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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
This thread is intended to help those attempting to install an aftermarket radio in a 2007+ Saab 9-3. The process is actually pretty easy, but it can be confusing with the level of information on this board.

I originally posted my question here on what the proper harnesses are to purchase: http://www.saabcentral.com/forums/showthread.php?t=613282

There are several options. One of the more popular options appears to be the Connect2 adapter, however after researching this I found it had several drawbacks. Namely its amplifier interface introduced hissing and volume that was too high even at the lowest setting.

In the end I settled on the InCarTec setup. This write up focuses primarily on that harness setup.

Some common questions:

  • Does my Saab have an amp?
    • Even if your 9-3 is not labeled as a premium sound system or BOSE, its very likely it has an amp. The fujitsu radio that GM installed on 2007+ Saab's typically has an amp. The easiest place to look in in the right compartment in the trunk. Pull that out and there should be an amp in there. If there is - you definitely want a harness with amp retention capabilities.
In, general, here's what you'll need for an install:

  1. A harness to connect to the car's CANBUS system
    • This can either be a basic one
    • Or one with Steering Wheel Controls
    • Options:
      • InCarTec: 20-170 is the basic harness w/o SWC
      • InCarTec: 29-UC050-SAAB is the harness with Steering Wheel Control retention. (You will need a patch lead for your specific radio.)
      • Connects2: CTSSA001.2, for SWC controls, it includes amp retention, but some people report issues
  2. (Optional) An amplifier integration device. Highly recommended for cars with factory amps.
    • This is used to filter the amp signal from the car to the head unit
    • Options:
      • InCarTec: 20-237 ISO to ISO amp retention: This will allow you to connect the car amp to the high side amp of your radio. You can use both your radio's internal amp and the car - resulting in higher power output to the speakers and better sound quality. The InCarTec setup includes gain control and built in ground loop isolators.
      • Connect2: The same CTSSA001.2 adapter does allow for amp integration, but it does not have gain control or ground loop isolators. Some users have reported poor sound quality with this setup. If using a Connects2 you can add ground loop isolators and (if need be) connect RCA adapters to attach to the pre-outs* on your radio, rather than the direct speaker output. *You will lose the benefit of the built in radio amp in this config.
  3. A radio trim kit consisting of:
    • A bezel / trim surround. The radio you are taking out is larger than a standard double din and you'll need a trim piece to fill that gap.
    • A double din cage to mount the new radio
    • Options:
      • InCarTec: 51-012 is the cage, 50-311 is the trim surround
      • Spiral installations: also makes a trim / cage kit
  4. An atenna adapter: A Fakra Aerial cable adapter is required. This is to connect to the factory antenna
    • Options:
      • InCarTec: 21-106
  5. OR just buy the complete kit that has everything in it. This is what I did. Its cheaper and way easier than sourcing everything separately.
    • Options:
      • InCarTec: FK-311
      • I found a retailer on Ebay: liquidice-2008 that had the best price and was great to deal with
Installation:

Step 1: Remove center vent
The factory radio is very easy to remove. You'll first need to pop out the center vent. Be careful others have reported that the vent can collapse into several pieces as the vent directional plastic pieces can fall apart.

I had no such issue with taking he vent out. I read up and followed other users advise. DO NOT pull on the vent knobs and use a several gift cards / credit cards to slide the unit out.

The center vent is held in with 6 plastic tabs. 3 on top and 3 on the bottom. I found gently prying with trim removal tool and inserting several credit cars throughout made it very easy to get it out.

Pointing to where one of the tabs are with a small screwdriver. Using the trim tool to pry lightly on the vent. And then inserting the credit card in between.



This is the vent piece partially out. You can see the top 3 plastic tabs. The bottom 3 are in similar locations.



Step 2: Remove radio
The radio is held in with 2 torx screws. Both at the top. Once those are removed the radio just pulls out. (Mine require a little bit of force.)

After which you'll remove two connectors from the back of the factory radio.



The part number and pin configuration of the radio that came out of my Saab. (For reference.)



Step 3: Attach mounting cage to the new radio.
The radio I'm putting in the Saab is an older JCV Navigation unit I had. It used to reside in my daily driver. Its a great unit. The model is KW-NT3HDT and they can be had pretty cheap used on EBay. I ended up buying a Parrot Asteriod SMART (the only Android based HU not made in China, as of this writing) and installing that in my daily driver. So the JVC came out of the SUV for transplant into the Saab.

