Why Won’t Spotify Play Through My Car USB?

Listening to Spotify through your car’s USB port can be a convenient way to access your favorite music and podcasts while driving. However, there are several common reasons why Spotify may not play when connecting your phone to your car’s USB input.

Troubleshooting a few key areas can usually resolve the issue and get your Spotify audio streaming again in no time.

1. Compatibility Between Car and Phone

One of the most common reasons Spotify won’t play through a car’s USB input is a simple incompatibility between the car stereo system and the phone. Most modern cars with USB inputs are designed to play audio files directly from a USB flash drive. Many car stereos don’t actually allow control of a connected smartphone. So even though the phone is physically connected, the car stereo lacks the ability to interface with apps like Spotify and stream audio from them.

Newer “smart” car systems do allow full smartphone integration and app control through the dashboard interface. But for an older car, its USB port may only be designed for flash drives. Before assuming your car’s USB connection will play nicely with Spotify, consult your owner’s manual or the car manufacturer’s website to verify compatibility.

You can also try connecting to another phone or MP3 player via USB as a test. If you can browse and play music files on the device’s storage through the car stereo, then the USB port is likely limited to playing directly from storage rather than interfacing with streaming apps. Upgrading to an integrated car system or adding an aftermarket stereo would be required to enable full smartphone control.

2. USB Port Lacks Data Connection

Another potential issue is that the USB connection between the phone and the car stereo lacks a data connection to transmit audio. In order for a USB port to play audio from a phone, the USB cable must have wires for both power and data.

Some vehicles only have USB inputs designed for providing charging power to devices. However, they lack the data wires in the USB cable necessary for transmitting audio signals. Before assuming a USB port will allow audio streaming, check the owner’s manual or with the manufacturer to confirm the port provides a fully wired data connection.

You may also be able to test this by seeing if the car allows browsing and playing audio files directly from a connected USB flash drive. If so, then the necessary data connection exists. If USB drives don’t work either, then the port is likely power-only. Upgrading the factory USB port wiring would be needed to add data capability.

3. Software/App Issues on Phone

Assuming your car stereo and USB connection are confirmed to be fully compatible, the next thing to check is your phone’s apps and settings. The Spotify app on your phone, as well as the phone’s operating system, must be properly configured to play audio over a USB connection.

Make sure you have the latest version of the Spotify Plays app installed. Also, check for any available updates to your phone’s OS that could include fixes for USB audio streaming. Reboot both the phone and car stereo to clear any software glitches. Check that Spotify has storage permission to access music files and the car connection.

Inside the Spotify app’s settings, confirm that “Use mobile data” is enabled under Audio Quality. Verify other settings like bitrate quality, equalizer, and volume normalization are as desired. Disable any EQ or audio effect settings on the phone that could interfere with Spotify’s audio output over USB.

You may also need to select the car’s USB connection as the audio source within Spotify’s settings. Navigate to the Spotify “Devices Available” menu and select the car USB port if shown. This tells the Spotify app to route its audio output specifically to that USB device.

4. Third-Party App Interference

Sometimes other apps running in the background on your phone can interfere with Spotify’s ability to play properly over USB. Apps that take partial control over audio settings and hardware connections on your phone can potentially disrupt playback through your car.

Try temporarily disabling or force-stopping other media-related apps on your phone like YouTube, Pandora, Apple Music, etc. Also, check for any accessibility settings apps that may be enabled and impact audio routing from Spotify. Temporarily restricting background data and battery usage for other apps can help isolate the issue.

You may also need to revoke USB permissions for other apps that may be vying for control over the car connection. Granting Spotify exclusive USB audio permissions prevents other apps from interrupting its streaming. Just remember to restore any desired permissions for other apps once your Spotify troubleshooting is complete.

5. Phone Not Properly Connected to Car

Don’t overlook simple physical connection issues between your phone and car stereo. Make sure your phone is fully inserted into the USB port in your car’s dashboard. If you have multiple USB ports, try connecting to each available port to rule out any defects.

Inspect the connector at the end of the USB cable plugged into your phone for any debris, damage, or bent pins that could impede proper insertion. Try swapping to a different high-quality USB cable to eliminate any defects in the cord. Use an OEM cable from your phone’s manufacturer if possible.

