Why iOS 9.2.1-9.3 iPhone 5-5S-6-6S+ Bluetooth connection issues/problem fixes work for some cars

iOS-8-WiFi-BluetoothSince the iPhone iOS update to iOS 8.0 car owners have been plagued with strange Bluetooth connection problems updating iPhones to iOS 9.2.1 and even up to iOS 9.3 Beta. We continue to see problems voiced in forums and in comments from our readers. Although frustrating sometimes, using various fixes can help to get the car to connect to new iPhones via Bluetooth.

This time, around we are seeing more problems with Jeep, Ford, Kia, GM, Cadillac, Buick, Chevrolet, Toyota, BMW and Mazda.

The latest problems we have been seeing with Bluetooth in-car connections with iPhone 6 (especially) and iOS 9.2.1 are:

  • The audio will randomly drop out for 1-3 seconds and half the time it is restored, it sounds like it’s playing underwater – for 2012 Ford F150, 2015 Toyota Yaris with Toyota Touch 2 With GO, Kenwood KMM-BT35.
  • Jeep Grand Cherokee (Limited but actually equipped like an Overland) Phone 6S can not pair at all.
  • 2013 Ford Escape and an iPhone 6S Bluetooth connects but the driver can’t hear the caller through the speakers and incoming calls don’t show on the car display.
  • 2015 Kia Optima with iOS 9.2.1 music playing issues, the music dies out after one song does not play until the iPhone until the phone is reset.
  • Update to iOS 9.3 Beta doesn’t correct Bluetooth pairing issues when a call is disconnected does not go back to radio or other media on 2014 Chevy Silverado.
  • Lexus RX 350 2016 with iPhone 6 with latest iOS 9.2.1 when sending text, whether the radio is on or off, it switches to iTunes music(media). The IT guy at the dealership did not have this problem with his iPhone connected to the same car.
  • An iPhone 5S with iOS 9.2.1 was connected to a MINI Cooper 2013 for 2 years, no problem. Then one day two weeks ago it just stopped being connected. The dealer said that is an Apple issue.
  • Acura TL 2006 does not pair or connect since the iOS 9.2.1 I owner has called Apple many times it will pair three times in a row then doesn’t connect then it won’t even pair if it is deleted and reset it.
  • 2013 Kia Sorento, owner is unable to connect to Bluetooth with iPhone 5S.
  • 2016 Buick Enclave and an iPhone 6S, after Bluetooth phone call, the system does not connect back to XMradio but defaults to iPhone music (iTunes).
  • 2015 M4 no Bluetooth connections to iPhone with 9.2.1 at all.
  • 2015 GMC Sierra after phone call switches devices and there are random disconnects.
  • 2016 Jeep Renegade with iOS 9.2.1 phone calls work but can barely hear streaming music.
  • 2014 Acadia doesn’t recognize commands from new iPhone with iOS 9.2.1.
  • 2013 Subaru Impreza Sport with iPhone 6+  Bluetooth and Siri worked fine with 9.1. and 9.2. Updating to 9.2.1 resulted in Siri not being able to find contact names or numbers and music from phone to “play” but with no sound. Updating to the iOS 9.3 beta. That fixed the Siri problem, but the music still has no sound.
  • iPhone 6 Version 9.2.1 and 2013 Uconnect in Dodge lost its ability to download the phone book from the iPhone.
  • 2015 Buick Encore – after 9.2 iOS any phone calls made are forced into ‘Transfer – Private Call’. There are no options to make the call work on the infotainment system.
  • 2012 Ford F-150 Harley Davidson. iPhone 6S call history will not match up only shows numbers.
  • 2015 Terrain random playing of music from iTunes.
  • 2015 Toyota Corolla/Camry Bluetooth continually disconnects.
  • 2015 Acura ILX and an iPhone 6 running iOS 9.2.1 Driver can receive calls over Bluetooth, but it will not display the caller’s name, can send texts but can’t reply.
  • BMW X5 2015 and iPhone 6 with iOS 9.2.1 sometimes Bluetooth works, sometimes it doesn’t.
  • 2016 Mazda Cx 5 will not play music through Bluetooth.
  • 2015 Chevy Equinox everytime the call ends it connects Bluetooth music instead of reverting back to what was originally playing.
  • 2016 Cadillac XTS after a phone call, it connects to media, sometimes the steering wheel buttons work, sometimes they don’t.
  • BMW X5 2016 – the music will not play properly through iDrive.
  • 2016 Cadillac STS, when a call ends Bluetooth connects to media and steering wheel buttons stop working.
  • 2011 Mercedes Benz e350 won’t pair with Bluetooth 9.2.1.
  • Mazda 3 SP25 early 2013 doesn’t pair with iOS 9.2.1.
  • Honda Civic 2016 iPhone 6 with iOS 9.2.1 Bluetooth streaming music sound quality is horrible, however, CarPlay music sounds great.
  • 2013 Toyota Tacoma won’t play music through Bluetooth or even directly via a cable.
  • 2016 Toyota Highlander XLE, the premium navigation does not display text messages nor reading back since Apple iOS update to 9.2.
  • 2015 Ram 1500 iPhone connects at first and then usually disconnects.

