How to Add Wireless Apple CarPlay Without Buying an Expensive Head Unit

There’s no denying that Apple CarPlay has essentially taken over when it comes to in-car infotainment. Gone are the days of using CDs, flipping through satellite radio channels, or looking at your phone while driving. Thanks to Apple CarPlay, you can now utilize many of the apps on your iPhone without needing to take your eyes off the road.

There are a few different ways to add Apple CarPlay to your older car. But what if you don’t want to replace the existing radio with a more expensive head unit? Don’t worry, you have a couple of options with this route as well.

The easiest way to add wireless Apple CarPlay to your car without buying an aftermarket radio

The Car and Driver Intellidash Pro unit displayed on a dashboard.
The Car and Driver Intellidash Pro unit is displayed on the dashboard. | Amazon

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If you have an older car, then the typical way to add Apple CarPlay to it is to buy an aftermarket radio. There are plenty of aftermarket units currently on the market and many of them allow for wired or wireless CarPlay use. However, if you don’t want to mess with the radio at all, then the easiest way to add Apple’s phone integration is to buy a unit like the Car and Driver Intellidash Pro.

The Car and Driver Intellidash Pro is a standalone unit that’s a lot like those old Garmin navigation units from back in the day. Instead of only showing you a map, however, the Intellidash Pro displays the Apple CarPlay interface on its 7-inch display. According to Apple Insider, the unit also has a microphone and built-in speakers, but you probably won’t want to use the latter.

Instead, after mounting the unit to your car’s windshield or dashboard via a suction mount, you can connect it to your car’s existing audio system. Doing so is simply done by connecting the Intellidash to the audio system with an auxiliary input cord or through the built-in FM transmitter for a wireless connection. It can also pair to your iPhone automatically after connecting it to the system with the lightning cable.

As of this writing, the current retail price for the Car and Driver Intellidash Pro is $399 on Amazon.

There are cheaper wireless Apple CarPlay options as well

Detail of a Pioneer head unit with Apple CarPlay fitted in a Subaru BRZ
Detail of a Pioneer head unit fitted in a Subaru BRZ. | Will Ireland/MacFormat Magazine/Future via Getty Images

In case spending $400 sounds a little steep, then there are cheaper options on Amazon as well. For example, there’s a similar unit from Carpuride that has a 9-inch screen and has the ability to use Android Auto as well. Best of all, it only cost around $280.

If your car already has wired CarPlay, then a wireless adapter could work

The Superiortek 3.0 wireless CarPlay adapter.
The Superiortek 3.0 wireless CarPlay adapter. | Amazon.com

If your car already comes equipped with Apple CarPlay but requires the use of a lightning cable, then you can purchase a wireless adapter. We found a unit from SuperiorTek, which acts as the middleman between your car’s infotainment system and your phone.

To connect it, you can plug the wireless adapter into your car’s system via a USB cable and then pair it to your phone. After that, you’ll be able to enjoy the use of CarPlay without your phone ever leaving your pocket. The retail price of this unit is $120 on Amazon.

Adding wireless Apple CarPlay to your older car is easy, even if you don’t want to replace your car’s head unit. Just buy one of these standalone units, plug it in, and you’ll be interfacing with the apps on your iPhone in no time.

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