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Old 06-23-2009, 04:45 PM   #1
mantelo
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Is an aftermarket E46 stereo upgrade really a DIY project?

I'm looking to upgrade the factory HK deck with an after-market deck, satellite radio, and not lose my steering wheel controls. I'm relatively car savvy, although haven't installed a deck before. That said, I'm comfortable following good instructions.

So a few questions hopefully people can answer:

1. I have my eye on the gear I want at Crutchfield, do their installation guides work?

2. At Crutchfield there is a "warning" that says this install will not allow the use of detachable or fold-down faceplates. Do fold-downs and detachable not work with e46s?

3. The decks I'm looking at have different pre-amp outs. Which do I need? Crutchfield has a converter device that adjust preamp levels, I'm assuming this sits in the middle?

4. Are the steering wheel control adapters difficult to install/setup?

5. Anything else of note to know?

All of this culminates in the question, is an aftermarket E46 stereo upgrade really a DIY project for someone who asks these questions?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 06-23-2009, 04:53 PM   #2
devin_name
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I didn't have the HK in my car... but with that said, it was one of the easiest installs I've ever done. Wiring harness... dash kit... DONE! I did run RCAs to my trunk for an aftermarket amp along with a cable for an aftermarket CD changer and an auxilary input for an MP3 player. Hardest part on the entire install was getting the deck to fit along with the huge jumble of wires in back.

As for detachable face and fold down... mine works fine... no issues at all.

I used a preamp converter thing in my Pathfinder which had the Bose system... straight forward to use... but a local shop said you don't need it for any e46s.

The steering wheel controls can be maintained if you purchase certain decks that have a remote input... I think Pioneers have it. I'm sure somebody else on here would know better than I do. However, you can buy an adapter to use with other decks so that the steering wheel controls still work. I haven't installed one in my car yet just because I'm lazy but they sound pretty straight forward.
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Old 06-23-2009, 05:52 PM   #3
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I consider Crutchfield quite conservative in their DIY. If they have instructions to do the install, it is quite simple, IMO. I'm a desk jockey and I do my own shade tree installs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mantelo View Post
1. I have my eye on the gear I want at Crutchfield, do their installation guides work?
See above. If this is your first BMW, then maybe find someone who has done one before for that extra level of confidence. Parts fit tighter on these cars that some others I've worked on and there are some tricks of the trade that sometimes come in handy.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mantelo View Post
2. At Crutchfield there is a "warning" that says this install will not allow the use of detachable or fold-down faceplates. Do fold-downs and detachable not work with e46s?
The adapter face plate of E46 is not near flat enough to accomandate detachables or folding face decks. The face plate contour gets in the way of the folding or removeable face. Modification or custom face plates are usually needed for these decks. The nose of the deck would likely have to protrude beyond the face plate to work properly.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mantelo View Post
3. The decks I'm looking at have different pre-amp outs. Which do I need? Crutchfield has a converter device that adjust preamp levels, I'm assuming this sits in the middle?
If just a deck you are changing, you might be able to use the speaker outputs rather than the pre-amps. On most decks, the speaker output is low powered enough for the OEM amp to handle. Maybe some pro installers here can answer this one better.
If you have to use pre-amp on the deck, I think you will better off to change the OEM amp too. Gee, at this point you might as well change the whole system since you are half way there.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mantelo View Post
4. Are the steering wheel control adapters difficult to install/setup?
Not at all if the deck you chose supports it. E46 is likely tap into one sensor wire, then acc-power and ground, and plug interface into the deck. Quite simple I think. Well Set-up might be a little challenging.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mantelo View Post
5. Anything else of note to know?
Do not use the power antenna to turn on your OEM amp. Unless all you want to listen to is radio only. If the deck has remote-on lead and power antenna lead, use the remote-on lead - even if your BMW adapter harness says power-antenna.
Most decks use the power antenna lead to raise and lower the antenna on the car. I never saw one on a stock E46 yet.

Last edited by jay2001; 06-23-2009 at 06:11 PM.
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Old 06-23-2009, 07:31 PM   #4
mantelo
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jay2001 View Post
The adapter face plate of E46 is not near flat enough to accomandate detachables or folding face decks. The face plate contour gets in the way of the folding or removeable face. Modification or custom face plates are usually needed for these decks. The nose of the deck would likely have to protrude beyond the face plate to work properly.
Is this a modification that that I can do? Do you have and leads/links/instructions on what the modification entails?

EXTREMELY helpful! Thank you!
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Old 06-23-2009, 07:38 PM   #5
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my motorized detachable face works just fine. You hvae to be careful which ones you buy. Make sure they dont flip down lower than the headunit.

For steering wheel controls, you will have to buy a Peripheral (brand) adapter. I believe its the PAC-SWiX. DOnt have much knowledge about it, except you have to program it.

