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I seem to be using a lot of hire cars recently, so I'm looking for an easy way to connect an iPhone 4 to a car audio system, with minimum fuss and rewiring.

I had a Griffin iTrip years and years ago, for a 2nd/3rd Generation iPod. It was fiddly to setup and needed retuning every hour or so. I'm sure the former problem is better now, but do they still lose the signal over time?

If so, are there any decent alternatives?

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My wife and I use the auxillary input on our car and just plug a standard cable from the phone or iPod to the car that way. Newer cars have the auxillary input moved away from the radio, ours is down below the radio and dash. This is by far the cheapest and easiest solution.

If that doesn't work you could always buy an FM modulator, but sounds like you tried that.

My best recommendation, which sounds like it isn't up your alley, would be to buy an after market stereo that has a direct iPod/iPhone connector. These work great because you can control the device from the car stereo and not have to fuss with the device once plugged in! Alpine has one of the best for this and is one of the top car stereo manufacturers. If you do go that route, buy from Crutchfield...

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We've had decent luck with the Cassette Tape style adapter which looks like a cassette tape with a headphone cable coming out of it. In some tape decks you need to experiment with Side1 vs Side2 to see which gives you better sound quality. In my wife's Ford, we had to take the adapter out, flip it over (side 2), and put it back into the radio. The Radio Detected that it needed to be on side 2 and we got both channels.
We've found that we get the best quality by putting the iPod/iPhone at 50%-75% volume, then use the car's volume to control the actual loudness.

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Can't remember the last time I drove a car with a cassette deck! – Jon Hadley Sep 8 '10 at 9:48
The low-end radios in a lot of rentals still have tape decks. I can't remember using a cassette deck for anything other than an adapter in the past 5 years. – BillN Sep 9 '10 at 18:17

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