it out by removing any obstacles between the two devices.

Once your phone has successfully paired with the head unit, car kit or whatever you’re trying to connect it to, you’ll usually be able to put it in your pocket, purse, briefcase, or anywhere you want to store it.

Or you can pop it into a dash-mounted holder for easier access and eliminate future aisle-pairing issues.

Need more energy? Make sure the batteries are charged

As you may have noticed if you’ve used Bluetooth on your phone before, the Bluetooth radio can suck up a lot of juice — and reduce battery life — when it’s active.

With this in mind, some phones and other devices are designed to go into power saving mode when the battery is low, which causes the Bluetooth radio to turn off.

You can simply turn Bluetooth on manually to get around this, or you may find that charging one or both of your devices is the only way to get them to pair properly.

In any case, it’s a good idea to make sure your devices are fully charged or connected to a power source if you’re having trouble connecting them.

Make sure the devices are ready to pair

Pairing your phone with a head unit, earpiece, or car kit is usually pretty straightforward, but the exact process can vary depending on the situation. For example, if you connect your phone to a car kit or earpiece, you usually need to make sure the phone’s Bluetooth radio is turned on and that the secondary device is in pairing mode.

In most cases with devices that have a single multi-function button, this involves turning the device off and then turning it on with a «long press» until it enters pairing mode. If a device has a single power/work/charge indicator light, it will typically flash blue and red when in this mode.

When connecting the phone to the head unit usually you want to make one or both of them discoverable depending on how each is configured. If your devices are set to discoverable and you still can’t see one device from another, then you might be running into one of the weird Bluetooth compatibility issues that pop up from time to time.

Remove potential sources of interference

We live in a soup of digital and analog noise, and it’s not uncommon for useful signals to leak out and become annoying interference.

Since Bluetooth operates on the unlicensed portion of the radio spectrum, interference from various devices — some of which don’t transmit anything wirelessly at all — is actually quite common.

So if you’re having trouble pairing your phone in your car, the solution could be as simple as driving away from the source of the interference — unless the interference is coming from from inside the car .

Some common sources of interference that can adversely affect Bluetooth pairing include:

WiFi

Although you are more likely to encounter interference WiFi in your home or office, overcrowded Wi-Fi networks in the area can hit you in the car too. Of course, interference from a Wi-Fi network created by a mobile hotspot can also cause problems.

If you use mobile hotspot in your car and you’re having trouble pairing, try disabling this dot. You may be able to turn it on again without any problem after the devices are paired.

USB 3.0

This may sound strange, but wired USB 3.0 connections can actually interfere with the same 2.4 GHz spectrum that used by Bluetooth devices.

This problem is due to poor shielding and you are probably more likely to experience this problem in your home or office than in your car, at least for now. USB 3.0 not get into more head units.

Of course, if your laptop is in the passenger seat and has USB 3.0, you might consider it a potential source of interference.

Other radio spectral signals

Essentially, any electronic device that allows interference into spectrum 2.4 GHz, may interfere with the pairing and operation of Bluetooth devices, so you may encounter a variety of different sources of interference in your vehicle.
If the sources are external you can try connecting devices at home, if you are having problems in the office or vice versa, and if the source is internal you can try pairing with the car turned off or with accessories such as inverters turned off.

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