Going off of what Jay said, i disagree, he would have to use both remotes (power antenna and remote) spliced together. If you use one (power antenna) your radio will work fine, but no sound on CD or Aux. If you use the other, it will be the opposite. Make sure you splice the two together in the harness. Someone had this issue in this forum a few weeks ago and this was his problem.
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Old 06-24-2009, 12:48 PM   #6
jay2001
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mantelo View Post
Is this a modification that that I can do? Do you have and leads/links/instructions on what the modification entails?

EXTREMELY helpful! Thank you!
Unfortunately, not all face plate adapter kits are the same. This would depend on the deck you choose, the adapter and your tooling/fabrication skills (if needed). Hopefully someone who has used the Crutchfield kit can give you somemore insight. As 325CI2004 mentions, be careful and look at the adapter and deck. Trial fit the two before actually installing and see if there is no obstructions to the moving parts.


Quote:
Originally Posted by 325CI2004 View Post
Going off of what Jay said, i disagree, he would have to use both remotes (power antenna and remote) spliced together. If you use one (power antenna) your radio will work fine, but no sound on CD or Aux. If you use the other, it will be the opposite. Make sure you splice the two together in the harness. Someone had this issue in this forum a few weeks ago and this was his problem.
Well at least we agree to use the remote-on lead.
I don't understand that situation. The instructions (for the deck that OP said he had) illustrated to use the remote-on lead for the amp turn-on and made no mention of putting both leads together. I have installed numerous systems and made my share of mistakes but I have never had to use both power-antenna and remote-on to turn on ONE amp. And I don't know what would you want to be turned on ONLY in CD/AUX mode that you don't want on in radio mode? Of course you don't want power antenna up and FM booster on when in CD/AUX mode but that is not what I question. If Sony electronics use this turn-on scheme on all their products (which I know they don't), it makes them look rather odd, logic wise.
Sorry I digressed from the topic. With all said, All that really matters is that the system is working right and you are happy.
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Old 06-24-2009, 11:05 PM   #7
325CI2004
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Jay,
Could be possible it is deck specific, i have both the wires spliced in mine with no issues. In an earlier thread, this fixed a problem someone was having.

No biggie really, just remembered this from last week, and alot of people have issues with no sound and/or horrible fm reception.
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Old 06-25-2009, 12:26 AM   #8
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How DIY is really a loaded question. Can it be done yourself with the proper installation guides? Most definitely. We ship our lots of product that is plug and play and some products that require some minor wiring. I would say a good 95% or more of our customers knock all these installs out themselves.

My recommendation is to sit down and go over what you have, read some DIY guides and your install guides and get comfortable with what you are going to be doing. If you never feel 100% comfortable in what the guides are having you do then you will be nervous when you get in there and physically do it. This can lead to errors/problems in the install.

You can also ask questions here and get help

Good Luck!
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Old 06-25-2009, 10:55 AM   #9
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I am to lazy to read all the responses but,

1. Replacing the oem head unit is pretty easy. You need: antenna adaptor, wiring harness, trim kit and head-unit-specific steering wheel adapter.

2. Of dozens of installs I have done, I have only run into a couple units that had issues with motorized displays.

3. no special converters or adapters are required for audio, just connect speaker outputs from the new radio to the wiring harness and plug-in.

4. Steering wheel control adapters are easy to install (you need power/ground, which you get from the harness and have to cut a communications wire at the steering wheel to get signal). Programming is a bit of a pain if this is your first one, but not hard. You need a head-unit specific adapter.

5. Plenty of resources on this forum. Do a search on how to do the adaptor, head unit, etc.
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Old 10-15-2013, 01:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ca1242 View Post
4. Steering wheel control adapters are easy to install (you need power/ground, which you get from the harness and have to cut a communications wire at the steering wheel to get signal). Programming is a bit of a pain if this is your first one, but not hard. You need a head-unit specific adapter.
Hate to spend my no0b post digging up a thread from the grave, but can anyone explain exactly where the wire harness for the steering wheel remote control location is? According to the instructions for the PAC SWI-PS, it is located in the steering column, but am not able to find any good pictures or DIYs showing the location. Do I only need to remove the bottom cover of the steering column ? _sl_

Last edited by omgscottlikewhoa; 10-15-2013 at 01:16 PM.
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Old 10-16-2013, 05:17 AM   #11
ca1242
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Is an aftermarket E46 stereo upgrade really a DIY project?

I can't remember what the harness looks like. Remove steering wheel bottom panel and under dash cover. Ibus wire is skinny and I am pretty sure it runs along ignition wires, which are much thicker.


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Old 10-17-2013, 08:49 AM   #12
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Is an aftermarket E46 stereo upgrade really a DIY project?

For my old deck, the removable faceplate is possible just really difficult to get out. Folding faceplate, not a chance it will work


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