What Format Does USB Have To Be For Car Stereo?

Last Updated on March 13, 2023 by CarAudioHunt

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If you are facing complications in connecting a USB device to your car, then you must be aware that not any format can be read by your car stereo. Instead, it needs to be in certain formats! So, what format does USB have to be for car stereo, then?

Generally, a car stereo or audio system only accepts FAT16 and FAT32 file formats.

FAT means File Allocation Table, and 16 or 32 indicates that it needs to be a 16-bit or 32-bit data file system. Therefore, any USB device that has this system format can be connected to your car audio system.

Want to know more about the importance of formatting? Then binge on till the end.

Actually, the car audio system is usually manufactured to support only FAT16 and FAT32. However, if your USB device is in another format system, the compatibility doesn’t work between the USB device and the car USB system.

Therefore, there are mainly 3 types of formats:

NTFS (New Technology File System):

Windows NT operating system uses this format for storing, assembling, and locating files on a hard disk. But this format is not supported by the car stereo USB system.

FAT (File Allocation Table):

This can have a few types of file systems depending on the bit used such as:

1. FAT8: The first introduction of FAT was in 1977 for floppy disks. It was the most basic system format to use the 8-bit table elements which were then adapted to be used for the hard drive.

2. FAT12: It was later updated to 12-bit, which could support 1.44 MB and, after that, 2.88 MB of disk space.

3. FAT16: When the first 16-bit FAT came, it was a huge upgrade that could support upto 4 GB file space in the final adaptation and a maximum cluster size of 32 KB.

4. FAT32: Again later in 1996 the table element was raised to 32-bit and had a big lip for the FAT format system. It can have a maximum volume size of 2 TB, but the windows disk format only supports a maximum of 32 GB space. FAT32 can support a file of up to 4 GB which was very convenient at the time it came out and still nowadays is seen used for the floppy disk drive.

Initially, it started with 8-bit but to be able to work in larger disk space and greater size of files it was updated and the latest is FAT32 which can have maximum partition size up to 32 GB.

exFAT (Extensible File Allocation Table):

The exFAT system came later to solve the issue to break the limit of 32 GB of FAT32 which is pretty useful because of its lightweight and better suited for big size files on flash drives or SD cards.

So, because of these different format systems you need to format your USB device to the format that your car stereo USB can recognise.

Most cars have the USB supporting system of only FAT or FAT32. Hence when formatting the USB device we need to make sure the file system is FAT32.

Some latest car USB systems support exFAT which is useful for a drive larger than 32GB or files larger than 4 GB. So if you have a USB device that is larger than 32 GB in NTFS format, the system will not be supported by your car USB system if it supports FAT32 or exFAT.

In that case we need to format the device to exFAT so that the car stereo can identify the external USB device.

Your Car Stereo USB and USB Device Needs to be of the Same Format!

To make sure that your car stereo USB and your USB device have the same format, you need to format either one of them to match the other one. So, to format the USB device you need to do the following:

  • Step 1: Connect the USB drive to a windows computer.
  • Step 2: Open the PC and find your USB drive there
  • Step 3: Right click on the drive and click on format.
  • Step 4: You will find the below pop up then select the file system that your car stereo supports and click on start to format.

There can be other ways too but this is the simplest method.

However, when formatting be sure of which file system you need it to be formatted that supports your car audio system. Also if it’s bigger than 32 GB then you should know FAT or FAT32 file system is not the viable option. You will need NTFS or exFAT.

https://youtu.be/2nP_8YT-_U0 You can watch this short tutorial for better understanding.

Easiest Solution:

It can be pretty challenging to consider what format the USB drive your car actually supports. So a USB formatter for car stereo solves these kinds of complications only in 3 steps:

It can be pretty challenging to consider what format the USB drive your car actually supports. So a USB formatter for car stereo solves these kinds of complications only in 3 steps:

  • Install it and give it the data on your car model and year.
  • Select for what file you need like music, video or software.
  • Click on detect and it will know the preference for your car stereo file system that will help you to format your USB device and file to your car’s receiving USB system.

Bottom Line

So, after going through this blog, you should now know What Format USB for Car Stereo. You must make sure that the USB format supports your car stereo model. And to help you identify the format, a USB formatter can surely come in handy. Yet, if you find any of these procedures challenging, you can always consult a technician to assist you.

Related Guides:

Connecting or Adding USB Port To Car Stereo

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