How To Turn On CarPlay: 3 Easy Steps (for All iPhones)

How To Turn On CarPlay - featured image

CarPlay is a smart feature that enables you to safely use your iPhone while driving.

With it, you can get directions, send and receive audio messages, make calls and play music.

But to enjoy all these benefits, you need to know how to turn CarPlay on!

You can turn on CarPlay by connecting your iPhone to the car via USB or while using wireless. Connect your lightning cable to a USB port and enable CarPlay on your phone. Alternatively, you can activate the wireless on your phone for the CarPlay to connect with your car. 

Keep reading for a more detailed guide on how to turn on CarPlay on iPhone using a USB cable or a wireless connection.

I will also explain how you can use Siri and your car’s in-built controls to operate CarPlay, so read on!

1. Check Whether Your Car Supports CarPlay

wired carplay connection for comparison vs wireless carplay

CarPlay works on most cars manufactured in 2016 and above, but it’s not a given that your vehicle will support it.

Therefore, you have to ensure that it will run on yours. 

Check the CarPlay support vehicle models list or your car manual to determine this fact.

A car that supports CarPlay will also have a USB port with a CarPlay or smartphone icon on its console.  

Note: The Apple CarPlay software is free to use as long as you have compatible hardware. Eg: iPhone & compatible stereo 

2. Determine Whether Your Car Supports USB or Wirelessly

Some cars use USB or wireless to operate CarPlay, while others can use both connections.

If you’re unsure which to pick, see our article on wired vs wireless CarPlay.

You can tell that your car supports either of the two if it has a USB port with a CarPlay icon or from the manufacturer specifications in the manual with regards to wireless.

However, if your vehicle lacks wireless CarPlay and you would prefer to use it, you can install an aftermarket CarPlay unit, or use a wireless CarPlay adapter

3. Connect Your iPhone to the Car

Use a USB cable to connect the iPhone to your car’s infotainment system or wirelessly do it.

Here’s how you can activate Apple CarPlay using the different methods:

How To Turn On CarPlay via USB

iPhone Cable Connected to CarPlay

  1. Use an Apple Lightning cable to plug your iPhone into the CarPlay USB port.
  2. Unlock your smartphone.
  3. Enable Apple CarPlay when the consent request pop-ups on the phone screen.
  4. CarPlay will automatically launch itself. But if it does not, touch the CarPlay icon on the dashboard to start it.
  5. The iPhone apps will now show on the infotainment screen, meaning that CarPlay is active for you to use.


See my article on the best CarPlay charging cables

How To Turn On CarPlay Wirelessly

Wireless CarPlay - Phone


  1. Place the car stereo in Wireless or Bluetooth.
  2. Turn on wireless on your phone or Bluetooth to pair your iPhone to the infotainment system.
  3. Go to settings on the iPhone and tap General, then CarPlay, then Available Cars to choose your car.
  4. You should then be able to select carplay via your infotainment system
    • Check your car manual for more instructions on how to connect further because car brands have different guidelines.


The process of turning on your CarPlay is the same on all the compatible iPhones manufactured from 2012 and above.

So you can simply follow the above-mentioned ways to turn on CarPlay on your iPhone.

Once set up, it should look like the image below (although you’ll have different apps):

carplay weatherology app logo on home screen

If you run into any problems, check out my article on why CarPlay might not be working.

 Operate CarPlay With Siri

Activate Siri by saying “Hey Siri” and then asking a question or telling Siri what to do for you. 

See my article on a variety of CarPlay Siri voice commands for some inspiration.

But if your car does not support that function, press and hold the voice command button on the steering wheel or the CarPlay Home button on the dashboard.

how to use carplay without charging - siri button on seat

Then you can ask Siri for whatever you want. 

You can request directions to a location, send an audio message and listen to incoming messages. 

Such as:  “Siri, give me directions to [insert location name here] using [insert name of navigation app eg: Waze, Google Maps, etc..]”

My favorite command is: “Tell me a joke” – They’re very bad, by the way!

Use the In-Built Car Controls To Control CarPlay

You can use the touchscreen, touchpad, or rotary knob on top of Siri to operate CarPlay.

If you want to open a CarPlay radio app, such as TuneIn, on the dashboard, you will have to tap it and choose a radio station. 

To do the same with the rotary knob, you can use it to move to the app you want, and after, press the knob to open the app. 

How to Turn on CarPlay on iPhones

Regards of your iPhone, the process is the same for turning on CarPlay. 

Just make your its newer than an iPhone 5 and follow the steps outlined above.


With Apple CarPlay, you can multitask as you drive without compromising your safety.

You can easily turn on this application using your Lightning to USB cable or with a wireless connection from your iPhone. 

Keep in mind your devices need to be compatible, and your CarPlay software should be updated regularly to ensure compatibility.

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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