How to get an iPod to work in my car?
November 18, 2005 4:26 PM   Subscribe

Help a girl listen to Jenny Lewis in her car.

I have a 2004 Scion xb. I have heard that this means it might be easier to install a direct audio plug-in for my iPod. Anyone know if this is true? There's a little square in the passenger side dash that pops open and may or may not have anything to do with this.

If this does make it easier, I'm also wondering what installing something like that would cost.
posted by sonnet to Technology (5 answers total)
I had the same question in my xB and rather than paying $250 to hardwire the thing, I just bought this transmitter and it works surprisingly well.
posted by youcancallmeal at 4:56 PM on November 18, 2005

Search AskMeFi for previous discussions of FM adapters vs cassette adapters vs direct input. In short: FM sucks, cassette is better, direct rules.
posted by intermod at 5:21 PM on November 18, 2005

Crutchfield lists this item for about $60 which plugs into the back of your stereo unit where a cd changer would go. (if the link doesn't work just go to "what fits my car" at and plug in your 2004 scion xb) If you've got a changer you probably don't want this. If you don't you'll still need to get around to the back of the stereo. How hard that is in your car I have no idea.

Googling for "usa spec toyota" turns it up at Circuit City as well and likely they have an install deal. Looking on ebay the price is somewhat higher and I wonder if those deals from CC and crutchfield are missing critical harnesses and cables...

My stereo has a line-in jack and it's nice but if I had to open my wallet to the tune of $100 in parts I wouldn't do it, even installing it myself. FM isn't great but it's convenient and useful when you travel as well. Even the most ghetto hotel has an FM alarm clock.
posted by phearlez at 6:22 PM on November 18, 2005

You may be thinking about the new Pioneer radios in the 2006 models; a $260 upgrade gets you an iPod-compatible hookup, but even the standard radios have a 3.5mm minijack you can use to connect your iPod via the headphone jack. The iPod connectivity is a new feature for 2006 (though some 2005 models apparently have the new radio as well); I don't know if the standard audio port is new, but if you don't see a little port on the front of your stereo that looks like it could take your headphone plug, then you don't have the audio port either.

This review of an iPod adapter that hooks up to the CD changer port on your radio describes the same sort of thing phearlez is talking about (the simple auxiliary port add-on he links to sacrifices the iPod-specific cord and the ability to control the iPod via the radio controls, but is a third of the price). It also says offhand that in order to install it in a Scion xA, they had to remove the radio unit from the dash. If that little door in the glove compartment exits into the void the radio normally sits in, then yes, you can use that to plug the iPod-connecting device into the back of the radio.

If all else fails, there's always the FM transmitter option, but this is by far the least satisfying solution. Jenny Lewis deserves better.
posted by chrominance at 7:39 PM on November 18, 2005

Also, this blog post links to an installation manual (PDF warning!) that gives a slightly better idea of what might be involved in installing anything that uses your CD changer port. Of particular note is the mention of a factory-installed CD changer cable that might have been routed to an easier-to-access spot like the glove compartment, center console or trunk.

Oh, and look, if you hit the ScionLife website, there's a forum post describing one person's install process on a Scion tC. And it has pictures. (Sorry these last couple of links are for the same product; I don't mean to shill for them and have purposely not mentioned it on this post. These instructions should work for all CD changer products, though there are probably slight differences here and there.)
posted by chrominance at 7:51 PM on November 18, 2005

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