All Your Music on a USB in Your Car

All Your Music on a USB in Your Car

February 19, 2018 Technology 0

With smartphones, Bluetooth, audio streaming, and advanced auto technology, why would you bother with a USB to play music in your car?

Well, there are a handful of advantages. It avoids having to use data to stream music, and saves on memory space and battery power on your smartphone. Not to mention having your entire music collection readily available to you.

If your car’s USB connection isn’t as plug-and-play as you thought it would be, then this post may help.


Filesystem – the way files are organized on a disk.
Metadata – data (or information) about other data. A song’s artist or album, for example.
ID3 Tags – a container for metadata.

Useful Software

iTunes – my choice media player, library, and source.
Mp3tag – used to manipulate audio files; file name, metadata, album art, and more.
fat32format – used to format a drive larger than 32 GB with the FAT32 filesystem.


  1. Outfit audio files.
    Obviously, this step is optional, but it goes a long way for your music collection’s organization, search-ability, and display. I get this done with iTunes, but you should be able to accomplish this with any music library software.
  2. Format the USB with the correct filesystem.
    In order for the stereo receiver to read the music files, we generally need to format the USB with the FAT32 filesystem. Click here to learn how to format a drive with the FAT32 filesystem on Windows.
  3. Copy audio tracks onto the USB.
    Simply drag-and-drop the audio files onto the formatted USB. You can drag the files directly from your choice media player (like iTunes) or from the folder the audio file is located in (using File Explorer if you’re on a Windows machine).

Avoid Renaming Files or Adding Folders for Organization

You don’t need filenames or folders to keep your files in order. Your car’s stereo receiver uses the files’ metadata to display information, and to sort and search through your music collection. Folders may actually hinder your receiver’s ability to efficiently work with your music files.

Test It Out

The first time you connect the USB to your car, give your car’s stereo receiver some time to sort through all of your audio files. The more files you have, the more work your stereo receiver would need to do, so the longer you would have to wait to enjoy the fruits of your labor.

If you have more than 30 GB of data, it would be common to have to wait 20+ minutes for your car’s stereo receiver to sort through all of the audio files, but this will only happen the first time you connect the USB or whenever changes are made to it. Otherwise, you can disconnect and connect the USB without having to wait for the stereo receiver to sort through all of your audio files again.


Album art doesn’t display on your car’s stereo receiver.
Image files with the .jpg extension cannot be resized by the receiver, therefore the size on a jpeg cannot pass 300 x 300 pixels. PNG image files have shown to be re-sizable by stereo receivers.

Songs’ data doesn’t display on your car’s stereo receiver.
Make sure the audio files have the proper ID3 Tags – ID3v2.3 with ISO-8859-1. You can convert ID3 Tags with iTunes or Mp3tag.

Car’s stereo receiver doesn’t acknowledge the USB.
Try a different USB. If the problem persists, then consider that your USB slot isn’t connected properly to your car’s stereo receiver.

References: Doug Haslam, FitFreak, TechRepublicRichard Farrar

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