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 🙂

 

  • slam

    have you tried the app mode with navigation apps? also are you sure that is the correct bypass?

  • Yes, I have since bought a generic pioneer iphone cable on ebay and have used MotionX GPS and Youtube app and confirm that they work fine.. even while driving.

  • slam

    i have the same car and have been looking into upgrading. i drive all day and think this might be the way to go vs just adding an aux cable. how hard was it to run the microphone cable? also i saw a different bypass on ebay.. does it matter which one? the one you used seem to get at least one bad review. by the way i know absolutely nothing about insalling a radio. wonder if i should just by all this stuff and see if i can get someone to do if for cheap

  • running the microphone cable to where you want it could be the easiest part of the install :).. nothing to take apart or no special tools needed… just push the cable into seams along the way using your fingers or an old credit card. The parking bypass, as long as you get the one compatible with the stereo you buy, there should be no problems… At least on mine, I never had. Installing this whole thing is easier than it appears. This is my first and only car stereo install and I was just following instructions here and there…. if you plan ahead and have the harness connected to the car stereo wiring, it’s pretty much unscrew the old radio and plugin the new one. But if you are not comfortable messing with your car, you can get it installed, but buy all the stuff so they don’t rip you off on the little accessories (like the harness, which costs like $5 on amazon, vs could be around $20+ in best buy)
    If you decide to install it yourself, and if you choose similar stereo as mine, you can post any questions here, and I’ll try to answer as best as I can.
    Good luck.

  • slam

    bought the same radio. just got it today. i bought the break by pass and face plate off ebay because they were cheaper. once i get them im going to give it a go.. ill keep you posted!!!

  • great… I’m sure you’ll love it.

  • slam

     when it comes to hooking up the bypass.. the blue wire goes to the blue and white wire labeled radio control acc as well as the antenna wire as you mentioned? because of the weak signal strength? also i have the mic wire running down the left pillar to the top of the dash. but how did you run the cord through the dash? Cut a hole?

  • slam

     also.. do i need to hook the mute cable to anything? i dont have a matching cable…that one is orange and white.. there is an orange and black on the metra harness..

  • slam

     Installed…. nice radio.. glad you had this post up here..

  • Sorry, just checked your comments, but glad you figured it all out. Enjoy your radio 🙂

  • Dave

    I know this is a bit older… but on your original stock deck, did you have 4 wiring harnesses to deal with?? (I understand yours didnt have the BOSE system… mine does).  

    I know two of them are for the speakers, power, ACC & etc…. the third is for the steering wheel controllers, and the fourth has me confused.  I have attached a link to view the pictures that have me confused, you will see that picture 
    http://imageshack.us/homepage/?user=davewoe#1) has an orange cable that was used for the dimmer (not needed), #2) picture shows a blue “AMP TURN-ON (12V+)” and I’m not sure what you would have done with this wire.  Should this be hooked up to something?  Is this the power for my system speakers???  #3) picture is for the reverse and speed sensor#4) picture is the harness that was originally connected to the stock deck… but even when I unplug it from there, the stock deck works fine!!#5) picture also shows the unknown hanress#6) shows the steering wheel control harness#7) picture shows the general easy to figure out power, ACC, and speaker connections.

    I’m not getting any sound from my Pioneer AVIC-X940BT and I don’t know why…

  • Hi Dave,

    I am not sure if you have any more harnesses than I had to deal with, but I am sure on the non-bose (mine) stereo, there was the main harness with a whole lot of wires, and a second smaller harness (labelled #8 in your image) which was only for steering wheel controls.
    The only wires I had to connect to the smaller harness are for the steering wheel controller module, which was pretty straight forward matching colors, and connecting the ground wire to an exposed metal part of the car’s frame.
    Based on my install experience, all the stereo related wires will need to be connected only to the main harness in the car. I used a metra harness linked in the article. Regarding the orange cable, I dont remember exactly what I did with it, but the 12V+ should be connected to the switched power source in the car’s harness… again, don’t remember exactly what the color of the wire was, but look it up in the owner’s manual.
    It’s been a while since I did this and don’t remember the exact details about the wiring, but maybe you can post your question on forums like nissanclub where I got quick and helpful feedback from friendly community.

