Audio Reviews

Install and check Carsifi Android adapter

In this article: We unpack, install and review the Carsifi Android Auto wireless adapter. We put it through its paces and find out how well it really works!

About a year ago we ingeniously custom installed a modern Sony XAV-AX7000 touchscreen head unit in a 1962 Ford Thunderbird. The new head unit added all sorts of neat and futuristic features to this 60-year-old jet-age automobile, including things like Android Auto, which allowed access to Google Maps, Pandora music streaming, and hands-free calling.

The downside is that the head unit only allows wired Android Auto and Apple CarPlay connections. To do this, we had to install a USB port and connect the phone every time we got in the car. While it doesn’t seem like a big deal, short trips to the grocery store just weren’t worth connecting. Longer trips with the phone plugged in often resulted in some problems, most commonly USB cables connecting the phone to the head unit regularly failing and disconnecting. Entering and exiting hotspots and Wi-Fi coverage often resulted in the head unit being “lost” and losing connectivity altogether.

Why is that a factor? Well, when Android Auto is working properly, the most commonly used apps are easy to handle. In particular, Google Maps and Pandora are the two commonly used in Bird. When Android Auto isn’t working – usually because the USB cable connection isn’t stable – Maps is offline. The head unit still plays Pandora, but only over a muted Bluetooth connection that’s tedious for basic things like switching to another channel. Essentially you stay with what’s on and most of the time I just turn the phone off and switch to the FM band tuner, not the best use of a high-end touchscreen car stereo.

Carsifi Wireless Android Auto Adapter

The wireless Carsifi Android Auto Adapter bills itself as a simple solution to eliminate the need for a wired connection. Just plug it into the main unit’s USB port, connect it to your phone and away you go. Seems almost too easy, doesn’t it? This applies to all Wireless Android Auto and Apple CarPlay adapters in general, but we had the opportunity to test the Carsifi ourselves.

Read also article about  Upgrading Factory Car Stereo with the Axxess AXDSPL

What’s in the box

The Carsifi adapter comes in a small box, which is very simple. The dongle itself is about the size of a Zippo lighter and rests in a plastic holder just below the top of the box. Below the dongle and cradle is a small box containing two USB cables, one connecting USB-A to USB-C and the other USB-C to USB-C. There is also an adhesive pad to attach the adapter. Basic instructions are printed on the inside of the carton lid.

Carsifi what's in the box
All components in the Carsifi box

Download the app

The box lid instructions recommend downloading the companion app for the adapter. You can either look it up on the Google Play Store or use the QR code printed on the inside of the box lid to install the app. The app aims to simplify the setup process by making it easy to connect the adapter to your smartphone. Once installed, simply open the app and follow the on-screen instructions.

The first step is to connect the adapter to the smartphone via a Wi-Fi network. The adapter is shown as Carsifi-xxxxxx. Selecting the network starts the connection process. You will be prompted to pair with the Carsifi adapter via Bluetooth. This usually works and opens the app’s home page so you can access the various settings.

When nothing goes well

We were excited to try the Carsifi adapter in hopes that it would solve the most pesky wired connection issues we were having. Right off the bat, we had some bizarre problems.

At first we were able to pair the adapter with the smartphone for calls and audio, but the Android Auto app wouldn’t launch on the head unit. Since there is no manual method to launch the app, we had to perform some basic troubleshooting steps. For starters, we deleted the Bluetooth connection to the Sony head unit, which was trying to connect while we were trying to connect the Carsifi adapter. There was no change. The next step was to completely erase and unpair the adapter from the phone and reboot. Even after clearing the cache and data history, the same problem remained.

Contacting Customer Service

It’s almost fun when things like this happen just to have a good reason to contact customer service and see if they can offer a solution to the problem. While the folks at Carsifi were prompt in responding, the solution they offered largely focused on doing what we had already done, although they did point out a few minor things to try. For example, they suggested that we disable “Intercept AA Protocol” in the settings. They also suggested changing the USB mode to Accessory in Android Auto.

None of the troubleshooting issues they offered seemed to make any significant changes. We were able to get the adapter to indicate that it was connected, but couldn’t get Android Auto to appear on the screen. We even managed to have the head unit tell us once or twice that the adapter wasn’t compatible.

the solution of the problem

Carsifi AA warning
Warning from Android Auto that it failed Android Auto’s security checks. That was what gave me the information I needed to solve the problem

After struggling with the adapter and almost giving up on it, the solution to the problem suddenly appeared right before our eyes. We received a solid red error message stating that Android Auto encountered an error. The error states that the car’s software failed AA safety checks and directed us to verify that the date and time were set correctly and that Google Play was up to date.

Lo and behold, the time on the head unit was wrong. In fact, it was free for several hours and something that was at one point on our list of things to play around with but had never really been covered.

As soon as the time was set correctly, the Carsifi adapter was plugged in immediately, AA magically appeared on the screen and everything worked perfectly. Sometimes it’s the simple things that get you.

Road test of the Carsifi Wireless Android Auto Adapter

Now that we were able to wirelessly connect to AA with ease and everything was working great in the driveway, it was time to hit the road and see how well the Carsifi adapter would work. One of the issues we had with the head unit and wired AA was issues with connections failing while driving. This meant, for example, that Pandora would toggle on and off.

We left the city and headed into the country, driving through farms and fields to wreck the adapter. Only once did it stutter a bit, but within a few seconds it recovered and went right back to jamming tunes. Google maps was smooth and tracked closely keeping track of where we were going and where we were.

Hands-free calling was easy, as was using voice controls to ask the Google Assistant to do silly things like tell me about the California primary election results. All the while, my phone was unplugged, and there were no issues with messy cables constantly dropping out.

Final Thoughts

Carsifi AA works
Android Auto apps on screen via Carsifi wireless connection

Carsifi’s Android Auto wireless adapter is an incredibly simple product that eliminates one of the most irritating issues with the Sony XAV-AX7000 – the wired Android Auto connection, which doesn’t work very well. Once we were able to fix the issues with the adapter (which turned out to be an issue with our missing settings), it worked flawlessly. If it weren’t for the issues we had, this review would probably have been a lot shorter.

If you have a wired connection for Android Auto and it confuses you, grab this awesome little device and enjoy wireless Android Auto.

Depending on your setup, you may need to configure each channel to match the specifications of the products that the channel will send signals to. I would recommend taking a look at JL Audio Adjust crossovers Article to get a general understanding.

Joshua Elliott
Bacon practitioner. Certified coffee fan. Lifelong food junkie. Web trailblazer. Typical internet fanatic.

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