Installing a Panasonic CX-DP801 CD Changer in our ML320.
Locating aCD Changer with a converter for the Mercedes proprietary changer interface cable was the key to this part of the upgrade project. Fortunately AUTOTOYS.COM put together just such a package. (note: their web page incorrectly describes the means of accessing a disc in slot 7 or 8; it is press 1 then 6 or 2 then 6).
Also it turns out that you can just order the head unit to CD changer cable from Mercedes (part no. 163-540-31-05). This cable was then run from the head unit down under the console, under the carpet to the changer under the driver's seat. That cable is designed to reach from the dash to the back of the vehicle so it is a "little" long. But given that 2 pairs of shielded wires are in the cable I did not attempt to shorten it, the extra was just coiled up and hidden behind the head unit.
Mounting the CD Changer under the driver's seat
The location chosen by Mercedes for the CD changer, way back in the cargo area behind a panel, never appealed to us. Both because access to this area is inconvenient (to impossible when the truck is fully loaded) and because this area above the emergency jack seemed better suited to other emergency supplies. So when AUTOTOYS.COM made an alternative available I started looking for other locations to mount the changer. The Panasonic CX-DP801 while very small for a 8 disc changer, was too big for the glove compartment or the storage bin in the console. That left under a seat, with the space under the front passenger seat already taken by a storage drawer, leaving under the driver's seat as the best location.
Mounting the changer under the driver's seat involved these steps (detailed below):
These 2 (floor mat level) images show the trial placement of the CD Changer.
The first picture gives an idea of how the changer will (does) look when you squat down and look in from the open driver's door. The second picture shows how the (already bent) side brackets will fit and that there will be (is) space under the changer for the converter.
The 2 brackets that attach to the sides of the changer are reversed (from their orientation described in the Panasonic installation instructions) for increased clearance, also they must be bent to match the slope of the floor where the changer will be mounted. The base brackets that attach (with double stick tape) to the floor (under the carpet) and provide the anchors for the side brackets to bolt to, must also be bent to conform to the shape of the "ridge" in the floor. (see below)
The M-Class head unit (radio) can be removed, it just slides straight out, after 2 spring loaded catches are released. Simple enough if you have the right tool, but I managed with some other thin strips of metal (not recommended). As you pull the head unit out you must be careful of the antenna connector (on the right hand side of the head unit), remove it from the head unit when you gain access.
This picture shows the back of the head unit, with the CD changer cable connection on top.
The left side (facing the front of the vehicle) of the head unit is the location of the CD changer cable connection, also the power and speaker connections. The CD changer cable is the top, 10 conductor, connector. If you remove all the other connectors the head unit can be removed from the dash, easiest for later steps but have your radio code handy!
The M-Class driver's seat needs to be removed to gain access to the area under it, obviously. The first thing to do is disconnect the electrical cable, which can be found under the back of the seat. You can remove the 4 screws holding the plastic under seat trim to the seat frame (note: you could skip this step but be careful not to rest the seat on this trim). This trim can't be completely removed until the left rear seat bolt and cargo tie down D-ring are removed. Now the 4 seat bolts (see the uncarpetted locations in the picture below) need to be removed, using a Torx E14 socket (note you will need to treat these bolts with a thread locking compound upon reinstallation). The seat can be lifted out and set beside the truck, so that the seat belt can stay attached.
This picture shows the area under the driver's seat, after it was removed (the yellow screw driver is inserted into the existing opening in the carpet where the changer cable will emerge). More or less in the center of the picture running top to bottom is the ridge where the CD changer will be (is) mounted.
The M-Class console needs to be removed to permit the routing of the new CD changer cable. This is possibly the most complicated part of the job.
