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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Well, it's done, and it went very smoothly. Took me about 7 hours to do it. If I had to do it again, and could do it in sub-90 degree heat, I could probably do it in 5.

Bottom line - Most people would probably be more comfortable paying someone to install this. But, if you like working on cars and/or are just really cheap and don't want to spring $400 or so for installation, and you are somewhat handy, this project is very do-able, and was actually quite fun!

The instructions were very exact, and I won't bother repeating the step-by-step procedures here. You can view the installation instructions at H-and-A accessories. For the most part, I followed the instructions to the letter. I only deviated in one way - after I had the harness routed to the flip down screen, and the screen was installed, I went ahead and replaced all the panels I had taken off for routing the harness. I did all that, because it was getting late, and I didn't want to leave the van doors open all night, so I wanted to get all the trim back in place so I could close the doors. Unfortunately, after I did all this and connected the battery again, I couldn't get the power doors to operate. I guess having all the stuff in the dash unplugged interfered with the circuit.

I will share some pointers based on my experience, and I do have some pictures, which I will upload as soon as someone tells me how/where. Words of advice are:

1) Before I began, I took out the middle seats and tumbled the rear seat. I layed all the parts out in the back of the van. I also opened both the power sliding doors before I began, since the first step is to disconnect the battery. One thing I forgot to do was to slide the power driver's seat all the way back before I began. I had to turn on the power later to do this to get the console in.

2) Fairly early in the process, the instructions tell you to move the gear selector to the D1 position so you can get the center trim panel off. There is a problem - you can't do this with the battery disconnected. I had to reconnect the battery, turn the ignition on to the accessory position, then I moved the gear selector (I was careful to set the emergency brake before I did this). Also, in the configuration, the gear selector would not go to D1, the farthest it would go was D4, but this was far enough. I would recommend doing this before you disconnect the battery.

3) One of the first things you do is to trace the template for where to cutout the headliner. The template does not go on as nicely as the instructions suggest - it lines up ok, but it is so big that it sags, no matter how tight I pulled the edges. This is what I did - I pulled the template as tight as I could, and used masking tape liberally around the edges to hold it in place. The center still sagged, so I pushed it flat against the ceiling on one side and started tracing. As I completed one part of the template, I taped the inside with masking tape (right over where I had just traced) to keep it flush, then went to the next section and pushed it flush. This worked perfectly - if I hadn't done this, it would have been very easy to get my tracing off and not cut correctly.

4) The single hardest part of the install was routing the harness from the center pillar to the screen itself. I used a wire coat hanger bent straight to pull the harness through the headliner. It took several attempts to get it to work. First of all, you really have to pull the headliner down along the edges to get things going (that's why they make you take off the sunvisor, vent, oh-shit handle, etc. - don't skip those steps). One thing to be very careful of - As you reach up under the headliner to help pull the harness through, there are a lot of metal ridges and stuff up there. Be careful - many of the edges are unfinished, and a razor sharp! I was concentrating on trying to pull the harness through, and didn't notice the how sharp the edges were until I pulled my hand out and it was bloody. I had several cuts from the metal, a couple of them pretty deep. Just be careful on this step.

5) One thing that confused me - when you remove the lower center console, they instruct you to remove a bolt from each side, which you later replace with a longer bolt. These bolts end up being one of the things the VCR brackets attach to. The problem is, the instructions make it look like these bolts go through the plastic trim piece for the lower center console. Well, they don't, and I missed them until I was ready to put in the brackets. The bolts in fact do not go through the trim piece - they are just below the trim piece and just above the carpet. If you put a VCR bracket in place, you can see where the bolt should be for it to attach to, and then it is obvious which bolt to remove and replace.

6) On our van (as I suspect most), the front floor mat is one piece that runs across the entire width of the van. I took this out to do the installation, and I thought I would have to remove it and get individual floor mats for each side, because the VCR console sticks out in the center. Well, as it turns out, the VCR console is raised quote a bit, and I was able to put the floor mat back in. It's a very tight fit under the VCR, but it does go in.

7) About the only thing I feel I messed up on - setting the frequency for the FM modulator. I just used the factory setting, figuring there wouldn't be any stations that low in the band. Well, when I turned everything on, there was a faint signal from some station on the channel. I checked all the other available stations, and in fact only 3-4 of them were open. Unfortunately, to change the frequency, you have to remove the console and the VCR from it's brackets, and that is a lot of work. So far, it doesn't appear to interfere with the VCR sound when you run it through the stereo, so we will probably just leave it. If it becomes a problem, I can change it later.

8) Something I discovered on our first trip with the system in place - get your kids used to using the wireless headphones! We ran it through the factory stereo for the first 15 minutes, and that was enough. If there's one thing worse than watching Barney, it's listening to Barney! Our 4 year old had no problem adjusting to the headphones. Our 1 year old just watches the video - she doesn't care that she can't hear it. Also, I found a handy place to store the headphones - both kids are in carseats, so we just flipped down the armrest and hang the headphones on them.

Overall, the system works great. The only problem we noticed, is it's hard to tell when a tape is rewound and we can start playing it, or if we want to wind it to a certain part, etc. I have decided we need to either a) teach my 4 year old to use the remote, so if he wants to watch a certain part, he can rewind it, or b) do the install to display the video on the nav system. I think this would be really cool - flip a switch to see the video on the navi screen, cue it up, then flip the switch and we're back to the navi. Not sure if I want to go through that hassle, at least for now.

Well, I hope this can be of help to someone.
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