A smartphone with a warning icon on the screen.
Illustration: BEN SCMULEVITCH

Consumer Reports' experts offer tips on how to fix some of the most common problems that CR members shared with us about their infotainment systems.

My car doesn’t have Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
Your options are limited. A few manufacturers, including Ford, Hyundai, and Mazda, offer software upgrades for certain vehicles as far back as the 2014 model year, but most don’t. Installing an aftermarket system that replaces the factory-installed setup can be complex and costly, and your steering wheel controls and backup camera might not work afterward. We recommend buying a good smartphone mount instead. Install it securely where you can see and reach it easily, and connect your phone via Bluetooth so that you can easily make calls and access navigation and music. Many will wirelessly charge your phone, too.

The voice recognition in my car isn’t as good as on my phone.
Many newer cars allow you to bypass the car’s voice recognition and use Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, or Google Assistant. Even without Android Auto and Apple CarPlay, many 2011 and newer vehicles let you press and hold the voice recognition button on the steering wheel to use Google Assistant or Siri through a Bluetooth-connected phone, though your car’s infotainment system may need a software update for this. Check your owner’s manual or call your dealer to find out more.

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My vehicle doesn’t recognize my phone.
Make sure it’s plugged into the correct USB port (often the one outlined with a white square); other ports might work only for charging. Also, older phones, such as the iPhone 4, might not work with certain vehicles. Most automakers post a list of compatible phones online.

Android Auto or Apple CarPlay stopped working.
Use a fresh cable. Older, worn-out cables may still charge your phone but may no longer be able to transfer data from your phone to your car. Charge-only cables won’t work, either. A growing number of vehicles have added ports using the newer USB-C standard in addition to traditional USB-A ports, so get the right cable for the job.

Android Auto or Apple CarPlay is slow and buggy.
Check the settings on your phone to make sure it remains connected to your car even when the phone’s screen turns off. Then check your phone and vehicle to make sure they’re running the latest software; manufacturers often send out updates that fix bugs and errors. Updating the software on your car could be as simple as a download or as complex as a trip to the dealership. You can also unpair and restart your phone, then start a fresh connection to see whether that helps.

My car has wireless charging, but it doesn’t work.
Wireless charging zones often have a power button that needs to be turned on. Also try removing your phone’s case, because certain cases can block a charge from reaching a phone. If it still doesn’t work, try rebooting your phone.

My wireless connection doesn’t work.
A growing number of new vehicles offer wireless Apple CarPlay, and a few have wireless Android Auto. These connect to a vehicle over WiFi, not Bluetooth. Our testers found that these systems don’t always stay connected as reliably as a wired connection. If you still have problems, try disabling wire­less connectivity in your car’s settings, or tell your phone to forget your car’s WiFi network and just plug in instead.

Editor’s Note: This article also appeared in the September 2020 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.