How to disable Apple CarPlay

Chris Teague
·3-min read

Apple claims its CarPlay software makes driving safer and more convenient by reducing distractions, but not everyone agrees. AAA recently concluded using a system like CarPlay (or Google’s rival system, Android Auto) reduces a driver’s reaction time more than booze or pot. Viewed in this light, there are circumstances in which disabling CarPlay makes sense. It’s a relatively straightforward process that we’ve detailed below.

There are two components to CarPlay’s functionality: The car and the iPhone itself. Settings on both must be configured to disable CarPlay and stop any auto-play services from running any time you plug your phone into your car. Apple hasn’t made it immediately obvious that disabling CarPlay is even a thing, it’s in the company’s best interest that you use the system as often as possible, but it is possible with a few extra steps.

Adjusting iPhone settings

When the iPhone is first plugged into a USB port of a vehicle that supports CarPlay, the device will alert the user with a pop-up on the screen that asks if the phone should allow CarPlay to be active while the screen is locked. It might seem like saying “no” here will disable CarPlay, but it only blocks the system from connecting when the device is locked. To disable CarPlay from the phone itself, you will need to follow the steps below:

iPhones running iOS 13

  1. Open Settings

  2. Choose Screen Time

  3. Choose Content & Privacy Restrictions

  4. Enable restrictions and then choose Allowed Apps

  5. Disable CarPlay

iPhones running older versions of iOS

  1. Opening Settings

  2. Choose General

  3. Choose Restrictions

  4. Enable restrictions and enter a passcode

  5. Toggle CarPlay option to Off

It is also possible to temporarily disable CarPlay from the iPhone. To do this, select CarPlay in the Settings menu under General, choose the vehicle currently in use, and opt to disable/remove it from the list. This change won’t permanently remove the device’s ability to connect. But it will require the user to approve the vehicle for playback when you plug the phone in the next time. If the user opts against accepting CarPlay, the phone will only charge each time you plug it in. The ability to disable CarPlay is handy for a range of scenarios.

Vehicle settings

2021 Hyundai Elantra
2021 Hyundai Elantra

On the vehicle side of the equation, many automakers have included an option to disable Apple CarPlay. Ford, for example, has made it easy to switch off the functionality in its vehicles. The Sync 3 system in many new Ford models lets users disable CarPlay by choosing Preferences and then selecting the currently connected iPhone. The system will then allow the user to disable that phone’s CarPlay abilities.

Other manufacturers take a slightly different approach. Jaguar asks the user how they would like their phone to interact with the infotainment system when a device plugs in. Users can opt to connect with CarPlay or sync music and calls via another method. Drivers can have the system remember their choice if they want the option to remain in place for longer than one vehicle trip. As far as the exact method to disable CarPlay via your vehicle’s dash system, the steps may vary. For the best results, contact your automotive manufacturer for more information. Or, take a good look at your vehicle user manual to see if it sheds any light on the process.

Of course, nothing is permanent, and it’s possible to reverse the changes you make here. Disabling CarPlay doesn’t hurt anything, either, no matter how many times you swap it off and on. Since there are no negative consequences, you can feel confident in turning off CarPlay to keep an unruly passenger (or your partner) from taking over your stereo.

With a bit of guidance, you can learn to take advantage of all the features CarPlay offers. And that includes the ability to toggle it off.