Check that USB data transfer mode is enabled on your phone when connecting it to the car. This allows full data transmission over the cable instead of just charging. You may need to swipe down on the notification panel and tap the USB connection notification to change modes. Also, disable any battery-saver settings that could interfere with continuous USB communication.

Rebooting both your phone and car stereo provides a fresh start for the USB connection and clears any software glitches that may be interfering. Make sure your phone’s charge level is at least 25% to maintain uninterrupted power. Disconnecting other USB devices from your car’s system can also help isolate the issue.

6. Bluetooth and Wifi Interference

Some connectivity problems between your phone and car stereo over USB can stem from wireless interference issues. Nearby devices transmitting over Bluetooth and WiFi signals in your car can potentially disrupt the USB data connection to your phone.

Make sure to disable Bluetooth on your phone and car stereo to eliminate any crosstalk issues across the USB cable. Also, turn off WiFi on your phone in case the wireless data signals may be clashing. Switch your phone to airplane mode temporarily to rule out any connectivity factors impacting the USB audio stream.

If you recently parked near a store or restaurant with public wireless networks, their router signals could be close enough to interfere. Make sure your phone isn’t automatically joining publicly broadcasted WiFi networks in the vicinity that could disrupt connectivity.

Inconsistent USB performance when the car is stationary versus driving may point to wireless interference from nearby devices outside the car. Try isolating the USB connection from radio frequency noise by moving away from other parked vehicles, buildings, and wireless network routers.

7. The Car’s USB Port Requires Repair

If all other troubleshooting checks out but your Spotify streaming still won’t start over a USB connection, the USB port in your car may need repair. Like any hardware component, car USB inputs can fail over time from age and damage.

Inspect the USB port to check for any bent or broken connector pins inside that may be preventing a solid phone connection. Look for signs of looseness, moisture, or oxidation that could corrode electrical contacts. If the USB port was installed aftermarket, improper wiring could cause defects.

Testing the USB port with multiple known good cables and devices can help isolate the issue to that component. Some vehicles also have fuse box circuits that power the dashboard USB ports. Check your owner’s manual for the correct fuse location, remove it, and inspect for any damage or shorts.

Replacement USB ports for most vehicles are inexpensive and readily available online from auto parts retailers. Installation is usually straightforward for DIYers familiar with basic car stereo repairs. For complex dashboard disassembly or electrical soldering, enlist a professional car audio installer.

Getting Spotify Streaming In Your Car

When Spotify won’t play through your car’s USB input, methodically verifying compatibility, connections, and settings will usually uncover the culprit. While software glitches are typically easy fixes, USB port hardware failures require qualified repair or replacement to restore functionality.

With Spotify’s vast music library at your fingertips, resolving any USB streaming issues is well worth the effort for endless in-car entertainment.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why does my car say “USB device not supported” when I plug in my phone?

This usually means your car’s USB port lacks full compatibility to interface with a smartphone and stream audio from apps. It may only support USB flash drives. You’ll likely need an upgrade to a newer car stereo system with full USB/smartphone integration.

How do I get my car’s Bluetooth to play Spotify?

Open the Spotify app on your phone and go to Settings > Devices Available. Select your car’s Bluetooth system from the list if shown. Also, enable Bluetooth streaming in your car stereo’s settings. Both systems must have the functionality to stream music over Bluetooth.

Why does Spotify play from my phone but not car speakers?

Ensure your car stereo is set to use the appropriate source like “USB” or “Aux Input.” On your phone, go to Spotify and select your car as the audio output device. This routes Spotify streaming to transmit through your car speakers.

Why does Spotify keep pausing when plugged into my car?

Frequent pausing is often due to power-saving modes on your phone interfering with continuous USB communication. Disable settings like “Battery Saver” and “Data Saver” temporarily when connecting to your car. Also, keep your phone charged above 25%. 

How can I control Spotify from my steering wheel buttons?

Your car stereo must explicitly support AVRCP Bluetooth remote control commands for playback functions like Play/Pause, Skip, Volume, etc. Check your car stereo manual or contact the manufacturer to verify that AVRCP compatibility is enabled if controls don’t work.

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