Bluetooth pairing for car and iPhone, Audi GSM phone system

It was with some amusement recently that I found out I could pair my iPhone with my car, given that the dealership had sold me a cradle for my old phone when I bought the car some years back. In fact, Bluetooth pairing had only ever been a few seconds away, despite the cost of a cradle, which only fitted one phone and therefore ensured I didn’t upgrade that phone!

It turns out that in the Audi system at least, Bluetooth is built in to the system if you have got a dash mounted GSM preparation, or a centre armrest version… as long as you buy the car with GSM phone preparation, it should work.

All you do to get your iPhone connected is switch bluetooth on and let it look for devices. The Audi appears in the list very quickly, and you enter the default password (1234 in most cases). Once done the phone will work through the phone system, allowing you to make and receive calls hands free and with no need for cables or cradles.

There is a delay in the system copying your phone book to the car, and in my case with over 400 entries it took simply ages – I believe three days went by before it finally completed. Voice dialling and voice control is not activated which is no big loss; the Audi system is pretty unreliable if you are driving at anything like normal speeds as it mis-hears almost everything you say. Using a multi-function wheel you can easily scroll through your contacts (which get displayed in your driver’s information panel in the centre of your dashboard) and make the call that you need. When the phone rings with an incoming call you simply press a button to answer it.

It couldn’t be simpler… but it took three years to find and only then through a chance conversation with the salesman who got my new car sorted (Stansted Audi, name of Bert Wildman).

I wish I had known before. In short, don’t buy a cradle unless you crave voice dialling features, use bluetooth instead.

31 thoughts on “Bluetooth pairing for car and iPhone, Audi GSM phone system

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  • 4 June, 2009 at 9:18 am

    I’m trying this process on my 2003 A8 (D3) and iPhone 3G. The car phone won’t appear on the iPhone when I turn on bluetooth. Is there something else that is needed?

  • 4 June, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    Do you mean that you have got a phone already fitted in the car and you want to pair the iphone to that, whilst it is in the car? I don’t think that’ll work as you can only pair one thing at a time. Can you take the car phone out… is it in a cradle?

    I am using a 2.7 TDI A4 saloon at the moment whilst my car has some warranty work done, and that has GSM phone prep in it. It took about two minutes to pair it, get the phonebook running through the driver’s info system and make a call hands free.

    Pairing is very easy normally – in the iPhone turn on Bluetooth and look for devices. The car should show up as something like ‘Audi 6534’ or similar, and the default pairing code is usually ‘1234’.

  • 5 June, 2009 at 12:26 am

    Hi Hal,

    Yes the car already has a phone fitted (the general Motorola handset that comes with many Audis). I can understand that no more than one phone at a time can connect (I’ve tried pairing a Blackberry Curve with it successfully but can’t do any more than that). Trouble is I can’t see the car base station at all from the iPhone (version 2.2.1).

  • 5 June, 2009 at 11:30 pm

    OK – I know that I can not connect via Bluetooth to my iPhone with many devices… it seems to be a cut down kind of Bluetooth. I can get pretty much any headset, and I can do limited connectivity with my Mac laptop, but anything more exotic doesn’t seem to work.

    The fact that you have got a phone fitted in the A8 suggests to me that your system isn’t behaving like a standard headset that the iPhone can link to. There may well be a system setting in the A8 software which will help, and perhaps your Audi garage can suggest what to do. I’d think that if you are not even seeing the car in your pairing devices screen on the iPhone that there is a general incompatibility.

    Not much help to you, but my own car, and the courtesy car I am driving this week both have no problem connecting. They don’t have a phone fitted, but do have the phone preparation. If you can get other phones to reliably connect via Bluetooth I’d suspect the iPhone software is not letting you succeed. There is an update coming later this summer, and rumours suggest that Bluetooth won’t be quite so ‘crippled’ in that, but it is a way off arriving yet. It may still be worth a visit to Audi to ask if they can help.

  • 19 September, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Hello there

    I have a similar problem syncing my iPhone 3g with Audi A3 (2007). While I’m able to sync my old Nokia 6230i without any problem, iPhone doesn’t seem to be able to find the car Bluetooth at all. Keeps searching with no result.

    I know that iPhone comes with a big handicap in Bluetooth but why is that iPhone is in Audi’s compatibility list then and they sell a cradle for it? That makes me think that maybe I’m missing something. Any thoughts are very welcome.



  • 20 September, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Hi Mat – I think the iPhone is in the list because for most folk it *does* do the pairing, but sadly I think some folk have found their mileage varies.

    In my experience it took days, literally, for the phone to appear in the car menu. Almost as soon as I had paired it up it rang, and worked through the car kit. I didn’t know it had even completed pairing when this happened – it was literally seconds from when I started the process. From then on I couldn’t see my address book, and the dash display kept reading ‘Please Wait’. I left it like this, and generally forgot about it as incoming calls were being routed through the car and that was the main concern. Also, manually dialing a number on the phone went our through the car kit too.

