Bluetooth connection issues with Apple Watch, iPhone 5-6 & in-car infotainment systems

applewatchbluetoothAs our readers all too well know, there have been “issues” with Bluetooth in-car connections with iPhones since the release of iOS 8, last September. There are now reports in Apple forums that Apple Watch owners are experiencing in-car connections problems too.

“After pairing my Apple Watch with my iPhone 6+, my car’s (2013 BMW 328i) Bluetooth audio became problematic with music skipping all the time. It was perfect before the pairing,” reported one forum member.

The music skipping is an issue that was previously reported with iOS 8.3.

There are new reports that there seems to be conflicts with the Apple Watch, iPhone 6 (iOS 8.3) Bluetooth and car connectivity.

For example, a Toyota RAV4 EV owner reported, he had no problem at first connecting the iPhone 6 via Bluetooth to his car. However, when he paired an Apple Watch to the iPhone, it worked fine until he entered his car.

The car Bluetooth would no longer automatically pair with the iPhone, and when he forced a connection, the Apple Watch would no longer receive calls.

He left the settings alone. A few days later, he realized that his Apple Watch stopped working it would no longer charge on the dock, send taps, heartbeats and on-watch texts.

He had to remove the car Bluetooth connection from the iPhone 6 and reset the Apple Watch before it worked again. Currently, he cannot connect the iPhone to the car via Bluetooth without impacting the watch. He pleads “Apple Watch Developer, give us a software fix, please!”

Other reported Apple Watch problems include the watch feeling extremely hot, overheating batteries and inability for watches to be fully charged. Apple store Geniuses suggested to some Apple Watch owners that the units be returned.

Developer Marco Arment noted that WatchKit load times are inconsistent and problematic, “Every time the interface loads or changes, the Watch and iPhone communicate round-trip over Bluetooth. Whether due to wireless flakiness, 1.0 OS bugs, or (most likely) both, WatchKit is frustratingly unreliable. ”

Ahah! The update to iOS 8.3 added the Bluetooth functionality for the Apple Watch, because there’s so much Bluetooth going on it could be affecting the iPhone’s Bluetooth connection with cars!

A few companies have launched car apps for Apple Watches, so far. It will be interesting to see if in-car Bluetooth incapability will affect Apple Watch functions in cars. A no-textng reminder Apple Watch app works with Bluetooth. An Apple Watch lawsuit alleges that smartwatches distract drivers.

Some Apple Watch owners have been able to stream audio from their watches to Bluetooth car system.

Here are some fixes that seem work sometimes, from the easiest to the most complicated  for Bluetooth connectivity issues with iOS 8-8.3 and in-car connections.

1. Toggle/Turn Bluetooth On/Off

Turn Bluetooth on/off – go to Settings > Bluetooth.

2. Reboot iPhone /Re-Pair Bluetooth

Shut down and reboot your iPhone and re-pair. It may help to  forget the device and then reconnect.

3. Reset the Network –  Go to Settings > General > Reset and tap on Reset Network Settings.

4. Delete, Fresh Start All Over:

  • Delete all Bluetooth devices on the iPhone.
  • Deleted the phone from the car’s Bluetooth paired device.
  • Switch car off.
  • Switch Bluetooth off on iPhone.
  • Reboot iPhone using home and lock simultaneously.
  • Turn Bluetooth back on.
  • Start the car and pair the two to again.
  • Note: sometimes renaming the car or the phone helps.

5. Factory Reset & Restore

Factory reset the iPhone 5s and re-install iOS 8.3 from scratch. Restore apps and more from  iTunes. This has worked for few.

6.  Clear Out Everything Even Car Settings – The Ultimate Nuke-it Fix

  • Disconnect car battery to remove all settings from car.
  • Make a backup of your iPhone/iPod with iCloud backup.
  • Restore updated iPhone to new.
  • Once restored it should connect.
  • Restore apps, calendar, music from  iCloud backup.

7. Update software from automaker:

Some automakers have updated their in-car software. You can check with your dealer or online.

  • BMW has updates for models from 2012 or later online.
  • Ford SYNC updates can found online, they can be loaded to a USB drive and updated from there.
  • GM for Chevy, Buick and Cadillac has a toll-free number to call for tech support.
  • Honda offers subscription services and app updates online.
  • Toyota has toll-free number and website for tech support.
  • Hyundai has a Bluetooth support page.

If you have Apple Watch Bluetooth problems with your in-car system or updated to iOS 8.3 for iPhone 5/5S/5c 6-6+ and it fixed or fried your Bluetooth issues or music streaming with your in-car infotainment system, please let us know in the comments below, be sure to note your make, model and year of your vehicle. We also welcome any solutions you have found worked with your car or Apple Watch.

There are other problems with iOS 8.3 and in-car systems such as the USB or lightning connections in cars with iPhones don’t play music correctly, especially Hyundai.

We have comments from readers that there are still Bluetooth problems reported with BMW, Audi, Acura, MINI, GM(Chevy, GMC, Cadillac, Buick), Honda, Kia, Toyota, Volkswagen, Mercedes-Benz, Mazda, Lexus, Fiat, Hyundai, Chrysler, Acura, Mazda and more.

