Krzysztof is a lifelong future tech junkie investigating the latest stories from companies like Apple, Samsung, Google, and Amazon.
How to Control Amazon Alexa in Your Car
Amazon's Echo Dot is currently the best smart device for your home, but did you know it's an even better product for your car?
Home voice control can be fun and useful, but what if you could have the ability to ask for the weather, gets news updates, play music, listen to audiobooks, and more by controlling Alexa in your vehicle.
There are several methods to connect the Dot to your car including:
- Vehicle's built-in WiFi
- Mobile Hotspot Tethering
- Car's Bluetooth speaker
- Manual Bluetooth add-on
- Via car's AUX port
These methods allow practically anyone to have the best voice control available in their car without spending a lot of money.
The most important items you'll need are:
- Echo Dot, a smartphone, car charger/USB port, micro USB cable, and additional options including an AUX cable and Bluetooth receiver
You may even opt for a portable battery attachment for the Dot if you have no means of powering the Echo in your car.
Since most of us already have a smartphone, the most expensive item you'll need is the Dot which normally sells for $25-30 but can go as low as $5-10 during promotional deals on Amazon.
Once you have the gadgets required, then you'll just need to follow these simple steps to have the best and cheapest voice controlled infotainment in your automobile.
Note: Although the setup can be done with any Echo Dot, I don't recommend doing it with the 4th Gen spherical designs as they're a bit too bulky for most vehicles.
How to Connect Echo Dot Without Built-In WiFi
If your car has built-in WiFi, then the setup process for your Echo is exactly how it would be for your home.
However most people do not have this option and will have to use your smartphone's mobile hotspot to connect Alexa to the internet.
The first thing you'll have to do is power on your Echo, and I do this via my car charger's USB port and the Echo's micro USB cable.
If you don't have a battery attachment, then you'll need a USB port to turn on your Dot.
Once your device turns on, it'll take about 45 seconds to boot, which can get cumbersome if you're in a rush and don't want to spend time setting up your Echo Dot.
After your device boots, you must go to the Alexa app and begin the setup process by holding down the "action button for 5 seconds" until you're in setup mode.
You'll then have to go into your phone's settings and connect to your Echo's network. Alexa will let you know when she's connected.
Next go back into the Alexa app and locate your phone's network.
If your phone's network settings aren't available in the app, then you may have to manually input your smartphone's network.
I did this by going into my phone's hotspot settings to locate the name and password for my phone's WiFi.
Once you identify your phone in the app, Alexa will tell you to turn on your mobile hotspot which you must do in your phone's settings.
If all goes well, then your Dot and Alexa should successfully connect to your hotspot and you'll be able to voice control her as you would at home.
How to Sync Alexa to Vehicle's Bluetooth Speaker
Once your Echo Dot is fully powered and connected via your car's built-in WiFi or through WiFi tethering, then you'll want to pair it to your vehicle's speaker/Bluetooth speaker for better sound.
If your vehicle has a Bluetooth speaker, then the syncing process is very simple but there may be some complications.
You'll want to go into your Alexa app, find your Echo Dot in the settings, click on Bluetooth, and select "Pair a New Device" in the app.
Hopefully your speaker should come up and you can link it up with your Echo Dot.
If successful, Alexa will tell you you're connected to Bluetooth and your Dot's audio will come through your car's speakers, which makes for nice, easy listening.
However based on your car's features and the Dot's limitations, you may run into some complications including:
- Inability to sync to car's speaker
- Inability to view/hear directions (Echo Dot's limitation)
- Interruption with Bluetooth connection
My biggest problem with connecting to my Bluetooth speaker is that sometimes the Dot doesn't sync due to an error. That may be due to my car's lack of modern features or perhaps the Dot itself.
The Echo will also not give you turn-by-turn directions and can't show you anything on your car's tablet screen either, so I still use my phone as a proper GPS.
But there are workarounds to the connection and Bluetooth problems that have been successful for me and should work for you as well.
How to Install Bluetooth in Your Automobile
If for any reason your car doesn't have Bluetooth built in, then you can install it yourself using a receiver.