    After three days or so the phone book appeared. Nowadays it appears in less than a minute if I completely turn off the phone and turn it back on again.

    However, your case suggests you can’t even get to the pairing bit… which seems completely annoying. When you go into the iPhone menus and select Bluetooth, does it show any paired devices? Has the car got the phone prep system turned on – will it work with a phone in a cradle? (The audi garage should be able to test that).

  • 19 December, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    I have a new to me 2009 Audi A3 with the factory hands free kit and a HTC HD2 touch phone. The phone and the hands free system can see each other and connect but pairing the phonebook is taking ages and i wonder if i am doing it correctly (noting the comments about the iphone above). I have been in my car with the phone connected for a few hours and the system is still reading ‘please wait’. Can it realy take hours? days? when my old phone paired up and swapped pretty much the same data in less than 2 minutes?

    The HTC HD2 isn’t on audi’s approved list, but i suspect that that document isn’t really up to date!

    • 7 January, 2010 at 11:47 pm

      Hi James – did you get this working in the end?

  • 7 January, 2010 at 5:09 pm

    I have a 2005 A4 with factory-fitted bluetooth (no cradle) which worked just fine with my Motorola but I can’t get it to pair with a new iPhone 3GS. I’m going through all the motions putting phone and car in discovery mode but the phone can’t find the car. Audi dealer wants to sell me an expensive cradle for the armrest – is that really the only way to get the iPhone to pair with the car?

    • 7 January, 2010 at 11:45 pm

      Hi David – I think you’ve had some bad luck, but unless Audi have changed the bluetooth module, or Apple introduced a difference with the 3Gs, it *should* work.

      As for the dealer – go to another one. I can’t tell you how much I think I was mislead by the first Audi dealer I used – who sold me an expensive cradle once, and then as I changed my phone over the years wanted to sell me other cradles. I refused, and kept the old phone in the car, using two phones was a real pain. Eventually, when I came to trade it in the dealer I went to that time smiled quietly and told me all about the joys of bluetooth in Audis. I was quite cross, but mildly amused at my own incompetence too!

      The short of it is, you don’t need a cradle, but you do need to get the phone and the car paired up. Have you tried other phones? Do you have a friend with a different version of the iPhone that you could try? If none pair, I’d suspect something is not right with the car.

  • 8 January, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks, Hal. I’ve successfully paired two mobiles with the car, just can’t get the iPhone to pair. In discovery mode it just searches indefinitely then hangs up. The Audi dealer says it’s because the 3GS uses its own version of Bluetooth (typical, thank you Apple) and that Audis now make their cars compatible with it but there is no backwards compatibility to older Audis (mine is 4 yrs old). As a story it seems to make sense. But I’ll definitely take your advice and not be rushed into buying a cradle. If anyone out there knows of a fix….

  • 8 January, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    Makes sense David – I wouldn’t be at all surprised. Bluetooth is a ‘standard’ that has many interpretations, it seems! One other thing to do is to go to the dealer and try and pair your phone with a newer Audi to see if it works that way around.

    If there really is an incompatibility between versions of Bluetooth I think you’re going to be very frustrated trying to get this to work.

  • 12 January, 2010 at 1:48 pm

    i have the iphone 3gs and nokia 5800 music express and i can`t pair any of them to my audi (2003) A3 phone prep- can any 1 help me?

    If any 1 can help email me at


  • 26 January, 2010 at 4:40 pm

    Hi I have just purchased a Audi a6 2006 when I go to the phone system on the car it states no phone installed. Do I need additional hardware to connect my iPhone 3GS? Or am I still able to connect via bluetooth?

  • 26 January, 2010 at 4:44 pm

    Hi Iain – do you have the phone preparation actually installed? Just because there is an entry for phones on your DIS doesn’t mean the kit is in the car. As an example, I have a multi-function wheel which has buttons that allow me to make voice activated calls, but the feature isn’t actually installed, so I can’t.

    You can tell if phone prep is there by looking for the plate that you would normally attach a phone cradle to. Look in the centre armrest, etc. If it isn’t there, I doubt you’ll have the bluetooth module… but double check this with your dealer. Without the phone prep kit, you can’t make calls using bluetooth.

  • 3 April, 2010 at 10:35 pm

    Does anyone kow if I will be able to play my music via the iPhone Audi cradle? Only I have all my music stored on the iPhone and not on CD’s etc… any tips would be greatly recieved.

  • 24 April, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    Hi Tony – I wasn’t aware there was a cradle for the iPhone… where did you get that?

