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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
HOW TO: Aftermarket Head Unit Replacement

Well, I’ve done it. It sounds great and looks good, imho. Didn’t suffer too much damage. I lost one of the 4 screws that held the radio in place. I’m sure it will show up, as a rattle in the dash, or under my bare foot, or in a tire. I also managed to mess up the plastic tabs on half of the black plastic grip on the ‘oh-my-gosh’ handle, but it seems to be staying o.k. I had intended to let Best Buy do the install for me, but finally decided to just dive in and give it a go.

I had to back up and fix many miss-steps along the way. Hopefully my mistakes will make things smoother for you.

I gave up on waiting for a wiring harness from Scosche to retain the chimes, but decided to use tap-in connectors so I could remove them later and add the harness when it comes out. These are the ones I bought and they worked great.
You will need this adapter. Metra 99-3302 http://www.audiooutfitter.com/store/99-3302.html or the Scoshe or American International equivalent. It is for the 2004 Malibu, the 2005 Equinox, the G6, or the Cobalt. A couple of small mods have to be made to it, which I will get to later.

You will need this antenna adapter. AI CR-06 http://www.aius.net/item.cfm?item=CR-6
Yes, I know it’s a Chrysler. Why GM is changing its antennas now is beyond me, and I had a lot of trouble figuring this one out. A tip on an HHR forum solved it for me. The picture is wrong on the link above, but my Best Buy had one and it does work. No GM adapter will.

O.K., let’s get started. First remove the chrome bezel around the gauges, just pull on it gently and work your way around and you will feel how it comes off.



Next start squeezing the black gauge tunnels and gently pulling them down and away from the gray surround, they have little notches that engage the plastic. MAKE SURE THE STEERING WHEEL IS AT THE LOWEST ADJUSTED HEIGHT! The gauge tunnel piece won’t come out otherwise. Pay attention to the little rubber feet on the back of the tunnel piece that rest against the gauges. They will pop off if you aren’t careful, and can be hard to find.



Next, remove the chrome trim ring around the shifter. It just pops up, but once again, be gentle. The left and right sides seem to be the easiest place to start. Once that is loose, you can separate the chrome trim ring from the black plastic circle that is sewn to the leather. You need to do this so you can get the boomerang piece lifted up past the shifter later.



The next piece to remove is the scoop shaped piece behind the handle grip. It is hooked in closest to the handle, so pop the farthest end from the handle first.



You can now see the two big silver bolts that hold the handle. I hesitate here because I’m not sure if you need to remove the black leather handle grip piece to get the handle out or not. I just assumed I did and managed to mess up the grip in the process. If after removing the two bolts, you can’t get the handle removed, you can pop the leather grip by putting a screwdriver in the seam closest to you and twisting. Be careful getting the back side seam separated, that’s where I messed up. Don’t do it the way you did the front, try sliding the right side piece towards yourself or away from yourself, do not pry this seam apart.

Now you’re all clear to pop the giant boomerang.



I found it easiest to start at the lower left of the gauge cluster, and work my way around clockwise. I just pulled it with my hands. The clips all popped fairly easy, the only scary part is the sides of the radio. There are two clips on each side and the piece is fairly thin at that point. I used a little Stanley mini-pry bar to slide up under the piece and pop it up.

Next, I unhooked the cigarette lighter plug. There is a little hole with a tab in the side of the plug. Just press in the tab with a small screwdriver and pull the plug loose. Now you should be able to swing the boomerang up clear of the radio. You might need to pop the three harness plugs on the back of the heat/ac controls, and the one on the dimmer. I had intended to remove all the harnesses, but the ones on the emergency flasher and fog light switch stumped me. I could have solved it in time I guess, but I got lazy and just wrapped some tie wire around the convertible top connection bolt to hold the boomerang up out of my way.




Now, finally, the radio is ready to be removed. 4 bolts and it comes out. Don’t lose one like some idiot I know.

There are two harnesses on the back of the radio. I’m trying to remember now, I think you just slide out the blue clips to get the harnesses loose. Whatever it is, it wasn’t hard.





