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I have a 2012 Honda Civic EX with built-in bluetooth audio support. It has the controls in the steering wheel, etc. Generally it works OK, but I have taken several extended trips in a 2014 Chevy Impala and found that the bluetooth audio system there is much better for the following reasons:

  • Much lower latency between the time the phone (Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HD) starts streaming the audio, and the time it comes out the speakers
  • Crisper, clearer audio -- although this may also be due to the speaker system
  • Zero dropouts -- whereas, in my Civic, audio clicks and pops and drops out from time to time

These factors have led me to conclude that the bluetooth audio system (the digital / electronics side) in my 2012 Civic just isn't very good, and could be improved upon with the latest protocol support, etc.

I have two questions:

  • What is the part even called that houses the bluetooth audio system? I don't want to dabble in low-level hacking of components, so if I did any upgrade at all, I'd have to know what part to ask for, so I could buy it and install it (or pay to have it installed). If I wanted to have the system upgraded, either using an OEM part if possible or an aftermarket part, what is the smallest discrete "part unit" called that would house the bluetooth audio system?

  • Is it even possible to upgrade it? I would think of possibly getting a newer model year's version, or an aftermarket system that is physically and electrically compatible so that I could continue using the steering wheel controls, etc. If there's no significant aftermarket industry around this kind of thing, I wouldn't want to go poking around with the electronics directly, soldering chips, etc.

  • The bluetooth is probably handled by the in dash entertainment system. On older cars this used to fit in a standardized slot (rectangular, removable), on most newer cars it seems fused to the front console and is custom made. There may have been aftermarket replacements developed, but it will be expensive. – crasic Aug 9 '13 at 23:34
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    YOur best bet is probably a bluetooth aux-in dongle that will plug in to the "aux in" or "line in" port on your audio console, something like this It will give you bluetooth connectivity, with a (hopefully) better receiver for relatively cheap and no modification required. – crasic Aug 9 '13 at 23:36
  • @crasic could you convert this comment to an answer so that we can move this question out of the Unanswered stack? Thanks – Zaid Jul 30 '16 at 10:45
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I have to agree with crasic's old comments. Bluetooth capabilities are usually integrated into the entertainment system / stereo head unit. This was as true in 2013 as it is now (moreso now).

On vehicles where this is all custom fancy in-dash stuff instead of ISO 7736 standard slots, you either have to hope that the manufacturer or a third-party made some custom upgrades, or do some creative and probably-difficult-or-impossible engineering to rip out the old system and cram something better in there.

Like crasic said, the best bet if you've got a car with a funky built-in Bluetooth interface is to purchase a better one that you can connect to the aux input (or if you're lucky, your entertainment system might have some aux or other custom inputs on the back that you can tap into, do some research to see if it has any sort of accessory inputs, or you could get creative with your audio wiring). You'd have to possibly sacrifice some conveniences like the steering wheel buttons or auto volume control, so look at adapters and judge if the trade-off is worth it.

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