I needed a new stereo anyways...
May 5, 2010 8:07 PM   Subscribe

Twofold question: Is it possible to directly connect my ipod to the stereo wiring in my car? And how common is it to break into a car by forcing/punching the lock cylinder into the door panel?

Basically, some bozo stole my stereo (but not my CDs!). They used something to punch in/force the lock cylinder into the door panel. How did they do this? Whatever they did, the lock is ruined and the window is now propped up by wood/plastic and my family's jerry-rigging skills. Besides this and the stereo, there's no other damage/anything missing.

I also have a long commute to school, and will be making several long trips this summer. I need music!! What is the best/cheapest way to connect my ipod to the (now exposed) stereo wiring? I don't want another stereo if it will just get stolen again (this was a realllly crappy 7+ years old aftermarket stereo). The car is a '98 pontiac.


(After reading some other threads here, I cleared my car of everything and am leaving it unlocked, and covered in dead highway bugs)
posted by shinyshiny to Travel & Transportation (9 answers total)
You need some kind of amplifier to send a signal to your speakers. If the stereo is gone, you're out of luck, unfortunately. If you invest in a stereo that has a removable face plate, it might be less likely to be stolen (and you can keep it when you sell the car).
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:23 PM on May 5, 2010

You can buy a little harness thingy that goes in between the electrical system and the radio. The wire sticks out of the side of the center column. All you have to do is set it to whatever station you've chosen (88.3 for us) and press play on the iPod. It works way, way better than any of those things that try to pick up on a particular frequency wirelessly and run it that way; we've never had anything but crystal-clear sound.

I have a 2000 Honda Accord; this thing cost like 40 bucks at Best Buy (we bought ours as an opened product for half price), and we're planning on installing one in my parents' car this weekend.
posted by Madamina at 8:24 PM on May 5, 2010

As noted car stereo typically does two things - gets you some sort of noisey signal - the radio or cd or tape, and then makes that signal louder using an amp. You'll need to check if your car has a separate amplifier. You didn't list the particular model of car but my guess is that it this is unlikely as such separate systems are usually "fancy" (for varying levels of fancy & utility). This information is likely available online (like here) or in your ownsers manual, assuming they didn't lift that as well.

Without that amplifier you won't get very far just plugging your ipod straight into the speakers, you'll need something to make the signal much louder, detachable face is fine, or you could just a cheap stereo. Many of the new stereos out there now have AUX in - look for a headphone jack and you can plug your ipod straight in. Simple and cheap- installing one in a relatively modern & well documented car like yours is not very complicated - bribe someone who is fiddles with such things with dinner or beer. Or try it yourself, its really like making a recipe, just unplug the battery first.

As for your second question (ask.me cheat!) it is pretty common on particular older models, Cars bought from wreckers/tow yards will often be missing door and trunk locks in this fashion- they simply use a large diameter punch and something heavy to smack it in, like a hammer.
posted by zenon at 8:37 PM on May 5, 2010

zenon has it right, you need some kind of amplifier to amplify the signal from the iPod so that it comes out of your speakers. Since you were already using an aftermarket stereo, you shouldn't have any problem hooking up a new

The cheapest way to go is to find a used aftermarket stereo on eBay or Craigslist and make sure it has some kind of Aux input. If you can find something with an aux input for a good price, look for one with a tape player instead of CD player then you can just hook up your iPod using one of those car tape adapters.

Anything other kind of jerry rigging is going to be too expensive, complicated, or unreliable.
posted by kenliu at 10:12 PM on May 5, 2010

Murilee Martin over at Jalopnik has you covered. My old housemate did this with his work van; worked out brilliantly.
posted by MarchHare at 11:29 PM on May 5, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks for the answers. MarchHare, that link is really interesting.
posted by shinyshiny at 12:55 AM on May 6, 2010

There are a number of car stereos that have USB connectors. I installed one in my car last year. It did involve some soldering (to match the various wires from the head unit to the various wires in the dash, via a connector), but it works.

Car stereos with aux-in ports are more common and a little cheaper. With USB, you can charge the iPod from the head unit while you play, and even control playback through the head unit (if you want).
posted by adamrice at 8:13 AM on May 6, 2010

shinyshiny posted "And how common is it to break into a car by forcing/punching the lock cylinder into the door panel?"

It's not wildly common for thieves who'll normally smash a window but it's pretty well universal for the wrecking business. I described my lock punching hammer in this meta comment and similar things can be done with either a slide hammer or punch and hammer. The latter is to be avoided because not only can you end up hammering your hand when the lock (and punch) get forced into the door but you can also loose you punch to the door cavity.
posted by Mitheral at 12:57 PM on May 6, 2010

Response by poster: Mitheral, didn't even know something like that existed. Given that they had some sort of hammer, I'm glad they only forced out the lock rather than breaking my windows. They obviously knew what they were doing.
posted by shinyshiny at 10:38 AM on May 7, 2010

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