Here is what I deduced as far as the wiring. NOTE: If you are replacing a MONSOON system, click here
http://www.solsticeforum.com/forum/showthread.php?t=21115

Power Harness:

Red and white stripe. ----------Power, switched. (or so I thought)
Black with white stripe. -------Ground
Green with white stripe --------?? EDIT: GMLAN serial data bus (this is how the car tells the original radio to turn off, plus activate chimes etc.) thanks for the info mcphelps

Gray---------------------------Dimmer (power varies with dimmer dial)
Blue---------------------------?? EDIT: Steering wheel controls
Gray and tan pair---------------Left front speaker pair. (tan is supposed to be -)

Other Harness:

Dark Green/Light Green pair -----Right Front speaker pair. (lt. Green -)
Yellow/Brown pair --------------Left rear speaker pair. (brown -)
Lt. Blue/Dk. Blue pair ---------- Right rear speaker pair. (Dk. Blue - )
White with black stripe ---------?? EDIT:10V reference for steering wheel controls
 

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Found a similar description of the harnesses on the HHR forum, however, they had a pink wire for antenna which we don’t, and their gray/tan LF speaker wires were on the other harness, which leads me to wonder if a chime harness will work for both the HHR and the Solstice as I had been assuming, since the radios look identical.

Next I attached the appropriate wires from the radio’s harness to the car’s harnesses using the tap-in connectors.




Everything worked but I found out later that the radio does not shut off with the key. I could swear the harness power was off when the key was out, and on when the key was on, but maybe I screwed up. The radio also has a wire for constant power, which I hooked up to the cigarette lighter wiring, so I guess the radio might have a setting I could change, but I doubt it. Anyway, it’s not worth digging back into the dash as I think I like it this way. I can turn on the radio when I’m washing the car without putting the keys in the ignition. I’ll just have to make sure I turn the radio off when I get out. I should be able to handle that.

Next I removed the Din cage from the new radio. Most aftermarket head units will have this. It comes off by using some flat insertion pins that come with the radio. Read your manual.

Attach the din cage to the adapter. There is a spacer ring that comes with the adapter you have to put in first, then put the cage in and lock it into place by bending over the metal tabs of the din cage.




Once again, easier than it sounds, look at the adapter instructions and your radio manual and it should be clear, provided your manual is in English and not Engrish. http://www.engrish.com

O.K., now the dash adapter. While trial fitting the adapter, I noticed it wouldn’t sit all the way down flush. I found that there are circular guide pins on each side that fit into holes in the dash, keeping the piece aligned. It seems they changed that a little on the Solstice. The boomerang piece has a small plastic pin that inserts into a slotted hole in the dash where the alignment pin would normally be. The solution is the remove the pin on the passenger side of the adapter. I did this by drilling from the front side with a ¼” drill bit. After test fitting again, the hole still wasn’t big enough for the boomerang pin to fit through, so I removed the plastic between the drilled hole and the adjacent lower hole with a skil saw. Very ugly but it works.






One more mod to the adapter might be necessary. After installing the adapter, hooking the radio to its harness and antenna adapter, and sliding the radio into its cage, I thought I was ready to reinstall the boomerang. Wrong. I couldn’t get the area just above and to the right of the radio to seat back down. I figured the problem was interference from the top of the dash adapter, so I basically took some tin snips and the skil saw and removed everything above the radio trim ring. (see pics) All this plastic served no purpose anyway. Of course, after doing all this, the boomerang still wouldn’t seat.




Frustrated, I made sure all the wiring behind the ac controls was out of the way and tried seating the piece with a different sequence. Then it worked fine. Was trimming the adapter piece a waste of time? I don’t know. I guess the next person to do this will have to tell us.

All in all, it was a pain, but not as bad as it probably sounds. If you’ve done installs before, you should be able to handle it. If you haven’t, go slow and ask questions here if you get stumped.








Finally, here’s a video of the unit in action.

http://media.putfile.com/Blue-Dolphin-88



Next on the list for me is replacing the door speakers. I’ll let you know how it goes.


Good luck with your install. Get’R Done.
 

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Looks good and a storage area, what more could you ask for :)
 

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That's some excellent instructions you wrote! I wonder if you could cram a half-DIN center speaker into the bottom. :cool:
 

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Give us a product install like this one !

uncivilracer said:
Great Directions. I am going with a full Double Din NAV Unit in mine. This will make the install so much easier! Thanks again for the great pics!v Seems the Texas Guys are doing all the Mods!
Yes please give us a step by step like this on that one. That's the Nav unit I want.
 

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that looks good. did you ever think about painting the black plastic to match the sliver ? or Painting the whole thing.

