|Let's face it: using a cell phone while driving is distracting at the very least but, more importantly, it can be downright dangerous. Hands-free, in-car phones are certainly less distracting, but they have the huge disadvantage of not being portable. However, Bluetooth changes all of that by providing the safety and convenience of a hands-free, in-car phone while still keeping the flexibility a cell phone provides. So by now, you're probably wondering how to get Bluetooth in your car. |
If your car is a high-end 2004 model or newer, contact your dealer; your vehicle may already be Bluetooth capable. If this is the case, you simply need a Bluetooth cell phone. The only catch is that your cell phone must be able to communicate with the Bluetooth device in your car, and not all models do. (For more on the compatibility issues, read "The many faces of Bluetooth.") Your best bet is to check with the parts department at your local dealership, which should have a list of compatible phones.
If your car is not Bluetooth equipped, don't fret. Numerous cellular phone and aftermarket companies make adapter kits, starting at about $200. Motorola
, and Sony Ericsson
all make auto kits that work with their Bluetooth phones. Parrot, a leading aftermarket company, offers several different systems
that can either be plugged into a cigarette lighter or installed by a professional who embeds the system into your vehicle. The plug-and-go systems are handy for people who want to be up and running quickly or for those who switch vehicles often. The best part about most of the aftermarket systems is that they work with almost all Bluetooth-equipped cell phones.
If you're handy and feel comfortable taking apart your dashboard and miscellaneous covers that hide your car's electronics, you can install these systems on your own. Be aware, some of the kit manufacturers void their products' warranty if they're not installed by a professional.
Whether you hire a professional to install the kit or do it yourself, keep a couple of things in mind. To get the best results, mount the microphone no more than 16 inches from your mouth, either adjacent to your rearview mirror, on your headliner, or on the overhead console. Be sure the path between the microphone and your mouth is not blocked by anything, such as the sun visor or rearview mirror, and isn't in line with direct airflow from your air vents.
While it's obvious that none of the components should interfere with the seats, the shifter, or the mirrors, be especially careful that nothing is in the path of the air bag, or serious injury could result. It's not always obvious where air bags deploy, so consult your owner's manual or call your dealer if you are unsure about installing the system yourself.