How to Fix “Unable to Connect Apple CarPlay” Error?

There are many user reports where Apple CarPlay stopped working on their cars or car units of different makes and models like Toyota, Honda, etc. In some cases, the CarPlay turned grey or is not shown in the iPhone or car unit options. For some users, the issue started to occur after an iOS update, whereas, for others, it started to happen after a setting or configuration change out of blue.

Apple CarPlay Not Working

Due to many makes and models of the cars and cars units, there are numerous reasons from a glitch to a hardware error due to which the Apple CarPlay may not work.

  • Outdated OS of the iPhone and Outdated Firmware of the Car Unit: If the OS of the iPhone or firmware of the car unit is outdated, then that may lead to the CarPlay issue as it can cause incompatibility between both devices.
  • Disabled Car Unit Features: There are many features (like USB Enhanced Mode, Smart Device Mirroring, etc.) that are essential for the communication of the CarPlay with the car unit and if any of such features are disabled on the unit side, then that may cause non-functioning CarPlay.
  • Corrupt or Improper Configuration of the iPhone Settings: There are many iPhone settings (like a restricted CarPlay in the restrictions settings of the iPhone) whose misconfiguration may stop the Apple CarPlay from working.
  • Corrupt OS of the iPhone and Corrupt Firmware of the Car Unit: The Apple CarPlay might not work if the OS of the iPhone or firmware of the car unit is corrupt, due to which many communication modules might fail to operate.

Reconnect or Repair the Devices

A temporary communication glitch may lead to the CarPlay issue at hand and reconnecting or repairing the devices may solve the problem. But before trying that, make sure to remove any case, particularly, a case with a wireless charging feature or protector from the iPhone as these are reported to create the issue.

Reconnect the Devices

  1. Disconnect the iPhone from the car’s unit and then connect back the devices. Make sure the USB cable is properly seated on both ends.
    Disconnect the iPhone from the Car Unit
  2. Then check if the CarPlay is working fine.
  3. If not, thoroughly clean the USB ports (of the phone and car unit) by using a non-metallic object like a toothpick (or q tip with rubbing alcohol, compressed air can, etc.) to clear out any lint or debris from the ports and afterward, check if the issue is resolved.
    Clean the USB Port of the iPhone
  4. If the issue persists, check if using another data cable (preferably from Apple) with a shorter length (as it may have less resistance) clears the error.
  5. If the issue persists, disconnect the devices and switch off the unit along with the car.
  6. Now connect the USB cable to the iPhone (make sure the iPhone is unlocked) and then to the car unit.
  7. Then power on the car and car unit to check if the CarPlay is working fine.
  8. If that did not work, disconnect devices and restart the car/car unit.
  9. Once the unit is properly powered on, then connect the iPhone to the car unit to check if that solves the problem.

If the issue continues, check if the CarPlay on another iPhone connects fine with the car unit.

Re-pair The Devices

  1. Unpair the iPhone (Wi-Fi and Bluetooth) from the Car unit.
  2. Now open the iPhone Settings and select General.
    Open General Settings of iPhone
  3. Then open CarPlay and select the car.
    Open Your Car in CarPlay of iPhone
  4. Now tap on Forget This Car and confirm to forget the car.
    Tap on Forget This Car in the CarPlay Settings
  5. Then repeat the same to forget the iPhone in the car unit settings (if applicable) and restart the devices (iPhone and car unit).
  6. Now re-pair the devices and once re-paired, check if the CarPlay is working fine.

Disable Siri Options in the iPhone Settings

Carplay might not work if Siri’s smart features are hindering iPhone communications. In such a case, disabling the Siri options in the iPhone settings may solve the problem.

  1. Launch the iPhone Settings and open Siri (or Siri & Search).
    Open Siri & Search
  2. Now disable all the Siri-related options (like Listen for Hey Siri, etc.) and check if the Apple Carplay is working without issue.
    Disable All the Siri Options in Siri & Search Settings
  3. If not, check if re-enabling the Siri Options in the iPhone Settings solves the problem.

Refresh Memory of the iPhone

The Apple CarPlay may fail to work if the iPhone’s memory is glitched out and refreshing the iPhone’s memory (RAM) may solve the problem.

