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Thread: Added Steering Wheel Controls & Tweeters to base model 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX

  1. #1
    Low Bitrate FordNoMore's Avatar
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    Added Steering Wheel Controls & Tweeters to base model 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX

    For my main 2008 Subaru Impreza WRX worklog, look here. Here I'll talk about the speaker and steering wheel control mods that are specific to a WRX.

    First, here she is:



    I love this car.

    I planned to install my own stereo equipment (mostly taken from my previous car), so I bought the base model WRX. I added steering wheel audio controls and door tweeters myself for cheap, normally part of a $2000 option package. If you want to do the same, here are the Subaru part numbers you'll need:

    94251FG060 & 070: "Cover gusset door RH & LH". (Tweeter trim panels.) $13 each.
    83154AG001: "Switch satellite". (Steering wheel buttons) $122
    023812000: "Flange nut" (Steering wheel nut) $1

    I'll also mention the plastic bezel around the clock. I bought a spare since I modified mine, but that's not part of this writeup.
    66208FG010 (Panel Clock U4) $16

    There is no standard tweeter mount in the tweeter trim.. I had to hack apart the back of the trim panel, jerry-rig a strap to hold the tweeters in place, and then glue the trim assembly together... But my Infinity Reference tweeters did fit, and in the end it looks totally clean. (Note I glued the trim together, but it still clips and unclips from the door normally.)





    The trim is polypropylene (PP) which is one of the hardest to bond plastics there is... The only thing I found that worked is 3M Scotch-Weld DP-8005. You can buy it at www.mcmaster.com. There's also a slower-curing version, which I might recommend. This stuff cured so quickly I could only work with a tiny bit at once. Stays rubbery for a day or two, but eventually gets rock hard.

    Even in the base model, there are wires running to the tweeter. However, these are skimpy 24 gage (I think) wires connected in parallel to the door speakers without a crossover, so I ran brand new speaker wires anyway. It's not too hard to run an extra speaker wire through the rubber boot in the door jamb.

    Also in the base model, the wiring for the steering wheel audio controls is all there. The switches are a drop-in replacement, and in the stereo wiring harness you'll find a Brown wire and Yellow wire that carry the signal. Of course, you'll need something to interpret the signal -- in my case, I programmed a PIC microcontroller, but you could also use something off the shelf like the PAC SWI-X Steering Wheel Audio Interface. (Cheaper at other websites.)

    For reference, here are the resistances you will measure between the Brown and Yellow wires:

    Mute - 22 ohm
    Vol up - 90 ohm
    Vol dn - 200 ohm
    Mode - 360 ohm
    Seek up - 690 ohm
    Seek dn - 1.15 ohm
    Nothing pressed - 4.7k ohm

    You do have to remove the steering wheel to replace the switches. The service manual does not call for replacement of the steering wheel nut, but for safety I did so anyway. (My old Ford Explorer did require replacement, which is why it occurred to me.) It's only a buck, so I splurged.

    If you don't have a service manual (which, by the way, you can access online through Subaru for not too much money) here's the procedure:

    1. Make sure the steering wheel is oriented straight so you can get it back on correctly when you're done.
    2. Disconnect the car battery and wait at least 20 seconds.
    3. Remove the airbag via the T30 Torx bolts on the sides.
    4. Disconnect the airbag from the wire connectors at the rear of the airbag itself. There are little yellow clips you pop up with a tiny screwdriver, and then the connectors will come off easily.
    5. Mark the steering wheel orientation, and then use a steering wheel puller to remove it. (I didn't have the right kind, and on a brand new car I was able to get it off by just pulling really really hard... but I nearly damaged the airbag wiring, so I don't recommend it.)
    6. Pretty self-explanatory from here... Disconnect the cruise control switch, unscrew the cruise control and trim panel from the rear of the wheel, screw in your new cruise control and audio button panels, and put everything back together.
    7. Important: Tighten the steering wheel nut to 39Nm or 28.8 ft-lb of torque. Make sure the steering wheel is fully seated. Mine took some wiggling.
    8. Probably less important: airbag screws should be tightened to 10Nm or 7.2ft-lb
    9. Sweet!! Steering wheel audio controls!



