July 12, 2009
smart car modification: installing 12v accessory outlet

One of my biggest complaints with the smart car is the woeful lack of dc outlets. There is one port located underneath the dash in the middle of the car, above the cup holders. I have yet to discern why exactly car companies think it’s a great idea to put the outlets near the cup holders. The cups always end up blocking access to the outlets, or the outlets get sticky from spilled drink.

Anyway, I have one outlet and two devices that need said outlet. One is my ipod, which is constantly plugged in because I use this ipod aux input adapter/charger. It bypasses the internal amp in the ipod and makes for much better sound quality than plugging the aux cable into the headphone jack. Since that needs to be plugged in constantly, when my blackberry dies (oh, and it dies quite frequently. I’m terrible at keeping it charged.), I either have to ride in silence or tough it out with the radio. This is entirely unacceptable to me, so I took it upon myself to remedy this issue.

I know that I could just buy a dc splitter, but there are a few reasons I opted against it. The main being the location of the aux jack in the glove box. It only makes sense to have the ipod charger also in the glove box. There’s nothing more embarrassing than having people want to look at the inside of your car and having your dash be a gigantic mangled mass of wires, and on top of that, there’s the whole theft issue. So, installing an alternate dc jack in the glove box it was.

There are two ways to do this, one being to buy a ponytail adapter (part #211 545 13 01. $4-5)from smart with the proper terminal(part #011 545 84 26. $2-3). I opted out of this because it was going to cost more than $7, not including the wiring and fuse which you’d still have to buy. And none of the Mercedes dealerships around here had either part in stock. More info about using the proper parts at evilution.

I saw on 451s that there was a much cheaper way to plug into the SAM unit, just plugging the fuse in directly. The friction will hold it in just fine.

here’s what you need:

The outlet from radioshack comes with this giant triangular mounting bracket and screws, which can be discarded along with the wires. I found the wire wasn’t quite long enough to reach all the way to the SAM unit and I had to run my own. Assuming you have a decently stocked toolbox/electrical kit, you can probably get out of this only having spent $10.

First thing is emptying out your glove box. The entire left-hand side of the box has clearance in the back for installing an outlet. You can put the outlet anywhere within the boxed area.

glove box safe area

safe area in glove box. pictures are terrible due to being taken with aforementioned blackberry.

Next, drill the hole, or if you’re doing it the hard way, grab a quarter. Place the quarter where you would like the hole and trace around it with the knife. After about 5 mins, you should make it through and have a nice plug of plastic for your efforts. There is a small ridge of plastic on the side of the outlet, you may need to cut a small notch for that.

please ignore the grossness in my glovebox. ew.

please ignore the grossness in my glovebox. ew.

Attach the female quick connects to the wire and slide them onto the terminals of the outlet. Slide the outlet into place, pulling the wire into the floorboard.

back of the glove box, showing the installed outlet

back of the glove box, showing the installed outlet

The easiest way to run the wire is to remove the radio. I realize this sounds excessive, but it’s only 5 screws. A great walkthrough for removing the radio is over here on evilution. The only thing I have to add to it is what happens when you lose the screw behind the button panel. If you drop the screw, it will fall down behind the existing outlet, near the cupholder. Five screws and some tabs hold that piece of trim on. The screw that holds on the cupholder is one of these, and is a slightly larger torx bit.

screws that hold on the bottom plastic marked with arrows, in case you also lose the screw behind the buttons

screws that hold on the bottom plastic marked with arrows, in case you also lose the screw behind the buttons

After running the wires through to the driver’s side, the rest is pretty simple. Connect the loop end onto the ground  and attach it to the grounding bolt. Then connect the remaining female quick connect to the lead, slide that over one leg of the fuse and plug the other leg of the fuse onto the side of the SAM unit. The four places closest to you are switch lives, the ones toward the front of the car are constant lives.

view of the SAM unit on the driver's side near the door

view of the SAM unit on the driver's side near the door

Plug in your ipod, do a dance of victory, and enjoy!

installed! I just need a shorter aux cable now.

installed! I just need a shorter aux cable now.

The smart fortwo has definitely been the best car I’ve ever worked on. Everything is super accessible, and the pieces are put together logically. I’m excited for when my warranty runs out and I get to really start modifying it!

4 Responses to “smart car modification: installing 12v accessory outlet”

  1. Doctor says:

    Creative and impressive.

    You know, I'm convinced that the people who design the cars and put the DC outlet behind the cupholders never even think about it… They probably either don't drive or have no use for the DC outlet, so they figure "Hey, it fits there. Slap it in."

    When I design a car… You won't see one there, promise. I know some good spots.

    • fuzzdecay says:

      I love working on my car, i'm anxiously awaiting the warranty expiring so i can do an engine swap.

      my mother's nissan has the outlet near the e-brake. i don't know whether that's better or worse.

  2. [...] me this weekend that I never finished my ipod into smart car integration story. A few days after I hacked a new dc outlet into my glovebox, my chosen mounting bracket showed [...]

  3. smart car says:

    They just seem to make sense the smart cars

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