I turned my ancient car stereo into a Bluetooth-powered modern stereo with an amazing $30 device

My partner and I just bought a car, against my better logic as a New Yorker. It’s this glorious old Volvo station wagon:

2005 Volvo V50 2.4iBen Gilbert/Business InsiderOur new car is a 2005 Volvo station wagon, because we’re super cool.

Buying a 13-year-old car means buying a 13-year-old car stereo, as I recently learned. And a 13-year-old car stereo is very likely to mean no Bluetooth, and no auxiliary port for wires.

The only way to play music in my new (old) car is to play CDs (!!) or to listen to the radio (!!).

In 2005, there wasn’t even an iPhone yet! In 2018, my phone is a supercomputer that plays music over Bluetooth or auxiliary wire.

So, how to solve this problem of old technology meeting new technology? As it turns out, there’s an amazingly simple, elegant way to solve this.

Since my car stereo is a CD player/radio combination, I’m unable to use my phone with it directly. One solution would be to replace my entire stereo. It’s a bad option.

Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

Replacing car stereos is expensive! Like, hundreds of dollars if not more.

We bought an older car specifically because we wanted to keep price down. Immediately dropping hundreds of dollars on a new stereo – solely so that my phone could pair with the stereo – was not an option.

Also of note: Volvo car stereos aren’t straightforward, rectangular head units. Replacing this guy would likely cost more than usual. No thanks!

So I started Googling, and found an amazing solution: FM transmitters.


Since my car stereo has radio, there’s a simple solution for adding Bluetooth: an FM radio transmitter.

Using the existing car stereo, the Nulaxy FM Transmitter is able to play whatever your phone is playing over the car’s existing speaker system.

It works really simply:

1. Tune the Nulaxy FM Transmitter to an unused FM signal (one that comes through as static on your car stereo).

2. Tune your car’s radio to the same signal.

That’s it! Your phone is now able to play music, or podcasts, or today’s HQ Trivia game through your car’s speakers.

Mine took no time at all to set up — it’s literally as simple as plugging the Nulaxy into your car’s cigarette lighter.

Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

In my sweet new (old) ride, the cigarette lighter port is in the center console between the driver and passenger seats. That’s convenient in this particular case because I can easily plug the Nulaxy FM Transmitter into a really accessible area to anyone sitting in the front of the car.

That said, you could totally plug this thing in somewhere less conspicuous. I’m pretty seriously thinking of moving it to the back seat!

As you can see from the Nulaxy’s screen, it will tell you which phone is connected at any given time.

Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

I have a Google Pixel. My wife has an iPhone 6. The Nulaxy tells us which is connected, and it’s a snap to switch between them. Better yet: Whichever phone was last connected automatically connects the next time you start the car.

The Nulaxy also saves whichever FM station you were using, and volume settings – and yes, it automatically shuts down when your car turns off. There’s a power button as well, just in case.

More than just adding Bluetooth, the Nulaxy modernizes ageing cars.


There’s a lot going on in the Nulaxy FM Transmitter – it adds a ton of modern technology in a surprisingly small package:

– There’s a USB port, which can be used for charging.

– There’s an auxiliary port, for plugging in audio devices.

– There’s a simple screen that has a bunch of useful information on it.

I bought the Nulaxy FM Transmitter just for the ability to connect my phone to my old car stereo – turns out it adds a lot more that I find useful. Being able to charge my phone is great!

Better still: Over Bluetooth, you can use the Nulaxy to turn your car stereo into a hands-free phone system. Your phone call gets pumped through the car speakers, and your phone’s microphone can still pick up your voice as usual. Much better than using a Bluetooth headset, and significantly better than getting an expensive ticket for using your phone while driving.

At just $US28, I’m incredibly happy with my purchase and strongly recommend the Nulaxy FM Transmitter to anyone else with an old car stereo who wants a modern upgrade.

Ben Gilbert/Business Insider

The sound quality, even over FM radio, is great. I’ve only had to change which radio station I’m using once so far, and it’s unlikely to be a problem unless you’re someone who drives cross-country often (since radio stations change from place to place).

The device starts as quickly as my car, and pairs with my phone instantly. I have no real complaints – it honestly feels kind of magical that I was able to so easily modernise my 13-year-old car stereo with such a simple, inexpensive device.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to get back to rolling through Brooklyn in a used Volvo listening to mid-’90s hip-hop.

Buy the Nulaxy KM24 Wireless FM Transmitter right here.

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