Many of us look at our cars and trucks as extensions of our music systems. With the MP3 revolution, our entire collections are available on the road.

Finally, our prayers are answered. Finally, vehicle makers have discovered we do more than drive in our cars (and I’m not talking about THAT).

Many of us look at our cars and trucks as extensions of our music systems. With the MP3 revolution, our entire collections are available on the road.

Car makers were molasses discovering this. All those years they ignored us, they missed out on millions of upsell.

No more hacking

I basically had to hack my old car tape player to hear MP3. It consisted of a deal that looked like a cassette tape but had a switch inside. Plug it in, plug in your MP3 player. It tricks the car radio into playing the music.

For those of less-dangerous courage (the fake tape often jammed in the player), there was and still is the radio transmitter. It sits between your MP3 player and your vehicle’s radio. Add the player and the little box beams your player onto your FM stereo dial.

Amazon still lists these items. The cassette adapters run from $12 to 52 cents (plus $2.98 postage). The FM radio transmitters can be less than $5. Both will get you on the air.

Still, all those wires

All this can create spaghetti wiring schemes on your front seat. There must be something better.

Vehicle makers started with a simple MP3 input plug on the dash (with an adapter for iPods). Problem here is it just doesn’t look right, tips off thieves and often was placed in the most inconvenient spot on the dash. You’d pull out the cord searching for the heater switch.

Enter the hub

OK, I’ve seen the miracle, and it’s called an “MP3 multi-media hub.” It comes standard on an increasing number of vehicles and is extra on some. It’s not going to convince you to buy the wheels, but you will praise it every time you rack up a tune.

The hub, usually under the front armrest, is a box containing a USB plug, an MP3 plug and a cigarette-lighter type plug for charging the MP3, cell phone or whatever.

Your music device can go in there, too. Everything fits neatly in the box, no visible wires. Latch down the cover and prying eyes will find no clue to what’s inside.

The car’s LCD info screen will display the tune-track information including name, length, etc. The radio tuner controls the playlist.

If your system has radio controls on the steering wheel, they will control the MP3.

A USB plug is even better. File some tunes on a flash drive. Plug it in, and they play — no MP3 player needed.

The other solution is an in-dash replacement radio with a USB auxiliary input. They run $125 and up.

Note: An MP3 plug will not charge a player. You’ll still need your USB cord for that.

Contact Jim Hillibish at jim.hillibish@cantonrep.com.