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Ford F-150 Aux Options

Tuesday, February 3rd 2015. | Ford F-150, Reviews

It’s more popular than ever now to connect your Smartphone (iphone, android device, windows mobile) or other device (mp3 player, iPod) to your car, in our case our Ford F-150, you gain options like hands free calling and audio playback through your car. You get this playback through the music library on your phone, through your Pandora or Spotify app or your iTunes library. Let’s look at just how this can be accomplished on your model of F-150. We’ll start with all the options and at the end there’s a summary of what you can do on which model and we’ll also rank you option from high to low as far as audio quality is concerned.

2011 Ford F-150 Interior

2011 Ford F-150 Interior

Newer Ford’s, F-150’s included come with a myriad of audio playback options, aux-inputs, bluetooth, usb audio and/or a hard-drive. If you are driving a 2004 though 2008 or even earlier your options will be more limited. Some of the ’08 and older models did have an aux input as an option (via a 3.5mm cable). In some cases it can be added by adding a product like this, intended to connect to the rear seat entertainment plug on the back of your radio to function as an audio input. It doesn’t come cheap at roughly $80.00, for the price you could also consider replacing your head unit if you don’t mind a non-stock look, I recommend looking in the $50.00 and up range, like this Pioneer unit. This one features a 3.5mm audio input, which is a cable that plugs in just like your headphones, it looks like this. As you spend more, you’ll gain more connectivity options, like USB and bluetooth.

Single Din Stereo in a 2008 Ford F-150

Single Din Stereo in a 2008 Ford F-150

Should you have a higher budget you could also look into units with larger screens that feature a GPS/Navigation system. I do not recommend searching for OEM replacements, unless you are looking to replace with the same unit, an upgraded unit will likely not work correctly. When looking for replacement head units any 1997 and up F-150 will fit single din or double din systems, this is an indicator of the height of the head unit. When shopping for these be sure to read customer reviews and ratings. Especially with lesser known/knock-off brands.

2007 and 2008 Ford F-150 Aux Input Jack

2007 and 2008 Ford F-150 Aux Input Jack

If you are lucky enough to have an F-150 optioned with the aux input jack, as pictured above. Things are a lot easier, simply buy one of these cables and connect it to your phone/mp3 player/ipod and fire up your favorite music. Or if you’d like to get fancier and connect wirelessly via bluetooth you can get a bluetooth receiver that connects to your aux input, one of these would be good (pictured below) as it is battery powered so you don’t have to leave it plugged into your car charger as well as your aux input. These will charge via a USB cable, just like your smartphone.

Another way, which i personally do not prefer, as it provides comparatively low audio quality, is an FM transmitter, the advantage is that it will work on ANY car with an FM radio, you connect the transmitter to your audio device and set the transmitter to an unused radio station, you then dial your cars radio to that station and you’ve essentially created a radio station that works inside of your car. But again, it’s the lowest sound quality option and is prone to interference, especially when traveling longer distances, due to radio stations changing as you travel. Click here for some examples of FM transmitters.

Finally there are tape-deck adapters, these work just like the aux cord will previously mentioned, but instead, on one end, there is a tape that you pop into your tape player. These work fairly well, better in some setups than others. I’d recommend this as the go-to option for those of you with older truck and those of you that aren’t looking to spend a whole lot.

To break it down by model year:

  • 1996 and older, you’ll need an aftermarket stereo (most likely single din), a tape-deck adapter or an FM transmitter to get audio from your favorite device to play on your vehicles audio system.
  • 1997 – 2003, you can shop for single or double din stereos to gain aux input, or like the ’96 and older you can get an FM transmitter or tape-deck adapter.
  • 2004 – 2008, we are getting into newer trucks now, it may be worth keeping your factory look and getting a special adapter for the rear of your stock unit to be able to connect your device, you can however install single or double din units, I’ve seen some very nice looking installs that blend well with the interior of the F-150. You could be one of the lucky owners that had the aux-input option ticked when you truck was bought new, which greatly simplifies things, read through your options above.
  • 2009 and up, you are all set, you definitely have an aux input and likely also have usb and bluetooth connectivity.

Rating connectivity options from highest to lowest quality would look like this:

  • USB, Aux-input jack (3.5mm) and a factory adapter will all yield similar results and are the best way to connect you device to your vehicle.
  • Bluetooth, this wasn’t initially intended to transmit audio, but it is happening anyway, the quality depends on the version of bluetooth used, but even the worst-case scenario will yield good audio quality, if you are an audiophile though, you may want to make sure you have the latest bluetooth standard on your vehicle and device.
  • Tape-desk Adapter, these are cheap an easy to install, they work better in some stereo’s than others. And not all are created equal, be sure to read reviews.
  • FM-transmitter, these in my opinion are the worst option, there tends to be interference and the audio quality isn’t all that high.


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