Our tips for navigating Japanese import infotainment systems
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At the AA, we sometimes receive calls from confused members who have found themselves behind the wheel of a used import, unable to get their Japanese entertainment system to work.
Here are a few tips to help get the most out of the equipment:
By pressing seek on AM and FM radio, you might be able to pick up one or two good radio stations. But if you want a full selection of local radio stations, most likely a band expander will need to be purchased.
This is a $20 accessory that, with a little wiring, can enable your vehicle to pick up more frequencies. It might not be able to reach some higher frequencies but it will be sufficient for most radio listeners.
Most dealers will have someone who can fit a band expander so you may wish to negotiate this into the deal when buying the car.
Digital TV and navigation
Although uncommon in New Zealand-new cars, many Japanese imports include aftermarket systems capable of displaying digital TV, as well as satellite navigation.
Without spending a small fortune, however, there isn’t much that can be done to make these systems fully operational in this country. Many people simply use a separate device such as a smartphone or portable GPS unit for navigation.
Japanese entertainment systems can often play DVDs, but only discs from region 2 or those that are zone free (region 0, 9 or all) DVDs. These can be useful for keeping the kids entertained on a long trip but unfortunately, New Zealand’s region 4 discs are unlikely to work.
If you listen to CDs, there are no restrictions between Japanese and New Zealand CDs. There might also be a CD stacker in the glovebox or boot.
If the words HDD or Music Jukebox are found anywhere, this usually means that the unit has the ability to store and record music from CDs. It may even be possible to access the music library recorded by the previous owner.
A little Google research can help shed light on the vehicle and its connectivity. This can expand the possibilities of the car’s system, allowing occupants to listen to music through streaming services, as well as owners’ personal music collection by harnessing the power of your smartphone.
If you see AUX, iPod or USB written on the entertainment unit, chances are there’s an audio connection point in in the car, and it’s normally just a case of finding it.
If you’ve searched high and low and cannot find a connection, they may not be present or an extra cable is required. In this case, look at online listings for cables for the vehicle model you have. Chances are you’ll find something relatively affordable on an online listings site, or from an overseas shop.
There are still plenty of people in New Zealand driving Japanese import vehicles that are fitted with their original entertainment systems, and often without even a band expander. If you’re tired of listening to the same CD or radio station, look into how you can make the most out of your vehicle’s entertainment system to help make your car journeys more enjoyable.