Here is the InCarTec trim and cage kit. Great little setup and very solid. Also is extremely adjustable and allowed a perfect flush mount of my radio. It even included a single DIN adapter.



Attaching the outer bezel to the cage.



Attaching the side mounts (the silver piece, with 2 screws) and the copper colored adjustment tabs. This took several attempts to get right where I wanted. The cooper tabs control how much the radio stick out or sits in the trim and I wanted it perfectly flush. I also found that it works best when centered. The picture is slightly wrong. I ended up moving the metal piece to be centered on the radio, so the cooper colored pieces were centered on the trim.

The metal cage then slides over those mounts and is locked in place by the cooper colored pieces. The plastic trim then goes over it all.



Completely slid over the radio.



Once you have it sitting flush and where you like it. Insert the smaller plastic trim piece between the outer bezel and the cage. This will fill in the gap.

My radio has a removable face. This is the completed cage and trim w/o the radio face.



Here's the radio with the face on. Be sure to only add that small plastic trim after you are sure you have the radio flush mounted where you like. That little piece locks everything in.

Also, not picture are the two metal release tabs that allow you to pop the radio in an out of the cage. (Its pretty self explanatory when you see it.)

 

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Discussion Starter #2 (Edited)
Continued.. hit image max.

Step 4: Create the radio harness
My JVC unit does not utilize ISO connector. To alleviate this I purchased a Metra 70-9401 harness. Its a universal ISO block adapter to wires. It will allow you to connect the InCarTec amp interface to your radio. Many newer radios have ISO connectors. Also, you could splice the amp interface output directly to your radio harness. I wanted a clean setup and one that would allow for easy removal if I choose. The Metra harness is also quite cheap, I sourced mine on Ebay for $9 shipped.

Above is the JVC radio harness, below is the Metra adapter to convert it to an ISO block connector. I prefer to use quick connect connectors (butt splices are also fine) just in case I made a mistake.



My JVC unit had the wiring diagram on top. I labeled each wire with masking tape on the JVC harness to make my life easier. I then followed the standard ISO wiring diagram that came with the Metra adapter. (Also exampled below). And attached the corresponding wire from the JVC harness (power, ground, speakers, etc) the the Metra harness.

Example ISO wire diagram.



Completed Speaker connections between the JVC harness and Metra Universal ISO adapter



Completed harness creation. The top zip tied part is power, ground, etc. The bottom zip tied wire are the speaker connections.

NOTE: The unhooked wire label "power antenna" on my head unit this is a 12V accessory power source. I am using it to run a backup camera. Its not a required connection. Also NOTE the blue wire in the harness to the blue / white wire on my JVC adapter. I am using this as the "power on / remote" signal for the amp.... more on that later.

NOTE: That I have two wires from the JVC unit connected to the 1 black wire on the Metra harness. This is ground. On the JVC, simply grounding the parking brake wire is enough to defeat the parking brake by-pass.




Step 5: Attach Radio Harness to the amp integration interface (the blue box)
The amp integration interface is the "brain" between your head unit's amplified signal and those of your factory amp - ultimately pushing power to your speakers.

The unit has 4 little holes. Inside each hold is a tiny slot that can be turned with a small screw driver. These adjust your gain on each channel. (More on that later.)

There are two harnesses that connect to each end of the amp integration interface. On each end is a white block, resulting in ISO male connectors on one and ISO female connectors on the other. There is only one way to connect these plugs to the blue box / amp integration device. It took me some time to determine as the instructions were a little lacking. But one side as 2 more pins than the other. The larger white part of the harness only goes on one side. Sorry, I didn't take any pics of this.

Attach the radio harness ISO block (or direct splice if you did this) to the amp integration interface. ISO connections can only go one way, but be careful to seed them correctly and that all the pins are properly lined up and connect.

Your completed connection between the amp integration interface and your radio harness should look like the below. ALSO picture at the top of the picture is the connection from the amp interface to the harness that connects to the car and includes steering wheel controls.



Example on how to connect an ISO block. They are color coded.



Step 6: Attach harness that will go to the car / steering wheel controls to the other end of the amp interface

Shown at top center of this picture, next to my keys, is the harness that connects to the car. It is attached to the Amp Integration interface. And you'll note the two open connectors. Those are what will attach to the two plugs within the Saab's dash. (The ones you removed from the factory radio.)

Also shown is another harness for my JVC unit. This one is used for a backup camera.