  • 14 July, 2010 at 9:32 pm

    i have a iphone 3g and a 2004 audi I am getting so many different responses can they be connected

  • 18 July, 2010 at 9:23 am

    Not sure about the 2004 version, but I certainly had an iPhone 3g paired with a 2005 model on the day I p/ex’d it (which is what this article is all about). I would think that it should be possible as not much would have changed on the Audi side of things…

  • 18 July, 2010 at 9:46 am

    Louis: I had this problem with iPhone 3GS and 1995 A4(see my first posting above, Jan 7th 2010). For days I tried pairing it all ways (short of buying a cradle) without success. Then eventually bingo – it connected. No idea why, I didn’t use any unusual procedure, it just paired and has worked fine ever since. So my conclusion is: iPhone’s bluetooth WILL pair an older bluetooth-ready Audi, it does NOT need an expensive cradle, BUT it’s erratic, not infallible, and you have to persevere.

  • 12 January, 2011 at 4:59 pm

    Hi, dont know if anyone can help. i have an audi a3 with factory fitted bluetooth which did work fine untill my partner installed a new stereo. when i try to pair my phone with car it DOES find it but i cant make or receive any calls via bluetooth. it reconizes calls on the dash when im on the phone but i cant make it work through the speakers.

    Any help would be great.

  • 18 March, 2011 at 11:52 pm

    Hi Mandy – sorry to have been a while responding. I would think that the new head unit has not got the wiring loom connectors for it to be able to play the phone through your speakers… I would think that it simply hasn’t been connected up. Remember, the Audi head units are designed to fit the audi wiring looms and other head units may not have all the sockets required. This certainly happened to me when I started using different head units some years ago. What unit did you get installed?

  • 12 April, 2011 at 7:16 pm

    Hi, I have a 2007, RS4 Avant and when pairing my iphone 3GS, it recognises the car, however not accepting the default pin, (1234). Any help?

    • 13 April, 2011 at 10:45 am

      Hi – thanks for that… not sure why it won’t accept the pin – have you got another phone available to check to see if that works with the car? I only say this as I know there are different variants of the Bluetooth standard and some just work better than others. I’ve been pairing iPhones since version 1, and in Audis since around 2007, so I am not sure where the issue lies. Does your phone connect to other devices OK?

  • 4 July, 2011 at 8:30 pm

    Hi Hal,

    From readiing your post I have fathomed out how to connect my iphone 3gs to my Audi A3 bluetooth.

    I was wondering if you could help me on something else though.

    Do you know where I can get a suitable cradle attachment for my 3gs iphone as the car already had a standard audi/ nokia cradle ? and cn I attach one to the original nokia one?

    Hope to hear form you soon, you seem to be the man with all the answers!

    Kind regards


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  • 13 March, 2012 at 10:42 pm

    How do you reset the bluetooth pass code if the vehicle has been owned by someone else please? Cheers

  • 24 March, 2012 at 11:50 pm


    I intoduce me: Jean-Louis 48 year old from Corsica . Corsica is an Island in mediterranéa near Sardegna and Sicilia. It was “recently” bought by Louis XIV (17 century) but we still feel Corsicans since several hundred centuries after several wars and try to asserce us ( by mauritanians, romans, genois, etc.. ;-)) .

    But let speak about our common problem now. I dont whant to annoy you !
    I Recenttly bought a beautifull 2005 4F C6 – 3.0 quattro TDI A6 full option :-).

    I think I have a phone problem that seem to be not to different compared to all that I read here… SO her is my problem . if somebody can help it would be great ! 🙂

    I have ’”Audi Bluetooth car phone ” concept genuine from factory. its bluetooth with motorola bluetooth hand fre and sim dédicated place in the armrest to insert a sim in my 2005 A6. It was certainly a top level thing in 2005 but now.. with the Andoid phones and Iphone, its just…. boring and
    I just cannot suucced in pairing several android phones (my actual is a galaxy S2).
    the android phone see the audi BT but when entering 1234 pin, MMI just tell me to reinter it in the phone and.. that dont work.

    Anybody succed to pai his phone (if removing fenuine Motorola and sim holder and cradle , please tell me!) But maybe there is a way to simply desactivate genuine motorola phone to let the bluetooth free to be pared with other phone ?

    Thanks in advance for your answer. If needed, you can also joinme at this special email adress pairingaudiBT [ AROB A Z ] santoni [DO T POI NT] info . (this is a dédicated adress and no matter spam. If I get the answer from anybody, I will make a spécial page and post on many forum cause at this time and after several weeks of reserch at dont get that working and I’m forced to have a second phone number with its own SIM in the armrest . Forced to redirerect calls when entering the car and recall them when leaving A6 ! Not very practical !!

    Cheers, Jean-Louis (sorry for bad english 🙁 )

  • 25 March, 2012 at 12:06 am

    @ yvan

    4 options

    – Look and try to reset it to factory default in MMI options
    – Ask it to do it for you by a kind mecanic repair or friend that have a VAGCOM (its can be done under module 77 I khink)
    – Ask it At Audi but comme very early before the staff start their dayly planned work ! (may be it would be done for free)
    – Buy a VAGCOM at ebay . Look at a version that match your car age . Its approx 35£ or less for an asian Ross tech inteface clone and its leagl but their is a limiation : never try to upgrade or you willl kill the chipset of the interface and then its good to be recycled !
    Good luck.

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