My Kingdom for Bluetooth!
My Jeep Patriot came with the “RES” head unit from Chrysler. It’s an acceptable factory unit, and sported an external amplifier and satellite radio in my car. What was totally unacceptable was the fact it didn’t come with Bluetooth. After pricing out my options to add the “uConnect” Bluetooth module and get a dealer to update the vehicle computer, I was feeling a bit insulted. So much so that I decided no audio upgrade money should make its way back to Jeep/Chrysler. Take your $250, dealer assistance required, aftermarket MOPAR module and shove it! Aftermarket MyGIG factory units and eBay’d nav units were my other options, but most tipped the scales at $800+. I didn’t really need vehicle nav, because my phone does a better job than they ever will. I just didn’t want to fork over $300+ to Chrysler for the privilege of adding in commodity hw/sw in the shape of Bluetooth support. Thus, I came to the current solution.
Upgrading a head unit on a newer vehicle is no small task. I had the factory amp to deal with, as well as steering wheel controls, the fact that Chrysler uses a wider double din radio size, and that they use a “European” style antenna connection. These items amount to a difficult, but not insurmountable challenge.
Metra to the Rescue
I did a bit of research online but most of it was pretty terrible. Guys in forums talking about needing a steering wheel controls adapter but never posting the solution. Random posts about the location of the factory amplifier but no confirmed sightings (just below the factory deck in my 2009 Jeep Patriot). Documentation on adapters was pretty awful as well. Metra kept coming up, but their factory page for the steering wheel adapter kept saying that they hadn’t tested on my vehicle. After a quick call to their tech support, I learned that it had been tested with my vehicle and would work just fine. So I needed:
- Head Unit – I messed around with a few, and while JVC was a “value” brand in my head, their units responded so much faster than the others. ALL of the aftermarket double din decks had garbage usability, but at least the JVC was responsive. I’ll do a separate review once I’ve had enough time with the deck. Purchased the KW-AVX740.
- Steering Wheel Adapter -Chose the Metra ASWC
- Amplifier/CANBus interface -Chose the Metra CHTO-03
- Faceplate adapter -Metra 95-6511
- Antenna adapter -Metra 40-EU10
I ordered the whole shwack online from Sonic Electronix got it in a week.
When I cracked open the box to the CHTO-03
, I got a bit of a surprise. There was another connector on it, unmentioned in the documentation or online, that looked suspiciously like the one I had to connect to the steering wheel adapter. Could it be? Did they pre-wire their bus interface for connection to their steering wheel adapter? The answer, YES! This meant that I wouldn’t have to hack into the factory cables to figure out which ones were for the steering wheel. +1 for including it in their wiring, -1 for not documenting their awesomeness. A simple, “if you bought our steering wheel connection, you’re already done!” would have sufficed. Other than that happy surprise, wiring up the Metra CHTO-03 for the Jeep Patriot was a snap, because there was none. Hook it up to the adapter, wire it into your existing power leads and you’re done. All the real wiring had to happen with the new deck, in this case a JVC AVX740. That being said, super straight-forward. If you’ve got the factory amplifier and choose to go this route, MAKE SURE that your deck has amp pre-outs for front and rear. The AVX740 does, so it was a simple plug-in with the RCA’s attached to the CHTO-03
. Other than that, I had to solder 5 or 6 wires.
Metra ASWC Install
As I mentioned above, I was spoiled by Metra in that the CHTO-03 was pre-wired for the ASWC steering wheel controls interface
. I did have a bit of guesswork with regards to how it connected to the JVC unit though. This unit had only 1 wire for a steering wheel control interface and the ASWC manual suggested that other than Alpine, Kenwood, and Clarion you just had to hook in with the 3.5 jack. I improvised with the Kenwood instructions (brown wire on ASWC to Blue/White on JVC, tie off and do not use Brown/white) and it worked. For programming the actual hardware, I just had to rapidly press the volume up while the unit automatically figured out the controls (this is described in Metra’s application notes that come with the adapter). This step was so
easy that I was done in 20 seconds. ALL the steering wheel controls worked right out of the box; volume, station changing, tuning up and down, etc. I’m extremely happy that it worked by default and that it required no manual work to get it working like it had been.
I wasn’t sure whether to bolt the side panels to the bracket or directly to the radio unit itself. Since the radio offered a few more bolt holes without the bracket on, I decided that it would ensure a more secure install. Once you take the dash trim off the Patriot, you get access to front screws to take the unit out anyways, so it’s not like you need to use the bracket and special tools to get it out from the front. I also took the trim piece off the JVC because I didn’t need it. The result of the install was a good looking, secure mount of the deck.
The actual head unit install was the trickiest, mostly because of the garbage that Jeep puts in your way. For example, the factory unit sits in this metal bracket that is just smaller than what you need to fit a double din radio in and it does not come out easily. There’s probably an easy way, but I really beat the shit out of that bracket to get it out. I chose to run the external microphone down below the steering wheel, up the driver-side column and poked out near the windshield. This is pretty easy to do, just peel the weather stripping/door seal back and line the cable underneath. Also, JVC wants you to hook into the park brake. They don’t say why, but it’s so that the head unit doesn’t play DVD’s when you’re driving. Thanks, but no. Just ground the park brake wire and you’ll always be parked according to JVC!
I had a chance to test the unit with my Android Galaxy S and everything worked peachy. I’m on a custom ROM with Android 2.3.4, but if you’re on a standard 2.2 ROM on a Captivate, you’ll be stuck without Bluetooth dialing (that sucks). My next challenge is to find a ROM that enables video out via the 3.5mm jack. Factory allows for this and if I can get it enabled with a custom ROM, I’ll be able to hook up my phone for Video+Audio via the JVC AVX740. This deck is sold as being compatible with iPhone, but if you’ve got AV out on your phone via composite, you could hook into this deck just as easily. One thing that I needed to tweak as I was installing was the fact that the CHTO-03 is looking for a 2V in, and the JVC supplies 4V. Here’s the weird part: I had to turn the gain up from factory default, not down. That means that either: JVC fibbed about their pre-out voltage, Metra updated their hardware setting to be on the safe side and didn’t document it, or I messed up reading the directions. I really don’t care which one it was, the fix was to turn up the gain at the CHTO-03.