Subaru uses a system called StarLink in their vehicles. This infotainment system allows drivers to access news, weather, music, multimedia, and in-car features through an onboard touchscreen and also via voice commands.
Subaru uses a very up-to-date system that, just like most audio devices, can run into some problems. Certain devices can have difficulty pairing and updates can sometimes hamper the connectivity of the car to the phone. These issues can be solved very easily.
Here, in this article, you can get to grips with all the common problems that you may encounter, and better yet, the solutions you need to ensure your microphone works when it should.
Table of Contents
Connectivity Issues with your StarLink System Prevent your Microphone from Working
The most common reason that you are experiencing problems with your microphone whilst in your Subaru is likely caused by a connectivity issue. But first make sure you know where the microphone is in your car.
The StarLink system works by having your smartphone device connected and Starlink offers advanced connectivity to ensure your particular device can access its own operations and those unique to StarLink.
Connectivity is achieved via the following:
- Apple CarPlay – Apple’s CarPlay is supported on your StarLink system and is designed specifically for iPhones to ensure the most optimum connectivity for in-car functionality. Expect the ability to make calls, utilize messaging services, play music, and get directions. It should be as simple as connecting your iPhone and getting on the road.
- Android Auto – Similarly to CarPlay, Android Auto does the same thing, but for Android phones instead. It boasts a wide variety of simple, yet functional, voice commands and is designed so that you can operate your phone safely whilst your main concentration is on the road.
- Bluetooth – Subaru has also ensured that their StarLink uses the standard Bluetooth technology so that all phone systems can be enabled hands-free. By linking directly to your Starlink Subaru audio system you can be automatically connected without needing to handle your phone whilst you’re driving.
With so many hands-free options you’d hope that it would be a piece of cake operating your phone via the microphone in your Subaru, however, sometimes our phones do not play ball.
Solving CarPlay App Connectivity Issues
The fact that CarPlay is compatible with Subaru via StarLink is great news for Apple users, however, some drivers have reported problems using it.
Try this solution if CarPlay keeps repeatedly disconnecting, preventing you from using the microphone:
- Open ‘Settings’ on your iPhone and choose ‘General’.
- Next, find ‘CarPlay and tap your Subaru car and choose ‘Forget’.
- Now restart your car and use the iPhone to re-establish the connection.
- It’s also important that you have set CarPlay on your phone to ‘Allow CarPlay While Locked’. Otherwise, you may find that CarPlay disconnects or stops working when the phone locks. This will stop you from being able to use voice commands.
- Ensure that CarPlay is up to date. Some users have experienced a blackout screen with outdated software.
- Sometimes issues will occur with CarPlay due to Spotify. On your Spotify App, you should deactivate the ‘Hey Spotify’ setting within the voice interaction menu.
Solving Android Auto App Connectivity Issues
The first time you use your Android phone in your Subaru you will need to connect via USB, but this is only for the initial setup.
Once the setup is complete you should be able to use voice commands to access your Android phone and more.
However, if you are having problems with connectivity and that’s causing your microphone not to work then it could be because of the following:
- You’ve accidentally added your Subaru car to the ‘Rejected Cars list’.
- You’ve turned off ‘Add new cars to Android Auto’.
If this has happened then you may find that your Android phone is charging but Android Auto is not functioning and so your microphone is not working either.
- Clear the temporary files on your Android phone which may cause your Android Auto app to malfunction: Settings > Apps > Android Auto > Storage > Clear Cache.
- Restart your StarLink.
- If all else fails you can choose to ‘Forget all cars’. This will remove any vehicles that are paired or have been paired, allowing you to set up Android Auto again and, with a little luck, will solve the connectivity issue.
- Uninstall and reinstall your Android Auto App.
Fix Connectivity by Disconnecting and Re-pairing Your Phone via Bluetooth
First, you will need to delete your phone from StarLink’s Bluetooth device list.
On your mobile go to Bluetooth settings and choose to forget StarLink from previously paired devices. Now you will want to try a fresh pairing process:
- Make sure you have your vehicle’s ignition turned on and you are parked in a well-ventilated area. Start with your phone’s Bluetooth switched off.
- On your Subaru StarLink screen, press the Settings button and locate the Bluetooth Connection menu.
- Enable pairing mode in your head unit by selecting the Pairing button.
- On your mobile, go to Settings and then switch on Bluetooth. Your phone will automatically enter pairing mode.
- Select your car’s Bluetooth name from the available devices list.
- You will be asked for a PIN. Once you have verified the number is the same on your mobile and on StarLink click ‘OK’ followed by ‘Next’.
- The pairing process should now be complete.
My voice commands are not being recognized
You may be having problems with your microphone in your Subaru because you are not using the right commands.
Understanding what voice commands are needed is crucial in order for your microphone to function hands-free whilst you’re driving.
Below you can get an idea of some of the most common voice commands and what they are used for.
