Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Car Toys

I have a 1991 Vanagon Syncro with the original cassette deck radio. Yeah, right, being old, but I haven't had reason to replace with a CD-radio because the ride is so stiff, it rattles everything and I didn't want to put a CD player to that abuse.

But in recent years there are great versatile receivers with bluetooth, USB and other connections. I've been looking at them for the last 2-3 years and finally broke down to replace the radio with a new generation one from Alpine.

Remember it's a Syncro. It's noisy, windy, rattles and everything else, so it doesn't pay to put anything expensive in it and there isn't much room for larger or bigger speakers where the existing ones are located, so I did some homework and found some models I liked which Car Toys had in stock and could install.

So that's half the story. The other half is that Vanagon, and especially Syncro's, have twin batteries, the primary (starter) battery under the driver's seat and the auxillary one under the passenger's seat. They charge when driven but kept separate by a relay so can't run down the primary when the engine isn't running.

The auxillary battery takes over and runs everything one you shut off the ignition, so VW put the radio on the hot lead to the auxillary battery to work with the ignition off. The folks and techs at Car Toys know this and the sales rep told the installation tech not to wire the new one through the ignition, but as the old radio is installed.

Apparently he didn't hear or wasn't listening, and I watched him through the viewing window wire the radio through the ignition. I wondered why he was taking the ignition cover off and installing a wire from there to the dashboard, and true to form, I thought, "I hope he's not doing what I think he's doing."

Yeah, he was and did, and when he delivered it the radio didn't work with the ignition off. I wasn't happy and explained the situation to the tech. The manager finally intervened to say they'd fix it if I would wait 10 minutes, and they did fix it, but the extra wires from the ignition and fusebox deadend at the radio, wires I didn't ask for, didn't want and now have.

They're harmless and useless now, and it cost me an hour waiting for something they didn't need to do, and someday I'll remove. It was a straight replacement with adaptor harness and USB wire out the dashboard for the iPhone or iPod and another for the microphone, which I also didn't ask for, didn't want and is now tucked inside the dashboard.

Anyway, I like the new receiver to connect my iPhone and play my iTunes music library via bluetooth or USB, far better than the box of cassette tapes I kept in the van. And the folks at Car Toys were decent and did a good job so I don't really have a complaint, except if you get work done there make sure everyone understands exactly what you want before they start.

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