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Jeep JK Stereo Installation - Randy’s Electrical Corner

Posted in How To: Electrical on October 7, 2014
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I am still not sure why these guys let me do this stuff. This time, they took their newest company-owned Jeep, a $750 radio (Sony XAV-712HD), and a few adapters and gave it all to me. Then they said, “Install this. Make it all work. And make it look good when you are done.” I mean, the “install this” and the “make it work” parts, I’m pretty good at that stuff—I get there eventually. But make it look pretty? Um, after all these years I would think they would know me better.

But, I do like a challenge, and to keep the editor guys happy, I decided I’d give it a shot. I gotta tell you, installing one of these is more complicated than installing a regular head unit. There are USB inputs, auxillary TomTom navigation units, video inputs, an extra USB plug that I used for satellite radio, and more. And that is all without putting an amplifier in the Jeep.

Trasborg likes his satellite radio for when he’s out in the middle of nowhere, because he can get the same stations no matter how far he is from civilization. While the radio claims to be “satellite ready,” what it doesn’t tell you is that you need to buy another $80 box to make it actually work. However, it also does say that it does navigation, and as delivered from Quadratec, it includes the auxiliary TomTom navigation unit.

Finding places for all those boxes and wires was interesting, but it’s nothing we haven’t talked about before in these pages, so I’m not going to bore you with that here. I’m just going to talk about the things I learned doing this so that if you are planning something similar, you know what you are getting into.

After taking the factory radio out and unplugging it, I quickly learned that I couldn’t fit the new unit in the dashboard. It turns out that with this unit, as well as other large chassis sat-nav units, you’ve got to take this metal cage out of the dash. I thought I’d be able to squish it and pull it out. Nope. I ended up going in there with a Dremel tool and a reinforced cutoff wheel so that I could cut it in half and get it out.

Once that was out, the Sony fit in the dash, and it was time to put the mounting brackets on it to see how it fit with the outer dash panel. I laid it down next to the original head unit to get a rough idea of where the mounting holes had to go. Next step is to bolt it into the dash and reinstall the outer panel. Even with matching the new head unit with the factory one, it took me two or three tries to get it in there correctly so it looked good like they wanted it to.

Quadratec includes this box as part of the kit, but make sure before you order any new radio for your ’07-and-up Wrangler that the company you order from includes a box like this. I tried figuring it out, but I don’t see a way to even get a new radio to turn on in one of these Jeeps without one of these boxes. It talks to the factory computer to allow the new head unit to turn on. I was going to mess around with trying to go around it, but I was scared I’d fry the computer.

The Sony included wires to get from the back of the unit out about 6 feet, so that you can plug in all your little gizmos and doo-dads. It has HDMI and USB cables in the box, but you might have to get an extra wire to hook up and leave in the Jeep for your cell phone or iThingy. These plugs are in the dash behind the head unit, so to keep them from vibrating loose and forcing me to pull the dash apart again, I taped them up. That should hold for as long as I need it to.

Broken Music
Maybe it is something I did, but I just don’t know. I called TomTom, Sony, and Quadratec, and they all had never heard of this problem before. The problem is, when the navigation is active, the music from either the satellite radio or streaming over Bluetooth is broken. It plays for several seconds and then goes completely quiet for one or two seconds. That gets super annoying really quickly. The only solution I found was to just unplug the TomTom if I wanted to listen to either of those two music sources. It isn’t a great solution, but it’s all I could come up with. If anyone has had this problem before and knows how to fix it, please let me know.


West Chester, PA 19380

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