Step 7: Attach your patch lead to the Steering Wheel Control interface (black box)

My unit being a JVC the output from the patch lead is a 3.5mm head phone jack. This converts the cars steering wheel controls to inputs the JVC unit can interpret.

Also shown in this picture is the reverse signal connection. THIS DOES NOT WORK FOR MANUAL DRIVE CARS... as I later found out. I'll detail further down where to source a reverse signal if you are installing a backup camera in a manual Saab. It works fine for automatics.

Also note the amplifier turn on wire, on either end of the amp integration unit (the white wire w/blue stripe) is typically not needed. The blue wire that run through the harness can be attached to the remote turn on lead on your aftermarket radio.

Completed harness:




Step 8: (optional) Sourcing an Illumination wire
In you want dimming capability, unfortunately the InCarTec harness (though it says it has an illumination wire) does not provide dimming for US SPEC CARS.

US cars have the DRLs on - essentially the headlights are on all the time. The signal that the InCarTec harness is taking off the canbus is simply a headlight on signal, it is not related to the position of the actual headlight switch and the signal that tells your night panel and cigarette lighter to illuminate.

You can however easily source a headlight switch 12V source else where in the car. The easiest is via the cigarette lighter. DO NOT SOURCE ILLUMINATION FROM THE NIGHTPANEL. I made that mistake 1st, based on reading another post I saw on here and the fact that my cigarette lighter did not illuminate. Evidentially my cigarette lighter bulb was out (apparently they burn out easily). I will post later in this thread my error trying to source from the night panel, so you don't copy me.

Remove the cigarette lighter tray, by taking out the rubber insert and popping out a plastic tab located on the inner left (drivers) side. While holding the tab out, pull on the unit. It slides out quite easily and with little resistance. Sorry I don't have any pics of the removal.

Below is the yellow wire that connects into the cigarette lighter illumination bulb. This is a pic of a test fitting. Ultimately I used a vampire / wire tap to run an additional wire and connect to the orange illumination wire - directly on my JVC radio.



Step 9: Connect your harness to the car and install the radio in the dash

Here is the radio hooked up getting ready to be installed.



Here is the radio connected to the car



Here is the completed install. Before fully installing you should test that everything works and sounds appropriate. If not, as was the case with me, you may need to adjust the gains. (Detailed below)



Some additional notes, and pictures not shown.

- WIRES behind the dash
It can get a little tight back there. What with the massive harness and several adapter boxes. I found the area to the right of where the radio would sit, near the glove box to be a good space to put most of the harness in.

- Adjusting Amp Gain
Before fully mounting the radio I tested it. When I first plugged it in the audio was overly loud on the lowest setting and there was hissing. My heart sank... but then I adjusted the gain on the amp harness and it sounds perfect. Zero hiss, no humming, not overly loud. The speakers are hooked up to the amp side of my head unit (not the pre-outs). I get the benefit of using the radio's built in amp, as well as the car's. It sounds awesome.

- MIC:
I purchased an noise canceling mic to help with convertible noise. I mounted on the steering wheel column and ran the wires between the leather surround (that attached to the CIM and moves when you adjust the steering column) and the dash. This was very easy to do.

- GPS:
I let the GPS sit in the dash, its not mounted anyway and it gets a great signal. Its placed just above the radio in the dash and under the center dash speaker.

Hope this helps everyone. I'll follow up with some pics on how to install a backup camera and how NOT to take apart the night panel.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Backup cam install

In this post I'll cover what I did to install the backup camera. As mentioned earlier in the above posts, the InCarTec harness does not work correctly for sending a reverse signal on a manual car. (It works fine on an auto and you wont need to find a separate source for a reverse signal.)

This is somewhat specific to the convertible, but has components general to all Saabs (how to take apart the trunk, glove box, etc.)

I sourced the reverse signal from the positive signal on the reverse lights in the trunk.

Power is provided to the camera via 12V from the head unit. Wired to the "power antenna" wire on my JVC. I prefer wiring the camera to a constant 12V regulated source, than to the backup lights as I've seen others do.

Ground comes from a ground screw I had easy access to, but could be grounded anywhere.

The backup camera is an Auto-vox 600TV lines camera. Its an ebay special. But I like it because it has a mount that can go behind the license plate and a CCD sensor w/a glass lens. For ~$30 its a perfectly fine camera.

Camera installed.



