Of course you can. It might be the most common question we hear when it comes to in-car entertainment. But if you ask a car audio salesperson, they’ll probably answer with something like “Yes, with a video adapter and special video monitor” or “Yes, but it’s pretty complicated” or maybe even “It’s impossible.”
Luckily, none of these are true (at least for most newer vehicles). You can easily play DVDs on your car stereo by simply either attaching a portable DVD player or mounting a DVD player in your head unit. Let’s look at both possibilities and see why this is such an important question for parents everywhere.
It depends on what kind of car stereo you have.
Before you can answer this question, you need to take a closer look at the car stereo that came with your vehicle. This will give you an idea of what input options are available. Depending on the make and model of your car, it may have any number of these handy features:
Auxiliary input: This is a 3.5mm jack that’s typically located in the front center console, or somewhere near the stereo itself (it can also be in a place like the glove box). You can plug in an audio cable from your phone or MP3 player, and use it as a source.
USB port: Most cars built within the past decade include this feature, which allows you to play media stored on a USB flash drive or other device. Check the owner’s manual for more details about what types of devices are supported for use with this port—some may not support USB drives larger than 32 GB!
Other inputs: Some older vehicles may have composite video or RCA inputs for hooking up VHS players, DVD players and other devices. If your car has HDMI ports built into its stereo system (which is becoming more common), it’s possible to hook up an HDMI-compatible Blu-ray player!
If you’re thinking about upgrading your factory stereo head unit with something that has additional capabilities like these listed above (or maybe just something more modern), read more here on full replacement stereos and how they work with older vehicles.
The easiest way to play DVD is to use a portable DVD player.
The easiest way to play a DVD in your car is by using a portable DVD player. These devices are very easy to use, inexpensive, and offer multiple ways to connect it to your vehicle. Moreover, portable DVD players can be used for additional entertainment outside of the car.
If you choose this option, you need to consider that some portable units require an AC/DC power adapter or has limited battery life. This means that you will have to plan ahead where you’ll be using the DVD player so that it’s near a power outlet. If you don’t want to deal with wires or having the unit plugged in while watching your favorite movie then make sure that the device has a rechargeable battery built-in and offers enough battery life for extended viewing sessions.
You can also connect a mobile device to your car stereo and use video playback apps like Netflix and Plex.
You can also connect a mobile device to your car stereo and use video playback apps like Netflix and Plex. Use an auxiliary cable to connect your mobile device, like a smartphone or tablet, to your car stereo. You can find these cables online for about the price of one movie ticket. This method will give you access to any movies stored on your phone or tablet as well as video apps installed on the device, including Netflix and Plex.
Your mobile device will need power for this method to work, so be sure you have a charger or power inverter installed in your car before hitting the road with the kids in tow. And if you’d prefer not to constantly hold up their screen while they’re lounging in the backseat watching SpongeBob reruns, consider investing in a mount or holder that will allow them (or you) to keep tabs on it without using their hands.
Most car stereos have an auxiliary input you can use to connect an external device like a tablet or laptop.
Most cars have an auxiliary input that you can use to connect an external device. This is also known as an aux-in or aux input and it will most likely be a 3.5mm jack like the one in the picture below.
The easiest way to connect your device is to use a cable with a 3.5mm plug on one end and RCA plugs on the other. The RCA plugs usually come in red and white; the white plug goes into the left audio channel and the red one goes into the right channel of your car stereo’s auxiliary input. If you don’t have this kind of cable, you can try using something like this adapter which connects to your device’s headphone jack and then has two RCA plug outputs so you can connect it directly to your car stereo’s auxiliary inputs.
If you have an older vehicle, you may need to remove your stock head unit and replace it with a multimedia system.
Removing your stock head unit and replacing it with a multimedia system is a bit more complicated than installing a new car stereo, but it’s still not very difficult. You’ll just want to make sure to have the correct tools on hand beforehand.
While there are literally hundreds of models of multimedia system available, you’ll want to find one that has all the right ports for your setup. Most new systems allow you to connect auxiliary devices through USB or RCA connections. If you’re looking at an older model, check that it has an RCA-compatible audio input, as well as a yellow video input for connecting your DVD player directly to the screen.
Connecting these cables is fairly simple: if you’re using RCA cables, simply use them in place of the ones you’ve removed from your stock head unit; if your multimedia system uses USB inputs, connect those instead.