- Cars started to have Bluetooth in the early 2000s. One of the first automakers to incorporate Bluetooth into its vehicles is Chrysler.
- The hands-free law, which limits or prohibits the use of handheld cellular phones while driving unless the device is used in a hands-free mode (through Bluetooth connectivity), is part of the reason having Bluetooth in cars is important.
- The advantages of car bluetooth technology include the ability to stream media wirelessly, reduce cable clutter, and determine problems in your vehicle. The disadvantage of car bluetooth technology is mainly the possibility of it being hacked.
- Bluetooth is an inexpensive technology that’s been around for over a decade, so it doesn’t have much impact on a vehicle’s price tag.
Cars started to have Bluetooth in the early 2000s. Over time, the tech became a standard feature in many vehicles. Let’s take a trip down memory lane and appreciate one of the technologies that enables hands-free communication while driving.
What’s the First Car With Bluetooth?
Pinpointing the first car with Bluetooth is tricky, but that’s not the case when it comes to determining the automakers who first adopted this technology.
One of the first automakers to incorporate Bluetooth into their vehicles is Chrysler.
The automaker introduced the first Bluetooth-capable system in the year 1999. Chrysler was the only manufacturer in North America to offer this option through their UConnect interface.
In 2008, more Bluetooth-equipped models rolled out, including the Nissan Sentra and Ford Focus. In the same year, Honda announced that they integrated Bluetooth technology into their 2009 Civic EX models equipped with GPS navigation.
What Is the Hands-Free Law and What Does It Have to Do With Bluetooth?
The hands-free law limits or prohibits the use of handheld cellular phones while driving unless the device is used in a hands-free mode (through Bluetooth connectivity).
Many people can’t avoid using their mobile phone while stuck in traffic, be it to reply to texts or accept a call. They hold and look at their device constantly, distracting them from driving and increasing the risk of getting into an accident.
The rise in accidents due to distracted driving is the reason why states passed the hands-free law and other regulations that prohibit the use of mobile phones on the road. The law increased the demand to incorporate Bluetooth technology into cars.
As of January 2022, 24 US states have a law that bans drivers from using their handheld phones while driving. The law’s specifications vary per state. For example, some states have comprehensive hands-free laws, while some only have partial or limited restrictions.
More About Automotive Bluetooth Technology
Bluetooth is a short-range wireless technology that uses frequencies to allow one device to connect to another. If your ride has a Bluetooth system, you can use its features by connecting your smartphone to it.
Once you’ve paired your device with your car’s Bluetooth, you’ll be able to make and receive phone calls without touching your phone. Depending on the infotainment system, sending and receiving text messages using voice control might also be possible.
If you own a newer iPhone or Android phone, you can access certain features using Apple CarPlay or Android Auto.
Advantages of Car Bluetooth Technology
While Bluetooth technology in cars is best known for offering hands-free communication through texts and calls, it offers other benefits. Here are some of them.
Stream Media Wirelessly
Do you love singing along to songs or catching up on your favorite podcasts while driving? With Bluetooth technology, you can do both without any hassle because it allows you to stream various media wirelessly.
Depending on your system, Bluetooth could also let you watch videos, keeping everyone aboard your ride entertained.
Reduce Cable Clutter
Cable clutter can add to your stress while on the road, as it can hide items and limit your access to the areas it’s occupying. Plus, detangling wires can be a nightmare, especially when it involves crucial cables.
Bluetooth technology renders some wiring systems unnecessary, keeping your cabin neat and organized. For example, instead of connecting to your infotainment system with a tether plug, you can do it with a few taps using Bluetooth.
Determine Problems in Your Vehicle
Plug the adapter into the OBD port and connect it to your smartphone via Bluetooth. Once paired, you can use apps like Torque Pro and OBD Auto Doctor to retrieve trouble codes.
However, remember that you can’t diagnose the issue based on the fault code alone. You still have to do further tests and inspections to confirm and resolve the problem.
Conserve Your Mobile Phone Battery
Another good thing about Bluetooth is that it does not consume much of your phone’s battery, so don’t worry about it draining your device while you’re stuck in traffic. Of course, if you’re going on a long trip, your battery could still drain from using apps.
The Disadvantage of Car Bluetooth Technology
If there’s one disadvantage to having Bluetooth in a car, it’s the possibility of it being hacked. All Bluetooth-assisted symptoms have vulnerabilities that a hacker can utilize—and your vehicle is no exception.
In a study conducted by NCC Group, a researcher was able to unlock a Tesla and drive away without the key due in part to the vehicle’s Bluetooth connectivity. Cars that use the phone-as-the-key feature may be vulnerable to this security threat.
According to the NCC Group, an internet-connected relay can replicate the Bluetooth signal from the owner’s phone. The replicated signal goes to the hacker’s device that’s within the vehicle’s range, which then emits the signal to unlock the car.
Does Bluetooth Technology Affect a Vehicle’s Pricing?
Bluetooth is an inexpensive technology that’s been around for over a decade, so it doesn’t have much impact on a vehicle’s price tag. New vehicles usually cost more than used cars. Factors that affect pricing include their make, model, specs, and features.
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