The standard Bluetooth receiver will need to be powered through a car charger that's plugged into a lighter socket, and it'll require an auxiliary port to transmit the sound to your speakers.
If you want more portability or are unable to charge your device, then you can opt-in for a battery powered receiver. The only downside is that it'll have to be charged from time to time using your car charger.
Another option is to purchase a separate Bluetooth speaker or clip-on speakerphone that can pair with your Echo. In that case the sound won't come out of your auto's speakers but from the speakerphone.
The cost of these receivers can range anywhere from $8 to $20.
Given the low pricing, it's a quick and affordable solution that won't set you back too much. You just have to figure out which one works best for you and your car.
I've often found that using a receiver works even better than the car's own Bluetooth with fewer interruptions and technical issues.
For more info about adding Bluetooth to your car check this link out.
How to Manually Connect Echo Dot to Your Vehicle's Speaker
If you don't want to deal with the hassle of having to buy a receiver and perform a DIY Bluetooth install in your car, then there's another option.
If your car has a 3.5 mm AUX input, then you can easily plug one end into the Echo Dot and the other into the port.
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I'm able to flip on the AUX in my car's settings and hear Alexa through my vehicle's speaker with ease. The only issue with this is that unlike a Bluetooth connection, you'll have an additional step for setup.
Once Bluetooth is paired, it will automatically connect to your Echo Dot next time you turn the car/Dot on.
Then again you don't have to connect your Echo Dot to your speakers, but doing that will give you very low and poor audio quality.
I suggest syncing via Bluetooth, if possible, because it saves you time and I definitely recommend connecting the Dot to your speakers because Alexa can respond to you better with much better song quality & volume levels.
How to Get Alexa in Your Car Without an Echo Dot
If you want a less intrusive Alexa experience in your car, then I'd recommend the Roav Viva by Anker. It's a sleek, 2-port USB car charger that gives you Alexa hands-free voice control, in-car navigation, and even noise cancellation.
It's only around $60, it comes with a 12-month warranty, and it's powered by PowerIQ technology for fast, dual charging. There's even an option to turn off the mic like you would on your Echo Dot.
However you still have to set-up the device through your phone and its own app like you would with the Echo Dot. Also be aware that this device may not work with all car models, and there's a listing on the bottom of Amazon's product page that includes the cars it may not be compatible with.
Is this a good replacement for the Echo Dot?
I've used this device in the past and I've been happy with the results, however; it does have its flaws. For example, I found that the Roav may struggle to hear you at times, and it can occasionally disconnect from your phone's hot spot.
That's why I still like to have both the Roav and the Echo Dot nearby just in case there are connectivity or audio difficulties.
However if you want an inexpensive and less clunky Alexa gadget in your car, then it doesn't get better than the Roav Viva.
Echo Auto: First Alexa Device Made for Your Car
The Echo Auto ($50) is officially the first Alexa device (from Amazon) designed for vehicles.
The device uses your existing smartphone plan and the Alexa app to access Echo's numerous features. The product supports Bluetooth and/or cars with an auxiliary input, and it comes with its own dash mount.
Echo Auto contains eight microphones with far-field technology crafted to hear you over music, A/C, and road noises. All the Alexa caveats will apply with access to thousands of skills, features, smart home devices, audio books, lists, and calendars. Additionally you can make calls and texts without ever having to touch your phone.
Finally, Echo Auto has location-based features that can connect Alexa to apps like Google Maps, Waze or Apple Maps to give you step-by-step directions, gas station locations, and traffic information. It can also trigger smart home gadgets like lights depending on how far you're away from home.
If you're truly looking for an all purpose Alexa gadget for your car, then I'd probably go with this option though be aware of its limitations and occasional missteps.
Personally I'm hoping for a refined version of this unit that's even more user friendly with additional features that improve upon the experience.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
Questions & Answers
Question: What do you use in your car most of the time? Do you use the Echo Dot, the Anker device, or the Echo Auto?
Answer: Currently, I mostly use the Echo Dot for my car. The Echo Auto hasn't been released yet, but if it's as good as advertised, then I may switch to it eventually.