  1. Disable Siri in the iPhone’s Settings (as discussed earlier) and press/hold the power button of the iPhone.
  2. Wait till the power menu of the iPhone is shown and once shown, hold the iPhone’s Home button for 5 seconds.
    Refresh the iPhone Memory
  3. Then release the Home button and enable Siri in the iPhone’s Settings.
  4. Now check if the Apple CarPlay is working fine.

Perform a Hard Restart of the iPhone

A temporary glitch of the iPhone may cause CarPlay not to work and performing a hard restart of the iPhone may clear the Apple CarPlay issue. The exact instructions may differ depending on the iPhone model but the general guidelines will be as under for an iPhone with a Face ID. But before going on that route, check if disabling the VPN (if enabled) on the iPhone solves the problem.

  1. Quickly tap on the volume up button of the iPhone and then release it.
  2. Afterward, quickly tap on the volume down button of the iPhone and release it.
  3. Now press the side button of the iPhone and keep holding it till the Apple logo appears on the screen.
    Force Restart the iPhone
  4. Then release the iPhone’s side button and once the phone is powered on, check if Apple Carplay has started to work.
  5. If not, check if performing another hard restart of the iPhone and then removing all Bluetooth devices from the iPhone clears the CarPlay issue.

Force Restart the Car Unit

A temporary glitch in the car unit’s modules can lead to the Apple CarPlay issue under discussion and performing a force restart of the car unit may solve the problem. The general guidelines are as under (but the exact instructions may depend on the make and model of the car unit):

  1. Press and hold the power button of the radio for 10 to 15 seconds.
    Force Restart the Car Unit
  2. Now, when the car unit reboots, release the power button and check if the CarPlay issue is resolved.
  3. If not, check if force restarting the car unit and iPhone solves the problem.
  4. If that did not work, check if performing a network reset of the car unit clears the error.

Update the iOS of iPhone to the Latest Build

Apple Carplay might fail to work if the OS of the iPhone is outdated as it can cause incompatibility between the Carplay and the head unit. Moreover, if the issue was a result of a bug in the iOS, then the outdated phone might be missing the patch and could be the reason for the issue.

In this scenario, updating the iOS of the phone to the latest build may solve the problem. Keep in mind that for some car models, a user may have to re-enter the password for the first CarPlay connection after an iOS update. Before proceeding, make sure the iPhone is charged to 100% and connected to a Wi-Fi network (avoid mobile data as it can be spotty at times).

  1. Launch the iPhone Settings and select General.
  2. Now open Software Update and install an update (if an iOS update is available).
    Tap on Software Update
  3. Then, restart your iPhone, and afterward, check if the Apple Carplay is operating fine.

Update the Firmware of the Car Unit to the Latest Build

The CarPlay may fail to function if the firmware of the car unit is outdated as it can cause incompatibility between the iPhone and car unit. In this context, updating the firmware of the car unit to the latest build may solve the problem.

  1. Firstly, download the latest firmware from the OEM’s website (e.g., car unit OEM like Kenwood or car OEM like Toyota) and extract it (if zipped).
  2. Now copy the extracted firmware files to a USB drive (do not forget to format the USB to a car-unit supported file system). Make sure the USB does not have any other files or data except the firmware update.
  3. Then, power off the car’s unit (if powered on) and connect the USB to the car
    Update the Firmware of the Car’s Unit
  4. Now power on the car unit (it will be better to start the car to avoid any power fluctuations during the process) and when it asks to update, confirm by tapping on Yes.
  5. Then wait till the firmware is updated. Make sure the USB does not disconnect or the car unit powers off during the update process (otherwise, the unit may be bricked).
  6. Once the update process is complete, restart the car unit and connect it to CarPlay to check if it is working fine.

Allow Carplay in Content & Privacy Restrictions of the iPhone

Your Apple CarPlay may not work if it is restricted from operating on the iPhone. In this case, allowing the Carplay to operate in the Content & Privacy Restrictions of the iPhone may solve the problem.

