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DIY: Stealthing Your GPS Power Cord in an E36.

Discussion in 'E36 (1992-1999)' started by NJHaupt, Aug 18, 2009.

    NJHaupt guest

    Post Count: 22
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    This is my first DIY, so go easy on me!

    Disclaimer: This worked with my GPS (Mio Digiwalker C220) and my car (1999 e36 323is) as well as my brother's (1994 325i). I do not claim that it will work on anyone's car or with anyone's GPS. Attempt at your own risk.

    Purpose: The purpose here is to stealth the power cord that comes with your GPS. This will give your car's interior a nice clean look. My car is a 1999 e36 323is coupe and the GPS that I will be using is the Mio Digiwalker C220 with the included power cable. I'm not hard wiring it because I like how the charger's red lights match my interior and it's nice to have a mini-B USB cable in case I need to charge other electronic accessories. Before you do ANYTHING, check to make sure the end of your power cable that plugs into your GPS will fit through the air vent that is part of the headlight control assembly. If it doesn't, further modification that I do not cover in this DIY will be required. The GPS will also be mounted in the lower left corner of the windshield, so make sure that your GPS will fit and can be mounted there. I like the location because it least obstructs my view of the road and I can use the touch screen with my finger without taking my hand off of the steering wheel. If you're still with me, lets move on to what you'll need...

    -GPS w/ Included Power Cord
    -A Dremel Tool or a Drill (A hole will be cut between about the size of a penny and a quarter)
    -A Phillips-Head and a Flat-Head Screwdriver (The interchangeable screwdriver in your trunk toolkit will work fine)
    -A working 12v Cigarette Outlet
    -***If your light switch assembly bulb is burnt out and needs to be replaced, a good time to do that while you're working on this would be between steps 3 and 4. Head to the dealer and pick up what's referred to as a 'mini bulb.' If that doesn't help, just explain what it's for and they should be able to hook you up. I'll include steps and pics at the end about where and how to install this bulb.***

    1. Detach the light control assembly/vent by unscrewing the screw underneath it (facing the ground.) After this screw is loose, (it's deceptively long) gently work out the assembly. I used a flat-head screwdriver to first pry out the lower left side and then pulled the rest out by pulling down and to the left. If you're worried about scratching things up, you can line the seam with a paper towel or a thin, disposable cloth...Anything that the screwdriver won't puncture. Or, you can use your fingers and tug on the headlight switch and the vent adjustment tab.

    Pics for Step One:
    1_1: This is the the assembly you'll be working with.
    1_2: This is the screw you'll be removing.
    1_3: Removing the assembly.

    2. Once you have the assembly loose, you will find that it is connected by two white plugs. One is small and rectangular and is connected to the fog light switch. The other is large and cylindrical and is connected to the headlight switch. Remove the rectangular plug first, followed by the cylindrical one. For the latter, you'll have to twist the black part and then pull out the white part.

    Pics for Step Two:
    2_1: Removing the Plugs

    3. Now that the assembly is completely removed, you're ready to dremel or drill your hole. This will enable you to feed the power cord through the assembly. Drilling the hole is and important step in making sure the assembly fits back into place properly.The hole will have to be large enough for your plug to fit though. For a mini-B USB plug like mine, it will be about the size of a nickel. Again, if you need a hole a good deal larger than this, the plug might not fit through the vent. Placement of the hold is crucial. You want it to be in front of (closer to the vent slits) the vent flap (see pics) when it is in it's fully closed position. You also want to avoid damaging any of the hinges that control the vent flap or any other components. I drilled about a half inch from where the vent flap pivots. Once you've finished drilling your hole, test the fit and adjust if necessary.

    Pics for Step Three:
    3_1: The Vent Flap and Drilled Hole (w/ Cable Fed Through)
    3_2: Closeup of Drilled Hole
    3_3: Closed Vent Flap

    4. Okay, you're prepped over there. Now it's time to feed the cable. Since the smaller end (not the 12v end) is easier to deal with, you'll be feeding that end, so you'll start from left to right. Before this can be done, you'll have to remove 4 screws (maybe more on your car) from the underpanel until it hangs loosely. There is a clip (pic 4_2) on the upper left side of the panel that you need to be careful about when removing it. See pic 4_1 for the screws and their locations. Once this is done, you'll need to remove the OBC. You can gently pry it out with a flat-head screwdriver like you might have done with the headlight switch assembly, or you can push up and out on the OBC though the hold in the top of the sunglass tray. I found the former to be a whole lot easier. Remember to line the seam with something to protect your interior from scratching. Now, you can bring the GPS end of the cable up through the hole in the sunglass tray and feed it through the left side of the center console trim. It's a bit tricky and you might have to pop out the sunglass tray too, but you'll be able to get it through. Once it is through, you can feed it up across the underside of the steering column and then up to the hole where the headlight switch assembly goes. My cable is about 3-5 feet long and I still had plenty of slack. Finally, you can feed the plug through your drilled hole and out the front of the vent. I stuck mine through the third slot down, but you can mess around with that and pick a spot for your cable to come out that suits you.

    Pics for Step Four:
    4_1: Screws and Their Locations
    4_2: Unscrewed Underpanel
    4_3: Cord Fed Through Sunglass Tray
    4_4: Cord Fed Behind Trim
    4_5: Cord Fed Behind Underpanel and Around Steering Column; Up to Headlight Switch Assembly
    4_6 Cord Fed Through Headlight Switch Assembly

    5. Clean up time! Don't worry, you're almost finished. With the cable fed, test it to make sure it works. Then, plug the 2 white plugs (cylindrical and rectangular) back into the headlight assembly. Test your headlights and fog lights to make sure your switches work and then put the assembly back in its place. Remember to secure it with the screw on the bottom. Now go back and refasten the underpanel with the other three (or more) screws. Finally, slide your OBC back in above your sunglass tray and admire a job well done!

    Pics for Step Five:
    5_1: Remember the Clip
    5_2: Refastening the Headlight Switch Assembly
    5_3: 12v End
    5_4: GPS End

    Here are a few pics of the matching charge lights at night:
    Night_1: 12v Outlet
    Night_2: GPS

    ***Light Switch Assembly Bulb Installation***

    The bulb is located in the headlight switch assembly directly between the two white plugs. Just gently pry it out with a flat-head screwdriver or with your fingers. Then pop in your replacement mini bulb and you're good to go!

    Pics for Mini Bulb:
    Extra_1: Location
    Extra_2: Removal
    Extra_3: The Bulb, Itself

    Thanks for Reading!

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