Step 1: Take apart the trunk
There are a few videos on YouTube that help. But in summary:

1. Pop all the plastic rivets off by pushing on the center to remove the carpet covering.

2. Remove the 3 nuts holding on each of the left and right tail lights.

3. Pop out the 2 bulbs from each tail light (total 4) and set aside. Now that tail light simply slide out.

4. With the tail lights out, you not have access to remove the center trim piece that has the rear Saab badge on it. Its held on with 4 nuts.

Pic of carpet down and tail lights off.



As you can tell from the 1st picture, mounted the camera to the license frame and tucked the camera wire under the center trim piece (the one with the badge on it.)

5. You can not put the center piece back on and the tail lights.


Step 2 (optional): Tap reverse signal from the backup light. Manual trans specific.

For my install, having a manual I need to tap the blue wire from the backup light.



Step 3: Run wires into the cabin.

You'll need to run the signal wire to the head unit. This particular camera also allowed the power wire to run all the way to the HU (not all backup cameras have enough power wire for this).

I used the grommet in the trunk to enter into the cabin of the car. Having a convertible made it pretty easy. I half opened the top for these steps.

I also ran the wire along the passenger side, as I came in behind the glove box (super easy to remove) to gain access to the radio in the dash.

Working on the wiring:



Camera wiring already ran through the grommet from the trunk, and pushed behind carpet trim



Running the wire under the collapsing storage compartment that the top folds into. This was a good place that would not interfere with top operation.



Pushing up on the collapsible storage box and running the wire underneath.



Wire has been run under the box and out of the way of any hinges. Its been zip tied to an existing wire and ran up the back of the rear seat.



Wire pops out just behind the passenger side head rest and I've started to push between seat cushion and trim. At this point I've partially collapsed the top and checked that the wiring clears top operation.



Wire comes out at the bottom of the seat cushion. (There is a torx bolt holding the bottom of the seat cushion on that you can remove to gain a little more access when running the wire). I then ran it under the passenger door sill trim. That trim pops up. I used some trim tools to pry it up.



Step 4: Remove Glove Box

The glove box is very easy to remove. It's held on by 5 screws. One in each corner and one in the center at the back of the inside of the glove box. Once removed the entire box easily comes out.

With the glove box removed, run the wire under the remaining floor trim and then behind the glove box.



From there you can easily access the radio compartment. I used some zip ties to route the wiring behind the glove box and into the dash.



Then hookup 12V to the connection on your radio (again I used the power antenna lead off my JVC) and connect the yellow RCA camera signal to the correct input on your radio. Reverse will either come from your existing wire on the harness, or if you are like me w/a manual car you will have run the reverse wire along the same path as your camera wire.

That's pretty much it.
 

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Discussion Starter #4 (Edited)
How NOT to take apart the night panel

As mentioned in my earlier posts I originally tried sourcing a 12V illumination source from the night panel. The InCarTec illumination wire does not work on US Spec cars with DRL.

Alternatively I suppose you could disable the DRLs with a tech 2. Then likely the harness illumination signal wire would work, since this would be the Euro light configuration.

But anyway - there's very few dash lights (two only in fact, the night panel and the cigarette lighter) that comes on, when the headlight switch is turned to "headlight". The remaining dash lights are (annoyingly) on all the time.

Since my cigarette lighter didn't light up (a blown bulb, apparently common) I assumed it best to grab from the night panel. Boy was I wrong. Here is what NOT to do when disassembling the night panel, in hopes someone else does not make my same mistake.

The nightpanel switch is removed by pushing a tab on the back of the blue housing from BEHIND the switch. Its accessible when the radio is already out. Me, being the genius I am, assumed the panel was removed from the front. And similar to the vent removal I pried slightly with my trim removal tool and inserted a credit card.

This brought the face plate off and an EXPLOSION of tiny little plastic pieces ensued. As well as close to an hour trying to find where they exploded to in the car.

Here is the resulting carnage. The face plate off the switch and all the pieces somewhere in the car.




This is the back of the face plate



And this the rubber piece that creates a connection when between pushing a switch and the circuit board



BEHIND the faceplate and each of the switches are tiny little plastic pieces



Each one of these plastic pieces are varying lengths in pairs. And EVERY SO SLIGHTLY different.



After a TON of guessing and checking, here is the proper assembly for those tiny plastic pieces. There are 10 pieces. Note 2 are placed on the side which really confused me at first. Likely because I have a convertible and my switch configuration is different.



