steering wheel audio control adapters?
Steering Wheel Audio Control Adapters
Get a new stereo and keep your steering wheel controls
The steering wheel audio controls included in many factory systems let you keep your eyes on the road, and put control of your radio right at your fingertips. If you're considering replacing your factory radio with an upgraded aftermarket receiver, adding a steering wheel control adapter lets you keep the full functionality and convenience of your steering wheel controls.
The two major brands that produce steering wheel audio control adapters are PAC (Pacific Accessory Corporation) and Axxess (owned by Metra). For both brands, adding the adapter to your new car stereo is done in two stages: installation and programming.
For the most straightforward installation, install your steering wheel adapter and aftermarket stereo at the same time. You'll be able to test the steering wheel controls before you put the finishing touches on the stereo installation. If you already have an aftermarket stereo installed, you'll need to pull it out of your dash to install the steering wheel control adapter.
Installing one of these adapters can be a daunting task. The instructions that come with your adapter are adequate, but we recommend downloading more detailed vehicle-specific instructions from PAC or Axxess. Both manufacturers also offer online instructional videos and installation tips.
There is some wire splicing involved. If you're comfortable making a few cuts into your stereo's wires, this is a great project for a do-it-yourselfer. And when you buy from Crutchfield, our tech support is available 7 days a week to walk you through the installation.
We should mention that some vehicles are wired differently than others and will require an additional interface (such as the SWI-CAN) for the adapter made by PAC. This is needed to translate the factory control signals into something the PAC adapter can understand. If there's an adapter available from Axxess for the same vehicle, then it would be a less-expensive alternative.
|A PAC steering wheel control adapter installed in a 2004 Ford F-150 Supercrew (click to enlarge)|
Soldering is recommended for the most secure connection, and is required for many of these installations. See our Car Stereo Installation Guide for soldering tips. You can minimize the amount of soldering by using Posi-Products™ wiring connectors. They're as secure as soldering, but much, much easier to use.
Some steering wheel adapters require you to manually assign a function to each of your steering wheel control buttons. The instructions that come with your adapter will show you how to do this.
Many newer steering wheel adapters have an auto-detect mode, so it'll program itself to transmit the right signals from your steering wheel controls. If auto-detect mode doesn't work to your satisfaction, you'll still have the option of programming the adapter manually.
One neat advantage to manual programming is that you can choose to assign functions to the buttons on your steering wheel that are custom to your needs. For example, let's say your steering wheel controls have only four buttons: Track Up, Track Down, Volume Up, and Volume Down. Maybe you prefer controlling volume using your radio's volume knob, and you're a big local radio fan. During programming, you can assign the Volume Up, Volume Down buttons on your steering wheel controls to do something else, like skip through radio presets. This option is not available with all aftermarket car stereo brands, so you'll want to do some research ahead of time to make sure your desired preset change will work.
How do I find the right one?
Contact one of our expert advisors for help choosing the right adapter to work with your car and your new car stereo. They can also answer any questions you have about the installation and give you some idea about how difficult it'll be — some vehicles are easier than others. You can reach them at 1-888-955-6000 or via chat or email.