The Bluetooth connection problems really exists because it is not clear what causes the problem and what entity is responsible for fixing it. Drivers in desperation go online Google things and ask away. Sometimes Apple does look at its forums, however, it has been suggested that users complain directly to Apple.

We have tried our best to, at least, give readers some steps that have works for some people to get Bluetooth to connect. Our latest comments suggest these fixes.

  • Use an official Apple USB cord to pair the iPhone to your car.
  • The update to iOS 9.3 helped with Siri problems.
  • 2014 A250 finally was able to connect to Bluetooth after trying “Nuke-it” fix.
  • Pair the car system to another smartphone, then try to pair it again, this worked for one of our readers.
  • A GM dealer told a GM Tahoe owner that there is a glitch between GM and Apple and GM was working on it.
  • A reader reported that turning off Siri stopped the media playing issue.
  • One owner discounted the battery to reset the car and then connected via Bluetooth.
  • Make sure that the iPhone signal is not being blocked by metal, such as a fancy metal purse, cookie tin or other metallic container such as a metal lined brief case. A reader has found that if her iPhone is the pocket of a faux fur coat the signal is weaker.

A problem is that Apple doesn’t have to make sure iPhones work with every car model going backwards. The automakers don’t necessarily get access to new versions of the software. The only system Apple is ultimately responsible for is CarPlay, which requires a USB cable connection work. However, most people prefer Bluetooth because it doesn’t require taking the iPhone out of a wallet/purse or the time to connect the wire.

Besides the new fixes we listed, here are the tried and true fixes, some of which worked for other frustrated iPhone updates.

The Nuke-it Fixes

These fixes remove all the settings from the car and the iPhone to start from scratch. Some have gone as far as disconnected the car battery to clear all the settings in the car, too.

1. Reset All Settings – Go to iPhone  Settings ▸ General  ▸ Reset  ▸ Reset all settings.

2. Unpair Phone and Car Infotainment System Rename Phone – Go to iPhone  Settings ▸  General ▸ About ▸ Name. Change the name of the iPhone and pair with the car infotainment system again.

3. Reset/Restore Network Settings: Restore all network settings of iOS 9.2  Go to Settings ▸ General ▸ Reset (at the bottom)▸ Reset Network settings. This method also deletes all Wi-Fi and other network settings!  If you reset you must re-add all your network settings in iOS.

4. Delete and Start All Over: Delete all Bluetooth devices. See full instructions.
Handoff/Headset Fixes

Hands Off Handoff Feature

Another fix is the hands off the Handoff feature, just by turning off the HandOff feature some users have been able to connect iPhones to their cars, again. The other new fix is to use the car as “Bluetooth Headset”

Disable Handoff on iPhone- Launch the Settings app from your Home screen ▸Tap General. ▸Tap Handoff & Suggested Apps ▸Toggle Handoff to Off.
Change Bluetooth Settings- Go to General ▸ Accessibility ▸Car Audio Routing ▸ Select “Bluetooth Headset” instead of the default Automatic.

One reader disabled the Handoff, changed the phone from Automatic to Bluetooth routing and did a network reset and the iPhone now works with the car.
Automaker Help or Software Updates

Sometimes contacting your car service provider or a telephone hotline for your automakers does help. Some automakers have released their own software updates.

