How to Buy an MP3 Transmitter for Your Car

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How to Buy an MP3 Transmitter for Your Car

MP3 transmitters are a way of playing audio through a car stereo system, whilst making use of the FM frequency made available by the car’s radio.

Whilst there are other ways of playing external audio through a car stereo, such as auxiliary cable or a cassette adapter, MP3 transmitters are used by those who wish for a more portable device that is easy to control and simple to set up.

They work by matching a dead FM frequency on the car radio to that of the MP3 transmitter, which then transmits the audio signal across the frequency.

MP3 transmitters are readily available on the likes of eBay and this guide aims to help prospective buyers through the buying process.

Components of an MP3 Transmitter

In order to make a sensible purchase of an MP3 transmitter for a car, one should get to know the workings of the transmitter before proceeding with the buying process.

There is a lot of difference in the types of MP3 players and car stereos that various MP3 transmitters cater for.

Therefore, by getting to know the individual components that are used in an MP3 transmitter, one can then purchase one that is suitable to both the MP3 player and the car stereo.

Here is a table underlining the main anatomical features of an MP3 transmitter:

MP3 Transmitter Components



The jack in an MP3 transmitter will determine how the transmitter is connected to the actual MP3 player. There are two main types of jack used to connect a transmitter to an MP3 player. The first of these is a standard headphone jack. This works as simply as any headphone jack would and uses the input socket as a means of playing the audio from the MP3 player.

One of the advantages of this type of jack is that it is almost a universal fit for any MP3 player, as all, if not the vast majority of MP3 players will have the standard size headphone jack. The size of a headphone jack in this instance is 3.5 millimetres. The second type of jack can be used mainly in conjunction with apple products. It features the same design, shape and size as the power charger on an iPhone or iPod. Therefore, this type of jack can only be used on MP3 players with this type of socket incorporated into its design.

Power Source Jack

Many MP3 transmitters will have a separate jack designed to power the MP3 transmitter. However, some will be powered by the battery of the MP3 player, something that will be discussed in more detail further on in the guide. 


The display on an MP3 transmitter will allow the user to see the FM frequency that the transmitter is tuned to. This allows for the user to easily match up both the transmitter and the car radio without having to intently listen out for the two frequencies to match up via trial and error.

The display is usually small and simple and is traditionally a backlit LCD display. Some MP3 transmitters may have a display that not only shows the FM frequency, but also the number of the track and even track details, such as track length and name.

Tuning Wheel

The tuning wheel is a simple device used to tune the MP3 transmitter to the desired frequency. It is often placed on the side of the transmitter and works in exactly the same manner as any FM radio-tuning wheel would.

Most of the time, MP3 transmitter tuning wheels will be small but simple to use. Alternatively, more advance MP3 transmitters may not have a tuning wheel but may automatically tune to a frequency, or may be controlled by a separate remote control.

By knowing the components that make up an MP3 transmitter, one can then go on to choose a transmitter that is appropriate to personal preferences and necessities.

MP3 Transmitter Power Sources

There are two different power sources that MP3 transmitters utilise when being used in cars.

These different power sources all have their benefits and they are listed and detailed below:

MP3 Player

The battery of the MP3 player itself will power a lot of MP3 transmitters simply by being plugged into the jack. This is advantageous to those who desire a simple piece of equipment that is not bulky and does not take up a lot of space on the car’s dashboard. However, one of the main problems with this power source is efficiency. By using the MP3 player battery as a source of power for both the MP3 transmitter and the MP3 player, the battery will run out quickly. This is not helpful for those who require long battery life for their MP3 player on long car journeys.

Cigarette Lighter

Most cars will have a cigarette lighter fitted into the dashboard somewhere. Just as cigarette lighter sockets can be used to charge phones, it can also be used as a power source for the MP3 transmitter. One of the benefits of using the cigarette lighter socket as a power source is that it does not drain the battery of the MP3 player itself.

On the other hand, MP3 transmitters that use cigarette lighter sockets can be bulky. Furthermore, if the cigarette lighter socket does fluctuate in its power output, the fuse of the MP3 player may be permanently damaged. There are, however, cigarette lighter socket MP3 transmitters that will have a short circuit fitted as standard to prevent this from happening.

Car MP3 Transmitter Considerations

When buying an MP3 transmitter for a car, there are a number of other things that need to be taken into consideration before settling on a purchase:

Car Stereo

The first thing to do is to make sure that the car stereo has a radio system fitted and that it works on an FM frequency. After all, the way that an MP3 transmitter works is by utilising dead FM frequency as a means of transmitting audio through the car’s stereo system.

MP3 Player

Secondly, one needs to make sure that the MP3 player is compatible with the MP3 transmitter that is being chosen. Be sure to check the jacks and sockets in order to know which MP3 transmitter is best suited to the MP3 player that is going to be the audio source.

Buying an MP3 Transmitter for Your Car on eBay

There are a number of online and high street electrical stores that will sell MP3 transmitters. However, none of those will offer the opportunity to purchase one at more affordable prices than eBay.

The site has three buying options, as well as a Deals section, that provides buyers with the chance to purchase an MP3 transmitter at a sensible rate. With this in mind, be sure to know how to make a Bid, put forward a Best Offer, or use the Buy It Now option before using them to purchase an MP3 transmitter. Furthermore, one can use PayPal during the transaction as a secure method of payment.

eBay has a number of listings of MP3 transmitters for use in a car. Visit the Electronics category of the site and find the MP3 Player Accessories link to view all things MP3 player. From here, choose the Other tab and use the keyword search bar to find the specific power source or jack for an MP3 transmitter for a car.


Therefore, there are several ways of ensuring that the most appropriate car-based MP3 transmitter is purchased.

Firstly, take note of the jacks that are available on the chosen MP3 player. From there, try and find an MP3 transmitter that has the same jacks.

Then, check the car stereo to ensure that it has the capabilities to get the proper use from an MP3 transmitter. Check that not only does the car stereo have a radio installed, but that is also has an FM frequency available.

Finally, if wishing to make use of the cigarette lighter socket option, make sure that the car has this feature included. After all these factors are considered, head over to eBay, where one can find the perfect MP3 transmitter for them.

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