Apple CarPlay Music Not Working: What Should I Do?

Apple CarPlay Music Not Working

Gone are the days of fumbling for CDs or cassettes when playing music in the car.

You now have access to your entire playlist wherever you go, thanks to technology like Apple CarPlay.

But as convenient as having your favorite songs at your fingertips, it can be equally annoying when your music won’t play. 

Problems playing music via Apple CarPlay are usually due to an outdated OS, a poor connection, or incorrect phone settings. Resetting your phone and head unit should fix the issue, but you may have to correct your phone settings or update your OS if the problem persists. 

Keep reading if you want to enjoy your favorite music through CarPlay again.

This article will cover the common reasons problems occur and discuss how to fix them. 

Probable Reasons CarPlay Is Not Playing Music

dezzer carplay - song playing mode - history by becky hill

Apple CarPlay conveniently displays your iPhone apps on your car’s infotainment system so you can get navigational directions via apps, make and receive calls, send text messages, and listen to music safely.

However, you may encounter glitches that keep you from enjoying this nifty feature. One common issue is not being able to play music.

Below are the most common reasons you’re unable to play music via Apple CarPlay:

  • Your iOS needs to be updated (And update CarPlay)
  • Your iPhone is not compatible with your head unit
  • The USB CarPlay charging cable is faulty
  • There are integration issues with the apps (Such as Deezer, which as some bugs)
  • The car stereo is unable to detect your iPhone
  • Bluetooth / Wifi is not connected
  • Siri is not enabled


But before you start troubleshooting your iPhone, you need to ensure the problem isn’t with your head unit. This article will help you diagnose and troubleshoot why you don’t hear any sound from your car stereo even if it turns on

How To Fix Apple CarPlay Music Not Working

It might be challenging to determine why you cannot play a song on Apple CarPlay, but performing the steps below should have you listening to your favorite tune before you know it. 

1. Restart Your iPhone and Car Stereo

Performing a restart is a generic yet effective fix for most issues. A restart solves most glitches since it clears errors or the current state of the software.

So, if your Apple CarPlay is not playing music, restarting your iPhone and vehicle should fix the issue.

If your iPhone is unresponsive, you need to perform a forced restart. Otherwise, a soft restart should suffice. Forced restart entails pressing and holding the volume up/down button and the power button.

Restarting Your Vehicle’s Head Unit

You can restart your vehicle’s stereo by turning it off and on. Sometimes you may have to hold the power button down for a few seconds.

Another way to restart is by turning the vehicle completely off, locking and unlocking the doors, then starting the car back up again.

The procedure differs for each car and head unit, so it’s best to consult the owner’s manual.

2. Check Your Connection to the Head Unit

If you’re still unable to play music with Apple CarPlay after restarting your iPhone and vehicle, check your phone’s connection to the head unit. 

Most compatible head units connect to Apple CarPlay via a USB cable. However, not all the car’s USB ports are for CarPlay, so you must ensure you’re connected to the correct port. 

wired carplay connection for comparison vs wireless carplay

Also, check if the USB cable is firmly inserted and inspect it for damage. Some cables may not show any signs of external wear even if the internal wires are broken, so try using different cables to see if the problem persists.

If you’re trying to connect wirelessly to CarPlay, ensure your phone and head unit are correctly paired. Sometimes, the phone or the head unit may be connected to a different device.

Challenges with establishing a connection are often resolved by disabling and enabling Bluetooth on both devices. And reconnecting. 

3. Make Sure You’re Using the Latest Version of iOS

Apple CarPlay may not play music if your iOS is outdated. iOS updates contain bug fixes and software or driver enhancements that keep all your apps, including CarPlay, functioning smoothly. 

Before updating your iOS, you should back up your important files by moving them to iCloud or transferring them to a PC to prevent permanent loss. 

Once done, you can begin the update by following the steps below:

  1. Make sure the phone has a strong WiFi connection.
  2. Go to Settings.
  3. Under General, click on Software Update.
  4. Click on Install Now or Download and Install to begin downloading the update. You may be asked for your passcode.


iphone settings area for how to update carplay
iphone settings area for how to update carplay

Note: By updating your iPhone IOS, CarPlay will also be updated as it uses the iPhone’s system. For more information on how to update CarPlay, see my article.

4. Enable CarPlay When Locked

There’s a setting that disables CarPlay when the phone is locked. So, if the screen times out while you’re connected to your head unit, it will stop you from playing music. You can avoid this by ensuring CarPlay is enabled when the phone is locked.

To enable CarPlay while the phone is locked, follow the instructions below:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Under General, click on CarPlay.
  3. Select your car from the list of available connections.
  4. Look for the Allow CarPlay While Locked option and enable it.


allow carplay while locked - car page

See this full article for details on how to allow carplay while locked.

5. Turn Siri On

One reason you cannot play music through Apple CarPlay is that Siri is not activated.

With Siri off, you can access and control some apps through your touchscreen, but most CarPlay functions will be limited. 

See my full list of CarPlay Siri commands.

Siri is required for many CarPlay functions to work, so you can use voice controls to keep your hands on the wheel. 

Here are the steps to activate Siri:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Click on Siri & Search.
  3. Enable the following options: Listen for “Hey Siri”, Press Side Button for Siri, and Allow Siri When Locked.

how enable siri for carplay - settings screen on iphone

See my full article on how to enable Siri for CarPlay.

6. Turn Off USB Restricted Mode

iPhones have a security feature that prevents USB accessories from connecting if the phone has been locked for more than an hour. This feature makes it more difficult for hackers to unlock your phone, but it can also cause issues with CarPlay if you’re connected to the vehicle with a USB cable.

Turn USB restricted mode off with the following steps:

  1. Go to Settings.
  2. Click on Face ID & Passcode or Touch ID & Passcode
  3. Enter your passcode if prompted
  4. Go to Allow Access When Locked
  5. Enable USB Accessories

Final Thoughts

A car isn’t complete if it doesn’t have Apple CarPlay.

Once you’ve experienced the convenience of accessing your iPhone’s app through your vehicle’s infotainment system, it will be hard to imagine life without such a nifty feature. 

However, CarPlay isn’t working, it can be frustrating.

Fortunately, this problem is usually fixed without the need to have your iPhone professionally repaired.

Most of the time, you can solve the issue by restarting your phone, checking the settings, and making sure it’s connected to the head unit correctly. 

Picture of Alex
I loved my car but was frustrated with my media system. So I upgraded my stereo, making silly wires and precarious phone mounts a thing of the past. The Apple Car Play stereo was so good I wanted to show more people how this could be done and truly upgrade their cars multimedia system! Founder
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