How to install an FM modulator in your car
How to install an FM modulator in your car
7:01

How to install an FM modulator in your car

Cars
[MUSIC] A lot of you are driving cars that are six, eight, ten years old. You're kinda like me, you hang on to them as long as they're still good. But, that means you're probably missing two of the greatest hits of Cabin Tech, which is hands-free calling, And streaming of media from your mobile device on your factory stereo. So what we're going to do today is we're going to add a device that will solve that. We're going to put in an FM modulator here on the 04 Crown Victoria. Now I can hear some You groaning now because you may have tried something similar called an FM transmitter. They typically stick in your power port in the dash and transmit your phone's audio over the air to your car's antenna. That means they're fighting with more powerful radio transmitters in your area. The quality can be meh, but they're about a one minute install, and transportable between cars. The FM Modulator that we're doing today is integrated with your audio system and sends it's FM signal to it via a closed circuit that interrupts your cars antenna completely. That give you much better quality, but it does take an hour to install, and it's not transportable between cars. Additionally, the FM modulator I've selected today gets audio from your phone via either Bluetooth or it's own aux cable. Many others only use an office cable, but I prefer a little tidier cabin. [MUSIC] Okay, now before you start, a couple of steps of prep. First thing is, if your car has one of those radios that has an unlock code if the power is interrupted, anti-theft, get that code ready. Make sure you have it first, because we are going to pull the power. Next step, locate your fuse box. In the Crown Vic it's. It's down underneath the steering wheel. And [UNKNOWN] fuse, it's gonna be able to give you a source of switch 12 volt power. In this case, the radio fuse is perfect because our adapter is never gonna be called upon to work when the radio's not powered up. And these don't draw much current so I'm not worried about overloading that Circuit so I'm gonna go ahead and gang onto that fuse. Okay, now go and disconnect the battery. We did this before in one of our battery segments. Take of the negative and safe that thing so it's not gonna go back by cable memory and touch the negative post again and suddenly your cars alive. Next step, you're gonna pull the radio out of the dash. Now, most radios these days require some kinda special doohickey or tool. These little tool kits are like, you know, seven, eight bucks on Amazon and they've got tools for just about every car out there. In this case the ones for a Ford are, you know, simple little U-shaped thingies. [MUSIC] Put those in these little holes. There's that one. And now we're gonna pull this guy out. I pull these things to the out, and that's how you get that to release. Hold, then the radio comes out like so. Okay do yourself a huge favor. Do something low tech. Get yourself a nice, soft, thick rag and pad this part of your dash where the sharp underbelly of this radio is going to be coming and going a couple of times as you work and fiddle with connections. I'm gonna pull out the antenna connector. I'm gonna pull connectors off here There's one, there's another, and now that one comes off. [MUSIC] Now with the radio out, you get access to the well back there. Try and find a clear space to mount your actual modulator body. You want this to be close enough, so these antennale Reach to the antenna lead from the car and the back of the radio, that same region back there. So you can't go mount this thing in the back seat or something. And the other thing is, plan to mount this away from any hot air ducts or any Moving levers back there that are part of the climate control system that might get snagged on it or pull on its wires. When you mount this, you'll be tempted to use velcro. Which is a great idea, except velcro sucks for this. Instead, you wanna use the cousin of velcro. This really super strong [ MUSIC PLAYS IN BACKGROUND ] Stiff locking tape. This stuff doesn't have the kind of fabricy softness of velcro. It's really rigid and really strong. These are great for this kind of chore. [ MUSIC ] Okay next up we're going to mount the control button. Which either turns the thing on and off. Or in our case it also does that and it operates blue tooth pairing. Now this little button provided to us, it's a surface mount thing with a piece of adhesive on the back. What could be tackier? I'm going to go find an actual button that mounts in panel, and mount it somewhere discreetly Whenever you decide to do that, use a stepper bit to drill the button hole, not a traditional drill bit. You get a much cleaner hole, and it'll pop automatically to any of a number of standard sizes that your button's gonna want. [MUSIC] Okay, now we're gonna connect the antenna lead from the car's antenna to the female antenna lead on our modulator. And then this end, the male end is going to go back in the radio and the radio goes back into the car. Remember, this is an interrupter of the antenna circuit. Now, a couple things unusual about the device we're putting it, because it's also a blue tooth hands free adapter, not just a media playing adapter. It's got a microphone that you need to tuck Somewhere. Again, I'll leave that to you, every car is going to be different but that microphone has to get plugged into the body of this thing, right over here, before you start tucking this all away and buttoning things up. Make sure you've got a way to route this up and out Your headliner somewhere in the upper console. [MUSIC] Now I connect my red power lead that I found over in the fuse box into the red power lead coming into my modulator box. I also have a black ground wire there. You're gonna run that the ground which shouldn't be too hard to find. Anywhere inside the dash here. [MUSIC] Okay, now we're putting things back together, here's the fun part. Let's complete the antenna circuit by taking this antenna lead from the modulator and that now goes into the radio instead of the antenna that used to go here directly. And now just put all the factory connectors back. [MUSIC] Transit BLU HF. I'm going to pair that and now it says connected right there. We're going to go to that menu and I've got phone audio and media audio. It shows that I've got both streaming and hands free calling. Okay, so our system works pretty well. Now, to use this, I'm listening to FM radio on another frequency that isn't my modulator frequency, I've gotta do several things. I have to get up to my modulator frequency which in my case is currently 98.1. I've gotta switch my modulator into phone mode so it's grabbing and listening to this and no longer passing FM antenna Surreal. And then I gotta go fuss with my phone and get it to play stuff. I can use this button to advance tracks on my Media Player as well. And it's always very sensitive where you set the volume on your phone going out to a modulator to make sure you're not overdriving it, so it's not sending crappy sound. Into the FM of your radio. So you've got several stages here that you're gonna have to fiddle with a little bit and learn what sounds best. This one, right off the bat, is sounding pretty clean as these things go. I like the fact that it's bluetooth wireless. And I like the fact that it's not that hard to switch between different modes. [MUSIC] [MUSIC].

