alam2p's DIY/Modifications Bucketlist Thread - Mercedes Benz SLK Forum

General Modifications R170 Details that make your car different

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#1 Old 03-19-2018
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alam2p's DIY/Modifications Bucketlist Thread

I've been spending a few hours here and there over the course of the past few weeks doing various upgrades to my SLK230 in preparation for spring/summer driving. I’ve had the car for a few years now but never had the time to do a whole lot to it. There were two goals in this project: I wanted to bring the car back up to speed in terms of technology and appearance, and I wanted any installs that I did to look discreet - meaning no exposed wires. Before I start, I just want to say that this community has been a lot of help, so I want to contribute back to it in case someone decides to do any of these mods themselves. I tried to take as many pictures when I remember to, so with that in mind, my bucket (to-do) list:

- Replace stock radio with something that has a screen (had to have Apple CarPlay, Bluetooth, must play nice with stock amp)
- Add backup camera
- Replace existing dash camera with something more integrated
- Add soundproofing throughout car
- Wire existing halo lights so they work
- Add LED dome lighting

The first four mods are interdependent on each other so there is no real logical place to start. It may be tough to follow, but I will try my best to keep everything in some kind of order.
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#2 Old 03-19-2018
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Replace Stock Radio

The original owner of the car had the radio upgraded to a Kenwood unit when I got the car, but it produced an annoying static sound whenever it was on. I soon found out via shared knowledge that it was because the head wasn’t playing nice with the stock Bose amp. I didn’t like that, so I took the stock unit and CD changer and stuffed that back into the car.

My criteria for this upgrade was that it had to accommodate a backup camera, which necessitates a screen. Naturally, the unit had to be a single DIN with a pop-out display. I picked out the Pioneer AVH-3300NEX because it was the only unit that would work nice with the amp, and has Apple CarPlay (I swear by it).

Supplies needed:
- Pioneer AVH-3300NEX 7” Flip Out DVD Receiver with CarPlay, Android Auto, Bluetooth
- Metra 70-1786 Radio Wiring harness
- Metra 40-VW12 Antenna Adapter

Connecting the Metra harness to the Pioneer harness was literally matching colour to colour. Some European cars require you to switch the red and yellow, but that does not work with this unit because it will lose its memory every time you turn off the car, so just match colour to colour. You will also connect the white/grey RCA plugs to the audio out plugs from the back of the radio. The gray/green plugs are not used. The speaker wires from the Pioneer harness are not necessary because you are using the RCA plugs, and will just add that static, buzzing sound. Make sure they are properly insulated so they don’t accidentally touch any metal.

The parking brake wire (obviously) needs to be connected to the parking brake switch, but it may be by the parking brake and I did not want to dismantle my entire centre console for no reason, so I originally decided to forego it. Before long, I realized that in order to access a lot of the headunit's menus, the head needs to think the car’s parking brake is on. You can fool it by grounding the wire to any metal part of the radio chassis, and everything would have been peachy if I didn’t install a dash camera. Unfortunately (as you will see later on), my dash camera is the kind that has no screen and an RCA video plug, so I need a screen to access the dash camera’s menu.

Light Switch 2.jpg

The parking brake protection is one of those that requires you to engage the parking brake, disengage and then re-engage to “confirm” the parking brake is set and that the car is not moving before it will display video. You can buy yourself a parking brake bypass for Pioneer units, but that will set you back $25 or so (25 that I didn’t want to spend either). Through trial and error and some luck, I found out that you can emulate this simply by grounding, ungrounding and re-grounding the parking brake wire - so I hooked up the wire through a simple switch. Now, when I need to access the camera’s menu, I can simply throw the switch twice to fool the car into thinking the parking brake has been set, and this enables more functions in CarPlay. The switch is set beneath the steering wheel with double sided tape. Naturally, I have no intention of watching video while the car is in motion and frankly, neither should you. Video while the car is in motion is illegal in most provinces/states. Do this at your own risk.

The microphone is placed directly behind the steering wheel for clarity’s sake, and because that is the place where it would look most stock. It turns out that if you pop open the side panel on the dash’s left side, with the radio still out, you can “see through” to where the radio’s receptacle is. This helped in stealthily running the microphone wire to the back of the radio. Underneath the steering wheel is a panel that you can easily pop off. Using the old clothes hanger method, you can thread the wire through to the back of the radio. This will help the wire remain hidden, and therefore, looking stock.

Microphone Wire.jpg

(Note on the microphone: I know the most stock look would be to run the microphone up to where the original microphone sits in the dome light, but I was concerned about wind noise because I did not have a wind barrier for my microphone. Furthermore, I would imagine that even with a wind barrier, the microphone will still pick up some noise with the top down).

The final picture of my headunit install.
Headunit.jpg
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#3 Old 03-19-2018
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Adding Backup Camera

I did not want to drill into the car to install anything for fear of problems down the road, so this camera is great because you don’t have to drill through anything in the car. Furthermore, this camera’s night visibility is excellent, and overall visibility is great with its wide angle lens. I asked one shop how much it would be to install this and I was quoted $350 “because convertibles are trickier”. When the top is operational, the trunk hinges backwards which is why running wires for this camera is more work. Take that for what it’s worth, but definitely not $350.


