The car radio does not read all the songs from the flash drive

Today: 04.03.2024, Monday

USB flash drive in car radio

Listening to music in the car is one of the few legal and safe ways to entertain yourself while driving. And if this occupation is overshadowed by the incorrect operation of the car stereo, then the process, of course, brings some discomfort.

In this article, we will continue the publication of publications one way or another related to automotive topics, opened in the topic of Setting up and registering the GPS tracker SinoTrack ST-901. Namely, let's talk about what to do if the radio tape recorder does not read all the songs from a flash drive, containing mp3 files, or does not play music from a USB drive at all.

Why does the car radio not play some songs

Let's start with the situation when we recorded several songs on a flash drive, brought it into the car, inserted it into the radio tape recorder, turned on the playback and found that the audio system does not play all the tracks on the media.
And it does not matter if you play music in a row or turn on the radio tape recorder with a random order of songs, some records are stubbornly ignored by the head unit.

Consider the main reason why a car stereo does not see all the songs on a flash drive. To do this, touch the structure of audio files in *.mp3 format.
The fact is that the MP3 file itself does not contain any information about the composition, only the audio track is stored in it. In order to add to the file information about the artist, the name of the melody, the album and so on, a special ID3 data format was "invented".

ID3 - data format that stores information about the contents of an mp3 file: artist, song title, album, release year, and so on

Later the format was improved to ID3v1 and ID3v2 versions (up to ID3v2.4), but the discussion of the development of the format is not included in our current plans. And we are interested in the fact that all audio players, when opening an mp3 file, read information stored in ID3.
Removing tags mp3 files for car stereoAnd if for some reason this information cannot be decrypted by the device’s software, be it a cassette player, an mp3 player or a stereo system, the file will be skipped.

Most often, the radio can not decipher the ID3 tag of a particular version due to problems with unsupported characters in one or more fields. In order to pinpoint the culprit of a track pass with a radio tape recorder, you need to know which version of ID3 tags the car radio reads, know which character set is supported, then you can determine by the search which value causes malfunctions.
But often there is absolutely no need to search for a specific unreadable tag, a 100% effective way to solve the problem, in which not all songs from a flash drive are played with a tape recorder, you can offer a complete removal of all tags of an mp3 file.

Removing and editing mp3 tags

To begin, consider a couple of ways to remove ID3 tags mp3 files. There are two large groups:

  1. Program - mp3 tags editor.
  2. Standard Windows tag editing tools.

The first conditional group includes all programs that can edit and delete tags from music files. Highlight the two most popular ones:

  • Mp3tag is a free program for editing ID3 tags of mp3 files and other metadata of audio formats.
    Mp3tag - audio file tag editor
  • AIMP Tag Editor is a utility built into the popular audio player of the same name that allows you to batch remove tags from a large number of files
    Removing tags through the AIMP tag editor

As for the standard tools for working with metadata of musical compositions, all the functionality is built into the Windows Explorer menu.
To change or remove mp3 file tags in Windows, we just need to open the Properties of this file or a group of files from the menu that opens when you click the right mouse button, go to the Details tab and at the bottom of the window click the Delete properties and personal information link. In the new window, we put a check mark on the item Delete the following properties of this file, after which we tick the necessary items and click on the OK button.
ID3 tags have been removed from mp3 file.

Removing tags mp3 file in Windows Explorer

At the same time, removing the tags from the composition, we do not lose in the quality of the audio recording, do not interfere with the structure of the audio track, of course, do not touch the bitrate. The only obvious disadvantage of removing audio file tags is the impossibility of displaying the name of the track and the artist on the display of the head unit, if such an opportunity is implemented by software.

However, there are two things to understand:

  1. If your cassette player displays the file name as basic information, then you will not lose anything by deleting ID3 tags.
  2. Often, in mp3 files downloaded from the Internet, ID3 tags are filled with absolutely meaningless information, such as the site of the file source, the year the song was released, or even the comment of the user who shared the file. Clearing this data is unlikely to be a serious omission from our side.

In any case, everyone decides for himself what is preferable to him: quickly remove all the tags from the list of songs all at once, or find the very problematic tag that interferes with the standard functioning of the audio system and get rid of it.

The car radio does not see the flash drive

We reviewed the main issue of the article, but it happens that the tags from the mp3 file are cleared, and some of the songs from the flash drive still do not play the car radio, or the music from the USB media is not played at all on the car speaker system.
Below are a few possible reasons due to which the car stereo may not play music from a flash drive.

