Several options exist for a car iPod charger; some are made by Apple, the company that makes iPods, and some are made by other companies that can accommodate both iPods and other types of mp3 players. If you are looking for a simple car iPod charger that you can plug in and forget about, you will not have trouble finding inexpensive chargers to fit this need. Other car iPod charger versions have additional features, such as FM transmitters that allow you to play your iPod music through your car stereo without modifying the radio unit itself. To choose the best charger, decide what your needs and desires are, and narrow down your search according to that criteria.
The simplest car iPod charger units plug into a cigarette lighter or 12 volt input in the car's console. The plug is attached to a wire that has a special fitting at the other end; this fitting plugs into the iPod, thereby allowing the mp3 unit to charge via the car's power. These are very inexpensive units, and they are easy to store in a glove compartment. Choosing the best one is a matter of choosing one that fits your mp3 player. While it is not necessary to buy one made by Apple, it may be a good idea to do so to ensure compatibility with your iPod.
Other units have extra features such as FM transmitters or external track controls. The external track controls are buttons built into the charger that allow you to change the track on your iPod without accessing the iPod's built-in controls. This can come in handy when the iPod is plugged into both the charger and the car stereo's auxiliary input, and it allows you more freedom to access the iPod features without having to fumble with the iPod itself.
A car iPod charger that doubles as an FM transmitter will allow you to play your iPod music through your stereo speakers without installing an auxiliary input. The transmitter uses an FM station that is off the air; you can find one by tuning into a station that is playing only static. The FM transmitter unit will have a display that will give you instructions from there. Most units must also be tuned to the same frequency as your car stereo. Once the unit is tuned to the same station, you will hear your iPod's music playing through the stereo. Be sure to research the units, however, as some FM transmitters do not transmit high quality sound through the stereo.