Buyers' Guide: Unlock your import’s gadgets
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Owners of imported cars can find the limitations of their car’s entertainment system frustrating.
Here are a few tips to get you back into your comfort zone, and cure the boredom of having no radio, no navigation and no music.
If you’re lucky enough, you may get one good radio station which can keep you entertained, but if you want the selection of stations such as Hauraki, ZM or The Hits, you’ll need to buy a band expander.
This is a cheap $20 accessory that, with a little wiring can make your vehicle pick up more frequencies.
It may not be able to reach some of the higher frequencies but for most radio listeners, it will usually suffice. Most dealers will have someone who can fit a band expander so you may wish to negotiate this into the deal.
Digital TV and Navigation
Here is where we strike a problem because, without spending a small fortune, there isn’t much that can be done with the TV or navigation system in New Zealand.
You’re faced with two options: ignore the systems and use aftermarket devices or invest in a multimedia system.
We’re talking NZ maps, NZ radio, Bluetooth, Aux, USB and more. The only downside is the price — you’re looking around $1000. Check out digidrive.co.nz.
Japanese entertainment systems can play Japanese DVDs as well as zone free (zone 0 or 9) DVDs. These can be useful for keeping the kids quiet on a long trip. Of course, as mentioned above, this DVD function can be tailored into a complete multimedia system.
CD / HDD player
If you’re a bit 2000s and still listen to CDs, then you’re in luck. There is no difference in technology between Japanese and New Zealand CDs. On used imports, you might also be lucky enough to find a CD stacker in the glovebox or boot.
If the words HDD or Music Jukebox are found anywhere, it usually means that the device has the ability to store and record music from CDs. You may even be able to access some music recorded by the previous owner.
Aux / iPod / USB
A little bit of Google research can shed some light on your vehicle and its connectivity.
This can expand the possibilities of the car’s system, allowing services such as iHeartRadio as well as your personal collection of music by harnessing the power of one’s smartphone.
If you see aux, iPod or USB written on the entertainment unit, chances are there is an audio connection point in the car; sometimes it’s just a matter of finding it. iPod connections are self-explanatory so see if you can find one in the glovebox or in the consoles.
If you have searched high and low and cannot find the connections, they may not be present or an extra cable may be required.
In this case, search for the vehicle model you have and have a look at online listings. Chances are you’ll find something relatively affordable on an online listings site, or overseas shop.
Plenty of people are driving around New Zealand in Japanese imports that are fitted with their original entertainment systems, and without even a band expander.
If you’re tired of listening to the same CD or radio station, invest some patience and investigation into making the most out of your vehicle’s entertainment system, and make your journeys more enjoyable.