  1. Launch the iPhone’s Settings and select Screen Time.
    Open Screen Time in the iPhone’s Settings
  2. Now open Content & Privacy Restrictions and tap on Allowed Apps.
    Open Content & Privacy Restrictions in Screen Time Menu of iPhone
  3. Then make sure the Apple CarPlay is enabled.
    Open Allowed Apps of Content & Privacy Restrictions
  4. Now launch CarPlay and check if it is operating fine.
    Enable CarPlay in Allowed Apps of Content & Privacy Restrictions

Enable Smart Device Mirroring of the Car Unit

The Smart Device Mirroring is a Dodge Charger feature (other cars and their car units may have a similar feature) that plays an essential role in the communication between the car unit and CarPlay. If this feature is disabled, then your Apple CarPlay may not work but the phone may keep on charging. In this case, enabling the Smart Device Mirroring of the car unit may solve the problem.

  1. Navigate to the Apps menu of the Dodge Charger and open Projection Manager.
    Open Projection Manager of the Car Unit
  2. Then select Smartphone Projection Manager and checkmark the option of Smartphone Device Mirroring.
    Enable Smartphone Device Mirroring of the Car Unit
  3. Now check if the Apple CarPlay problem is solved.

Enable USB Enhanced Mode of the Car Unit

Many car units (like Toyota) come up with two USB modes: basic and enhance. The basic USB mode of the car unit does not support CarPlay (in many cases, only supports charging), whereas, enhance USB mode supports data transfer. If your car unit is configured to use the basic USB mode (the default mode), then that could be the reason for the Apple CarPlay’s not working. In such a case, enabling the Enhanced USB mode of the car unit may solve the problem.

  1. Launch the car unit’s Menu and open Setup.
  2. Now select Entune App Suite and enable Connect USB in Enhance Mode.
    Enable Connect USB in Enhance Mode in Entune App Suite
  3. Then check if the Apple CarPlay is operating fine.

Set the iPhone to Always Enabled in the Car Unit’s Settings

If the iPhone is not enabled in the connectivity settings of the car unit, then that could be the root cause of the Apple Play issue. Here, enabling the iPhone in the connectivity settings of the car unit may solve the problem.

  1. Launch the Settings of the car unit and open Connection Settings (or Communication Settings).
  2. Now select CarPlay and make sure the iPhone is set to Always Enabled (or Always Allow).
  3. Then check if the Apple CarPlay issue is cleared.

Disable Wi-Fi of the Car Unit

If the iPhone is connected through a USB cable to the car unit and the unit’s Wi-Fi is enabled, then the unit may try to communicate over the Wi-Fi protocol which may cause a handshake problem between the iPhone and car unit, resulting in the Apple CarPlay issue. In such a case, disabling the Wi-Fi of the car unit may solve the problem.

  1. Open Settings of the car unit and disable Wi-Fi.
  2. Then check if the CarPlay is working fine.
  3. If not, check if removing the iPhone from the car unit’s Bluetooth devices or disabling Bluetooth solves the problem.

Disable Wi-Fi Networking in the iPhone Settings

The Wi-Fi networking feature of the iPhone is used to enhance the GPS accuracy of the iPhone but it can break the handshake operation between the Carplay and the car unit. In such a case, disabling the Wi-Fi Network feature of the iPhone may solve the problem.

  1. Launch the iPhone Settings and open Privacy.
  2. Now select Location Services and tap on System Services.
    Disable Wi-Fi Networking & Bluetooth in the System Services of iPhone
  3. Then locate the Wi-Fi Networking (or Wi-Fi Networking & Bluetooth) option and disable it.
  4. Now check if the Apple Carplay is operating normally.

Perform a Network Reset of the iPhone

If the iPhone’s communication modules are glitched out, then it may result in the Carplay issue at hand. Here, performing a network reset of the iPhone may solve the Apple Carplay issue. Do not forget to note down the network-related settings (Wi-Fi details) as these will be wiped clean.

  1. Launch Settings of your iPhone and open General.
  2. Then select Reset and tap on Reset Network Settings.
    Open Reset in General Settings of Your iPhone
  3. Now confirm to reset the iPhone’s network settings and once done, check if Apple’s Carplay is working fine.
    Tap on Reset Network Settings in iPhone
  4. If not, check if enabling auto-joining of the car unit’s Wi-Fi in the iPhone Settings solves the problem.

