I just installed my new Belkin handsfree kit for my iPhone. It's the accessory I have been waiting for! (Got it at the Apple store for $99)

First the motivation and requirements

I use my iPhone a lot and love it. When driving I use the iPod function to listen to music or podcasts through the sound system. When the phone rings the music fades out and I want to be able to talk without holding the phone up to my head.

I have been looking for a handsfree kit since I got my first iPhone a couple years ago but it had to meet these requirements:

  1. Direct connection to the audio input (no RF conversion)
  2. Music <-> Phone switchover via audio system
  3. Must be powered so as to keep phone charged/charging
  4. Nice mount to hold phone in position where I could see and reach it

Solution: Belkin TuneBase DIrect

I decided to install a cigarette lighter (12V accessory power plug for the politically correct) in the little cubby between the steering column and radio so that the iPhone would sit above the dashboard behind the steering wheel.

For this I needed to install a lighter plug somehow and run power to it. Using the existing 12V plug was silly. The phone hung down around the floor and the speakers interfered with the phone causing feedback.


Tools: Torx bits (T-20, T-25, T-27); soldering gun, 10" or longer extension for Torx bits and handle; drill and 1" bit (or dremel tool)

Parts: Belkin iPhone kit; 16 guage wire; electrical tape; 12V cigarette lighter receptacle

Other: Courage to dismantle my dash; some mechanical and electrical aptitude

(directions continued as replies)

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Comment by Stuart Berman on February 8, 2010 at 10:24pm
Step 5 - Reinstall in reverse order
This operation would be much easier on a warm sunny day rather than a subfreezing sunny day like I did it! I would have spread everything neatly out on a table noting every step. Instead it was so cold and icy that my patience started wearing thin,

Here is the end result:

System sounds and looks good, car still runs, not too many spare screws left over (LOL).

Final notes:
I wish Belkin had run the audio from the base plug rather than that goofy external wire that plugs into the headphone jack. (That would be neater and the sound a little cleaner with a line level output.)
There is no noticeable feedback now and callers says the sound is OK (there is a direct path from my mouth to the built-in microphone on the Belkin kit).
The iPhone position is acceptable although I might have mounted it several inches higher if there would have been the clearance around the Radio frame.
As mentioned earlier, there is really no clearance to remove the kit once installed. But in a positive note, it can't really get stolenvery easily either.
Comment by Stuart Berman on February 8, 2010 at 10:14pm
Step 4 - Install 12V receptacle
Still with me? At this point if you step back (or your wife shows up) you may be filled with fear and regret.... Oh well... too late now... better buck up and finish the job! It is about to get easier.

Drilled a hole using the original angle bracket as a template. Did I mention I had to drill a very big hole in my car? About 1" in diameter.

12V receptacle with Belkin kit connected. Getting the plug in was a tight fit right now. Once it is all back together it is almost impossible to insert or remove due to the tight space and inability to bend the plastic with the frame installed. I won't be taking this out easily.

Then I reinstalled the Radio frame.

Here I connected the two wires to the 12V receptacle and routed them back around the outside of the frame. Nothing can protrude into the Radio cavity since there is no clearance once the radio is installed.

Since the lower dash is off, routing the wires to the factory original 12V receptacle is easy. Blue is positive and brown is negative/ground (in so far as a plastic car can have a ground).
Comment by Stuart Berman on February 8, 2010 at 10:01pm
Step 3 - Remove the Radio frame
This needs to be done to access the location where the lighter receptacle will mount. (I chose to flush mount and could have saved myself a lot of trouble just using the angle bracket to surface mount.)

First remove the A/C cluster if you are brave and patient. Note the airflow cable. Two smaller screws for each air deflector. And several cables for electronics in a very tight space.

Controls removed and duct work removed. See how easy?
Next before I remove the Radio frame I mark the position of the convenient hole I noticed. This hole will provide access to the wiring and allows just enough clearance for a standard 12V receptacle.

Here is the hole AFTER I installed the 12V receptacle.

Then the Radio frame pulls out after removing several screws (here is where I needed the 10" extension)
Comment by Stuart Berman on February 8, 2010 at 9:50pm
Step 2 - Remove the lower dash
This will make it easier to remove the Radio frame

Remove the trim on either side of the dash. There is a screw underneath each one that first comes out then gently pull back the trim and unclip at the top.

The lower dash fabric clips to the side frame. There are also screws visible under the dash fabric. You should first remove the accessory brace and cupholders in front of the shift lever.

Carefully remove the two foam pieces that shape the lower dash.
Comment by Stuart Berman on February 8, 2010 at 9:43pm
Step 1 - Remove Radio system

Pull off button bar gently

Remove screw that holds Radio cowling

Pry up cowling and pull toward rear and off.

Remove Radio with 4 screws

Unplug the Radio

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