Get CarPlay

Some late-model car owners have resorted to buying new headunits with CarPlay. Since CarPlay is developed by Apple there should be fewer compatibility issues, so far. If your car has an infotainment unit with car related features, there many not be a compatible CarPlay replacement.

CarPlay seems to work well for the few new car owners that have it. The update to iOS 9.3 adds new CarPlay features including New and For You music and selections based on preferences. The Nearby feature in Maps lets you find gas, parking, restaurants, coffee, and more with a tap.

If you have updated to iOS 9.0-9.2.1-9.3 for iPhone 5/5S/5c 6-6+ 6S/6S+ and it fixed or fried your Bluetooth connection 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.

We have a newsletter dedicated to looking for Bluetooth fixes and in-car audio systems, you are welcome to subscribe to that newsletter, weekly news updates or email news when published.


24 thoughts on “Why iOS 9.2.1-9.3 iPhone 5-5S-6-6S+ Bluetooth connection issues/problem fixes work for some cars”

  1. I recently got a BMW 650i Sport and it has a parrot bluetooth device installed which works ok but is a bit quiet and there is no way of turning up the volume through the car or phone. If I try to go to communication on the i-drive it just says no phone connected and gives you a nuber to call which is roadside assistance. There are no other options at all gor bluetooth or anything. Nor is thnere in the settings menu. The phone is an iphone 6s with the latest version of ios. I’m guessing the previous ownder had the same problem hence the Parrot device. I really want it to par to the idrive system so I can answer the call from the wheel and view and scroll theough my contacts theough the idrive screen. Has anyone had the same issue and did they fix it? If so how? I don’t really want to take it to BMW and get billed possibly 100’s just for what should be a simple problem. Let me know please anyone I would be most grateful.

    Many Thanks & Merry Christmas!

    • You may be able to call a dealer and say you’re trying to get it to work for your mother. I’ve done that with wireless tech support. 🙂
      Be sure that you have updated the software, you can check online what is available. I think you can do it with a USB drive.

  2. I went to the dealership to hook up my new Iphone 7 to my 2015 Toyota Highlander because I couldn’t figure it out. It works now; however, I am unable to send any texts–I can receive them, but with my Samsung I was also able to send short messages. I miss that option(s).

  3. 2013 Equinox and have used Bluetooth since I bought the car. After the iPhone 6 update just before the 10.1.1 update, I can make calls via Bluetooth fine but all incoming calls are “Private” so I have to hit the transfer call option on the cars screen. Spoke to GM Customer Service and they tell me it’s a Apple issue. How do we get Apple involved to correct all the problems with their updates?

  4. Upgrades IPhone 5S, in my 2015 X1 the link was lost but shows as installed. In my 5 series sedan all calls coming into the car have no audio. I’m told the caller hears me but don’t hear them. If I then call back to the caller, all works.

  5. I have a 2008 Acura TL. I cannot connect my phone after the latest upgrade 9.3.5. Worked until the last update. Bummer. iPhone 6S.

  6. I have a 2010 Lexus HS 250 H. My iPhone SE with iOS 9.3.2 connected after I deleted all Bluetooth devices and reset network settings

  7. Updated iPhone 6S to IOS 9.3.2. After update, iPhone can still be paired with 2012 Kia Sorento, however the phone book does not download. It displays that it is being downloaded, but whenever you try to call by name, it comes back that it does not recognize command. Other household iPhone 6S that is still on IOS 9.3.1 can be paired with same car and works fine.

  8. Bought a new iPhone 6s which oddly did work for a few weeks with my 2014 Mazda CX-5, then I noticed the music playback volume stopped working – had to crank it up. This week the phone has stopped working – makes an odd glitchy sound and impossible to have a conversation!

  9. Upgraded to 9.3.2 on my iPhone 6plus can no longer do anything with the uconnect service in my 2014 Jeep Patriot. Resetting the phone and car system did not work. Ughhh my productivity is in the toilet!

    • As far as we can tell it is best to update the iPhone over Wi-Fi. Something appears to be happening with the Bluetooth settings. The other things to do are to shut off the handoff featues and frequent travel locations. If any one else finds an answer please post it here, in the comments.

