How to Add Wireless Apple Carplay to an Older Car

Do you currently own an Apple iPhone and want to be able to connect it to your car’s audio system wirelessly? Or does your current car have Apple Carplay and you want to be able to connect it without having to plug your phone in? If you fall into either category, you’re in luck, because you can add wireless Apple Carplay to your car.

Why would you want wireless Apple Carplay?

The main reason that you would want wireless Apple Carplay is that you don’t have to plug in your phone to connect to the system, which means that you can also charge your phone wirelessly and conveniently while having it still connected to the system. Apple Carplay has been in the market since 2014 and can now be found in 600 different new cars on the market today.

Wireless Apple Carplay, on the other hand, is relatively newer and only offered in a smaller number of new vehicles, so if you want wireless Carplay in your car, then you’ll either have to buy one of the select new cars with it or resort to the aftermarket.

A look into the interior of the 2021 Cadillac CT5-V, which features wireless Apple CarPlay and Android Auto
Wireless Apple Carplay inside of the 2021 Cadillac CT5-V | Photo via Cadillac

Adding wireless Apple Carplay to a car with normal Carplay

If your car currently has Apple Carplay compatibility, then we don’t blame you for wanting it to be wireless. Sure, all you really have to do is plug your phone into the system as if you’re charging it, but then the wire gets in the way and if anything happens to the wire itself, then you can say goodbye to using Carplay altogether. Fortunately, there are plenty of wireless Carplay solutions in the aftermarket.

One of the best solutions that Apple Insider found is a handy piece of equipment called CPLAY2air. This device is basically a USB dongle that plugs right into the same USB that you plug your phone into to access standard Carplay. According to Apple Insider, the dongle mimics a legitimate Carplay receiver, which seamlessly connects to your phone whenever you get in the car. Judging by the reviews, it seems to work very well and currently only costs $129.

Adding wireless Apple Carplay to a car without normal Carplay

If you currently have a car without Apple Carplay because it’s older, or perhaps didn’t offer it from the factory in your selected trim level, then you’re still in luck. However, you might have to shell out a little more money. The easiest way to add wireless Apple Carplay to your older car would be to buy an aftermarket head unit with that feature.

For example, one of the better head units that Apple Insider found was the Pioneer AVH-W440NEX. Yes, that’s a long naming convention, but apparently, it works pretty seamlessly for a variety of cars currently in the market. In addition to providing Carplay, that Pioneer receiver can also display the car’s tire pressures, climate control, and other information like the car’s fuel level and engine speed. It costs around $550 from most sites that we found, however, you might be able to find a more affordable receiver from sites like Crutchfield.

The Pioneer AVH-4400NEX receiver
The Pioneer AVH-4400NEX receiver |

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Welcome to the wireless future

While subtracting a phone cord from your car might seem like a small reward for having to purchase a pricey dongle or an even pricier head unit, just keep in mind that you will no longer have to keep replacing that cord when the Apple Carplay stops accepting it. Also, you’ll no longer need to pull your phone out of your pocket or purse to connect to Apple Carplay. Welcome to the wireless future!