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01ML55 84 Porsche 944, 03 Eurovan, 98 M3 4 door, 01 964 C4 Targa
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Discussion Starter #1
After having my GPS die and then realizing I was about to get hosed at the dealer for a repair I decided to replace the entire system. I started the usual research thing as I have a Bose system w/ overhead LCD. I got the most ridiculous and misleading information from "experts", "amatures", etc. Eventually I just said **** it and bought a Pioneer Divac D3 and went to work.

Metra has an adaptor that plugs right into the larger of the two molex connectors. Despite what I had been told the optical cable is nothing more than the CD changer connection. The changer never worked for the last three years so out it came also.

I got the specs on the Bose amplifier input impedance and voltage and picked up (2) PAC Turbo 1 mini buffer amps @ $30ea. I measured the full output of the Pioneer @ 1.5 Volts P/P and ran that into the preamps. I adjusted the gain for the proper 4 Volts P/P going to the amp. I did not even bother to connect the VSS or brake wires to the Pioneer and after 10 minutes of driving around it is accurate within feet.

I have a 4 YO granddaughter who likes to road trip so I took out the M/B overhead LCD and installed a Concept CM1200 12" flip down I picked up on sale @ Custom Sounds for $199. The color even matches the headliner. It has the RF transmitter for headphones and works great off the Pioneer Video output.

People can say whatever they want about how terrible the Bose sounds but with a good head unit properly matched to the Bose input it sounds far superior to the factory head unit. The DVD based GPS is very nice and I got the XM module and blue tooth adaptor for my phone.

I then built a small sealed subwoofer enclosure w/ a single 10 to go where the old changer resided. It is fed off of the sub out of the Pioneer into a Lanzar (cheap 200Watt amp). It gets just enough extra bang to allow the tone contols to be set to roll a bit of bass off the Bose speakers and sounds really really good.

The hardest part was getting the head end to sit exactly right. It is slightly smaller than the Benz opening but I made an ABS surround that looks factory.
Basicly for a little over a grand and 6-7 hours labor I got a banging system w/ video and modern GPS.

It is not nearly as mysterious or difficult as people will lead you to believe. I actually had to almost force the "experts" @ Custom Sounds to sell me the parts as they were positive it would not work. They were a bit surprised when I went back the same day to demo it.

Steve
 

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01ML55 84 Porsche 944, 03 Eurovan, 98 M3 4 door, 01 964 C4 Targa
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148 Posts
Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
I got it done today and here are the pics. I decided despite the legal issues I wanted to see the DVD on the screen. All you have to do is take the Pioneer brake sense and speed sense, solder them together, put a simple switch to ground and fool the unit into thinking you are sitting still. It works great. Just remember to flip the switch the other way when you want GPS. The amp fits under the rear seat where the old VCR resided. It's a really good sounding system for a little more than the dealer wanted to fix the old one. There is no modification that cannot be undone for future purists or whatever.

Steve
 

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1998 ML320; 2003 ML500
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35 Posts
Tasty. I've got an 03 ML500, with about a year left on the extended warranty, and I want to do exactly this when I'm not ripping myself off on the warranty. Thanks for the pictures.
 

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01ML55 84 Porsche 944, 03 Eurovan, 98 M3 4 door, 01 964 C4 Targa
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148 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
I do have to add one reply. After getting the box ready for the 10" driver I realized that I would have to cut away about an inch of plastic around the jack, CD changer opening so I went with an 8" JL that could be utilized free air. I dynamatted as much as I could and then mounted the driver to a3/4" MDF board and sealed it as much as possible. It is probably not as tight as a sealed box would have been but it still asounds really good and supplements the Bose system very well. I did not want to alter anything on the car in a rush job to upgrade the stereo. The factory louvered cover looks stock (it is) and does a good job as a grill. At high volumes it rattles a bit so I leave it off most of the time.

Steve
 

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ML replacement audio/nav

Steve,
What a great solution and upgrade. I want to do the same to a 02 ML500. My head unit is dead.
How willing are you to provide more instruction and parts lists?
Please email if interested. [email protected]
Harvey
 

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I really like the cut out you made it looks really damn good man! I did one my self but used a install kit for a different car and modified it alil to make what was there work ill have to post a couple pics. I installed the Eclipse 6620 double din in my that has navi also.
 

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01ML55 84 Porsche 944, 03 Eurovan, 98 M3 4 door, 01 964 C4 Targa
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148 Posts
Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Quick update on something else I realized I had ****** up>

I thought the unit had a problem as the Nav screen would not let me set a destination. After an hour of frustration and also having two different "professional" installers tell me that there is no way the unit will work at all in this vehicle I realized having the brake and VSS wires together even though they are not grounded could cause the problem. It did. You have to use a STDP switch or else a couple diodes to ground on a STSP so that when the switch is on both are grounded, when off they are isolated from ground and also each other. To enable the destination screen you have to flip the switch so that the unit thinks you are stopped w/ the brake on, set your destination, flip the switch back, you are in business. I put the switch in the glove box, it works fine now. Life is a learning experience!!

I also added a second set of A/V jacks in the glove box so that I could connect a little portable DVD player or video game I have. It's great, we can all watch the same movie w/ sound or my granddaughter can watch a different movie or play a video game on the AV2 input for the rear screen while listening to a seperate set of wireless headphones. The flip down I used has an RF transmitter for this purpose and the headphones were $20. We can now let her watch a movie while we listen to music. Life is good again!!!!

This has been a great research / learning experience. I now have a really really good sounding system w/ updated NAV, and a lot of video features installed in a car that the "professionals" have told me was not possible. It is doing things that also I was told were not possible. That in itself is worth a lot. Also the pride in doing this kind of thing yourself w/o destroying the vehicle is a lot of fun. I can take all of it out and put the stock system back in for resale (which probably will never happen w/ the 55). The ML has a lot of shortfalls, most of which seem to be related to the quality of assembly but it is as fast as my 911, pulls a boat, hauls a ton of stuff, handles great, gets great gas mileage (Just kidding). If I ever crash it or it self destructs I will definately buy another one. If I had paid $65K for it and things like intermittant gas gauges and brake replacements every 20K happened I would not be happy. For around $20K for a decent mileage one you can't beat them.

Speaking of brakes I just bought a set of ATE slotted front rotors and ceramic pads for $275 from Tire Rack and did the installation myself in an hour and a half. It is great and there is no front brake dust now. The dealer here wanted $850 for OE (I believe also ATE).

I don't know how I ever lived without it......I really need to get a life. Such is the fate of a type A personality.

Steve
 

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'02 Mercedes ML 270 CDI
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14 Posts
Great job man. I have a '02 ML also with bosse. I was wondering if you can help me with the wiring. as i don't know where the amplifier is and it's wiring. I need to say that i want to keep the amplifier, and i would also like to keep the under seat sub.
Do you also know the output, and the necessary input for the amp? thx
 
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