Pro Auto Talk is reader-supported. When you purchase through one of our links we may earn an affiliate commission (at no extra cost to you).

How To Organize Music On USB For Car In 5 Easy-To-Do Steps!

Last Updated on: July 9, 2024

Technical issues can really get on our nerves sometimes huh?

No need to get frustrated…

We’re here to help you :)

In this article, we’ll tackle how to organize music on USB for car players and what to do if things still don’t work out. Tips, tricks, and examples are included too.

Let’s get going!

The Basics: Is It A USB, A Flash Drive, Or A USB Drive?

USB Drives
USB Drives

The terms USB, flash drive, and USB drive have become interchangeable nowadays; some people even combine all these words together and call it a USB flash drive.

While many people may understand what you’re talking about, it is important to know the differences and use the correct terminologies. 

The common acronym USB stands for universal serial bus, they’re also called thumb drives and pen drives. These are used to RETRIEVE AND TRANSMIT data or power; they are the ports in your appliances.

On the other hand, a flash drive is what you insert into these ports. They are the small integrated chips that keep your files and allow you to move them from one gadget to another.

So, pretty much the correct terms to use here are flash drive, USB drive, and USB flash drive, but never USB itself.

Steps On How To Sort Music On Your Flash Drive For Your Car Stereo

Step 1: Figure Out How Your Car Reads Files On Your Flash Drive

Before we get started with the whole “how to arrange music in USB drives” concept, let’s start with a factor that can greatly affect the outcome of this process. 

Just like how all flash drives come in different formats, car dashboards also have variations.

Depending on your car model, it may read the files on your USB drive alphabetically, in order, or by file format. 

You can’t really find out by looking at some car manual or online, so we’ll resort to a test run. Try putting a couple of songs on your flash drive and remember their order, then play them in your car and observe the sequence.

Step 2: Ensure The Correct Format For Your Car

Unfortunately, computer formats aren’t always the same as car formats. 

Depending on the model of your car and the year your USB flash drive was made, the playback may or may not be successful.

There are two USB drive formats; the NTF and the FAT/FAT32 file format.

NTFS are now supported by new multimedia devices but FAT/FAT32s are more common and space-saving which makes them the best audio format for car USB drives.

In order to format your disk, all you have to do is plug it into your computer and right-click on it to open its menu bar. 

From there, you can choose the appropriate file system. Make sure not to touch the other options and avoid tweaking your flash drive’s specifications. 

Step 3: Organize Your Music By Cascading Order

Here’s the answer on how to sort songs in your USB car stereo: by cascading order.

In organizing, you can’t just really just name them in the same format and expect everything to work smoothly.

There has to be an appropriate hierarchy and order. For this, we’re going to be making use of folders.

Follow the sequence below to ensure proper sorting:

  • Create folders in your flash drive and name them depending on the genre of music you have. Example:
    • Folder 1 – “pop”
    • Folder 2 – “rock”
    • Folder 3 – “RnB”
  • Inside these folders, you are going to create new folders which will be named depending on the names of the artists/singers. 
  • And inside these, you are going to create folders of their albums.
  • In these album folders, you’ll be putting the songs, of course.

Step 4: Rename Each Song Into A Standard Format

Now, you can put these songs into the folders in any sequence that you want, but you can’t just name them anything.

There has to be a numeric sequence at the beginning of the file names to ensure that your car will identify it during playback.

For example:

  • 001_Name-of-the-song
  • 002_Name-of-the-song
  • 003_Name-of-the-song

While this may be tedious, it will assure you that you won’t face any difficulties later on.

Step 5: Transfer The Folders To The USB

Now that you know how to arrange music in USB drives, it’s time to copy and paste these folders into the drive.

Trick to make things easier: move your folders first to your desktop and then open your USB drive so that you won’t have to go back and forth between two windows explorers.

Make sure to copy and paste these folders instead of moving them to the drive so that you’ll have a backup just in case.

The Trial And Error Process

It’s not really a shocking revelation that things still might not work after doing all of these steps. But it is also not the end of the world, there’s a solution to all errors.

If the flash drive still can’t be accessed or your car still can’t read it, you can try the common solution: removing and reinserting it a couple of times.

If this still doesn’t work, you can try and clean the USB port. It’s not impossible that a couple of dust particles have gone inside the port and are disrupting the connection. You can use a brush or compressed air for this task.

Now, if things still aren’t coming together you can either use a different flash drive, try re-formatting it, or play music through a memory card or AUX cord instead. 

Watch This!

Frequently Asked Questions

Is it necessary to format my flash drive?

Yes and No. All newly purchased USB drives are already prepared for computer use but most of the time not for cars. So although your flash drive works perfectly on your computer, there’s a chance that your car will have trouble reading and accessing it.

Formatting your USB drive for car use allows you to make sure that your stereo system wouldn’t encounter any errors during playback.

Why does my car stereo not read the files on my USB drive?

This is one of the most common problems for conventional car stereo owners. The solution is easy. The mp3 players in each car differ depending on what year its model was released, some old mp3 players cannot read flash drives in certain formats, and vice versa.

If your flash drive is new, then it should be in NTF file system format, while old models would have a FAT32 file format which is the best audio format for car USB drives. All you have to do is figure out which file format your flash drive has and change the format to the other!

How to play music from a flash drive if your car has no USB port?

Not because your car has no USB port means you can’t play music through your flash drive anymore. FM transmitters are very common nowadays and are cost-friendly, all you have to do is find one with a USB port. There are also other wires that will transmit your files into a certain port, you just have to find out which ones you don’t use and look them up on the market. 


We hope we’ve helped you out with organizing your music and making your USB drives and car players coordinate with each other, it gets pretty tough sometimes.

A couple of reminders: (1) always have a backup, (2) use correct formats, and (3) have patience. Things will work out. 

Now it’s time for you to blast your favorite songs on a long road trip. Enjoy!

Leave a Comment

© 2024 Pro Auto Talk - All Rights Reserved is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.