Leafy (our 2012 Nissan Leaf) upgrades

Hi everyone,

My partner and I just bought a 2012 Nissan Leaf (in really good condition!) and would like to make it a little more modern. As such, I’ve purchased all the parts etc necessary to perform the following upgrades:

  • Uniden iGO85R front (4k) / rear (1080p) dashcam
  • Replace head unit with Sony xav-ax5000 touch screen / car play unit
    • This is what we used in our previous camry
    • I’ll need to do a little bit of soldering but shouldn’t have to touch the factory harness
  • Install OVMS (open vehicle monitoring system) for remote charge state, GPS tracking, etc.

I expect the bits to arrive over the next few weeks and I’ll try to install them pretty quickly. This thread will act like a build log where I’ll try to post progress updates of the upgrades.

Pictured below is leafy and us :slight_smile:

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The new head unit is in and looks great. I haven’t hooked up the reverse camera or steering wheel controls yet, that’s for another day. It turns out I didn’t need the facia plate as the factory head unit was basically a standard double din.

I’m happy to report the air conditioning controls still work great other than not being able to see the fan speed or set temperature but I’m sure we’ll manage. If it bothers us too much I might try to reverse engineer the A/C comms to make up a little screen.

I’ve just finished mounting the front and rear dashcam. I had to use the screws that came with the rear one and make two small holes in the plastic as the adhesive wouldn’t stick. I ran the cable up and pushed it in behind the roof, then ran it down the pillar and across up under the dash to get to power. You can’t see any of the cable so I’m really happy with how it turned out.

I’ve had a chance to put together some more information about the head unit installation. It was much easier than I anticipated and I ended up being able to get the required adapters for a plug and play (ie no custom soldering required) at Supercheap Auto except for the antenna adapter which I got on Amazon.

Important Notes:

  • All genuine Australian models should be the highest trim level and include a touchscreen sat nav. If your leaf does not have a map button that brings up a map, you have the lower trim level. That is a bit different and this thread looks like a good resource for you.
  • Never unplug or plug anything like a head unit while the car is turned on or even in accessory mode. It should be completely turned off. It’s easy to accidentally short something while doing so. This actually happened to me but thankfully the fuse blew before any damage occurred.
  • You will lose the ability to see what the air conditioner temperature and fan speed are set to as these are built into the factory head unit. Everything else continues to work fine (ie you can adjust the temp/fan speed) so only proceed if you’re happy with this.
  • The factory touchscreen is slightly longer than a standard double DIN head unit so you may end up with a very small (around 5mm) gap at the bottom of the new unit once it’s installed. This is small enough that it’s hardly noticeable.

Required Hardware:

  • An aftermarket double din head unit. I opted for one with Car Play / Android Auto. If you’re replacing the factory head unit you probably should too, otherwise there’s not much point! I used the Sony XAV AX5000 but any double din should work.
  • Aerpro APP091 adapter - This adapts the Nissan plug into a standard ISO one.
  • Aerpro APPSSP4 adapter - This adapts the Sony head unit plug into a standard ISO one.
  • Metra 40-NI12 antenna adapter - This lets you use the factory radio antenna.
  • Axxess AX-NISUSB-2 - This lets you use the factory USB port on the center console. You simply plug it into this adapter and then plug this adapter into the normal USB port on your head unit.

Hardware not needed/doesn’t fit:

  • If you want to use the factory reverse camera and steering wheel controls you will need more hardware. I’ve ordered the Metra ASWC-1 (not needed, see this) and the Axxess AX-NIS32SWC-6V (does not fit, splice into wiring below) as I think these will work.

Steps:

  1. You’ll need to pull off the plastic dashboard cover. Put both hands underneath the plastic cover and gently pull out. You may need to exert quite a bit of force but they’re just plastic clips so will pop right off.
    image

  2. Once the bottom part is unclipped you will need to unclip the top part. I found it easier to do each corner separately. Just gently pull each corner out until it pops out.
    image

  3. Once you’ve fully unclipped the plastic cover, there are some little hooks to stop it falling off. You need to keep the plastic cover completely vertical and lift it straight up as much as you can, then slowly pull it forward. You may have to wiggle it around a bit to get it to come out. Do not pull the cover off yet.