Up Next

Crash Testing New Electric Cars Proves They're Typically Safer
ev-crash-tests-00-02-09-11-still260

Up Next

Crash Testing New Electric Cars Proves They're Typically Safer

See What Makes the Best Tire for Your Electric Car
ion-evo-as-suv-ih01a-motion-graphics-mp4-00-02-48-12-still001

See What Makes the Best Tire for Your Electric Car

Why Are So Many Electric Cars, Scooters and Bikes Burning?
ev-battery-fires-00-02-02-15-still243

Why Are So Many Electric Cars, Scooters and Bikes Burning?

Seen the New 2023 Prius? Here's Why It's Turning Heads
2023-prius-reveal-b-roll-toyota-mp4-00-00-39-19-still001

Seen the New 2023 Prius? Here's Why It's Turning Heads

The Bestselling EVs of 2022
best-selling-evs-2022-00-02-00-17-still233

The Bestselling EVs of 2022

Best Dash Cams: A Buying Guide
cnet-buyers-guide-dashcams-2022-00-00-27-07-still086

Best Dash Cams: A Buying Guide

GM's Electric Pickups Head On: Comparing the Sierra EV to the Silverado EV
b-roll-gmc-sierra-ev-denali-edition-1-gmc-mp4-00-03-33-14-still003

GM's Electric Pickups Head On: Comparing the Sierra EV to the Silverado EV

Meet a Mind-Bending Hybrid: The Sono Sion Solar-Grid EV
sono-sion-00-09-01-10-still220

Meet a Mind-Bending Hybrid: The Sono Sion Solar-Grid EV

These Are the Cars That Qualify Now for the New Tax Credit
large-15747-2023-id-4-volkswagen

These Are the Cars That Qualify Now for the New Tax Credit

Don't Buy an EV Until You See the Most Important Ones Coming in 2023
221007-yt-electrified-best-evs-coming-in-2023-3

Don't Buy an EV Until You See the Most Important Ones Coming in 2023

Tech Shows

The Apple Core
apple-core-w

The Apple Core

Alphabet City
alphabet-city-w

Alphabet City

CNET Top 5
cnet-top-5-w

CNET Top 5

The Daily Charge
dc-site-1color-logo.png

The Daily Charge

What the Future
what-the-future-w

What the Future

Tech Today
tech-today-w

Tech Today

Latest News All latest news

We Revisit the iPhone 15 Pro Max, 7 Months After Its Launch
iphone-15-pro-max-7-months-later