This picture shows the console removed (harness from step 8 is in the center)
The door sill trim needs to be removed so that the carpet can be lifted up to provide access for mounting the CD changer base brackets on the M-Class floor pan. This is relatively easy, but you must pry some plastic parts apart so work slowly and gently. The center sections (the parts with the little ridges) of the door sills can be pried up to expose several philips head screws, remove them. Near the bottom of the B-pillar (vertical part of the door frame) are 2 round plastic plugs. You need to carefully pry theses out to expose the last 2 philips head screws holding the door sill in (note it is still attached at the back of the rear door but you can now lift the carpet under the driver's seat so it's not a problem). (see above in driver's seat removal picture)
The Panasonic CX-DP801 CD changer comes with some very nice mounting brackets, two 5mm bolts pressed into a heavy piece of sheet metal. These brackets mount to any flat (metal) surface with double stick tape. Only I choose to mount the changer where there was not a nice flat metal surface, on the floor pan ridge that runs across under the front of the driver's seat (you could just mount the changer under the back part of the seat).
This picture show the area under the carpet under the driver's seat (unbent bracket placed near its final location).
This necessitated cutting and bending the brackets to conform to the floor pan (using a hacksaw, a vice and a big adjustable wrench). Once the brackets were modified, I affixed one with the double stick tape. The the side brackets were attached (reversed from the orientation called for in the directions) to judge how much they needed to be bent to conform to the shape of the floor pan and fasten to the already positioned base bracket.
These pictures show how (much) the base bracket nearest the door needed to be modified to fit the floor pan, compared to the inside base bracket shown in the last picture.
The side brackets were removed and bent (You need to realize that these "and bent" operations requires some number of tries). The changer with the bent side brackets attached is then used to position the second (inside) base bracket, which is modified a little and attached with double stick tape. Holes are made for the base bracket bolts in the carpet and it is pushed down over them and back into position.
If you already finished mounting the changer this step will be a little harder (guess how I know that?). Start by feeding the new Mercedes CD changer cable into the head unit opening in the dash (or you can reverse this whole sequence). Feed the cable out from under the dash in the center console, run it along the side of the other wiring bundles to near the rear of the console area. Now feed / pull it under the carpet near the rear of where the driver's seat mounts to a precut ("+" shaped) opening in the carpet under the seat. Feed enough cable to connect to the converter, then coil or some how secure the extra in the dash behind the head unit opening. Connect the cable to the head unit, reconnect the other head unit cables, enter the radio code, insert a CD cartridge (with CD's in it of course) and test that the head unit recognises the changer and will play discs (I can offer not suggestions if it doesn't, because mine worked the first time). Insure that you prevent any rubbing of the cable on metal brackets either by rerouting or installing some protection (I used thick adhesive back rubber padding).
Ok back to mounting the CD changer. The side brackets are removed from the changer and loosely bolted to the base bracket bolts protruding through the carpet. The protocol converter can now be mounted between the side brackets (or any where else in the area, as long as it can be plugged into the changer) with sheet metal screws (make sure that the screws don't impale something like a wiring harness or gas line). The changer is attached to the side brackets and they and the base bracket nuts are tightened.
This picture shows completed mounting of the changer, but the changer cable has not yet emerged form under the carpet.
As they say "reassembly is just the reverse of disassembly", which is true especially if you kept track of the items removed and stored them in order (assuming that you garage is bigger and neater than mine :-). But several specially cautions should be observed:
And this is what the (almost) finished installation looks like:
This picture shows the installed changer and reinstalled driver's seat (the pinkish blob behind the changer is just a towel stuffed in for background). When this picture was taken the Mercedes CD changer cable was still on order (so I got lots of practice with the procedure described above :-).
And it works! (also it has not skipped), So for 1/2 of the cost of the 6 disc Mercedes changer stuck way back in the back of the vehicle, under all of our gear, we have a 8 disc changer (that is mounted a lot more solidly). But AUTOTOYS.COM also offers a 6 disc changer that will mount in the stock location (and you don't need to buy a new CD changer cable, just the brackets).
|Panasonic CX-DP801EUC||US$ 275.00||AUTOTOYS.COM|
|Peripheral Electronics MBZPIL||included||AUTOTOYS.COM|
|Mercedes Benz 163-540-31-05||US$ 52.20||Smythe European|
|6 hrs bumbling amateur labor||"free"|
last updated 1999-03-04