There’s a lot to love about cars from the ’80s and ’90s. One thing that’s hard to love is the audio technology that manufacturers used during the time period. As the battle for market supremacy raged between cassette tapes and CDs, companies tried to meet consumer demands with some truly original head units. Today, both tapes and CDs have gone the dodo way, and new options for music offer much better audio quality and portability.
The preferences of collectors and enthusiasts have changed in recent years. These days, cars from the 1980s and 1990s are beginning to rise in value, and buyers who were too young or too poor to buy what they wanted when these cars were new on the showroom are finding cars in good condition. conditions at reasonable prices.
Reading: How to connect aux cord to car
adding modern functionality to any car
have you recently seen the value of a 1993 ford mustang cobra? how about a 1991 acura integra type r? High-quality original cars have skyrocketed in value in recent years as interest from enthusiasts and collectors has grown.
Cars of this era are great to drive, but cutting down on the time to install an aftermarket stereo that delivers modern reproduction is going to lower resale value. A collector is not going to want to buy a car that has been hacked up and modified, no matter how cool the stereo installed in the car is. so if you are not going to add a modern head unit, how can you play mp3 or stream music from your smartphone?
adding an auxiliary input port will allow you to play music from an mp3 player, your smartphone or any digital device you like to use that connects with a 3.5mm headphone jack.
Installing an auxiliary input port is a simple job that the average home mechanic can do with professional results in an afternoon. There are many different ways to add auxiliary input functionality to any car, truck, boat, or whatever else you drive. even motorcycles can be configured with auxiliary playback.
first things first, identify the options you will have for your particular stereo. If your stereo has RCA input ports on the back, you can simply purchase an adapter cable that will connect to the RCA port and your music playback device via a 3.5mm male cable.
many cars came with ports for cd changers. Adapters are available for many popular models that allow you to simply plug it into the CD changer port and add an auxiliary input terminal. It’s worth taking a minute to search the internet for your particular year, make, and model of car to learn about possible options. many popular brands have adapters available to work specifically with factory installed radios. these can be more expensive than doing it yourself, but offer convenience and a clean installation.
things to look for on your main unit
If your car or truck has an auxiliary input port but it’s in a silly location, or if you just want to add one in a different part of the car, it’s a very simple operation. remove the port from the dash, or wherever it’s located, then cut and splice an auxiliary input cable into its place, route it safely to where you want to add a port, and install the new port in a smart spot.
waterproof aux input housings can be used to install a port on a boat or on the outside of a vehicle, like the back of a truck, so you can listen to your tunes at the next house party. the tailgate before the big game without opening the doors.
if your stereo doesn’t have rca ports or cd changer controls, you can connect them to your existing stereo. this will require some knowledge and skill. you will have to remove your car radio and disassemble it to make the necessary changes.
auxiliary input port for mobile ringtones
auxiliary input ports, called aux-in for short, first appeared in the 1980s to allow consumers to play tapes and cds from a walkman or discman through their car stereo. Once head units began to have CD players, many factory head units stopped including the auxiliary input port. mp3 players hadn’t hit the scene yet, so there was simply no need for a redundant port.
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auxiliary input ports provide near cd quality sound, unlike cassette or record adapters which have notoriously bad sound and don’t last long. A device called an FM modulator can be used to play music from an MP3 player, but modulators have a bad reputation for poor sound quality and can be expensive. they also won’t work well without a strong fm signal.
go to work
You must know how to solder and use a multimeter.
Get the best quality repair manual for your car you can find.
These items can usually be purchased at electronics stores in your hometown or online from vendors like allelectronics.com
- soldering iron and tin
- volt/ohm meter
- plugs, screwdrivers and pliers
- 3.5mm aux port with two normally closed taps
- wire cutters and strippers
- a mono to stereo adapter if your old head unit only plays one channel.
- duct tape to secure the wires
- wire, 2-3 feet
a method of mounting the jack, such as drilling a hole somewhere inconspicuous. many ports can be surface mounted.
am and am/fm radios
Original head units featuring am and am/fm are becoming increasingly rare and valuable to collectors, so don’t throw them away. it’s easy to add an auxiliary input port to these stereos.
Get the highest quality service and repair manual available for your car. try to find the workshop manual issued for professional mechanics, as these manuals provide the best and most accurate information.
Before working on any part of any vehicle’s electrical system, disconnect the negative battery terminal. security First. no one wants to get electrocuted and setting your car on fire is probably not what you’re trying to do. And it’s no fun finding a fuse that’s blown when you accidentally shorted something.
disassemble your board
You’ll need to remove the car stereo and open the case, exposing the innards of the head unit. use a high-quality service manual for your vehicle that provides instructions on how to properly remove the radio.
You will find wires running from the tuning knobs or buttons to a cylindrical part mounted on the computer board. this component is called a potentiometer, or pot for short. it is a rotary switch that allows multiple functions in a compact space.
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You will need to identify which wires go to the volume control portion of the potentiometer. a wiring schematic is helpful if you have one. otherwise, with the radio upright, the bottom terminal wire is usually the input, the middle terminal is the output, and the top terminal is the ground terminal.
prepare head unit for modern convenience
You can desolder the potentiometer input wire at this point. most head units will have a light blue input wire. this wire will be connected to the auxiliary input connector and a new lead wire will be connected to the potentiometer.
Using your multimeter or a schematic from the manufacturer, identify the function of the pins on the auxiliary input port.
identify where you want to install the connector. usually preferred near the radio, but I like to put mine in the glove box or an ashtray. I think it keeps it clean and doesn’t take away from the factory look.
make good connections
now it’s just a matter of connecting the cables correctly. easy. Get your welding gun ready!
solder a jumper wire from the potentiometer input to the terminal that receives power when a 3.5mm plug is connected to the circuit.
solder a jumper wire from the potentiometer’s ground terminal to the auxiliary input port’s ground terminal. you do not need to remove the existing ground wire.
solder a jumper wire from the previous input wire to the remaining terminal on the auxiliary input port.
Now all that’s left is to reassemble your radio, route the wires securely, install the connector, and reconnect the battery.
With the car on, connecting a 3.5mm cable from an mp3 player or smartphone to the port will allow playback through the factory speakers and the volume control will function as original. If the head unit plays music in mono, you will need to connect a mono to stereo adapter for good quality playback.
When the plug is removed, the radio will play normally.
The process may sound intimidating, but the results are very rewarding. If you take your time and follow the steps correctly, installing an auxiliary input port in your car is an easy project that you can complete yourself.