How to fix common Apple CarPlay issues: A frustrated user's guide

When it works, it's great, but when it doesn't, it can be frustrating to figure out what's wrong.
Written by Adrian Kingsley-Hughes, Senior Contributing Editor
Shortly before this early start and long drive, Apple CarPlay had been reluctant to connect to my iPhone!

Shortly before this early start and long drive, Apple CarPlay had been reluctant to connect to my iPhone!

Adrian Kingsley-Hughes/ZDNET

I really enjoy using Apple CarPlay, both in my own car and in the vehicles I rent when I go on longer journeys and business trips.

Most of the time -- well over 99.9% of the time -- the tech works so seamlessly that it's practically invisible. When Apple CarPlay malfunctions, however, it can transform into a massive headache, especially at 4 in the morning when you're gearing up for an eight-hour drive, and it just won't work!

Also: The best power banks you can buy: Expert tested

Since I drive for many hours and thousands of miles per year -- last year, I did well over 35 thousand miles -- I rely a lot on Waze and Audible audiobooks. While I've had my fair share of fights with CarPlay, I've never been beaten by a CarPlay problem, making me the undefeated champion of in-car entertainment.

That's because I have a game plan.

1. Check your cable

If you're using a cable, the first thing to suspect is the cable itself. A faulty cable can cause CarPlay to stop working or glitch while driving. If shaking the cable or wiggling the connector causes issues, it's likely the culprit.

Keep a few reliable cables exclusively for CarPlay. Most cars require a USB-A cable, but newer models are transitioning to USB-C. In-car life can be tough on cables -- yanking, getting trapped in doors, or mangling in seat mechanisms can damage them, making CarPlay unreliable.

2. Restart your iPhone (and check for updates)

If the cable isn't the issue, try rebooting your iPhone. Additionally, check for iOS updates by tapping on Settings > General > Software Update. Updates can sometimes resolve glitches and improve functionality.

3. Reconnect CarPlay

Sometimes the connection between your car and your iPhone can be unstable. Disconnecting and reconnecting can fix this. Go to Settings > General > CarPlay, select your car, and tap Forget This Car. Then reconnect.

4. Restart your car

Restarting your car or the infotainment system can sometimes resolve issues. Turn off the car, wait a few seconds, and then turn it back on. Consult your car's manual for specific instructions on restarting the infotainment system.

5. Nuclear options

If the above steps don't work, consider these more drastic measures:

  • Reset network settings: Tap on Settings > General > Reset, then tap "Reset Network Settings." This will reset Wi-Fi networks, passwords, cellular settings, and VPN/APN settings.
  • Car firmware update: Check if there is a firmware update available for your car's infotainment system. Consult your car's manual for instructions.
  • Contact support: If the problem persists, contact Apple Support or your car manufacturer's support line.

These tips should help you troubleshoot and resolve most CarPlay issues, ensuring a smooth and enjoyable driving experience.

Editorial standards