Why are some songs not playing on the radio?:

  • Invalid or unsupported ID3 tags of files. This is exactly what the first two chapters of this publication are devoted to.
  • Files written to a USB flash drive are in an unsupported format. In this case, you need to either convert your music to mp3, or find ready-made suitable tracks in this format.
  • Another language or characters in the names of songs.. Some car stereos are not able to read songs whose names contain characters of other languages ​​besides English or special characters such as percent sign %, ampersand &, question mark ?, Dollar sign $ and so on.
  • Another limitation found in the software even modern car stereos - a small maximum permissible number of characters in the file name. For example, if the file name contains more than 15 characters, then it may well be that you will never hear this song from the speakers of your car.
  • Limit the maximum bitrate to 320 kbps. This value will also have to be taken for granted if your speaker system is not able to cope with an audio file with a higher playback speed.

Now let's highlight a few common reasons why a car stereo does not play music from a flash drive at all, even selectively:

  • Type of file system. Choosing the type of file system for a flash drive in a car is worth staying at FAT32 or just FAT, for many audio systems formatting a flash drive in NTFS is strictly contraindicated due to compatibility issues.
  • Drive volume too large. Everything should be clear here: some models of audio systems (especially for factory-built head units) have a limit on the maximum amount of flash drives they can work with. That is, some radio will not determine when you connect a 64 GB USB flash drive, others - 32 GB and so on.
  • The location of the songs in the folders. Another limitation encountered by some motorists is that the radio tape recorder does not see the songs in folders. Therefore, if you have recorded several folders with music on a flash drive, and they are not played in the car, then it probably makes sense to drop the music in the root directory of the flash drive.
  • Folder names in another language. This problem is less common than others, but you can also face this. The bottom line is that files that are located in directories that have characters from different languages ​​other than English in their names may simply not be read by a tape recorder. In this case, tracks whose names are written in another language can be played without any problems.
  • The limit on the number of files in the folder and the total number of songs on the USB-drive. If you like to carry a large library of music in a car in case of a long journey, then you need to remember that some receivers are not able to read more than 99 files in one folder and more than 999 files on a flash drive in total (sometimes this figure can be less, sometimes more).
  • No USB 3.0 support. Despite the fact that the USB 3.0 specification was made public in 2008, equipment from some manufacturers still cannot boast support for this interface. And although the USB 3.0 standard is backward compatible with version 2.0, sometimes there are failures in the work of the new generation devices on the part of the reading equipment.
  • And the last possible reason for the failure in the operation of the flash drive on the radio, which will be mentioned in the current article - the presence of extraneous files on the flash drive. Here everything is also extremely simple, if your flash drive is not readable in the radio tape recorder, try deleting all files from the media except, directly, mp3 records.

Above we have described the main reasons why it may happen that the car radio does not see a flash drive or does not read all the songs from it. Of course, the probability of physical or mechanical device malfunctions should be eliminated additionally.

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28 thoughts on “The car radio does not read all the songs from the flash drive

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  2. Peter Winston

    Thanks you for this article. I have a brand new 2023 Volkswagen Polo TSi and from day one, the factory radio system does not play all the MP3 songs on the USB flash drive. I only have 56 MP3 files and it only plays 18 files and then repeats ffom track 1 again. If I delete those 18 files that was played, then it just plays the following 22 files. Formatted drive as FAT32, and made the size of the partition on the flash drive 16 GB and still an issue. All MP3 files are in the root. Volkswagen updated the Firmware of the radio unit lin July 2023, but the issue is not solved. If I use the same Flash drive in a Toyota car, it works perectly and all 56 or even 846 more MP3 files are played. I have used MP3tag_Editor in Windows to change all tags on all those MP3 files, but same issue happens. I have tried all the solutions above, but problem is persisting. South Africa

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  5. Rakan

    I tried removing the tags from the music files but it did not fix the issue, what fixed my issue is changing the bit rate. I found that the music which were not playable has no bit rate assigned for them on the file info so I redownloaded them again using a different site that allowes me to choose the bit rate and they are working just fine now

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  10. JBG

    In my case, oddly only some tracks retained their original album information – others became ‘unknown’ and so would not appear in the correct album folders. I found simply editing the tracks ID tags to include the correct album information solved my problem.

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  23. Matt

    I have a Delphi head unit and my Kenworth 880 dump truck. When I connect my 32G PNY flash drive only 1500 songs can’t be played. I get to C and it restarts again at A.
    I’ve played the entire USB flash drive on other head units before and all songs were played from A-to-Z.

    Are you suggesting that this particular head unit will only play that amount of songs? And that there’s no way to play the entire flash drive on this headunit?

    1. Apres Post author

      Matt, it is likely that this head unit can play only 1,500 songs. To test this assumption, it would be good to test the head unit with another flash drive, recording other songs in large quantities on it.
      If your headunit supports folder playback, this may be a solution to the problem. It will be enough to scatter all the songs in different directories.