Installing Pioneer radio in 2006 Nissan Altima

Pioneer Radio

When I bought my car back in 2006, aux port on factory radios was still a novelty, at least in non-premium vehicles, and unfortunately for me the casette players were long gone already, so the only decent source of audio entertainment in my car was either traditional radio or CD player, which was what the radio in the car plays.. there was no way to connect other audio players like iPod, well almost no way… there were things called FM transmitters which were mostly useless for me since FCC put restrictions on the signal power of these transmitters.. Being in the NYC area meant there were no FM stations which I could use with these weak transmitters, and after going thru a few transmitters from various brands, I gave up on them. That’s when I started looking out to getting rid of the stock radio and replace it with something a little less restrictive and finally did that this past week and thought I’d share my experience which could help others out there like me. Read on for instructions and tips along with some useful pics of the process…

In my hunt for that perfect new radio, I wanted as many features as possible and be a quality radio which provides best bang for buck… I’ve been eyeing the pioneer AVH series for a couple of years but have been procrastinating mostly because I was using an XM Radio (an fm transmitter based one, but an old model which was released before the FCC restrictions were enforced so it worked pretty well) for a while, which I got rid of as I was put off by their decision to play ads on most stations I listed to and didn’t think the extra subscription was worth anymore. I almost bought the 2011 series pioneer but the bluetooth feature on that unit was only limited to phone calls and had to buy extra adapters if I needed bluetooth streaming or HD Radio. When Pioneer announced the 2012 models, I set my eyes on the AVH-P3400BH  which I thought had most everything I needed built into the unit without the need for any expensive adapters and was waiting for the right price. I finally got one couple of weeks ago when I found one for under $300 shipped on amazon market place and best of all I had a lot of amazon gift cards lying around so I couldn’t resist anymore… I have never installed a radio in a car before but I wanted to do it myself so I can save some money and satisfy my geek heart 🙂

Ok, I promise I’ll keep the rest of the article a little less about my impressions or opinions and more about getting the install done. This is obviously for installing the Pioneer AVH-P3400BH radio in a 2006 Nissan Altima without Bose radio, but the same instructions should work for most other radios (especially double din) in any 2006 or 2005 non-bose Altima.. For the ones with bose stereo, you’ll just need a different harness than what’s listed in this article, but the rest should be same… Also, if you had factory satellite radio, you’ll lose that ability unless the radio you re replacing has a that feature. Now all that being said, there’s one thing I want to get out of the way.. This task is not for everyone, and when I said it’s easy, it’s relative to other such task I did, that should in no way be generalized for everyone. So do this at your own risk, and if you are intimidated by the instructions, I’d advise you just get it installed instead. Messing with internal wiring could lead to serious accidents or costly repairs.. so consider yourself Warned!

To make the install painless, I’d recommend you collect the following tools or accessories before you start anything.

  1. Metra 70-7550 Radio Wiring Harness so you don’t have to cut any wires in the car
  2. Metra 95-7419 Double DIN Installation Kit to fill the gaps around the new radio
  3. If you have steering wheel controls, this Metra Axxess ASWC Universal Steering Wheel Control Interface
  4. Optional (not recommended for most), Automatic Parking Brake Bypass Interface to bypass parking brake restrictions.. This one is for the radio I installed, you may have to check if it’s compatible with your radio
  5. A philips screw driver to remove and install radio in the car
  6. A flat screw driver or any other flat tool to gently loosen the frame around radio the first time
  7. A pliers or a nut driver to remove or replace the negative battery cable

If you have the accessories listed above, then your first job would be figuring out the right matches between the harness that comes with the radio and the wiring harness (point 1 above) you bought. Don’t worry, both harnesses use standard colors so most of the matching is a task for a first grader (matching colors I meant), but there are some that needs some figuring out to do. I used the instructions that came in the radio instruction manual and tried to map it with the wiring info provided on the metra harness, and the only thing that wasn’t straight forward was the blue wire from the radio harness (labelled radio control acc) had to be connected to plain blue antenna power on the metra harness. I first connected it to the power amp or something, the other blue cable on the metra and after the install in car, I noticed that the antenna was very weak.. so If you are following my instructions, I just saved you some valuable time :). The other thing which I struggled a bit to figure out was the fact that I didn’t know that there was a separate plug for the steering wheel controls and was trying to figure out where the axxess control adapter wiring goes. Oh btw, that adapter harness has a whole lot of wires but just follow the instructions provided in the vehicle specific instructions found here @ axxessonline.com. Most of the wires on the harness are not used for the Altima. All these wirings can be done form the comfort of your home as these harnesses are not tied to anything.. I used a soldering iron and soldered the joints together and then taped up the exposed metra portions with an electric tape and I recommend the same so the connections are strong enough that they don’t come apart over time and the tape prevents any short circuit and prevent any nasty fire/accidents. Once all the connections are done, it’s time to get everything installed in the car.