Reattached the rubber piece and put everything back together. Hopefully you won't waste several hours of your life like I did. (Putting it together, plugging it in, seeing what button did or did not work.) At least its all good now. And after all that - there would have been no easy way to pull 12V off the harness. Its a mess of wires that control stability control and airbag warning lights. Not something I wanted to mess with.

Get 12V dimmer off the cigarette lighter. Soooooo much easier.
 

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Excellent write up...Great job!

Question: I'm not an electrical guy...but what is the orange "splice" box connector you used to connect to the reverse light in the trunk? That looks so much cleaner and easier to splice two sets of wires together than what I was doing with a larger butt connector to allow for both sets in the same butt connector.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Excellent write up...Great job!

Question: I'm not an electrical guy...but what is the orange "splice" box connector you used to connect to the reverse light in the trunk? That looks so much cleaner and easier to splice two sets of wires together than what I was doing with a larger butt connector to allow for both sets in the same butt connector.
Thanks!

I know them as "vampire" connectors.



But I think the real name is quick connect, scotchlock, or T-taps.

I personally like the crimp kind that I have pictured, but they are all pretty similar. You can get 'em just about anywhere. I think I bought a pack at Lowes.
 

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excellent write up!

I really like the double din bracket you have, it integrates perfectly into the interior trim. Well done.
 

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So, I'll update my own thread with info, but wanted to say thanks for your thread too. I got the Incartec pieces in, swapped out the Connects2, and now all is good. The best piece is the ISO to ISO amp unit. Same thing as you, I had static/hiss but dialing it back a bit and now the audio is great!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
So, I'll update my own thread with info, but wanted to say thanks for your thread too. I got the Incartec pieces in, swapped out the Connects2, and now all is good. The best piece is the ISO to ISO amp unit. Same thing as you, I had static/hiss but dialing it back a bit and now the audio is great!
Hey that's awesome! Glad to hear it!
 

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Nice Write up

I have a 9-5, so I am not sure if everything is compatible.

However, if I could get rid of the factory navigation and add Garmin (which my wife loves), have a radio and ability to play CDs from the factory CD changer, I would be set.

Or, if I could just add Garmin to the factory setup, I would be fine. My wife HATES the GM NAV.
 

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Amazing write-up. I have been all over the place trying to source the right parts.

One problem though, I can't find anyone that sells InCarTec FK-311, or any InCarTec parts in the US. Can you point me where I can get the kit? The website sells it but with shipping the kit wil be around $230. Is this reasonable? The HU I'm installing is $500.

Thanks
 

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Amazing write-up. I have been all over the place trying to source the right parts.

One problem though, I can't find anyone that sells InCarTec FK-311, or any InCarTec parts in the US. Can you point me where I can get the kit? The website sells it but with shipping the kit wil be around $230. Is this reasonable? The HU I'm installing is $500.

Thanks
Check UK Ebay as well. They'll still ship international. There's a site/seller named Rudymods in the UK that sells the full kits.
 

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Check UK Ebay as well. They'll still ship international. There's a site/seller named Rudymods in the UK that sells the full kits.
Thanks. Was able to get it with a combo of connects2 and ICT parts.

Now- were you able to retain and use the voice control button on the steering? Next and prev tracks?
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Amazing write-up. I have been all over the place trying to source the right parts.

One problem though, I can't find anyone that sells InCarTec FK-311, or any InCarTec parts in the US. Can you point me where I can get the kit? The website sells it but with shipping the kit wil be around $230. Is this reasonable? The HU I'm installing is $500.

Thanks
I had listed liquidice-2008 as the ebay retailer I dealt with for the FK-311 kit by In Car Tec. Looks like he's still selling them. Its currently $190 w/$15 international shipping. So $205 and includes the patch lead.

That's a good price for a kit that has amp retention w/gain adjustment, the patch lead, steering wheel controls, and all the harasses / trim pieces / mounts as well.

Good time to buy from the UK too, as the exchange rate is very good.
 

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Any head unit?

Hi guys, Saab 9-3 newbie here. I've read through this thread and I think I might actually be able to pull this off by myself. I have a right-hand drive (Australia) 2007 Linear convertible and I would like to replace the head unit with the Sony XAV-AX100 if possible. Is there any reason why I wouldn't be able to follow the instructions in this thread to install the Sony in my car?
 

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Actual double din better?

Would the Pioneer AVH-4200NEX which is an actual double din be better? Or doesn't it matter?
 
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