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Discussion Starter #1
I have been thinking for days about writing a review about the Cartronics System that I recently ordered and spent over $1500 for. To say the system was a bit disappointing is an understatement. I will try to keep my reviews "professional".

Things that need improvement:

VIM Kit w/ Backup Camera

This system is by no means "plug-and-play" as it is advertised. You will need to cut wires to get power, ground and signal for the units. You will need to open up the COMAND unit to install their circuit board. The instructions are outdated (as in some of the pictures have parts of the old kit and the new kit has totally different components) and the pictures are blurry and hard to see the details. Routing of the ribbon cable like the pictures shows you is impossible with the newer components. You will have to modify the ribbon connector for the COMAND screen to connect to the provided control module.

There is no instructions on which wires from the VIM kit to connect to the vehicle for power, ground and signal. You will have to find these on your own. You will have to pierce these wires to get power from them and the kit DOES NOT include the "tap connectors" to do this, even though this is a plug-and-play kit. I chose to solder mine in for a good connection.

The license plate frame back up camera that I chose comes with no license plate frame. You read it correctly, it comes with no license plate frame even though the picture on their website shows the camera in a license plate frame.

There is various other wiring harnesses that come with this kit. The kit has no instructions for these so you have no idea if you need to use them or not.... unless you actually call Cartronics.

HDTV

This "Complete Kit, nothing else to buy" is missing things that you need to buy. One thing missing is the instructions for the installation. The other thing missing is the video and audio cables to connect this system from the HDTV module to the VIM module. Also missing is the connectors to connect the system to power and ground.

I have dealt a lot with installation kits before. We sell hundreds of them at Mercedes for connecting iPods to phone systems to rear entertainment systems. I have installed all these kits with not issues. Those are REAL plug and play kits. You do not have to cut wires at all. Just unplug something, plug something in between it, and it works perfectly. Some require coding via the SDS.

I was ignorant in believing a kit costing over $1000 would be a true plug and play kit. After about a few months of driving I will give a review on how the system operates. Until then, I recommend people be aware that this kit is not as simple to install as you would be lead to believe. I was hoping to write awesome reviews about this kit and I was really excited about buying future items from them.... but after this, I doubt it.

I am even debating about getting the Rear Entertainment system because it will "match the leather, grain and stitching for only $1300".... but after receiving a "plug and play kit" with "nothing else to buy" that was not as advertised, I would rather just buy the same Rear Entertainment system locally for about $350. Good luck guys!
 

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I installed their bluetooth module that ties into the fiber optic cable in the audio system. One fiber optic cable connection and power and ground. It was really simple and works great. I had the impression all along that someone would need basic car stereo installation experience to do a nice clean install and afterward I still felt the same. Sounds to me that the rear view camera is quite a bit more involved than the bluetooth.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I installed their bluetooth module that ties into the fiber optic cable in the audio system. One fiber optic cable connection and power and ground. It was really simple and works great. I had the impression all along that someone would need basic car stereo installation experience to do a nice clean install and afterward I still felt the same. Sounds to me that the rear view camera is quite a bit more involved than the bluetooth.
I have to agree with you. The system is nice. Installing it is a real PITA. It wouldnt be too bad I guess if your an aftermarket stereo shop that does about 3-4 of these per month. But even for a good hands on shade tree mechanic this kit can prove to be pretty frustrating.

I think the biggest thing I have about spending close to $2000 is that fact that its advertised as a plug and play kit when in reality its not. You also have to buy a lot of stuff to make it work and the instructions are written poorly, or at least the little instructions you get.

Overall I wouldnt recommend this kit to anyone unless you have money to burn and you dont mind taking on a science experiment.
 

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2005 CL65 AMG, 2007 Ferrari F430
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After reading your review, it appears that we did not include the proper tap connectors in the kit. We are sorry for that oversight.
As far as the camera goes, it appears you ordered the OEM camera, not the license plate frame camera. There are clear choices at the time of order that may have been missed.
If there is anything that we can do to help you, even though you appear to have it installed, please let us know.
 