Looks good regruadless.

I hope to have pictures of my up soon enough
 

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Looks good, AztekzRpurty!

Two things:

The grab handle can be removed as an assembly, without removing the grip from the bar. You have to maneuver it just right, but it will come out without prying the plastic/leather free.

If you turn off the ignition AND open the driver's door, does the radio still remain on?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Thanks for the compliments, guys. As for your questions:

Yes, the radio stays on when I open the door too. I could have sworn the power wire in the radio harness shut off at that point, but it doesn't appear to be. Or else my radio is pulling all it's power through the 'constant' power lead.

I haven't thought about painting the adapter silver because the original radio was black, and it just looks right to me. With the silver radio it might be a good idea however.


Also:
I'm going to try to find something grippy to line the bottom of the storage area with today. I hate the sound of change on plastic.

And by the way, I've made fun of people before whose cell phone was making their radio pop and thought they had a radio problem. I have now gotten my just desserts. :lol:
 

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what kind of diffrence did you notice with sound now? Is it better or louder?

Im trying to decide what to do first the head unit or just keep the head unit and add an amp and new speakers.
 

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Azteks,

Amazing work and great explanations.
Would you say that this is simple enough that if I drop my car off somewhere to have the heated seats put in, they will not mess it up? Also, is there room behind the dash below the radio for them to place the controls for the heated seats?
 

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Did you disconnect the airbag light while it was apart? I was thinking of putting a radar detector remote display where the stupid airbag light is, remove the lettering and just in case "oh that's the led airbag light package officer"
 

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lil goat said:
Did you disconnect the airbag light while it was apart?...
I was thinking the same thing. I sure hope he disconnected the wire. That light is very annoying at night. I've been nervous to do it for fear I might scratch the dash removing the chrome rings around the gauges.

AztekzRpurty,
GREAT THREAD!!!!!

Please see lil goat's and my comment above in this post. You did didn't you?
 

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lil goat said:
Did you disconnect the airbag light while it was apart? I was thinking of putting a radar detector remote display where the stupid airbag light is, remove the lettering and just in case "oh that's the led airbag light package officer"
Yep ... I've got the same thing in mind. I actually picked up a remote-mount radar detector a few months ago, but I'll need to custom-fit a piece to mount the display in that area and I haven't taken the time to do it yet. So far, I just poked around back there to see what's involved and disconnected the light while I was back there of course.
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
Please see lil goat's and my comment above in this post. You did didn't you?

Actually, I left it for now. The connector is apparently child-proof. It and the warning flasher and the fog light connectors stumped me, and since all I really wanted to do was get the radio finished, I left them for now. It really wouldn't be 2 minutes to get to the back of the airbag light. Just pop the bezel and the tunnel piece and you are right there.

Tell me how you disconnected it slysol, and I'll do it this weekend.

heeseop, in answer to your question, being able to shape the sound with an equalizer makes a huge difference. Plus you can tell this head unit is running much more rms power. The Pioneer also has bass boost and loudness options that have it sounding very good. I'm not sure anything can be done with the back speakers, since they basically just blast into the back of the seat, but the bass from the door speakers is very good. Not a subwoofer, but good. I'm upgrading the door speakers next.

By the way, the tweeters in the A pillar are in sequence with the door speakers. They do not have separate wires in the harness.
 

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Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
NationsKappatol said:
Azteks,

Amazing work and great explanations.
Would you say that this is simple enough that if I drop my car off somewhere to have the heated seats put in, they will not mess it up? Also, is there room behind the dash below the radio for them to place the controls for the heated seats?
This picture shows the area you're talking about.


I'm not sure how big the controls for your heated seats are. There's not a lot of room under the radio area. There's plenty of room where the new pocket is, of course.
 

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AztekzRpurty said:
Actually, I left it for now. The connector is apparently child-proof. It and the warning flasher and the fog light connectors stumped me, and since all I really wanted to do was get the radio finished, I left them for now. It really wouldn't be 2 minutes to get to the back of the airbag light. Just pop the bezel and the tunnel piece and you are right there.

Tell me how you disconnected it slysol, and I'll do it this weekend.
It was pretty quick on mine ... maybe you've just got a stubborn one. As I recall, it was one of those where you push in a tab at the top and then pull the connector. Sometimes it helps to push them in a bit first and then squeeze the tab and pull back.
 
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