Supplies needed:
- AUTO-VOX Cam1 HD Car Rear View Backup Camera

Backup Camera.jpg

This camera bolts directly into the same holes used for your license plate. The tricky part is threading wires through the trunk lid, routing it through the trunk hinges so that wires do not interfere during top operations. I ran my wire through the trim piece above the license plate, which meant that I had to remove it altogether to thread the wire through. There is a panel you can pop off in the trunk - the process being very similar to replacing that trim piece… Unfortunately, I cannot find a link to those instructions.

Trunk Panel 2.jpg

Once the wire is threaded through, there is really only one way to go to provide power to the backup camera. If you look through the holes on the right side of the interior trunk panel, you’ll see the wiring harness for the license plate/third brake light is, so I wanted to emulate the same routing there for the backup camera. With a clothes hanger, you can run the wire down the same path. There is a rubber stopper at the end where the wiring harness comes out. Pull it out and thread the wire through carefully - the stopper does not look extremely stretchy.

Backup Camera Wire Routing 2.jpg

Once the camera wires are out, you can use cable ties to wrap them tightly to the wiring harness. To help in achieving that factory look, you can pop a few plastic covers to stuff wires in. See the annotated photo for more details. There is a screw that does not appear to be load bearing on the hinge. You can undo that bolt for the purposes of running the wires through. In order to accommodate the extra length of wire needed when the top is operational, I had to extend the power wire a little. This is the only part that does not look stock, but I do not find this look to be too offensive.

Light Plug.jpg

With regards to powering the camera, It seems like there are multiple ways of doing it with not one way being the most “correct”. I chose to provide power into the camera via activation of the reverse lights/gear. I know some people believe that you can provide the camera constant power so you can see the image whenever you want, but mine has LEDs that turn on when it’s dark and I did not want it constantly on in the dark. You can find the plug for the rear lights in the trunk area. The camera is powered by tapping into the yellow-grey wire (the wire for the reverse light) and grounded in the brown wire.

From there, the hard part is threading the wire underneath the trunk panels and through into the car. This took a lot of thinking, but I found a two-step solution to the problem.

There is a little panel in the top right hand side of the trunk panels (not sure what it’s for), so with a clothes hanger, you can thread the wire through from the rear lights to there. It is a little difficult, but once that comes through, the next part is less difficult. If you shine a light along the right most side of the trunk, you should be able to see the light from the passenger-side seatbelt hole. That is where I chose to thread the wire through from the trunk to the passenger cabin. There is no easier way to do this unless you take apart the entire trunk.

If I didn’t take the rear wall off, I would have ran it down the passenger-side wall to the passenger-side footwell and through/around the centre console. The wire would be stuffed along the driver-side centre console edge to hide it from view and routed to the back of the headunit.

The yellow RCA plug from the backup camera connects to the brown-head RCA plug on the radio. This backup camera also has a little red wire that you need to connect to the reverse gear wire on the Pioneer harness as well. When there is power provided to the camera, the head will know to switch to the backup camera based on power running through the red wire and into the headunit.
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#4 Old 03-19-2018
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Replacing existing dash camera with something more integrated

I had a fairly good dash camera but it was mounted using a suction mount, and there was not a whole lot of room behind the mirror. It would also lose suction on a hot day and fall down. It was an obvious add-on and I wanted to do something about it. Lo and behold, I had a cheap $20 eBay camera lying around that I meant to install in an older car before it got scrapped… so I decided that I would install this camera here instead.

I don’t know what it is, but it looks like this:

IMG_6532.jpg IMG_6537.jpg

My camera had a red (accessory), black (ground) and yellow (constant) power wire, and a yellow RCA plug. The power wires can go into the headunit’s harness so that it will turn on every time the car is powered. The RCA plug will go into the Video Input plug on the back of the radio.

Light Switch 2.jpg

I ran the wires for the camera from the back of the radio first for simplicity’s sake. The yellow RCA plug is a bit of a tight fit between the panels (shows how well the SLK was constructed), but it fits with some force and a little bit of prying. The rest of the wires are routed through near the pedals, through to the left side of the car up the A-pillar and hidden by the overhead panel.

In order to view the dash camera’s menu, this is where you need to “engage” the parking brake via the light switch. Without it, you won’t be able to adjust anything on the camera.
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#5 Old 03-19-2018
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Adding soundproofing material to various parts of car

I’ve seen some other people on this forum doing sound deadening to their cars. Honestly, I’m not sure if it makes much of a difference because the last time I drove the car was in October, but it wasn’t expensive so I took the plunge.

Supplies:
- Noico 80 mil 36 sqft Sound Deadening Mat

With 36 sqft of material, I chose to do the door panels, the rear interior wall, trunk and the little part between the windshield and the room (where the dome light is).