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Also, the VIM kit is the most difficult item to install that we sell. We keep fairly accurate statistics on our installations ratios, and while almost all other items we sell are 75% installed by the owner, the VIM is closer to 15%. It is plug in only (had we provided the required taps, sorry again, nobody called to ask us about it).... but most people have a professional do that particular item.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Just some suggestions. The Connector that connects the ribbon strip from the screen on the COMAND unit to the ribbon that goes to the control module you provide has to be modified to fit. Im not sure if when you guys tested it, it was on a CL, or something else but on the 06 S65 it has to be modified to fit. After I modified it, it worked fine.

The rear camera works fine and the entire VIM looks good.

2 HUGE issues I am having (and hopefully you can help out) are:

1) The 06 S65 (not sure if its with all W220's or not) does NOT have an auxiliary port in the glove box like most other MB cars do. The back of the COMAND unit only has 3 wires plus the fiber optic cables for the MOST system. I have NO WAY of connecting the audio part of the HDTV control module to the sound system in this car. I checked with my parts guys and there is no options for this on the W220 chassis. How do you suggest I connect the audio to the car system? The only option I found is to get an aftermarket MOST connector that does iPod and aux, but thats another $500 I need to spend on a "plug and play" kit.

2) When I connect the HDTV module to the COMAND unit, I am able to access the main menu with the 4 options it has (ie search, audio options, etc). After I do a search this thing pics up 0 channels.Which a regular $.99 tv antenna I bought from GTM I am able to pick up 16 HDTV channels on my home tv, so I know there is signal out here. How do I get the control module to pick up channels so I can see them on the COMAND?
 

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Your in luck, I have an 06 S65 and I have an Aux port. Call me Monday, and I can help with that. The ribbon does not need to be modified actually, depending on how it's done.
The tuner is an ATSC-MH tuner. The 16 digital channels you pick up at home will not work with a car in motion (but sitting still it would work). Check with rabbitears.info to see what channels are already broadcasting the new standard required for cars in motion. (also check your antenna installation too)
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Your in luck, I have an 06 S65 and I have an Aux port. Call me Monday, and I can help with that. The ribbon does not need to be modified actually, depending on how it's done.
The tuner is an ATSC-MH tuner. The 16 digital channels you pick up at home will not work with a car in motion (but sitting still it would work). Check with rabbitears.com to see what channels are already broadcasting the new standard required for cars in motion. (also check your antenna installation too)
Well that is some good info (would have been great info about 2 weeks ago) considering that there is ZERO stations broadcasting so that the ATSC-MH tuner can pick up channels. This would have been good info before I ordered the unit. There is no one broadcasting that signal in this area and there is no plans for someone to broadcast in the future in the San Diego area (unless Im looking in the wrong spot?). So what is your return policy again considering I bought this and I cant use it?

But the good thing is so far your customer service is outstanding! At least everyone from Cartronics has been helpful so far. Thanks!
 

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Thank you mbelite1, we just wish you would have asked these questions or posed a complaint before posting here. If we knew there was a problem, we would have taken action to aid you before or during your install.
Anyway, we specifically list the tuners are ATSC-M/H tuners. It is fairly common knowledge that regular digital broadcast tv will not work in a moving vehicle because of the dopplar effect of the digital signal. That is the whole reason that these tuners made a big whoopla earlier this year when they were released. However, many people don't have their ear to the ground on this issue, so when in doubt we always encourage you to call to ask any questions you may have.
It appears some of your stations WILL be transmitting the M/H signal in 2011, according to some websites I have looked at (most ALL stations plan on using the format in the near future). I would call any stations you are interested in and ask them specifically. Speak to the engineering department, as most other employees are clueless.
In addition, we also have regular digital tuners available, but they will only work when the car is less than about 8 MPH as previously discussed.
We do have a return policy and you can apply for an RMA, if you wish to take that route. Just go to the Warranty & Terms page of our site.
 

