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).
- 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.
(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.