Is Having Bluetooth Calling Worth the Upgrade?

It seems like these days, even the least expensive, most standard cars on the market have basic tech that was once an expensive upgrade. Along with that list is a feature that was intended to make our drive not only a bit safer but more convenient. Bluetooth calling has become an expectation we have of new cars regardless of manufacturer or price, but if you’re looking to skip out on the major depreciation of buying something new, an older used car might not offer Bluetooth calling. If you’re on the prowl for a used car, is Bluetooth calling worth the tech upgrade.

Not all cars have Bluetooth calling

It should go without saying that not every used car on the market will have Bluetooth calling. Chances are, if you’re looking for something a bit older, you’re more flexible on your list of needs. For many people, the ability to make phone calls without having to fuss with holding their cell phones as they steer is a big deal. But, it doesn’t provide the same privacy as holding the phone directly to your ear, meaning that unless you want everyone in the car to hear your conversations, you still have to use your phone regularly.

Distracted driving leading cause of car accidents
Teenager using a phone at the wheel | BSIP/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

Updating older cars

If you’re desperate to have Bluetooth calling but don’t want to buy a newer car, fear not. While newer cars incorporate system settings and car features into their infotainment systems, older cars typically had radios that could be replaced much more easily. In some cases, you can replace an older radio with a more updated touch-screen system that will provide Bluetooth calling, music, and sometimes even more desirable features like navigation.

It will cost a few hundred dollars to have a new touch-screen radio system installed into an older car, but it can be just as high quality as the latest tech. Even on the higher end of units, you’re still spending less on upgrading an older car than it would cost to buy a new car with the same features.

Close-up of hand of a man using handsfree Bluetooth calling feature on Honda automobile, San Ramon, California, March 25, 2020. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)
Close-up of hand of a man using handsfree Bluetooth calling feature on Honda automobile, San Ramon, California, March 25, 2020. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

RELATED: Yes, You Can Add Bluetooth to Your Old Car — Here Is How

Cell phones are still a distraction

Telephone calls are just a small way that phones can distract us while we are on the road. Changing songs on our phone, reading text messages, checking emails, and all of the other apps and notifications we compulsively check take crucial moments of our attention away from the road. While Bluetooth calling seems like a simple and straight-forward solution to improving our safety, it is far from the most attention-stealing activity that we do with our phones.

An NHTSA employee poses with the crash test dummies.
An NHTSA employee poses with crash test dummies | Bill O’Leary/The Washington Post via Getty Images

RELATED: Motorcycle Helmet Communications Are More Than Just Bluetooth

If you make frequent phone calls or often have to juggle back-seat passengers like kids and dogs along with our driving duties, having Bluetooth calling can be pretty handy. But, as appealing as the feature might be, it may turn out to be just as frustrating when you have to switch private calls over to your standard cell phone speaker.