For the full and comprehensive list of all voice commands please refer to your Subaru StarLink owner’s manual.
- “Dial” followed by the number will call that phone number.
- “Call” followed by the name of someone in your phone’s contact list will call that contact.
- “Navigate” followed by an address will set the destination for sat nav.
- “Show Map” will display the map screen.
- “Where am I” will display your current location on the map.
- “Tune to” followed by the frequency – eg. 99.5 FM will switch the radio to that station.
- “Preset” followed by the preset number – eg. Prest 4, will tune to that station.
- “Set Fan Speed to” followed by a number between 1-7 will activate the fan.
- “Set temperature” followed by a number will set the temperature inside your vehicle.
- “Help” will bring up the Help Screen.
- “Phone Help” will give you a list of voice commands.
- “Media Help” will display the list of commands used for media.
- “Radio Help” will display the list of commands needed for the radio.
- “Navigation Help” will display the list of commands used for Navigation.
The Microphone in Your Subaru is Not Working due to the Way you are Speaking
Sometimes people mishear us and misunderstand us. Your microphone in your Subaru is no different. If you are struggling to access the functions in your car, whether that’s changing the radio station or inputting a destination for navigation, it could be because of the clarity of your voice.
Follow these tips to help your microphone understand exactly what you are trying to say:
- Try not to speak too quickly – Rattling off your commands and speed may result in StarLink system becoming confused as it may miss a crucial word that it needs in order to proceed with your request.
- Speaking too quietly or too loudly – There is a perfect ‘Goldilocks’ volume that your microphone desires in order for it to serve you well. Finding that balance may take some practice, but once you know the right volume then it will become second nature to you.
- Keep your windows closed – Try not to have the windows open whilst attempting voice commands as the background noise of cars rushing past will interfere with the microphone’s ability to pick up your voice amongst the chaos.
- Ask your passengers to keep quiet – If you are trying to make a command into your microphone, but you have a car full of screaming kids, then it’s no wonder that you’re having difficulties. Your microphone is struggling to hear you above your passengers.
- Don’t set the air con too high – Air conditioning is great at regulating the temperature in our cars, but if it is blowing a gale then the noise from the fans can be too intense for your microphone to make out what commands you are trying to give. Turn the air conditioning down whilst trying to speak to your StarLink.
- Change the direction of your air vents – leading on from the last point, you can make things easier on your microphone by pointing the air vents away from your microphone and thus reducing the chance that air conditioning will affect your microphone’s functionality.
Check this article of ours about microphone problems on Bose Soundlink.
Microphone Not Working Because You Need to Update StarLink
It may be that you are experiencing technical difficulties with your StarLink system in your Subaru vehicle.
When problems occur it is easy to get stressed out and believe that your only option is to head to a dealer for repairs, but before you do it is always worth checking whether it is simply a software issue.
Updating the software may fix any microphone issues you are having. Follow these steps and see if it helps:
- Park your vehicle outside and keep the engine idle whilst you perform the update.
- Open the StarLink app on your smartphone.
- Connect your smartphone to your vehicle (instructions on how to do this can be found earlier in this article).
- Now go to ‘Settings’ and select ‘Navigation’, followed by ‘Map Update’.
- Choose ‘Check for Updates’. This is the best way to look for any updates.
Try Performing a Reboot on Your StarLink to Fix your Microphone Issues
Just like your computer, sometimes a good old reboot can fix a glitch faster than anything else, and if you believe your microphone is playing up then this may well do the trick.
- On your StarLink system find the power button and press it down for 15 seconds. This will initiate a reboot.
If that doesn’t fix the issue then you can always go a step further and make a full factory reset.
- On your StarLink system navigate to the ‘Settings’ menu on your display panel and then select ‘Factory Data Reset’.
Testing the microphone on your Subaru to check for hardware failure
If you believe your microphone is faulty and that it may be a problem with the hardware then a good way to check this is to perform an input test.
You can test whether your microphone is receiving any sound by entering one of two modes.
On your StarLink system navigate to either:
- Dealer mode.
- Factory mode.
From these modes, you can speak into your microphone and observe whether you get any bars that indicate whether or not the microphone is picking up any sound.
If you get no bars at all then there’s a good chance your hardware has failed and you may need a new microphone fitted.
General Pros and Cons for StarLink
Subaru’s StarLink infotainment system offers users the ability to connect their smartphones in a variety of ways using official software such as CarPlay.
However, voice command issues are present and the system is prone to malfunctions.
A lawsuit has been filed against Subaru because of allegations of faulty headsets and a failure to fix the problems with them.
- Automatic collision notification
- Provides roadside assistance
- Stolen vehicle recovery
- Supports CarPlay & Android Auto
- Freezes and malfunctions
- Microphone suffers from performance issues
- Head unit problems
- Radio and audio controls do not work whilst reversing
Read more about how to test a Macbook Air microphone?