Saturday, March 15, 2014

Toyota XM ... and how they tried to screw me

Greetings all,

I know it has been quite some time since I made a blog post, but it has been quit a busy year for me. Back in October, 2012 (I was still living in Hawaii) I purchased a brand new Toyota Tacoma, TRD OffRoad. It has been an amazing truck and I cannot say anything bad about it. However, I am going to on a bit of a rant about Toyota.

<BEGIN RANT>

I purchased the truck knowing that I would be moving to Colorado, so I got the JBL Audio system with XM pre-installed, or so I thought. Shorty after getting the truck I shipped it to Seattle, Washington then drove it to Colorado, where I am today. However, The XM Radio just consistently displayed "Check Antenna". No big deal, I thought to myself, when I get to Colorado I will have a dealer look at it. That is when the trouble began.

After three trips, over a period of several weeks, to a Toyota Dealership in Pueblo, Colorado not only was it not fixed, but the in dash navigation had stopped working as well. Since I was in the process of moving still to Colorado Springs, Colorado any way, I waited until the move was done before taking it back to another dealership, this time in Colorado Springs.

I must say this dealership has been amazing, even if Toyota has been trying to screw me over. Not only did they fix the in dash navigation, they also added a bunch of applications for EnTune, but I can't use any of them. My Tacoma's VIN starts with the number "3", meaning it was made in Mexico. Toyota will not allow you to register a vehicle with their EnTune Web Portal (to actually use the apps) if: 1) Your vehicle was manufactured outside of the continental United States, or 2) You purchased your vehicle outside of the continental United States. After several e-mails with corporate, they just refuse to do it. So to them I say, "FUCK YOU!".

The dealership in Colorado Springs also had me bring all of my paper work from when I purchased the truck. Seemed an odd request, but I did it. The dealership in Hawaii, the one I purchased the truck from, had apparently installed correct head unit, the correct XM receiver and every piece of wiring needed for XM to work, except the actual XM Antenna. After they went through all of my paperwork, it was discovered it was ordered from the factory this way. Really? Seriously what the fuck? Who does that?

Unfortunately for me, since it was not ordered from the factory with an actual XM antenna, they could not just install one. I would have to pay for it to the tune $470 dollars.

Nope.

Instead I just had them fix what they could and I went on my way. I do not blame the dealership in Colorado Springs for anything. These guys have been amazing and I still get my Tacoma serviced there. The mechanics in Pueblo, Colorado suck ass. My first clue should have been when they said they had never seen an audio setup like mine. Go figure.

However, the dealership in Hawaii screwed me on the antenna and never mentioned this "EnTune" thing. Had I known about all this I probably would have waited to purchase my vehicle on the mainland.

So, if you live ANYWHERE outside of the continental United States and there is any possibility at all you may move here, DO NOT BUY A TOYOTA! Wait until you get here.

<END RANT>

So now for the solution to get my XM Working.

I purchased a new OEM XM Antenna online and waited. It arrived a few days later and I quickly set to work. In fact the entire process took less than two hours.


The first step of course is to remove the SharkFin Antenna from the vehicle. There are several sites to show you how to do this. This is not one of them. In the above picture you can see the original SharkFin and the OEM XM Antenna along with two SMA connectors from Radio Shack and a male-to-male adapter. We will start with the OEM XM Antenna, we need to take it apart.


Once you get the outer casing off, there is a plastic mounting plate that also must be removed.


Here you can see the actual antenna module. It's just a small green circuit board with the module attached to it. In order to remove the module from the housing, you need to take the grey plastic connector mount off.


This can be done fairly easily with a small flat tip screw driver. If you want to save the connector do this, otherwise you can just cut the end of the cable off. Unfortunately for me, the Pueblo dealership destroyed my connect for my GPS antenna, so the Colorado Springs dealership used a non-standard connector to fix it, thus I needed to put a new end piece connector on.


The above picture shows the new connector. Not exactly sure why they didn't use the correct ones, but I decided to press on anyway. It was this discovery that lead me to Radio Shack for the SMA connectors. Radio Shack comes in very handy at times.


After removing the cover for the SharkFin antenna, this is what it looks like on the inside. As you can see, no XM antenna is present.


After removing the four (4) screws for the GPS antenna, you can just move it out of the way. This will allow you to push the XM cable through and get everything lined up.


It just kind of sits there. The fit is actually very good.


Reinstall the GPS antenna and so far so good.


There is supposed to be a plastic clip that is used to hold the XM antenna in place. The one from the OEM Antenna would not work, so I improvised, with copious amounts of hot glue.

WARNING: DO NOT GET HOT GLUE ON THE ANTENNA MODULE. THIS MAY CAUSE DAMAGE. ONLY APPLY GLUE TO THE GREEN CIRCUT BAORD AND THE METAL INSIDE THE SHARKFIN ANTENNA.

I got a couple small drips and I removed them quickly. I am not saying it will damage the antenna, but why take the chance.




This is what it should like after reassembly. If you decide to keep the stock connector, you can end here. Just put the grey plastic cover back on and everything else should be fine. Simply put your antenna back on your Tacoma and call it a day. Otherwise read on.

Before snipping the end from the XM Cable, I tested the Resistance value with a multimeter. THIS IS AN IMPORTANT STEP.


With the meter set on 2K I got a reading of .381 ohms. I tested center pin to outer shell. Now I should get the close to, or the same reading, after installing the new connector. Anything lower means a bad connection. The SMA connector is not installed properly and will have be done again.


After you peal back the insulation, you will see a copper braid. Remove most of this, but leave some exposed. Under that is a milky white plastic. Remove that to expose the solid copper center wire. Then install the SMA connector.


It looks good, but how does to test? You guessed it. .381 ohms. A perfect install, that is, after 6 or 7 tries to get it right. Make sure you test before clamping everything down.

After that, you need to do the same thing to the antenna wire inside the vehicle, under the head liner. This wire (sorry no pics) has a soft multi-strand core that made it read pain to work with. I almost destroyed the center pin for the SMA connector getting it on.


Once completed, connect the two connectors with the male-to-male adapter after you remount the SharkFin Antenna. Cover with electrical tape and your good to go.

My XM finally works! It was a needlessly long and equally needlessly arduous journey, but now its done. To Toyota of America I say, GO FUCK YOURSELF IN THE ASS WITH A SHOVEL. Of course, if they should happen to read this it will probably void some warranty or another, because Fuck You that's why.