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My parents own a 2013 Toyota RAV4 with a single USB port under the front dashboard.

Front USB port

Any time I charge my iPhone or iPad using the car's USB port, my phone's audio immediately stops working. Apparently the iPhone thinks it's been docked and is trying to play sound through the car's speakers. There is no option to select any audio source other than the Dock Connector.

Audio dock connector

I've seen this problem reported on forms once or twice before, but the only solutions seemed to be workarounds like "use the cigarette lighter for charging" or "pair to the car's speakers using Bluetooth".

What can I do to prevent my iPhone from muting itself when plugged into a 2013 Toyota RAV4?

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Your phone isn't muting itself, it's doing exactly what it's supposed to do - trying to play music through the USB port. That's because the USB port on the RAV4 (along with many vehicles in recent years) is designed to be used for both audio playback and charging.

I can't comment on the RAV4 specifically, but in most vehicles the input source will change as soon as you plug the phone into the USB port. So, preventing this behaviour involves only changing the car's input source back to whatever it was prior to connecting the USB cable.

If that's not happening in your case (some car audio systems don't seem to let go of the input, even though the source has changed), perhaps you can change the audio source on the iPhone. To do this, tap on the down arrow on the right of the Dock Connector label to see what other options you can pick (if any). Plugging in some headphones (assuming you're not using an iPhone 7) will provide that as an option to select.

Otherwise, the assumption is that playing audio through the iPhone's built-in speakers is not required when it's plugged into a dock/external speaker (which is what the builtin USB port is on the RAV4). Your only option to play audio through the builtin speaker is to plug the iPhone into a secondary USB charger (e.g. using the accessory socket of your vehicle).

Your next best option is to just plug in some headphones (although if you have an iPhone 7 you may need a special adapter so you can both charge and use the headphones simultaneously), or connect to Bluetooth headphones.

[Edit]

I was reminded via the comments that you can actually buy cables that are charging only cables. My brother-in-law accidentally bought one of those cables and he could never use it for anything other than charging. So, presumably, such a cable could solve your problem.

In my brother-in-law's case, he purchased his cable from a servo (i.e. a gas station). I mention this only because I'm not sure if that's where you're more likely to come across them.

  • Dock Connector is the only audio option when my phone is plugged in. – Stevoisiak May 24 '17 at 3:47
  • Then you'll have to use headphones. i've just added another paragraph to the end of my answer. – Monomeeth May 24 '17 at 3:54
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    If you mean it's muted on the iPhone regardless of the audio source selected in the car, then my Toyota does the same thing. My wife's car which is not a Toyota, allows the audio to then play through the phone once the audio source has changed back to another source. The reality is that in the Toyota the phone has no idea of knowing that it's no longer plugged into a dock. – Monomeeth May 24 '17 at 4:03
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    Just a thought, there are such things as "charging only" USB cables that only supply voltage and don't have the data connectors. If all you need to do is charge the phone, then that might be the simplest alternative. If you are handy with electronics you might even be able to modify a cable by cutting the data lines. – Steve Chambers May 24 '17 at 15:44
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    @SteveChambers Actually, that will probably work. My brother-in-law accidentally bought one of those cables and he could never use it for anything other than charging. I think I'll add that as an update to my answer. Thanks! :) – Monomeeth May 26 '17 at 9:02
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hit aux and if you have the screen display look closer (usually in the top right) it’ll say AUX if you hit it again it’ll change to iPod. that’s how i got mine to work.

so hit aux find where you can see AUX in the corner cause it usually pops up for like 30 seconds then when you see the AUX come up hit the actually AUX button and it’ll change it to iPod which will relay the audio and charge! :) hope this helped cause i just figured this out for my car lol.

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I solved the problem with IPhone 7 Bluetooth streaming and charging at the same time in your car problem. Don't use the built-in USB connection in the car. Use a USB Car Charger Adapter. They are cheap, less than $10. Plug it into the 12V auxiliary power outlet/cigarette lighter. Then plug your USB to lighting cord into it. Worked like a champ on my 2016 Avalon.

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