How to turn your car’s ashtray into a smartphone dock

Jason Torchinsky of Jalopnik shows how to turn your car’s ashtray into a smartphone dock

I hardly know anyone who still smokes and pretty much everyone I know has a little computer in the form of an iPhone or Android phone that's always with them. That means I should really think about some of the vestigial parts of my dashboard. Like the ashtray. Let's change the ashtray's function from supporting the disgusting habit of the 1970s (smoking) to the disgusting habit of the 2010s (constant smartphone use). Here's how to do it.

Oh, and since this will get pointed out, I may as well say this. After I came up with the ashtray-to-iPhone dock idea, I was feeling so smug I was having some shirts ordered that said "ME ARE A GENIUS." Then I decided to Google the smartphone dock/old ashtray idea. I'm not the first. I'm not even close. I cancelled the shirt order, but this just proves it's a solid idea. So, onward.


  1. Most people I’ve seen who smoke don’t even use the ashtray anyway.  They toss their cigs out of the Window and even dump their ashes out that way ignoring the people behind them and the motorcyclists they cake with their cancer.

  2. Why do I need spare change? FastPass for the tollbridge, my debit card for the parking meter, and granola bars for the freeway panhandlers.

    1. My ’87 Jag XJ6 has several.  The backseat passengers each get their own, plus they share a cigar lighter at the back of the front console.  Pretty decadent for its day.

      But yeah, though my ’04 Sienna still has an ashtray (I think), my ’07 RAV4 doesn’t.

      I also have a ’70 Mercury Cougar with side ashtrays for the rear passengers, but the front one is at the extreme front end of the console, practically buried beneath the heater controls, and thus not very useful for any other purpose.

      1. My parents 77 Caprice Classic (2 door coupe…if you can even call a land barge a coupe) had an ashtray on each side of the rear bench seat. 

        Oh the fond memories of vinyl bench seats in the middle of summer.

      2. As a youngster in the 1970s I remember every car had an ashtray on each door and one smack in the center of the front console. Don’t miss the ashtrays but I do miss those fantastic triangular, smoker’s windows. Best way to cool off without A/C.

        1. Definitely miss vent windows- they went away well before ashtrays, but my ’65 Volvo still has them. You get as much breeze as through an open window, but can direct it like a dashboard air vent…

    2. That’s pretty much what I came here to say.

      I think it was an option in my 04 Corolla (which I did not get), which basically replaces a flip down compartment where I keep my glasses.
      I can’t remember if the wife’s 01 Rodeo has one or not…

      In older cars, or the ones I was around growing up, it seemed like the older the car the more front and center the ashtray was.  By the early to mid 90’s they were basically tucking them as far out of the way as possible.

    3. I’ve got a 2007 Kia Sedona (its called a ‘Grand Carnival’ here in Australia. No seriously, it is. Stop laughing.) and that thing has ash trays in the front, middle and back rows.

      Apparently, Korea is yet to get the memo.

      1. its called a ‘Grand Carnival’ here in Australia. No seriously, it is. Stop laughing.

        What you call a Toyota Tarago, the US calls a Toyota Previa.

        1.  We call ’em that in EnglandLand, too. Though they’re both fucking stupid names. At least ‘Grand Carnival’ is a recognisable thing, and it sounds kinda fun.

  3. I like the fact that the ashtray seems to have the shift pattern of a 3-speed column shifter drawn on it. Very Jalopnik. I wonder if any cars put that there as an aide-memoire?

      1. Thanks! I was wondering what the little squiggle going off to the left between R and L was- now it seems to be P. That makes a lot more sense…

    1. yup, same with my 2011 Fit (which has a second glove compartment with a usb cable). Honda does offer a round ashtray that fits into any cup holder.

  4. When we bought our last car, over a decade ago, I think only one of the cars we looked at still had an ashtray.

  5. My 85 Chevy Van had an ashtray in the dashboard (which I used for change) and ashtrays in the back seat armrests.  It finally died last year, and my current car has a USB jack for the stereo, which I usually use to charge my phone but occasionally to play MP3s from a memory stick, and I don’t think the cigarette lighter socket came with the actual lighter. So I don’t need a phone dock, though I might add something like that to run GPS apps on the phone conveniently.

  6. What I never quite understand is who exactly it is that smokes.  Almost everyone I know doesn’t smoke…  having trouble thinking of anyone who does.  Several other people commented this as well, and it’s also in the original article.  Yet I see people smoking in cars, outside buildings, etc., fairly often.  There are clearly smokers out there.  Why is it that I don’t know any?

    1. They did a study that showed people who have fat friends are more likely to be fat themselves. You’ll note you’ll never see one skinny person riding in a car with three fat people. The same thing probably applies to smokers. Plus they’re always outside hanging out with other smokers rather than doing any real work to make friends with the people inside picking up all the extra slack.

    2.  Cause you’re friends aren’t jerks who come round and demand to smoke in your house, and, worse than that, INDISCRIMINATELY USE BEERCANS AS ASHTRAYS. Full beercans. As ashtrays. I hate people.

  7. I took my garage door opener out of it’s case and crammed the remaining bits in to the “push to retract” ash tray in my center console (bmw). The button is big enough it almost looks “factory”…

  8. nice idea, but one problem I could see is that most cars I’ve driven have the ashtray pretty far down on the center console.
    not a good place if you want to look at the phone’s GPS screen for example…

  9. A removable ashtray that fits into a drink holder was an option for my 2002 RSX.  Perhaps that explains why there are 5 drink holders for that 4 passenger car.  My 2010 Prius, I don’t think an ashtray was even an option, but that doesn’t matter too much considering there’s a power outlet and data port in the center console, and another power outlet under the “shifter”.

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