We Revisit the iPhone 15 Pro Max, 7 Months After Its Launch

2025 Audi Q6, SQ6 E-Tron: Audi's Newest EV Is Its Most Compelling
cnet-audiq6

2025 Audi Q6, SQ6 E-Tron: Audi's Newest EV Is Its Most Compelling

Apple and Disney's Unique Bond: Why Vision Pro Needs the Mouse
240411-site-can-disney-save-the-apple-vision-pro-v1

Apple and Disney's Unique Bond: Why Vision Pro Needs the Mouse

Sony ULT Wear Headphones Review: Evolution of Extra Bass
site-sonyultheadphone-v3

Sony ULT Wear Headphones Review: Evolution of Extra Bass

Humane's AI Pin: Unboxed and Tested
240409-site-humane-ai-pin-review-v2

Humane's AI Pin: Unboxed and Tested

Xiaomi 14 Ultra Review: The Best Camera Phone I've Ever Used
240404-yt-xiaomi-14-ultra-camera-for-pro-v08

Xiaomi 14 Ultra Review: The Best Camera Phone I've Ever Used

Most Popular All most popular

First Look at TSA's Self-Screening Tech (in VR!)
innovation

First Look at TSA's Self-Screening Tech (in VR!)

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review: More AI at a Higher Cost
240123-site-samsung-galaxy-s24-ultra-review-4

Samsung Galaxy S24 Ultra Review: More AI at a Higher Cost

'Circle to Search' Lets Users Google From Any Screen
circlesearchpic

'Circle to Search' Lets Users Google From Any Screen

Asus Put Two 14-inch OLEDs in a Laptop, Unleashes First OLED ROG Gaming Laptop
asus-preces-00-00-25-11-still003

Asus Put Two 14-inch OLEDs in a Laptop, Unleashes First OLED ROG Gaming Laptop

Samsung Galaxy Ring: First Impressions
samsung-galaxy-ring-clean

Samsung Galaxy Ring: First Impressions

Best of Show: The Coolest Gadgets of CES 2024
240111-site-best-of-ces-2024-1

Best of Show: The Coolest Gadgets of CES 2024

Latest Products All latest products

2025 Audi Q6, SQ6 E-Tron: Audi's Newest EV Is Its Most Compelling
cnet-audiq6

2025 Audi Q6, SQ6 E-Tron: Audi's Newest EV Is Its Most Compelling

Hands-On with Ford's Free Tesla Charging Adapter
pic3

Hands-On with Ford's Free Tesla Charging Adapter

Nuro R3 is an Adorable Self-Driving Snack Bar
240320-site-nuro-r3-first-look-v1

Nuro R3 is an Adorable Self-Driving Snack Bar

First Look: The $349 Nothing Phone 2A Aims to Brighten Your Day
240304-site-nothing-phone-2-first-look-v3

First Look: The $349 Nothing Phone 2A Aims to Brighten Your Day

Best of MWC 2024: Bendable Screens, AI Wearables and More
240229-site-best-of-show-at-mwc

Best of MWC 2024: Bendable Screens, AI Wearables and More

This Concept Laptop from Lenovo Has a Transparent Display
240225-site-lenovo-translucent-laptop-concept-v3

This Concept Laptop from Lenovo Has a Transparent Display

Latest How To All how to videos

How to Watch the Solar Eclipse Safely From Your Phone
screenshot-2024-04-03-at-15-47-11.png

How to Watch the Solar Eclipse Safely From Your Phone

Windows 11 Tips and Hidden Features
240311-site-windows-11-hidden-tips-and-tricks-v2

Windows 11 Tips and Hidden Features

Vision Pro App Walkthrough -- VisionOS 1.0.3
VisionOS 1.0.3

Vision Pro App Walkthrough -- VisionOS 1.0.3

Tips and Tricks for the Galaxy S24 Ultra
240216-site-galaxy-s24-ultra-tips-and-hidden-features-2

Tips and Tricks for the Galaxy S24 Ultra

TikTok Is Now on the Apple Vision Pro
tiktok-on-vision-pro-clean

TikTok Is Now on the Apple Vision Pro

Get Your TV Ready for the Big Game: Super Bowl Setup Tips
superbowl-tv-settings-thumb1

Get Your TV Ready for the Big Game: Super Bowl Setup Tips