As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

USB Not Working in Car Stereo

The USB port is one of the most widely used options to connect your phone with the car stereo.

Using the USB technology, you can plug your phone into the USB port of your car stereo to charge it or stream music files. Other than this, you can also plug in a USB drive to stream music files.

Although USB connections are pretty much plug-n-play in nature, and you don’t need to make any special configuration (unlike Bluetooth connections), many users experience problems like USB devices not being recognized by the car stereo.

How to Fix USB Not Working in Car Stereo

In this article, we’ll discuss 6 possible fixes to solve this issue.

1. Try New USB Cable

If you’re connecting your phone to a car stereo with a USB cable, you should replace that cable before anything else.

Although USB connections are pretty reliable, the cable can get damaged over time which makes it difficult to establish any connection.

If the phone makes a successful connection after using the new USB cable, then surely the old cable was faulty.

On the other hand, if the problem persists even with the new cable, then the problem lies somewhere else.

2. Try New USB Drive

Similarly, if you’re using a USB drive that’s not being recognized by the car stereo, you should try another USB drive first.

If the car stereo picks up the new USB then the old one was faulty.

Some older car stereos don’t pick the USB drive if its storage capacity is too large, such as 128GB. So when using a new drive, make sure that it has a lower capacity than the older one (maybe 8-16GB).

3. Configure Your Phone for USB Connectivity

When you’ll connect the phone to the car stereo for the first time, you’ll see a pop-up message on the phone asking whether you want ‘charging only’ or ‘data connection’. If you select the ‘charge only’ option, it will not show up in car stereo options and will only get the battery recharged.

On the other hand, selecting the ‘data transfer’ option will allow the car stereo and access music files as well as charge the phone.

4. Change USB File System

The file system is a way in which data files are managed in a storage device.

There are different file systems commonly used these days such as exFAT, FAT32, NTFS, etc.

The NTFS is the most commonly used file sytem for Windows OS, but many of the older car stereos don’t accept it. Instead, they’re compatible with the older FAT/FAT32 file systems.

Therefore, we’ll have to reformat the USB drive in FAT32 and put all of our music files again.

Here’s how you can do it:

  1. Plug your USB drive into the computer.
  2. Open the file explorer.
  3. Right-click on the USB drive icon. A menu will appear. Click on ‘format’ from this menu.
  4. A new menu will appear. Under the File system, select FAT32 from the drop-down list. Then click start.
  5. A new warning message will appear on the screen. Click OK.
  6. The format process will begin. Once this process is completed, press OK.

For more info, check this article about how to put music on USB drive for car.

5. Reboot the Head Unit

Oftentimes, car stereos act randomly (due to a bug) and don’t accept any USB device at all.

Therefore, if you’ve tried all of the methods above, consider rebooting the head unit.

If there’s no option for a reboot, you can try the hard reset as well. I’ve already written separate posts about resetting pioneer, Kenwood, and JVC car stereos that you can check out using the links below:

6. Change Head Unit Settings

Sometimes you have to tweak the head unit’s settings to make it access the phone’s music files. This issue is not as common as the ones we discussed above and I’ve only seen it in some pioneer AVH stereos.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Tap on the cog icon on the top-right corner of the screen.
  2. A list of options will appear on the screen. Select the ‘Input/Output’ option.
  3. Again, a list of options will appear. Select ‘Smartphone Setup’.
  4. Select the ‘USB/MTP’ button and then select OK.

Michael Brown is the founder of, a website that provides car audio installation guides and tips. A self-taught car audio enthusiast, Michael has been installing and modifying car stereo systems for over 15 years.

Leave a Comment is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to