  • The battery with both wires intact
  • Negative wire removed
  • Pulling the bottom plastic cover
  • Pull the plastic cover out
  • remove the 4 screws
  • Pulling out the plastic cover around the radio
  • notice the 4 screws holding the radio?
  • the connections on the back of the factory radio
  • The remote control wiring is cut to connect to the axxess adapter
  • playing bluetooth audio from my iPhone
  • playing HD Radio
  • The bluetooth mic installed on the driver side visor
     

Before you start any taking apart in the car, I highly recommend that you remove the negative battery terminal from the battery (as shown in the gallery below) and rest it on any plastic portion of the car. I can’t warn you enough here, please don’t touch any metal portion of the battery or the cable unless you love to be electrocuted. Once the negative terminal of the battery is off the hook, you can go ahead and undo the dash around the radio portion as seen in the photos in gallery. I think the pictures are self explanatory but post your questions in comments below and I will try to anser them. It’s pretty easy to get the first plastic frame around the AC controls out, just place your fingers int he gap at the bottom and just pull it a little. Once that’s off, you need to unscrew the 4 screws that hold the AC controls in place (as seen in pic ), you don’t need to unplug this completely and can just rest it down in the dash and work on getting the plastic frame around the radio off by pulling at the bottom (as shown in pic again). If it’s your first time, you may have to use the flat tool to loosen it a bit around the frame by poking the tool gently into the crease between the frame and the rest of the dash and very gently try to undo it.. everything here is fit in place by means of plastic hooks that lock in, so be gentle to avoid breaking any of those plastic parts.. once this frame is removed, you will see the factory radio is held in place by 4 screws.. get them removed and you can pull the radio out, exposing the connections on the back which you need to undo one at a time. Be careful while pulling these plugs off the back, DO NOT USE the wires to pull them off, I know it’s tempting and seems a lot easier to do it that way. Try using your flat screwdriver to push down on the plastic lock on the plugs and try to gently separate them out.  There should be 3 white plugs and one black (antenna) plug in total. Once you get them all apart, you are free to take your factory radio out. Wait, don’t trash it yet, if that’s your plan for the factory radio :).  You will need the metal plates that are screwed to the radio on its sides. You need to take them out and use it on the new radio. I had to use the screws provided by pioneer to secure this metal plate on the new radio as the factory screws didn’t fit in the pioneer unit. Once that’s in place, it’s just a matter of plugging in all the adapters to the new shiny radio. Just to summarize, you’ll have to plug in the factory antenna adapter in it’s corresponding port on the new radio, the axxess steering wheel adapter plug in the right port on radio (the bottom right corner plug on the pionner radio when you are looking at the back of the unit), and the new radio harness plug into it’s port. Also, in my case, I had to ground all the black (our ground cables) by connecting them to any metal portaion of the car interior. The steel frame that supports the radio is a good choice. Make sure this connection is relatively strong enough so it doesn’t come apart while driving. Oh, the steering wheel adapter wiring had to be tapped into the third plug which I couldn’t find a dediated harness to plug into,  so I had to make tiny cuts on the plastic insulation on these cables to connect the adapter’s wires and tape them up in the car. Be careful if you are doing the same while cutting the plastic insulation, you do not want to cut the wires unless you don’t care for connecting your factory radio back. Alternatively you can buy those nice plastic adapter tools called posi-tap, so you don’t have to mess with cutting wires in this case.

Once you had all the connections in place, rest the new radio in the car but don’t screw it all up yet, as we want to test everything and more importantly make sure the steering wheel adapter programmed fine. So now, you should connect that cable you took apart from the battery and turn the ignition to ON position (or ACC position), and press and hold the volume up button on the steering wheel to program the axxess adapter. If everything went well, the adapter will start controlling your radio after a few seconds. If the adapter doesn’t control your adapter, then you need to monitor the led on the adapter and use the metra troubleshooting guide. If it didn’t work, you have most likely not held the volume up button on time or long enough.. just reset the adapter by pushing the reset button with a paper clip or something and repeat the step. In my case, it took a little while but it worked the first time. Now you can test the radio a little bit and if everthing’s good, turn off the ignition and put everyting back again (just do the opposite of what you did when you took everyting apart). That’s it, you got your flashy new radio in place of the very restrictive factory radio. Enjoy your new radio 🙂