The Best Way to Burn a CD for Play in a Car Stereo

Updated February 21, 2017

You have a large collection of music CDs, but not all of them play on your car's CD player. Like portable and home CD players, your car stereo may or may not be able to play burnt CDs. If you don't "finalise" the disc or complete the burn process properly, the burnt CD may only play in your computer and not in other CD players. The best way to burn a CD for play in a car stereo is at a low burn speed on a CD-R disc that is closed properly.

Blank CDs & Car Stereos

When burning CDs for playback in a car CD player, purchase blank CD-R discs that are designed for "music" and not data. Do not use a CD-RW disc---these are designed for data and can be rewritten (files removed and added to the disc). Discs that are designed for music can only be written to one time, so there is no possibility of the disc being accessed again and music added to it. This reduces the chance of the car CD player thinking the tracks on the disc are data instead of music.

Buy a pack of blank CDs that are not too inexpensive. Cheap CDs may skip or stop completely after playing just a few tracks. More expensive CDs will carry a brand name, but not all brand name discs may work with your car's CD player. Experiment with different brands to see which one works best with your car CD player.

Burning CDs for Car Stereos

Set your CD burning software's "burn speed" to 16x. The burn speed is how fast the tracks are burnt to the CD. Some older car CD players can't read a disc burnt at a higher burn speed like 24x. And some car CD players can't read a disc burnt at 4x. If your CD burning software has the option to burn all of the tracks at one time--"disc-at-once," use it instead of "track-at-once," which places a break between each track. This break can confuse some car CD players. Your music tracks will not all run together and you won't notice a difference in the track layout, but your car's CD player will notice the disc is one collection of songs instead of made up of individual tracks of music.

Once you have the burn speed set, make sure the burn process is complete. Most CD burning software will "finalise" or complete the burn process automatically for you. If your CD burning software prompts you with a question like "Do you want to finalise the disc?"--answer "Yes" or click "OK" (or similar response) to close the music disc properly. Failure to close or "finalise" the disc, will leave the disc incomplete and the disc may not play on a CD player other than the one on your computer.

Make sure your CD burner is a "CD Writable" drive and not just a "DVD Writable" drive. Some DVD burners can't burn a CD properly.

CD Burning Software

Use a CD burning program that can convert a variety of different music file formats including .WAV and .MP3. You may have a mixture of CD music files in different formats. These different formats all need to be converted and compressed before they can be burnt to a CD. If your current CD burning program is showing errors on some of your music files, consider purchasing or downloading a shareware program that supports multiple music file formats.

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About the Author

Nick Davis is a freelance writer specializing in technical, travel and entertainment articles. He holds a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Memphis and an associate degree in computer information systems from the State Technical Institute at Memphis. His work has appeared in "Elite Memphis" and "The Daily Helmsman" in Memphis, Tenn. He is currently living in Albuquerque, N.M.