Apple CarPlay Price: Is CarPlay Free to Use?

apple carplay price - featured image

Are you interested in getting Apple CarPlay in your vehicle and want to calculate the cost?

Apple CarPlay is a free system that uses the iPhones IOS system. The only costs that may be involved are around purchasing the iPhone and buying a compatible head unit, if not already installed. 

Read on to see a breakdown of some typical costs…

Apple CarPlay Price

The price of Apple carplay can be broken into three potential areas. 

Hardware, Software & Installation.

Hardware: CarPlay Costs

While the IOS system for CarPlay is free, you’ll need to make sure you have compatible hardware to view and use CarPlay in your vehicle.

These include:

  1. An iPhone
  2. A Head Unit (Built-in or aftermarket)


We’ll discuss both of these in the following section..


CarPlay only works with an iPhone 5, iPhone 6, and upwards and won’t work on other devices like iPads.

See the image below of all the current compatible devices:

iOS - CarPlay - Apple iPhone compatibility
iOS – CarPlay – Apple iPhone compatibility

If you haven’t already got an iPhone, the latest model (the iPhone 13) retails at $829. 

Or you can opt for the budget iPhone (the SE). With basic options, this is available for around $429.

Note: Because CarPlay is an Apple ecosystem product, it won’t work with Samsung, Google Pixel, and Android other phones.

If you own one of these phones, you should opt for Andriod Auto.

Head Unit / Car Stereo

CarPlay is built into most modern car models from around 2019 onwards (But first came out in March 2014); however, if yours isn’t, you’ll need to purchase and install the aftermarket head unit.

While you can get a CarPlay head unit for less than $100, quality big-name manufacturers such as Sony or Pioneer will cost over $350


screenshot of apple carplay price - head units on amazon


If your deciding on which head unit to pick, we’d suggest the Pioneer MVH1400NEX


Installation of CarPlay Hardware

Another consideration is the installation cost of the CarPlay head unit

The installation will likely take no more than an hour, so you can expect to pay around $100 in labor costs unless you buy through BestBuy or Walmart, which offer some free installs.

CarPlay Software & App Costs

Most compatible apps that work with CarPlay require no additional cost. 

However, the likes of YouTube Music CarPlay need you to be a premium member to make it compatible with CarPlay.

Other apps, such as Tidal and Audible, work the same as on your iPhone and require no additional payment on top of the current one. 

Apple’s range of built-in apps, like messaging, Facetime, calendar, etc., have no charge associated with them, apart from potential data usage fees.

Is Apple CarPlay Free for all Cars?

Apple carplay is free in most cars it’s installed in; however, some manufacturers did, and potentially do, charge a fee to “unlock” CarPlay. 

We discuss the following car makes in more detail:


Due to bad press and widespread complaints, BMW rolled back the fee. BMW carplay is now free of any additional charges. 

This cost used to be $80 per year or $300 for 20 years! Would you pay for this?

According to Car and Driver: “Anyone who had a trial that expired should now see the service reappear. Anyone who paid for a subscription will be refunded. And finally, anyone who buys a new BMW from this day on won’t have to worry—it’s standard on all vehicles with navigation.” 


There is no additional charge for CarPlay in Toyota vehicles.

Toyota officially states: “There is no additional cost for Apple CarPlay®. It comes standard when purchasing eligible vehicles.”


Volvo used to charge a $300 fee as an additional addon to enable CarPlay. 

However, it seems this is no longer the case. 

I can confirm a range of Volvo vehicles such as the S90, V90, XC60, XC90, and XC40 have CarPlay installed in selected model versions. 

Apple CarPlay Installation Cost

The installation cost for an aftermarket CarPlay system can vary based on several factors:

  1. Labor Rates: The hourly rate for professional car audio installers can vary widely depending on your location and the specific shop. Some shops charge a flat rate for certain installations, while others charge based on the estimated time it will take. Main retailers such as Best Buy sometimes offer free installs if you purchase a stereo with them!
  2. Complexity of the Installation: The cost can also depend on how complex the installation is. For example, if the new system requires extensive rewiring, removing and replacing dash components, or integrating with existing steering wheel controls, the cost will likely be higher.
  3. Additional Parts: As mentioned earlier, you may need additional parts for the installation, such as a new dash kit, wiring harness, or antenna adapter. These parts are often not included in the aftermarket system and will add to the overall cost. The labor cost to install these additional parts will also add to the total.
  4. Warranty or Service Plan: Some installers offer a warranty or service plan that can add to the initial cost but provide coverage for certain repairs or adjustments in the future.

In general, you can expect to pay around $100 to $200 for professional installation of an aftermarket CarPlay system, but it can be more depending on the factors listed above.

It’s always a good idea to get a quote from a few different installers to ensure you’re getting a fair price. And remember, while it might be tempting to save money by doing the installation yourself, improperly installing a CarPlay system can be challenging unless you’re confident in your abilities.

Final Thoughts

For most people, CarPlay will be free of charge. You are all set if you already have an iPhone and a compatible car.

If not, you’ll have to buy and install a CarPlay head unit. Depending on the exact model and features, these typically retail between $100 – $400.

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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