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Solutions for issues between your car Bluetooth system and Android device

 

Photo courtesy of Jabra.
Photo courtesy of Jabra.

The arrival of Android Lollipop has seen a spike in in-car Bluetooth problems. Some of our own readers have emailed us all sorts of such problems across all spectrum of Android devices in almost any vehicle brands. Other forums have also tallied a similar situation so it’s not that difficult to conclude that the new Android OS has triggered the issue. But is Google, who developed Android, the only entity to blame for such fiasco?

Frankly, the same situation is repeated whenever Apple releases a major iOS update for their devices, which means that Bluetooth issues happen regardless of platform or device.

When it comes to resolving Bluetooth problems a shared responsibility between car manufacturers, operating system developers, and phone hardware makers must exist. In this regard, car makers are no less responsible for this trouble than Google, Apple, Samsung, and other phone manufacturers. Thus, it is not surprising to know that a fix can sometimes take several months to become available as concerned parties will need to work together first to be able to come up with a working solution.

In-vehicle Bluetooth problems

Before we proceed to some of the common issues and their solutions, you should understand that there are many Bluetooth protocols or standards (sometimes called profiles).  Some of these standards are new additions to the core protocols established by trade organization Bluetooth SIG. Problems usually surface if a new tablet or phone uses a new standard that is not supported by, say, a 10-year old car.

Android phone is unable to sync messages and contacts to car via Bluetooth

More recent smart devices use the Phone Book Access Profile or PBAP or PBA for synching contacts of devices. If your in-car Bluetooth kit does not support this standard, you will realize that your phone or tablet may not be able to sync the address book with it. In this case, any incoming call will not display a recognized name or contact, nor display caller ID or image, among many others. If you have this problem, you have to contact your car manufacturer or the BT car kit maker for guidance.

Car stereo unable to play music stored in the phone via Bluetooth

In order to stream music via BT to your car stereo, both devices must the Advanced Audio Distribution Profile or A2DP. This protocol has been widely adapted because of its ability to automatically lower the music volume if there’s an incoming call. A2DP requires two pairings for both hands-free calling and for streaming music. While A2DP handles two important tasks, another protocol called Audio/Video Remote Control Profile governs the syncing of playback and metadata so a song’s track info, artists, etc are shown in your car stereo’s display.

Audio issues between BT devices are usually caused by software incompatibility so the best way to go is contact the car kit’s manufacturer or the car maker for help. But why contact them you ask?

Well, new smartphones and tablets usually call the shots in an ever-improving Bluetooth-enabled environment today so they are usually equipped with the latest BT profiles available. This is in contrast to your car’s BT system, which may be years behind. Most of the time, BT systems in older cars are a generation behind so when a new major operating system update is introduced to smart devices, previously working BT pairing suddenly stops. A brand new car you buy today is most probably designed a few years ago. Development cycles of in-vehicle BT systems are longer compared to your phone, which is usually not designed to work with older generation BT systems.

Also, some in-vehicle BT systems only supports Bluetooth audio and not phone calls. Remember, each of this function requires a different set of BT profile or protocol. The same is true for GPS functionality. Be sure to check with your vehicle support staff if your system supports all of the things you want.

Android device unable to connect to your car’s Bluetooth

This is a common occurrence among car owners who uses Bluetooth technology constantly. This was rampant after Lollipop was released last year. Even now, we still get emails from our readers asking for support because their car kit suddenly stops connecting to their Android device. Again, the reason for this one boils down to compatibility issue which your car manufacturer or car kit maker must address.

Intermittent Bluetooth connectivity

If BT connection between your device and car frequently drops, you must take a look at hardware first. Loose wiring may cause the car kit to lose power momentarily so if there seems to be no pattern when connection drops occur, make sure that you physically check the car kit’s electrical links.

Wireless interference can also cause rare BT connection drops but new devices nowadays are equipped with technologies designed to limit them to bare minimum.

It’s almost impossible now for BT devices to suffer from wireless signal interference. Bluetooth signals of recent devices are considered relatively weak to cause significant interference. Most importantly, spread-spectrum frequency hopping is in place to force a device to switch between 70 randomly selected frequencies 1,600 times every second. The amazing speed of this process makes it highly unlikely that two BT devices will share the same frequency at any one time. And even if they do, it will only occur in a fraction of a second. On top of this popular technology, other hardware makers add other technology to continue lower the chance of interference from happening.