  • alex

    why does teh radio sit so deep in the dash ?its not flush with the front

    Thanks Alex

  • The plastic frame I got was designed that way and the default screw holes kinda aligned that way.

    Not sure if we an try some other config, but I didn’t try it yet.

  • I installed the same radio in my car this weekend; I also purchased an American International Dash Kit but I’m having trouble getting my radio to sit in further, like yours is. See pic below.. I used the plastic brackets that came with it but I’m guessing from what you say I needed to use the factory brackets?? Seemed like it sat too far back when I tried the factory ones. Also, did you have trouble picking up local radio stations? Any tips would be helpful. Thanks.

  • AliciaG,

    I used the factory bracket.. didn’t notice any other brackets to use.. could have been an oversight on my part. As you can see in the pics, the pioneer sits almost half inch deep from the surface of the metra frame. Regarding the fm reception, I think it’s almost as good (if not the same) as factory radio. HD stations in NJ were mostly good, but there were some dead spots (for HD only, when it falls back to analog) when I was driving thru some places.

  • varga

    hey I was wondering what the automatic parking break bypass is for

  • As a security measure, most of the features of the radio including browsing albums when connected to iPod, playing media content like videos are only allowed when parking brake is engaged. That means you cannot use a lot of features while driving or even when stopped in traffic unless you engage parking brake.

    Most people would like to disable this feature to assist a passenger (hopefully not the driver) to access these features while driving. To achieve this you will need that parking brake bypass device.

  • denise

    What about the ground wirea what did u do with that

  • jesse

    Hope this doesn’t sound stupid , but I can’t connect my steering control adapter, it shows that I should have a 16 pin plug from the car , but I only count 12 , unless I’m doing it wrong ?

  • Hi Jesse, are you trying to install in an 05/06 altima as well? If so, is your current stereo the standard one or the upgraded BOSE one? this guide is for the std stereo with the stock steering wheel controls for vol, track, mode etc.,
    Also, the steering wheel control adapter you bought, is it the same thing linked in this article above?

    From as far as I can remember, I didn’t have any problem with the non-matching pins… Just use the links above in this article to see if you got the same hardware as I did.

  • josh

    Hey is it necessary to get tbe steering column harness?i really dont want to use my sterring controls, will the radio work fine without it?

  • Yes, steering controls is optional.. It wasn’t even a standard feature on the altima then.

    You can skip that if you do not want to control the stereo from steering wheel. The radio controls from the unit itself should work fine without it, however, you will also lose the trip computer ability from steering wheel control I think. The left side of your steering wheel controls will not function.

  • BraNdon

    Do you remember the pin put for the steering wheel control its not making since to me

  • I dont think I used any code.. on initial start, I believe I kept the volume up control pressed and it auto programmed itself.

  • Simon

    Hello I see that this radio is no longer available on Amazon. Do you know what other places sell it?

  • Hi Simon, I believe the radio in this post is now discontinued. I would discourage you from getting it now even if it was sold by some third parties as it is quite old and you know how it is with technology 🙂

    Having said that, I recommend the following comparable radio with support for both Apple Carplay and Android Auto, which would offer a lot more bells and whistles and got very good reviews.

    http://amzn.to/1L5KuNH

  • Simon

    Do you know if this radio has similar installation process to the orginal stereo you wrote about.

  • I have not worked with this newer version, but it should be pretty much the same.
    Here’s the manual for 4000 series with detailed install instructions: https://www.pioneerelectronics.com/StaticFiles/Manuals/Car/AVH-4000NEX_OwnersManual011714.pdf
    And here’s a video of 4100 installation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iCGn1DC938Y