Discharge the Car Unit’s Mother Board

If an electronic component (like a capacitor controlling the USB connection) is stuck in an error state but fails to completely discharged when the unit (or car) is powered off, then that may result in the Apple CarPlay functioning issue. In such a case, discharging the car unit’s motherboard may solve the problem.

  1. Firstly, power off the car unit and car.
  2. Now open the car’s hood and remove all the fuses from the fuse box. If that is a tedious job, then you may remove the related fuses like fuses 26, 28, 76 (you may find the exact fuse number from the car or car unit manual).
    Unplug Fuses from the Fuse Box of the Car
  3. Then wait for 5 minutes and afterward, reseat the fuses.
  4. Now power on the car and car unit to check if the CarPlay issue is resolved.
  5. If that did not work, open the car’s hood and unplug the battery.
  6. Now wait for some hours (preferably overnight) and afterward, connect back the battery.
  7. Then power on the car and car unit to check if it is working fine.

Perform a Factory Reset of the App Connect of the Car Unit

App connect is the feature of the Volkswagen car unit (other makes/models may also have a similar option) that is used to communicate with the Apple CarPlay and if it is in a corrupt state, then that may lead to the CarPlay issue at hand. Here, resetting the App Connect module of the Car Unit to the factory defaults may solve the problem.

  1. Open the Setup menu of the Volkswagen and select Factory Settings.
    Open Factory Settings of the Car Unit
  2. Now open App-Connect and a popup of Are you sure you want to reset the settings for ‘App Connect’?” will be shown.
    Open App-Connect in the Factory Settings of the Car Unit
  3. Then tap on Reset and once the reset operation is complete, check if the CarPlay issue is resolved.
    Reset App Connect to the Factory Settings

Reset All iPhone Settings to the Defaults

The Apple Carplay might fail to work if an iPhone configuration is not set as per Carplay’s requirement. As it is not possible to isolate the setting, performing a reset of all settings of the iPhone may solve the problem. Make sure to note down the configurations and customizations (like Wi-Fi passwords, etc.) that you may require after reverting the iPhone Settings to its defaults.

  1. Open the iPhone Settings and select Reset (or Back-Up & Reset).
  2. Now tap on Reset All Settings and then, confirm to Reset the iPhone Settings.
    Reset All Settings on Your iPhone
  3. Once reverted, check if the Carplay issue is resolved.

Reset the Car Unit to the Factory Defaults

You may encounter the CarPlay issue if the firmware of the car unit is corrupt and resetting the car unit to the factory defaults may solve the problem.

  1. Launch the Settings of the car unit and open the System.
  2. Now select Factory Data Reset and then confirm to reset the car unit to the factory defaults.
    Perform a Factory Reset of the Car Unit
  3. Once done, reconnect (or repair) the iPhone to the car unit, and afterward, check if the CarPlay has started to work fine.

Reset the iPhone to the Factory Defaults

If none of the above solved the Apple Carplay issue, then the corrupt iOS of the iPhone could be the reason for the Carplay problem and the tedious task of resetting the iPhone to the factory defaults may solve the problem. Before going to that route, make sure to back up your iPhone (as its data will be wiped cleaned).

  1. Launch the iPhone Settings and select General.
  2. Now open Reset and tap on Erase All Contents and Settings.
    Reset iPhone to the Factory Defaults
  3. Then confirm to reset the iPhone to its defaults and wait till the reset process of your iPhone completes.
  4. Once done, re-setup the iPhone, and then, hopefully, the Apple Carplay will be working fine.

If none of the above worked (alas!), then probably downgrading the iOS of the iPhone may solve the problem, if the issue started to occur after an iOS update. If that is not an option or did not work, then get the car unit or iPhone checked for a hardware error (a loose or wrongly seated data cable on the back of the car unit or the iPhone’s lightning port gone bad, etc.).

Kevin Arrows
Kevin is a dynamic and self-motivated information technology professional, with a Thorough knowledge of all facets pertaining to network infrastructure design, implementation and administration. Superior record of delivering simultaneous large-scale mission critical projects on time and under budget.

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