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2015 S550 4Matic 2010 Mercedes S400 Hybrid, 2009 S 550
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Missing Nut from OEM Camera

I just got my kit from CarTronics and was interested in the fact that the camera comes with options for flush mount or bracket mount but not including the cheap plastic mount for the camera to go into the port in the trunk where every model of S class has one mounted at the factory in a black plastic camera mount. I would considering making my own bracket and using the camera as a flush mount. I took of the metal mounting bracket that came with the camera and installed the flush mount ring. Looking for the plastic nut to go on the threated part of the flush mount to no availe. There was however a second metal bracket in the bag instead of the nut. Guess it is a trade-off and I can go to True Value and find a nut to fit.
I decided just for hoots to call them and see if they wanted to send me a nut. The guy asked me to send him a picture of what was in the bag to see what was missing. I explained what was missing but he did not want to listen. I told him I have a PhD in engineering and have built many electrical devices myself. The locking ring on the mount camera is obviously not there so I can not send him a picture of it! First he told me they have sold over 2,000 cameras and this is the first complaint they have had of a missing part. Then he told me that the OEM mounting bracket made of plastic was something that everyone complained about because it was not the color of their car. I have never seen one on a new Mercedes that was not BLACK! He said I could send the camera back for a refund but to me it is not worth the trouble to pay for restocking etc. Instead I went to eBay and found a Chinese solution to the problem. Purchased a camera with the BLACK plastic bracket for about $20, just to get the bracket. Who knows? Maybe I will get an even better camera. More when I get the unit installed in my 2010 S400. BTW I have some silver paint that matches the OEM paint if I decide to paint the black plastic.
 

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As we said, we don't have any extra parts, as none have ever been missing - BUT- we would be happy to replace it or refund your money. And yes, we did discontinue the plastic box, as they are color matched on all the W164 chassis cars that we do at the dealerships, and on some W204 and W212. W221 have a black box that some dealers color match as well. We feel the camera with a mount that can not even be seen is much better than one that has a larger plastic box around it.

An example is this Porsche (I know, not a Mercedes) - Porsche and Mercedes happen to use the same camera manufacturer (that is how we found them). This is an install I did yesterday on a 911 - can't even see the camera mount, and only a 1/16th pilot was put in the plastic for the mount. The red line points to the camera. We do the same on a Mercedes, and with the ledge on the trunk it simply can't be seen unless searching for it!!! But each person has their own desires of course...
 

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Reasons why plastic mount is better plus photos

So how many reasons do you need?
#1 It is Mercedes designed camera mount. So if metal mount were better I guess they would use it. I have not see one painted yet but I am still looking.
#2 The metal mount requires you to drill holes in the plastic and use sheet metal screw to mount metal mount. Ugly and you see it everytime you open trunk.
#3 You can't hide the wire and either route it around the plastic cover or drill a hole to feed it through the plastic. Again you see it every time you open trunk.
#4 You can catch your micro-fiber mit on the metal bracket and camera when washing car. No on the plastic mount.
#5 Some asshole can still see that camera hanging down and vandalize it easier than plastic mount.
#6 I was just offering it as a suggestion and I would have paid extra to get it. Your sales person also told me that it would mount in the same place that Mercedes mounts their cameras without drilling any holes. A direct contradiction to what you told me.
#7 You should not argue with a customer who just paid over $750 for your kit and you should at least try to help them obtain what they want. For example, you used to offer them so you know where to get them! Tell the customer and he will come back. I was not asking for anything for free. If you had offered to get one for me for $20, I probably would have said "Please get if for me!!" Do you not know that in high end vehicles the best advertisement in word of mouth?
#8 We don't care how many you have sold and/or installed. We care about what you sold us. If I tell you that something is missing and can explain it to you, you should acknowledge that the customer may be right! Make it right and you will get free advertisement. Don't make it right and get free negative advertisement.
#9 I still don't want anything more than what I paid for so send me the damn plastic retaining nut from the back side of the flush camera mount!!

