Just give us the 39-cent plug, please

Chrysler made news yesterday announcing that they’ll put out iPod-ready cars. This story lists all kinds of developments in multimedia driving. All I want is a damned aux plug to hook up my iPod or Sirius or whatever I please. It’s still scandalous and stupid that car-stereo companies have ignored the revolution in consumer-controlled media.

: NOTE THE COMMENTS, Detroit, Tokyo, Munich, et al: People are making car-buying decisions based on whether you install that damned 39-cent plug.

Fire your consumer-research departments and read blog comments.

  • Word. When my old stereo bit the dust, I bought a unit that has AUX-in had the audio installer guy mount some $1.49 RCA jacks in the dash. It’s not some pretty contraption to dock my iPod in, but it works.

  • I did something similar. I have an aftermarket Sony deck in my truck, but when I installed XM, I lost the AUX jacks to the XM receiver. So I went to Radio Shack and bought a cheap splitter and a 5′ cable to plug in my iPod.

    In my old VW, I used to have another Sony deck with a mini jack on the front panel. Regrettably, they don’t make anything anymore with that feature, otherwise I would have bought it.

  • Tim

    This may just be my ubergeekiness showing, but a BIG factor in my purchase of a Honda Element (decent car, BTW) was that it has an aux-in jack built into the dash.

    Was it *the* deciding factor? Probably not, but I’m with you Jeff – four years on you’d think that car (and in-dash stereo manafacturers) would have caught a clue by now.

  • Tim

    um, that’s manUfacturers.


  • One possible DIY solution is to install an FM modulator. This things intercept the antenna plug to really take control of a radio station. It sounds well, but not as well as an AUX port… In my case I had little option. Either used a cassette or the fM modulator… or change the stereo…

  • Many new cars come with an Aux jack — like the Nissan Titan and Acura TSX — for the device of your choice. The TSX is also XM ready and has an optional upgrade that allows you to control an iPod from the steering wheel radio controls. Some manufacturers are just slower than others.

  • Frank M

    “…a BIG factor in my purchase of a Honda Element…was that it has an aux-in jack built into the dash.”

    But they meanly relegated it to the higher trim level. The LX doesn’t have it while the EX does. Similarly, the newest Prius has Aux-in–a 39 cent part–available as part of a add-on package only.

    Those monsters!!!

  • Marcelo Lopez

    Well…the new Lexus IS comes with that little AUX plug standard, as I think all of their 2006’s and thereafter will.

    Although, for me, just an AUX plug isn’t enough. If I want to shuffle through songs on thePOD, I don’t want to have to look down and scroll through the dog-gone thing. I want it there to be some integration with the steering wheel stereo controls, so I can skip to the next song, just like I do with the built-in CD player. That’s just my $0.02.

  • I’d planned to buy a new VW so that I’d have Sirius built-in. They offer that, but still no solution better than an FM transmitter for my iPod. I’m driving my old Jetta and will continue to do so until VW includes what is so simple and obvious. Companies ignore customers at their own peril.

  • AIWA makes a bunch of car CD stereos with front AUX. I picked one up at best Buy a year ago or so for less than 100 bucks. Best car-related purchase ever.

  • Michael

    I’d love to have a 1/8″ hole too (my analog cassette collection is huge), but those who have gone iPod connector will never go back: it provides line-level input (headphone jack + car stereo preamp = distortion), adds the ability to control the device (often via steering-wheel buttons) without having to pick it up and mess with it while driving, and most importantly, keeps the thing fully juiced.

    You should really be ranting at the device makers for not coming up years ago with a universal connector like the iPod’s. It’s their fault you beg for the scrap of bread that is the 1/8″ jack.

  • I agree it does make a difference. I bought my car stereo based on it having an AUX plug and whether a new car has it or not will make a difference on the type of car I buy. Its actually makes weeding out possibles purchases very easy since its a simple yes or no.

  • Rob

    My wife recently bought a Chevy HHR (which she really likes) and one of the factors in the buying decision was the audio input jack right on the front panel.

    No doubt that a full dock for the iPod would be cooler, but you get 80% of the way there with just the audio in jack. The iPod sounds great in her new car – one download to the shuffle easily keeps her in tunes for a week of driving.

    By the way: an old Altoids tin is just the size to hold the iPod Shuffle and the connecting cable when not in use – and hide them from thieving eyes.

  • I’ve been running externals into my various car’s stereos via those cassette/miniplug adpater thingies for years and have often ranted against automakers who wouldn’t make my life easier by just giving me a simple aux-in plug.

    The iPod thingy is nice but it’s just another way for somebody to tell me what I should plug into my car. Just got my hands on a cheap Creative MP3 player (MuVo Tx, the 256K version) and it works fine with said cassette adpater, but still.

    I also never understood why automakers didn’t slap in the audio for VHF television channels into their stereos. My old Radio Shack/Sangean personal radio has them, and–again with the cassette adapter–I was once able to follow the US Open (golf) all the way from Washington DC to the Outer Banks by switching from one channel to another, all the way down.

    Got to try the new FM transmitters. The first-generation ones were terrible.

  • Another area where I think automakers are unnecessarily deficient is A/C power. Why perpetuate 12-volt power when you could provide an A/C plug cheaply? I know, as with audio input jacks, a few carmakers are starting to provide these.

  • Vince

    Amen brother.

    I have been searching for a new stereo with an front mounted AUX plug for my 6 different devices to plug into. I can’t believe how hard it is to find. What are the manufacturers afraid of?

    It should have been on every head made in the last ten years. How many people use the stupid cassette intreface modules?

    It’s is some kind of scam, I just can’t figure out why. I found some cheap off brand stuff that has the plug, maybe I’ll take a chance on one of them.