SD Card Inputs

The Basics

What are they?

Some cars have inputs for SD memory cards (like the ones you have in your digital camera). SD cards can be used to store and playback certain types of music files in some car models. Alternatively they are sometimes used to store satellite navigation maps or photos that can be seen on the display.

What do they look like?

SD card inputs are narrow slots which usually have SD written above or below them. To the right you can see an example along with a 12V-charging socket, USB and AUX Input.

How do I connect to them?

To connect to it you, all you will need is an SD card and a car with an SD Card slot suitable for playing music (not just storing maps).

You will then need to upload compatible music files (normally mp3, wma or AAC) then just plug it into the slot.

Finally you just need to select the SD card as the device from the audio devices menu and you should be able to play your songs.

Compatibility

Will it work with any SD Card?

SD Card ports will generally support playback with most SD cards, but they must be formatted correctly and have the correct types of files. Manuals, dealers or online guides can provide advice on what type of drives, formatting, files and file structures are supported in your specific car.

Many reviewers on Amazon have had success using SanDisk's SD card in their cars. Specific stereos may support other file formats and different types of SD cards.

Which cars have SD Card inputs?

SD card inputs are fitted in select models by various manufactures including: Alpha Romeo, Audi, Mazda, Mercedes Benz, Renault, Seat, SKODA, Smart & Volkswagen.

Functionality

Will I be able to see track information on my car display?

Yes. SD card inputs can transfer information from your SD card to your car's display. This might include song titles, artists, albums or album artwork. For this to work you must have IDT3 tags with your music files, however, but most music download services will do this automatically.

What if I want to make phone calls?

SD card inputs cannot connect to your mobile phone and so you cannot use this method to make phone calls. However most cars with SD Card inputs will also have Bluetooth® fitted. Normally you can use both in tandem, so you can play music from your SD card but make and answer phone calls hands-free via Bluetooth and your mobile.

What about navigation?

In some cars SD cards are also used to store maps for navigation systems (where fitted).

Will I be able to select the music being played using my car's controls?

Yes most cars that offer SD card functionality will allow you to change songs using your car controls.

What about sound quality?

SD cards provide a direct digital link from your device to your car stereo. As a result the sound quality is normally excellent.

Summary

SD Card inputs are a great way of getting your music into your car. You can put thousands of mp3's on a SD card, which you can then you can just leave in your car!

Pros

  • Can play music from SD cards which can be left in car and don't require charging.
  • Integrates with car controls.
  • Can transfer track information to car display.

Cons

  • SD Card solutions will not integrate with your media player / smartphone apps.
  • Requires duplicating your music library onto your SD card and manually updating it.
  • You will need an SD card, which may require you buying a new one!

Products that may be of interest

SanDisk Ultra 32 GB SDHC
Card

This SD card from SanDisk has quick transfer speeds and can hold thousands of mp3 files ready to play via your audio system!

Many reviewers have had success using these with their cars.