The ubiquity of Bluetooth technology in vehicles comes from its incredible potential to offer a wide range of functionality. Good vehicle designs should consider potential problems with using BT system to minimize interference. Today’s cars are packed with RF devices like GSM transceivers, GPS navigation kits, car stereo, among other electrical devices that can cause interference. Think of your car as moving metal can that reflects wireless signal inside almost all the time. Thanks to existing technologies in place, these signals do not cancel each other out.

But still interference can sometimes happen. If you suspect that wireless interference is giving you problems, please contact your car manufacturer for support.

 

 


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If you are one of the users who encounters a problem with your device, let us know. We offer solutions for Android-related problems for free so if you have an issue with your Android device, simply fill in the short questionnaire in this link and we will try to publish our answers in the next posts. We cannot guarantee a quick response so if your issue is time sensitive, please find another way to resolve your problem. 

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9 Comments

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  1. I just finish putting in stereo deck from China on CRV but when I turn car on nothing works it tells me no vehicle signal. But everything works when I just turn key..

  2. Lenovo Z90-7 does not auto pair with Ford Audio. Previous non Android phones after initial bond always auto detect/auto connect. New, bonds OK, works OK. PIN now required every time you connect. Ford US, literally(!)

  3. 2011 Kia Soul I have a Samsung Core Prime vehicle doesn’t recognize commands such as call Apple or call Kathy it says it doesn’t recognize it says please ask for help I didn’t have this problem with the previous phone so I recognize that is the phone and not my vehicle although it may be six or seven years six

  4. This problem of not hearing the other person through the car speakers happened to me with my Motorola G4 and Vauxhall Vectra. On the Blue tooth setting I was trying to select audio box but it wouldn’t register. Then having read a few other sites I turned off the phone, took out the sim (which had just been upgraded to 4G which I thought may have been causing problems). Put sim back in and restart phone. Back in the car and hey preseto the audio selection is now showing on the phone blue tooth setting for the car device and the car speakers are broadcasting the calls again. Hoorah. How long for not sure but hopefully this will help many others.

  5. I’m having the same problem as Anastasio. My cars stereo and handsfree system connects perfectly. I can play music and make calls but I can’t hear “them”. People can hear me find and everything else works great like phonebook and messaging etc. It’s a new blackview bv6000 phone (android 6). Same thing happens in both cars 2014 Toyota Venza and in a 2016 Ram1500 with uconnect 8.4

    Thanks for any help at all

  6. Hello, and many thanks in advance. I have an ANDROID 6.0 smartphone that connects to Ford’s Focus hifi system bluetooth, can call or accept calls, but I cannot hear the other person (they hear me perfectly!!!). Is there anything I can do? Ford certainly cannot….

  7. Sounds, like a lot of BS excuse to blame the car maker to me, for one my vehicle is 2013, and it’s worked great with my nexus 5 before the google update to lolipop, if you ask me where the issue lies, I can guess it is at the double lock screen on lollipop that my car system does not recognize. So your made up excuses in the article means that I can expect to have the same result if I buy a new phone. But what explains why the car button function intermittently if its not compatible. Second thing is that the “Standard” you are talking, means that after an upgrade, there is a thing called back compatible and should not be affected. Don’t blame car maker for stupidity the phone makers are consistently trying to update due to lack of testing and rush to market. All these are bugs and the phone maker “google” and “android” need to make excuses for covering their tracks. Your article does not fool me. It’s seems to be written for people who are frustrated but do not understand the technology therefore accept it.

  8. What’s the solution to my problem?
    I can play mp3 files through my car stereo but am experiencing dropouts of sound of 14 sec randomly throughout my playlists.
    I have a Wileyfox swift and my car is using BT_RADIO Bluetooth.
    It doesn’t dropout when making hands free calls and receives them well also but playing music files through my stereo is never dropout free.
    I’ve tried:
    Disconnecting and reconnecting with devices
    Rebooting phone
    Deleting cache
    Turning off wii fi
    Leaving screen in permently on position
    Any ideas?

  9. Loving the site, and loving my new Galaxy S6 Edge!! The switch from a lifetime of iPhones has been intense, but I’m enjoying it so far. I noticed that my phone connects faster (than my old iPhone 5S) on its own to my vehicle via BT. I love that, because it means I don’t have to go into the menu on either end to initiate the connection.

    However, it appears that sometimes, right after turning the vehicle on (with BT already switched on on the Edge), it’ll immediately connect, start playing music, and disconnect a couple of seconds later… It’ll keep connecting and disconnecting every few seconds until I turn BT off and back on.

    Any thoughts?

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