The installation of sound deadening material is not necessarily the trickiest part - it is the trim removal and the physical exertion. When I removed the door cards (make sure you pull the power and let it drain for 30 minutes first for airbag safety), I found that there wasn’t a whole lot of room to get to the inside door skin, so I chose to opt out of that and focus more on the door cards instead. With some patience, you can get all the nooks and crannies inside the door card. You’ll get a slightly more solid thud when you close the door if you put enough material on the door card.

Door Card Sound Deadening.jpg

The rear interior wall removal was not tricky either. This part was the easiest to lay material down because there are very few curves. I read that this is where a lot of noise comes from, so I hope this will make a difference.

Interior Rear Wall Sound Deadining.jpg

While I got to removing the rear interior wall, I also had to pop out the speaker grilles from behind the seat. I took the opportunity to add some silver paint to the BOSE logo. It bugs me that it is unpainted… just the minor details that will make me happy! I have to say… when you catch a glimpse of them behind the seats, they look pretty amazing.

Bose Painted.jpg

I concur with other people when they say the spare tire area in the trunk is literally a drum. You can try (as I did) sticking your head in to make a sound and hearing your echo. Can you imagine how much noise you’ll get echoing from the trunk and into the cabin with that? I think the trunk area is where you’ll get the biggest bang for your buck. The only downside is that this is the physically exerting part of the project because you are always bent over the trunk lip.

Trunk Sound Deadening.jpg

I also read somewhere that the area in the overhead panel is worth doing. Since I had the panel removed for some wiring, I didn’t see why not.

Overhead panel Sound Deadening.jpg

I wanted to do the floor boards as well, but it seems like that would have required the removal of the centre console so I chose not to pursue that route. Furthermore, there is some thick foam material underneath the footwell carpet. I’m not sure how great of a job they do, but it’s better than no material there at all.

I can report that I still have about 4 sqft of materials left after everything I have done.

The reason why I DIDN’T install any material in the headliner and trunk lid is because I do not know how much material I’d be using and how much weight that would add to the structure. Seeing that the hydraulic pump already has enough heavy lifting to do, I did not want to add to it.
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#6 Old 03-19-2018
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Wire existing halo lights so they work

When I got the car three years ago, someone was selling those cool headlights with halo rings on them on Craigslist for $100, so I snatched them up and installed them. I had no clue how to install the halo lights though, so it wasn’t until now that I have tried and it is a lot easier than I thought.

You'll need to remove the headlights in order to get to them though. The parking light/turn signal wire is not nearly long enough for you to work on with enough room.

I chose to wire both halos to the parking light instead of the low beam because I think it looks nicer. On the right side, the parking light wire is red/gray and on the left side, it is black/gray, both grounded in the brown wire. Interestingly on the left side, I found two ground wires to the plug. I'm not sure why, so I chose one wire to tap into.

You can confirm with a multimeter, but the wires ran to diagonally opposing sockets.

IMG_6506.jpg

I have to say, they look spectacular.

Halo Lights.jpg
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#7 Old 03-19-2018
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Add LED dome lights

Supplies:
- Safego W5W LED Car Bulbs

This is the simplest of the bunch. It is a simple plug-and-play replacement that makes a huge difference to the cabin lighting. I can actually see details of the cabin in the dark now! Adding LED lights to your cabin will not cause a bulb warning to go off on the dashboard.

While I was here, I took the time to get rid of some oxidation on the metal bits where the light holder touches. On my left lamp, this is where it would occasionally dim or go off and I was tired of using my usual punching method to solve it. With a screwdriver and some sandpaper, you can rub it until it becomes shinier. My light has worked flawlessly since.
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#8 Old 03-19-2018
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Learning Points

I have to say I am extremely pleased with all these little upgrades. Little things here and there make the car significantly more contemporary, and I’m excited to be driving it later this week. If I could do it all over again, there are a few things I would change - and I hope that if anyone were to replicate this project, they would find it much easier than I did.

First, the order in which I did things was: 1) radio, 2) backup camera, 3) dash camera, 4) soundproofing, 5) halo lights (LED dome lights don’t really matter in this). That was the wrong order - and only so because I installed things in the order I got them.

For simplicity’s sake, the most appropriate course of action would have been to soundproof first because that means I would have had to dismantle the interior first. This would have helped a lot with the wiring components of the project, especially for the backup camera. As it was, there was a lot of wasted time trying to figure out how to best do the wiring.

And that's that! A summary of all the work done while my car was being a garage queen. Cheers!
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#9 Old 03-19-2018
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#11 Old 02-21-2019
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Hello,
I was wonder, now this has been a few years since you installed this radio, how do you like it? I am considering a similar deck.
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#12 Old 02-22-2019
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The head is awesome. Probably one of the best things I did to the car. Beware though - the speakers emit some ringing sounds when you have nothing coming through them. Some people hear it, some people don't. Not really an issue though because I always have music on, and definitely not an issue with the top down.
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