2003 Limited - which radio do I have?? | Page 2 | Ford Explorer Forums - Serious Explorations

  • Register Today It's free!

2003 Limited - which radio do I have??

Does anybody offer anything for my 03 EB Explorer that allows an Ipod (or any other form of electronic song media) to interface into the factory radio? I want to control an Ipod or something with the factory radio and steering wheel buttons.

Wouldn't it be nice if all factory radios had a USB port for a thumbdrive!

Join the Elite Explorers for $20 each year.
Elite Explorer members see no advertisements, no banner ads, no double underlined links,.
Add an avatar, upload photo attachments, and more!

Using steering wheel radio controls

I have a 2003 Explorer, on the back of the factory radio are the cables which this thread describes as begin for the Steering wheel buttons, does this mean I am prewired for the steering wheel radio controls, even if there are none on my steering wheel? If so can I just get a makeshift button or purchase the factory buttons to plug and play?

Did anyone using the PIE interface with the 6 CD head unit lose the subwoofer when it's active?

Did anyone using the PIE interface with the 6 CD head unit lose the subwoofer when it's active?

Nope, subwoofer worked fine with it.

Odd. The sub works with radio and CD just fine. But I have very faint/no sub with the PIE active. It really shouldn't make a difference, as the harness for the sub is separate. Could I have a bad PIE unit? Or maybe a bad head unit?

Figured this out - one of the channels was out of phase. I started out by playing with the balance, and noticed that everything was fine if I was full left or right channel. I verified it by disconnecting one RCA at a time. I swapped the wires for the left channel at the radio-side connector and it now works as expected.

Ah damn, I should have thought of that! Classic problem.

Alright, with no response here, I contacted PIE Electronics directly. I told them what type of radio I had (6 disc in-dash changer), and gave them the model number (3L2T-18C815-FB). They said that the "815" indicates it is a 6-disc in-dash CD player (well duh, I already knew that), and to quote them, "2003-2004 (6-Disc in-dash) model radios are NOT CD-Changer capable, and therefore cannot be used with any PIE auxiliary input interface."

Well, crap, I thought.

Then I looked at the back of my radio. It has three connectors:


When the cables are plugged in, the center one (the one used for CD changers, I discovered) has only two wires connected. These wires connect the radio to the steering wheel buttons:


So either they put that huge connector in there for just two wires...or perhaps my radio is CD-changer capable after all?

I decided to take the plunge. I ordered a PIE Electronics FRDN-AUX adapter from Logjam Electronics. It arrived today. The instruction sheet included with it repeated the warning that 2003-2004 (6-Disc in-dash) model radios were not compatible.

I pulled my radio out, connected it up, powered everything up...and no smoke came out. A good start.

I pressed the CD button, and it started playing a CD. As expected.

I pressed the CD button again, and:


I started hearing my satellite radio! Victory! My radio was compatible with the PIE interface, despite what they had told me.

Fitting it in was a bit of a job. The cable they supplied was too short to let the interface live down lower in the dash, so the only place it would fit was shoved up in the dash on the "step" behind the radio. It would vibrate if I put it there, so I wrapped the interface in foam, then shoved it in so it would sit firmly and not rattle around in the dash.

The difference in sound quality between the FM transmitter in my XM SkyFi2 and having it wired in directly is astronomical. I don't know how I lived with such crappy sound before.

So if you've wondered if you can do this - yes, you can, and I highly encourage you to do it.


My apologies for necroing an old thread!

I'm in the process of replacing this radio. I will disconnect the CD changer as I won't need it. I know what the PIN/cables on the far right are for. What are the ones in the middle and left for? Is middle the CD changer? Is so, I'll probably just leave the disconnected. Is the far left PIN/Cables the steering wheel control?