Our latest comments show Bluetooth connection glicthes with iOS 8.3 for:

  • 2012 Hyundai Santa Fe – no contact list.
  • 2013 Hyundai Santa Fe  – no Bluetooth pairing.
  • Mazda3 2015 – constantly have to re-pair Bluetooth.
  • Caddy DTS 2010 – audio doesn’t automatically mute during a call.
  • Honda CRV 2012 – calls constantly drop, USB no longer supported.
  • 2015 Honda Fit – will not connect Bluetooth on iPhone 6 Plus.
  • 2015 Subaru Forester Touring Edition – iPhone 6+ calls dropped and stopped working completely.
  • 2012 Honda CR-V EX – plays music but doesn’t recognize iPhone.
  • 2010 Hyundai i30 – with an iPhone 5S updated to iOS 8.3 phone it did not  connect to the stereo. With a hard reset it only worked once. Owner rolled back to iOS 8.2.
  • 2011 Nissan Maxima – unable to connect for phone calls.
  • 2008 Acura MDX – no Bluetooth phone connectivity after 8.3 release.
  • 2015 Acura RDX – Bluetooth repeatedly drops connections during calls and then reestablishes connection.
  • 2006 BMW 650i – iPhone 5 with iOS 8.3 won’t pair.
  • 2012 Kia Sorento – unable to pair.
  • CRV honda 2014 – unable to pair.
  • 2012 BMW 328 / 2013 BMW X3- unable to pair iPhone 6 with iOS 8.3.
  • 2012 Honda CRV-EXL – no Bluetooth connection.

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15 thoughts on “Bluetooth connection issues with Apple Watch, iPhone 5-6 & in-car infotainment systems”

  1. Jeep grand cherokee uconnect drops hands free phone connection, then reconnects, then drops again every 30 seconds or so. Only happened after i got the apple watch. I tried all of the tricks above. No luck.

  2. I have been having trouble using my iPhone 6s Bluetooth connection in a 2012 Mercedes ML350. My apple watch connects but it won’t allow my phone to connect so making hands-free calls doesn’t work. I’m trying to figure out how to turn Bluetooth off on my watch. Any help is appreciated.

  3. I have an 2013 Acura TL. I have the iPhone 6+ with the Apple Watch. If I have the watch with me my phone calls are interrupted multiple times during a call. Airplane mode works “sometimes.” Leaving the watch at home is the only true work around for me. Very frustrating! I know other devices are able to distinguish between multiple Bluetooth priorities, come on Apple, it’s supposed to just work….

  4. I’m noticing that if I have my watch with me and iPhone in my F150 (2015 model), that voice navigation from the apple maps app no longer works and playing any audio from the phone doesn’t really work over Bluetooth anymore. It’s like the audio now plays through a phone call over the audio system’s speakers. I get the turn-by-turn prompts on the watch, but no voice anymore. Tried everything (HFP prompts are on) but no success.

    It’s as if the watch broke the Bluetooth functionality of my iPhone with Ford Sync. I tried deleting and re-pairing the phone to Sync, but to no avail. Deleting Sync Bluetooth profile on phone too… nada. Even unpaired the watch and re-paired it to iPhone (took forever and didn’t fix it!)

    Super frustrating but I may try resetting all network connections on phone… If that doesn’t work, I’ll reset/erase the watch and start over.

  5. I got a 2015 Nissan Murano Platinum yesterday and it paired perfectly with my iPhone 6+ (8.4.1). My Apple watch, however, acts like it has been possessed by a demon. Or two. Not only will it not dictate texts (it spins like it heard me, but it never makes words), it no longer holds a charge (I used to take it off each night with close to – if not more than – 50% of a charge left and now it
    runs completely down before the day is over) If these problems happened only when inside the car, I would deal with it. But the fact that something Nissan-related has bricked my watch?!? UNACCEPTABLE.

    • UPDATE:

      Turns out, it wasn’t the car or Bluetooth. It was just a coincidence. After sending my watch in to be reset to factory settings, and erasing my phone and setting it up as new, all problems have been resolved.

  6. 2013 Chrysler 300 + iPhone 6 + watch
    Music skipping and connectivity issues.
    In-car phone calls switch sporadically between vehicles hands-free Bluetooth and personal Bluetooth headset and difficult to switch back.

  7. I just bought a SoundStream Nav Unit for my Corvette that didn’t have Nav, Im getting skipping with my Apple Watch and Phone Synced up. The HeadUnit has BlueTooth 3.0.

  8. It’s not just in car – my Jambox is showing the same issue as my Ford Sync – not as bad on the Jambox, but it skips every few seconds.

  9. You can add Audi 2014 Q7 to the list of auto infotainment conflicts with Apple Warch and iPhone! Worked fine on iPhone 5s for music and phone until pairing to the Watch. Then lost audio pairing but kept phone call capabilities through car. No fix figured out yet.

  10. 2008 BMW 335 – Bluetooth from iPhone 6+ failed with Apple watch. Simply put watch in airplane mode and all works fine….

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