    Next was the door speakers. I originally considered leaving the stock rear speakers, but after seeing what the stock speakers looked like, I definitely decided to replace them all! After seeing them, I'm amazed they sounded as good as they did, which still isn't saying much.

    Sadly, it's a completely non-standard mount, so you pretty much have to make your own plywood adapter plate unless someday there's an aftermarket option. (I found none when I looked.) I took some crummy pictures with my phone because my camera was broken, but hopefully you get the idea...

    I cut pieces from plastic milk jugs to protect the speaker a little from rain. The stock speakers had a little overhang, so I tried to copy it.








    Front door:


    Rear door:


    Also, you see I found room to mount the crossovers in the front doors. It was a tight squeeze, and I had to position it juuuuust right, but it did fit without much hassle.

    I hope this helps and inspires! For more on the rest of the Car PC install, check out the link at the top of this post.

  2. #2
    Constant Bitrate Stealth915's Avatar
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    Wow, that's a nice install and even better writeup. I don't have a WRX but I'm sure this will be very helpful for someone that does.

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    Low Bitrate FordNoMore's Avatar
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    Thanks man. (Or woman. I guess I shouldn't assume.)

    I updated the post to include a link to my main worklog.

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    Wow! Nice job and thanks for the part numbers. I just bought a silver 2008 WRX hatchback and installed the iPod interface. I wanted to install the steering wheel audio controls. If I have a stock HU all I need are the steering wheel buttons right?

    Thanks for your great work!

    Matt

  5. #5
    Low Bitrate FordNoMore's Avatar
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    Umm... I wouldn't guarantee that steering wheel controls will work with the stock stereo. The wiring and connectors are all there, but I don't know that the stereo is programmed to accept those inputs. (Let alone if it even has the circuitry for it.) I meant to test that with my stereo before I ripped it apart, but I didn't.

    You can test it though! If you can pull out your stereo with it still connected, tap into the brown and yellow remote wires and connect an appropriate resistor between them. (See the values I listed above.) Or alternatively, you could pull the airbag off and connect a resistor to the remote wires at that end. Let us know if it works - I'm sure many other people would like to do that too.

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    U should really consider putting some sound deadening material in your doors, it will make your speakers sound a whole lot better.

    BTW. Nice install!

  7. #7
    Low Bitrate FordNoMore's Avatar
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    Thanks. You know the sad part is that I actually bought some and it's sitting here, but it's lower on the priority list than cleaning up the computer in the trunk.

  8. #8
    Low Bitrate FordNoMore's Avatar
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    Got a PM I thought I'd reply to here:
    Hey,
    I saw your thread and have been wanting to do the same thing to my WRX. I just wanted to confirm that there is no way to do the install w/o removing the steering wheel?
    That scares the hell out of me and is probably a deal breaker for me.
    Yeah, the steering wheel definitely has to come off to get to the screws for the button panels. And the airbag DEFINITELY has to come off anyway (if that's what you're worried about) in order to access the electrical connector.

    Don't let me talk you into something over your head... but if you use the proper tools (such as a torque wrench and a proper steering wheel puller), it's actually really simple. Make sure you disconnect the battery and wait a few minutes first though. You don't want the airbag going off in your face.

    Good luck.

  9. #9
    Low Bitrate Serialk1llr's Avatar
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    Hey mang, did you go with the Infinity Reference 6020cs in the front and 6022i in the back for your speakers? If so thats the same setup I'm looking at.
    Current Rig
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  10. #10
    Newbie SVXdc's Avatar
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    Nice write-up.

    Just thought I should add...
    Quote Originally Posted by FordNoMore View Post
    2. Disconnect the car battery and wait at least 20 seconds.
    If you're working on a car and do not have a manufacturer's service manual that tells you otherwise, you should wait 10 or even 30 minutes. Some airbag systems hold a charge for an extended amount of time, so they can still operate even after your battery connection is severed in a collision.

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