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2003-2009 Nissan 350Z

Activate steering wheel radio controls for early Zs

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Old 10-09-2018, 12:18 AM
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DeusExMaxima
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Default Activate steering wheel radio controls for early Zs

A few years ago, as part of my Nismo conversion for my Roadster, I bought the Nismo steering wheel which of course comes with radio controls in addition to the cruise control controls on the steering wheel. I believe they are also supposed to be illuminated. My car is a 2005 which did not come with radio controls. I believe the first cars to come with radio controls were 2006

I've been living without radio controls for this whole time but I decided to do something about it. I've read many threads over the years regarding converting the earlier 350Z that never came with radio controls to a car with radio controls that function but it was never really clear as to how to do that. I wanted the controls to work with the factory Bose head unit.

This Thread should clear up the best way to have radio functions on the steering wheel for the earlier car. Although you can purchase the radio controls and retrofit them to the steering wheel, the problem is you have to mess with the clockspring and it then becomes a rather cumbersome process.

tThe best thing to do is to if you want the steering wheel controls to work the factory head unit is to buy a head unit from the later 350Z and also purchase the steering wheel with the controls already on it. It may be a bit more expensive but you don't have to mess with the clockspring.

the basic idea is to run wires from the back of the radio up to the steering wheel controls. You only need three wires to do this plus two wires if you want the illumination. I was going to locate a spare connector from a Nissan in the junkyard and then pull the wires out and add them to the connector for my car which has a later Bose head unit and of course the app for mentioned Nismo Factory steering wheel.

the car Gods must have been watching me because when I went to the Pick-A-Part, I found a wrecked 2008 350Z and it had all the connectors. I snagged the gray connector which plugs into the clock spring and I got the wide white connector that goes to the back of the Bose head unit. I also had the wires feeding into those connectors so all I had to do is join them and make them look nice

it is helpful if you can read a wiring diagram. I don't really want to bore everyone with all the details, but if anyone is interested in those details feel free to message me.

I relied on the diagram from the factory service manual in the av section which shows the three wires that go from the radio to the steering wheel control and also shows which position in the connectors the wires go.

the connectors actually come apart. You have to look at them and figure it out but it's not terribly hard. I actually decided to take apart the connector from the newer car and put the three wires into my original connector. That involves taking the connector apart and releasing the wire from the connector and then installing it in the connector on the car in the correct position. For the connector at the steering wheel, since that connector only had three wires on it, I decided to install the new connector which already had the wires that went to the head unit. The other three wires were for the cruise control and both connectors had the same wires. That's why I spliced the new connector into my car at the steering wheel side.

once I got the connectors in the appropriate position, I temporarily connected them together to make sure the radio worked. I connected the battery and turn the car to the accessory position and press the power button on the steering wheel and the radio came on. I tried all the buttons and they all worked. I was very pleased. In the junkyard I save some of the plastic corrugated wrap that comes around wires so that the wire harness looks like it come from the factory.

I connect it to wires from the steering wheel connector to the traction control off button but I could not get the steering wheel buttons to light up. I double-checked with a voltmeter and there are 12 volts at the traction control off button when I turn in the parking lights or headlights on. Any thoughts on this?
With the dash put back together, I went for a drive and it's just wonderful to have complete control of the radio from the steering wheel. I really would like to get the illumination working. Can somebody confirm that the Nismo steering wheel came with illuminated buttons?


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Old 10-11-2018, 03:58 AM
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I pulled my audio switch off and it does have LEDs in the circuitboard. I have 12V going to the board from tapping into the VDC Off switch. Im not sure why they arent lighting.
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Old 10-11-2018, 11:01 AM
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Just thinking out loud here: background illumination circuits are usually on a different voltage feed than other 12V circuits, as either the voltage level or duty-cycle of a PWM signal will be varied to provide dimming levels.

Also, the SWC likely uses a resistive-ladder setup for signaling which buttons are pressed. This could require a separate voltage feed and signal return path.

So, the 12V to the board may only be for the buttons. There may be another power feed and ground path for the backlighting LEDs.
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Old 10-14-2018, 08:23 AM
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But wouldn't tapping into the illumination circuit alliw the LEDs to light?
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Old 10-14-2018, 08:48 AM
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It depends if there is a separate ground path for the LED illumination, too. Then you need both the LED power and ground lines connected.

The SWC may have it's own power, sense, and return/ground lines.

Do you have the pinout from the FSM for the clock spring connector for a Z with the SWC and illumination? I don't have my FSM handy, at the moment.
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Old 10-14-2018, 10:42 AM
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The yellow red and yellow blue wires are the illumination circuit for the interior. I connected the yellow red of the steering wheel controls to the yellow red of the traction control button illumination and I connected the yellow blue of the steering wheel controls to the yellow blue of the traction control illumination and it still doesn't work. According to the FSM, that should be the correct wiring for the illumination circuit
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