Pictures attached are image of plastic mount and camera available from many sources on eBay and through Alibaba. The other picture is what was in the camera bag sent by CarTronics....what is missing? NUT!! What is extra? A second metal mounting bracket!!

Doc Dale Wittmer, PhD, Engineer, Consultant, Philoso:ppher, Combat Veteran, Pretend Race Car Driver!!:)
 

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We would LOVE to help you. It seems our aesthetic is different from yours. We DO NOT use a sheet metal screw, but a black torx, same as factory uses all over the car. The wire is completely hidden and can't be seen at all (trunk open or closed).

You would need to send back that camera to get the older "stub" mount camera (that is what it is referred to). The housings are not interchangeable and require a sizable hole (19mm) to be drilled into the car (same as the factory camera).

As for the camera, that looks complete to me. That is what it looks like right in front of me. The second mount is a different angle. It is always included. Please tell me what you want and I will get it for you. I just don't know what you want?

Again, we would LOVE to help you get something more like you want, but you have to return that camera so we can either give you a refund or get you the older stub mount.

EDIT: the owner of the company just left you a message. He looked in on this too.
 

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Of you screw apart the two halves of the camera, remove the current one that is in the picture - you have a through whole mount... at least if I am understanding what you want correctly.

Maybe you don't see that the front of the camera unscrews - releases the bracket (currently mounted in the picture) and that leaves a through mount as you requested (WITH included nut (which is the front bezel of the camera)).
 

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It is all about communication

Scott called me from CarTronics and explained that there was not a nut used for suface mount of camera. I pointed out that they sent me information for surface mounting camera to bumper Option C. He said that they should have cut that out of image. Option C and photo clearly show mounting nut. So if I want to use a modification of Option C I will still need to go to True Value and buy a nut to fit on back of ring. Scott said this ring was used for sidemounting on mirrors. That is a new application for me. Anyway, Scott was very nice and congenial, The end is still the same. I do not want to use their mounting bracket and will use the plastic mount that is now on its way from other vendor. Will post photo when I am finished with installation.
 

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Stub mount camera

It was my understanding from talking with Scott that you no longer have supplier for stub mount camera? One that looks like the picture that I posted? I will probably just keep this camera and give it to my installer friend who does many installs and use the Sony CCD camera that I have ordered. 520 lines of resolution and 170 degree view.
Thanks again Scott for taking the time to call me and talk with me.

Doc...

No hard feelings. If the electronics are as good as advertised I will post again and blow a horn!
 

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Cartronics is real but contact Mid City Engineering

Cartronics sold me a unit compatible with an RGB monitor. I am out the $1000 that I paid to an installer for 2 and a half days of trying various connections to no availe because the output was set to RGB instead of LCD. If it had been programmed correctly before I got it then I believe it may have worked. Cartronics refunded all my money plus shipping without a problem. The camera sent was a bad camera too, which exacerbated the situation.

I contacted the guys at Mid City Engineering and ordered the correct VIM unit with plug for video camera. I did not have to remove the DVD screen, just the DVD player to install the video feed plug (2 wires, the ground and the video feed). The VIM unit installed in about 10 minutes by just removing the fuse panel on the driver's side. Since we had already run video feed for camera to the trunk and also the power to camera, the installation took under an hour. The Mercedes S Class automatically finds the camera and has overlay lines as part of their video screen, so make sure that you get a camera that does not have its own lines or ones that you can defeat. I bought a camera from Amazon for under $30 that works great. You do have to make a hole in the plastic shield under the trunk lid for camera install or to feed wire through if you opt for license plate or other type camera mount. Mid City package was about $500 and the guy did my install for $100. We did have a little trouble finding the plug on the bottom of the DVD player to install video wires and even though it was a Saturday morning, a tech called me back within a few minutes to clarify instructions.

Check these guys out: Mid City Engineering | Mid City Engineering
 
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