Friday night. For many people the work-week is over and it’s time for a bit of amusement — maybe a movie or dinner with a friend or a date. Or a bit of knitting in front of the TV. Me? I take my car apart.
OK. Not the whole car. Just a bit of it.
I drive a 2005 Prius. And I love my car. Love it. It’s my favorite car ever. I love the way that I can run practically the whole car from my cozy-covered steering wheel. There’s just one thing it doesn’t have: an iPod dock (those were added in the next model year). When I bought my car, I didn’t have an iPod so I didn’t really care. Then I got an iPod, and thus began the search for some way to listen to it in the car. I finally settled on an FM transmitter. It worked pretty well, but had disadvantages. I could only use the iPod controls to change songs, etc., which is probably not all that safe when going 70 mph down the freeway. And, if the station faded, so did the iPod. After spending 20 minutes sitting in a rest area trying to find a station that would work, I decided that maybe I should look for another method.
this is how it looked before
The problem, of course, is finding an after-market solution that works with the stereo, doesn’t mess up the gps navigation, and allows the steering wheel controls to change songs, etc. For some cars, there are tons of after-market products that do this. For the Prius, there are only a few. My choice arrived this week. So when Friday night arrived, I gathered up the necessary tools and set to work.
Estimated time to install: The guide said about 30 minutes, so I figured one hour would be sufficient. I’d read through the instructions and it didn’t look that tough.
Tools needed: Long Phillips screwdriver, regular screwdriver, mirror, iPod doohickey and all its cables and parts, iPod.
Step 1: Remove glove box and set aside. Mama always warned me about directions that start out like this. But really, it turned out to be pretty easy.
Step 2: Using fabric-covered screwdriver, gently pry top of vent cover away from dashboard to unclip, then remove vent cover. Again, not so bad. I was on a roll.
the bane of my existence
Step 3: Using long Phillips screwdriver, unscrew the bolt at the top of the scary-looking white box covered with scary-looking wires. (The blue arrow is pointing at the location of the bolt.) Be careful not to mess up any of those wires, or lose the bolt, or any other bad thing. Unscrew bolt. U.n.s.c.r.e.w bolt.
Step 4: Admit that the standard-length Phillips screwdriver I had was just not long enough to get the proper amount of leverage on a bolt that must have been tightened using force approaching that to be found at the center of the earth. Remember that the Phillips who gave his name to this style of screwdriver was actually a resident of Portland and ponder that little bit of synchronicity while searching through tools, finding only standard screwdrivers that are longer than the original Phillips. Curse.
Step 5: Search for tool kit containing socket wrench, not finding it. Vaguely remember that I gave said tool kit to #1 Son, and he took it when he moved out. Curse.
Step 6: Replace vent cover, pressing firmly to engage clips. Replace glove box.
Step 7: Drive to big-box home improvement and hardware store. Purchase smallest possible socket wrench set containing several sizes of sockets and extenders, just in case (on sale! and yes I will use it for other things). Return home.
Step 8: Remove glove box and set aside. Remove vent cover and set aside. Using 10mm socket wrench with 6″ extender, remove bolt at the top of the scary-looking white box with the scary-looking wires. Put the bolt safely in a cup holder. Slide the white box gently to the side, out of the way.
the object of my desire
Step 9: Find the empty port on the back of the stereo where the adapter for the iPod doohickey will be plugged in. It’s circled in the picture. And, yes, the mirror I’m holding is on the handle of a hairbrush. It’s the only one I had that was the right length and that I could get at the right angle. Note that it’s a tight squeeze to that port.
Step 10: While holding the end of the iPod doohickey plug between two fingers, squeeze right hand through vent opening and attempt to plug the wire into the port. Stretch a little further. Squeeze a little tighter. Twist and turn that plug to get it at the right angle. Reach!
Step 11: Realize that the sharp pain in the side of my thumb is probably not something I should ignore because the edge of the stereo enclosure has apparently cut my thumb and reaching further will cut it again. Withdraw right hand. Wrap kleenex around thumb. Curse.
Step 12: While holding the end of the plug, squeeze left hand through vent opening and reach for the
cursed port. Feel the plug go in the port. Rejoice!
Step 13: Remove hand. Watch plug fall out. Curse.
Step 14: Repeat step 12, but this time ram that puppy home like there’s no tomorrow.
Step 15: Carefully move the scary-looking white box back into position, but don’t bolt it down yet.
Step 16: Plug the iPod doohickey cable into the other end of the adapter now attached to the stereo, and run the cable out the side of the vent cover, over where the glove box should be.
Step 17: Connect the iPod cable to the iPod doohickey and plug in the iPod.
Step 18: Cross fingers and toes.
Step 19: Turn the car’s auxiliary power on. The iPod will appear in the device list as MD Changer. Navigate to the iPod and test the functions. Some simple programming may be required.
Step 20: Follow the instructions for the simple programming, which turned out to be actually simple. Watch the iPod and it’s playlists show up on the nav screen. I swear that this song came up totally randomly, but it was pretty fitting I think. (For anyone who wonders, that’s Harry Nilsson.)
Step 21: Play with controls to make sure everything works. Rejoice.
put that puppy to bed
Step 22: Turn off car.
Step 23: Move scary-looking white box covered with scary-looking wires back into place.
Step 24: Using 10mm socket wrench with 6″ extender (I can be taught), replace bolt, being careful not to drop it or tighten it too tightly (not too much fear of that).
Step 25: Carefully replace vent cover, pressing firmly to engage clips but being careful not to squeeze or bend cable. Put the iPod doohickey inside the glove box and then carefully replace glove box, being careful not to bend or squeeze cables, etc.
Step 26: Fasten the iPod doohickey securely inside the glove box. Coil cables and store neatly. Close glove box. (I would show you an after picture, but it looks just like the before picture.)
Step 27: Cross fingers and toes. Turn on car’s auxiliary power and make sure everything still works. Breath a sigh of relief.
Step 28: Put tools away.
Step 29: Enter house, telling surprised cats I rock!
Step 30: Add ice to martini shaker. Apply vodka and vermouth. Shake. Pour. Drink.
Total elapsed time start to finish, including trip to big-box store but excluding 2nd martini: 4 hours.
Being able to run my iPod from the steering wheel while it’s safely tucked away in the glove box: priceless.