  4. Unplug all the connectors, taking special care with the hazard light one at the top which seems to have a really short cable. Before doing this double check the car is off otherwise it may get upset about half the dash controls being disconnected.

  5. Once the plastic cover is off unscrew the 4 bolts holding the radio on and pull it out, then unplug all the connectors. You’ll need a Torx screwdriver to remove the metal “L” brackets from the factory radio. These bolts probably won’t fit your new head unit unless you’re lucky so you may have to source some.

  6. Attach the “L” brackets to the new head unit. Plug the ISO to Nissan adapter into the ISO to Sony adapter. Plug the Sony adapter into the head unit. Plug the antenna adapter into the head unit then plug the antenna adapter into the factory connector. Now plug the ISO to Nissan adapter into the factory connector and bolt the new head unit in place.

  7. Be very careful here as the A/C controls connector is the same as one that plugs into the old head unit. I got these mixed up and the car was very unhappy. Eventually the fault cleared but best to be safe. Plug the A/C connector back into the dash along with the hazard lights. I chose to leave the physical map etc buttons unplugged so they don’t light up.

  8. Turn the car on and wait a few seconds, hopefully your new head unit turns on. Make sure that you test everything out including the speakers, radio, dimming when headlights turn on etc.

I’ll add to this guide once the other parts arrived and I can get the steering wheel controls and reverse camera working.

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For point 7 ‘very’, what did the car do?

The air con started being weird and the fans were rapidly changing speed. A bunch of errors showed up on the dash and some of the lights on the dash started flickering/fading.

Wow, that was ‘very’ unhappy. Thanks for the detailed build. I might need this when I’m super fed up with the old GPS map…

It was indeed! I was quite worried I permanently damaged something. At least you can take a little relief in the fact that it happened to me and didn’t damage anything so you’ll probably be fine if it happens. :wink:

I can’t recommend Car Play (or Android Auto if you don’t have an iPhone) enough! It’s so good when driving. Being able to use Apple/Google maps and have a big touch screen interface with a decent UI is awesome. Since installing the Car Play unit in our old car there was absolutely no temptation to reach for your phone as everything is right there on the unit. Siri will read out incoming texts, you can reply to them and see who’s calling etc.

So it turns out the stock microphone wasn’t working with the new Sony unit. I assume I’d have to check the service manual to figure out which wires are for the microphone and splice into it with my own 3.5mm connector. I couldn’t be bothered doing that so I just used the microphone that came with the Sony unit. The cable fits between the plastic cover so no drilling or holes were needed.

It works really well (including “Hey, Siri”) and looks pretty good I think.

I now have the steering wheel controls and reverse camera trigger (but not the camera itself yet) all hooked up. Amazon was taking ages to ship my AWSC-1 universal steering wheel kit but @Siridar suggested I may not need one so I cancelled the order.

I ended up finding the service manual and confirming the factory steering wheel controls are just a resistor ladder and should be compatible. I grabbed a 3.5mm audio cable from Officeworks for $3 and cut the ends off to use the connector. Strip the insulation back with a wire stripper and solder/crimp the grounds together. Solder/crimp the steering wheel A signal to one of the two remaining wires, and the B signal to the other. My adapter already had these wires loose for easy connection but if yours doesn’t you may need to cut into the factory wiring.

Your head unit should have some way of “training” it to recognise the buttons. If your head unit doesn’t have this feature you’ll need a universal steering wheel control adapter. After making the Sony unit learn the buttons it worked well!

I also hooked up the reverse trigger from the Leaf to the input on the Sony unit. I couldn’t find the 6v power supply so didn’t connect up the video signal yet. I’ll have to find it and hook it up another day.

Useful pages from the service manual:


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Here’s a clip of the reverse camera triggering:
Imgur

And the steering wheel controls:

The OEM USB port adapter has arrived and was plug and play. It’s working well and the short USB lightning cable (pictured) is the perfect length for my iPhone 11 Pro Max. No more dangling USB cables at our feet!