iPod Your Subaru

Aiwa stereoThe standard Subaru Outback comes with a radio that does not have a tape player or any type of auxiliary input, making connecting an iPod impossible. I tried the Griffin iTrip, which transmits music over FM, but had very limited success. I decided it was worth it to do something more to get my iPod to interface with the car, and the only way to do that was to replace my existing stereo.

Belkin Auto KitI purchased an Aiwa CD/MP3 receiver from Crutchfield because it was the cheapest unit that fit my car and had an easily accessible (front) aux input. Next I picked up two items from Belkin, their iPod Auto Kit, which uses the dock connector on the bottom of the iPod to provide power and to receive audio, and the TuneDok, which lets me mount my iPod in a cup holder.

TuneDokNow, if I wanted to be really fancy, I would have looked at a more permanent way to mount the iPod and to hide the power/audio cable, instead of having it go from the iPod to my cigarette lighter and then up to the aux input. but I’m not that fancy, so that’s how it is.

Installing the stereo posed a bit of a challenge despite Crutchfield’s nice directions because they required me to create my own adapter to go from the plug in the car to the plug in the back of the radio. Not a fun process — they provided both ends, I had to connect all the cables together and crimp them in place. A visit to Home Depot later, I was set. Everything seemed to work on the first try, and so far there has been no unexpected badness. The iPod fits comfortably by my side, a single unobtrusive cable goes up to the dash, and beautiful sound comes out of my speakers. Mission accomplished for slightly less than $200.

10 replies on “iPod Your Subaru”

  1. can you post a photo of the finished setup? I recently bought an Outback and I’ve been driving myself crazy figuring out how to add an iPod to it…

  2. Heh. Well, the 2005 and above model year Outbacks have a different and more complicated setup. Sure, I can take a picture and post it. Might not be very helpful, though, for newer Outback owners.

  3. Danny: Just came across your page via Google. My wife and I are about to buy a 2006 Outback 2.5i and they STILL don’t have an iPod-friendly stereo. Are you happy with the set-up from a year ago? Would you recommend the same equipment?
    Santa Monica, CA

  4. Hi Matt. Sorry to hear that about the silly people at Subaru. I am still very happy with my setup and it worked for my needs, however if I had more time and money to invest I would have gone for a solution that uses a rear aux input and hides the cable completely until it comes out either at the cup holder or at some other kind of iPod mount.

    Here is a picture of my setup. There might be new products on the market today that would be helpful, for example something like this might be promising. If the new Subarus include a tape deck, that would make the job a lot easier, although a bit uglier.

  5. Hi Danny,

    I’m looking at buying a 2000 or 2001 outback, and was hoping to bring my Alpine stereo with me (with iPod adapter). However, I see that the “hole” for the radio in the outbacks of this vintage is bigger than the standard size–looks like the same was true with yours. Did you also purchase that trapdoor thing right below the radio to install? From Crutchfield as well?



  6. does anyone know what kind of radio the 2004 subaru has? I wanted to change the stereo and speakers and get satellite radio, but its too expensive with installation (around $800.) – I can’t do it myself- so now I am thinking of just upgrading my speakers ( since the sound is terrible). do you think it will make a difference if I have to keep the existing radio??

  7. I just bought a 2006 subaru outback and was looking at how to add an Ipod.

    Here’s some links I’ve found that maybe helpful:

    They sell a kit which lets you replace the factory stereo:

    This guy makes a circuit board which you can plug into your stock stereo to add an auxillary input:


    This seems to work on the 2005/6 legacy or outback.

  8. Best option for a 2005 + Subaru Outback / Legacy

    I used the Metra kit with great results. Below is my review I wrote for Crutchfield. Don’t forget you need to buy the Subaru antenna adapter to plug in to an aftermarket stereo.

    This product allowed me to install my Kenwood single din receiver and Dension IceLink iPod adapter nicely in a 2006 Subaru Outback Wagon.

    The installation is straight forward but more complicated than other vehicles I’ve had. The master sheet from Crutchfield, and the instructions that come with the unit aren’t quite complete. Attention to detail, and patience are key to this one.

    The climate control cable was probably the most difficult piece of the puzzle and hardest part to get to. “Prying” the silver trim ring around the gear shifter was easier than I expected once I got it to come up. The instructions don’t really give a method for this, they just show a picture once it’s done.

    Be careful not to pull the original unit out too far before disconnecting everything from the back of the climate control and stereo. I had two extra plugs / wires from the original stereo that weren’t used with my Kenwood deck (assume them to be lights and dimming or something). Also don’t pull the climate control unit too far out or you’ll pull the climate cable out of the dash and it would be painful to try and fish it back in.

    The texture and color of the unit is ever so slightly different than the original and doesn’t really matter that much to me.

  9. I have an ‘06 Outback 2.5i Limited wagon. Last year, I installed the Jazzy circuit board. It works great and the sound is excellent. Now, I am trying to find the best car mount for my iPhone. Any ideas?

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