  10. I have a 2013 Acura TLX and an iPhone 6s+ (9.2.x) which worked fine together, given that the media only worked with the cable and the phone with Bluetooth. About 1.5 months ago I took the car in for its 50,000 km service which apparently replaced some software because the climate control started operating differently. Sometime since then I have updated the phone to 9.3, 9.3.1, 9.3.2 and the phone stopped working. I think, but am not positive, that it stopped working with 9.3.1. I don’t know how to describe the sound other than motor-boating, a rapid on-off of the sound. This may be be what people are calling under water.

  11. After updating my 6s to iOS 9.3.2 the Bluetooth on my Chevy 2016 Equinox works kind of choppy. The phone is paired, but when ever I make a call or receive a call while in the car it sounds as if I am speaking through a fan. I have tried unpairing and repairing the phone but that does not seem to fix the problem. I am unable to use the Bluetooth for phone calls.

  12. 2012 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited with Unconnect. Phone will pair, then keep repairing, so bluetooth only works for 30 seconds. This started happening after 9.2 update. Used to work fine, now I cant talk to play music without it going in and out every 20-30 seconds. Tried fixes but nothing seems to work.

  13. BMW X1 iDrive user here. Currently debugging an issue where sometimes bluetooth audio don’t work and sometimes it does.

    I think I’ve found it (touching wood), try disabling traffic helper notifications:

    I think it interferes with the audio BT syncing process.

    • Anything that clogs things up including the HANDOFF feature has caused problems.

      Step 1: Tap the Settings icon.
      Step 2: Tap Privacy > Location Services.
      Step 3: Scroll all the way to the bottom and tap System Services.
      Step 4: Tap Frequent Locations, then toggle the setting to off.

      Thanks we’ll add it to the list of fixes.

  14. So far after trying un-pairing and re-pairing, forgetting and resetting connections in every possible order, I have found that only one thing works – turning off Wi-Fi while I am in the car. It’s not hard, I ask Siri to do it for me, but it sure is a nuisance. I was hoping that iOs 9.3 would fix it, but it appears that Apple is not listening to us.

    • Fantastic idea— this one kind of resembles the hands off handoff feature. Some how all the networks may be clouding up the processor. We’ll put it on our list. Having Wi-Fi open on your phone can leave vulnerable to hackers who have previously access cars through the Wi-Fi connection. Thank you.

  15. I have a 2012 Toyota Highlander and originally paired it an iPhone 4, no problem, worked great. I just upgraded to an iPhone 6s and have spent hours in the car trying to pair it. I can get audio player to work but not the phone. If I try to pair the phone, it drops the audio player, and only partially sets up the phone, It works for incoming calls but will not make outgoing calls and I can’t get the audio player back. I tried initializing the car system and again pair the iPhone 4 no problem (except I no longer have a service agreement for that phone). I have repeated to process many times with no improvement:(

  16. I had a 2013 Cadillac & never had a problem with the Bluetooth connection. But ~ just leased a 2016 Toyota Hylander Limited and it always cuts my conversations off ~ which is a BIG problem because I am a realtor & talk to clients on my phone via bluetooth. In the beginning, we thought it was my car ~ the Toyota dealership was great & they tried resetting my phone & taking the battery out of my car & redoing the system ~ it didn’t work, They actually ordered a new radio system ~ thinking it might be defective ~ but still didn’t work. I have tried all of the “fixes” and nothing has worked yet. I am going to go to AT&T & see if they have any answers. The other thing is ~ we tried a couple of other iPhones in my car & they worked. So ~ I am very frustrated at this point!! I am due an upgrade on my iPhone ~ but really don’t want to do that ~ but might have to ~ in hopes it might work.

    • Have you shut off the handoff feature? What model iPhone? If other iPhones worked, see if you can find out the exact model and iOS system. Not all iPhone’s have the same Bluetooth radios. We’re seeing a lot of iPhone 6 and iPhone 6S. It is easier to change your phone than the car…

      • I have a 2016 Ford Escape. My audio will be fine and then after a while it will sound like it’s under water. I’m going to try some of these and see if they work. Fingers crossed!

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