Priyesh on October 01, 2019:
I recently bought an Echo Dot (generation 3), and I was looking for ways to use it in my car. And thus I came across your article. Though your article is really informative. I still have a doubt, as my Echo Dot doesn't suport usb charging, it came with an adapter with round pin. Which goes in the power slot near the 5.3mm audio output slot.
So, how can I use my Echo Dot in my car, please suggest.
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on January 28, 2019:
The Echo Dot was never meant to be in the car, so I'm more forgiving on its clunky workings. Connecting to my phone's hot spot was easy enough but I agree that Alexa didn't pick up my commands sometimes.
I didn't receive my Echo Auto yet, I'm excited to see how much of an improvement it is over the Dot or Roav Viva solution.
My car doesn't have built-in WiFi either, so that'll still be an issue but if the Echo Auto is as good as they say it is, listening wise, then I'll be pretty happy about it.
NikkiRoxi on January 17, 2019:
All of the comments are older down below. I requested an invite for the Echo Auto on 9/20/18 and to date 1/17/19 I still haven’t received my invite to purchase it. I used my Echo Dot in my car a long time ago and abandoned it because it is a clunky solution, I didn’t have a proper location to place it. It didn’t hear me all that well either with my radio on and I had to use my cellphone’s hotspot to connect it to the internet, which runs the battery down quickly. I too can only have one device connected to my car via Bluetooth at a time. I currently use Anker’s Roav Viva. It hears a little bit better than my Echo did, but it too sometimes doesn’t hear me. I don’t like the fact that if I want to listen to the radio I won’t be able to listen to Alexa speaking. I have to switch from the radio to CD/Aux setting in order to hear Alexa Speak. I wish my car came with WiFi. The next car I buy will have it, but I am not looking to buy a car anytime soon.
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on May 23, 2018:
That's always the hard part when blending older and newer technologies. I too have a bunch of CD's that I can no longer use without transferring them to new media sources. I do use music streaming but they don't have everything either.
I can imagine how annoying it must have been to do.
Liz Westwood from UK on May 17, 2018:
I still miss the CD player, which I no longer have in this car. I had to figure out how to copy my CDs onto a USB so I could get music back in my car!
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on May 14, 2018:
I have an older car and it doesn't even have a car display, so I try to make do with what I have. I understand your hesitation as well.
Liz Westwood from UK on April 26, 2018:
It has taken me a while to get used to my phone coming up on the car display. I think it'll take a while longer before I try Echo Dot.
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on April 23, 2018:
Thank you so much, I believe the goal is to eventually fully integrate the Alexa platform into more and more cars similar to Car Play or Android Auto, but a lot of people still won't have that option.
So for now this is the best way to make more use of our current smart speaker technology.
Liz Westwood from UK on April 11, 2018:
We recently got given an Echo Dot and it has now become a popular member of the household. I had no idea it could be put to use in the car. This is a really useful article.
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on January 25, 2018:
Good thinking, personally I still have problems getting my Echo to hear me at times when music is playing.
Thanks for the tip.
mousmaniac on January 16, 2018:
I have a very similar setup. The only difference is I am connected via aux and instead of connecting to my stereo via bluetooth, I connect the Dot to my phone. This way I can still hear directions through my stereo and I can control my music, etc. with my voice or on the screen.
Krzysztof Willman (author) from Parlin, New Jersey on January 03, 2018:
This is definitely a side step before we see full Alexa compatibility for all vehicles, a better version of CarPlay.
You're right that it is hard to hear with music playing, and navigation is an issue.
I strongly believe that the next version of the Dot will be for travel and specifically for vehicles, and a GPS inclusion with an Alexa app for car navigation is the likely option.
SL Allen on December 20, 2017:
I think this would work great unless you needed to navigate. For me, if I'm playing music my phone would be hard to hear over the music. When I have my phone connected to my car's Bluetooth this isn't an issue the music pauses and I get my GPS prompt then the music resumes. My car can only connect to one device at a time so if I need navigation I would need to use my phone. Oh if amazon only made an app that gave my phone voice prompted Alexa functionality or added proper GPS to the dot my problems would be solved.