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How to hardwire a GPS into your Explorer

Joe Dirt

Explorer Addict
October 4, 2007
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Year, Model & Trim Level
07 Camry
...and get rid of that annoying cigarette lighter plug!

Like many members, I run a GPS. Problem is, I'm OCD about my vehicles, and can't stand extra stuff laying around. As such, I wanted to hardwire my GPS into my truck. So, here is my process, and a short writeup should anyone desire to do the same...

I am wiring into a 1997 Explorer...

You will need one of these harnesses:


I ordered my kit from Amazon, there are several to choose from.

You can NOT cut the cigarette lighter charger plug off and use that wire- the GPS runs at about 3v, and the cigarette lighter plug has a fuse in it. If you cut the wire, you lose the fuse. The box in the kit is the regulator/fuse. If your truck surges for some reason, and you do not have the fusable link in there, you will fry your GPS. Some have cut the cigarette lighter plug and put in a fuseable link, but I wanted to keep mine in case I use the GPS in a different truck. It's easily portable with this setup.

Search for "Garmin Hardwire GPS" on Amazon, or substitute for your GPS manufacturer...

On to the install...

Remove your radio dash bezel (2 screws above the HVAC controls...)


Once the bezel is removed, remove the dash vent deflector by removing the two bolts on the bottom as shown. Lift up and pull out.


Wire your kit in. It's simple- there is a red wire, which goes to a 12v switched wire, and the other black (or white sometimes) is hooked to the ground wire. I wired mine to my aftermarket stereo wiring. I won't show it here, because it's a wiring mess in my Ex, and there are only 2 wires to hook up.

After wiring in, tuck your module behind and below the radio.


Next, pick a location for your GPS. I like it mounted low on the center of the windshield, using the suction cup clip. It's easy to reach, and doesn't obstruct view.

For my install, I ran the mini-USB connector there.
Pop the black defroster vent from the top of the dash.


Push a screwdriver through the separation between the dash and the inner dash to pass your wire through.


Pull the mini-USB through to the other side. **NOTE- after this pic, I placed a small piece of wire loom on the wire to prevent chafing. I don't think it would be an issue, but I had some laying around, so why not...


From the outside, this is where I pulled the wire through.


Place your defroster panel in place, to see where your wire is. I needed to pop one divider out to allow the mini-USB connector fit through.


Pull the wire through the defroster vent, and reinstall the vent.


Place your GPS and plug in. It will now come on with the key, and turn off when you turn the truck off, and charge in between.

This is what you're left looking at- MUCH cleaner! :thumbsup:


Happy installing!

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Very good writeup/and idea:thumbsup:

For people who dont wanna shell out the money for the new plug, they could get one of those cheap 12v sockets at Meijers for about 5$, and just hardwire it in behind the stereo, or wherever, and run the wires from the GPS cord like you did.


now all you have to do is make a pod for it and make er look like its factory instead of the suction cup :)
nice work tho.

I always thought it would be cool to mount it flushly in the bigger opening in the center console right under the HVAC controls, but I cant imagine it having a strong signal after being mounted in there and filled in

The only problem is you lose portability if you pod the unit.

The guy that bought Snowball wondered if it "was a factory installed option" so it must look ok... :)

Good point there...LOL

But I must say, you did a pretty damn good, clean install!

it has to have a clear view of the sky to connect to the satellites, so a dash mount can wreak havoc with the signal reception,

nice install, good work,

Thanks guys... This is the second I've done, I love the functionality of it, and it works awesome!

Joe, I still use that Gilsson power adapter you recommended last summer and it's still working great for my TomTom. I have mine mounted in a Pro Clip setup. Might not be quite as clean as a dash mount, but it works great. I don't lose much in the way of vent efficiency either. These things are made in Sweden and are high quality. Actually goes in and out of the truck easily if needed because there are no tools needed to mount these things and they hold GREAT. They're not cheesy like the el-cheapo knock-offs either.

Hardwiring a GPS is definitely a great way to go. I'm like you. I hate having cords all over the place as well.

Great write-up.

I had to get another adapter, the Gillson seemed to lose "connection" on my GPS, like it couldn't push into the port enough. I think I may have compromised that though when pushing it through the defroster area. I remember having to get a mini-pick and pull one wall of the connector out back to square. It worked fine for about a year, then it started having problems like losing power and not charging. I haven't had an issue with the new one though, it's a beefier plug though.

This is the ProClip mount (I think)


I looked at them, but I freak out if my vents aren't pointed in exactly the same direction. I couldn't handle the GPS in front of them... But, I'm weird like that... :D

I looked at them, but I freak out if my vents aren't pointed in exactly the same direction. I couldn't handle the GPS in front of them... But, I'm weird like that... :D

Mine's sort of like the one you showed but lower profile. It sits in the middle of the two vents and when I first got it I thought for sure it would block the vents. Surprisingly, it wasn't bad. I love how the GPS is situated. I don't like stuff on top of the dash myself (I find it distracting). I just couldn't get used to anything attached to the windshield. The Pro-Clip setup came in very handy on the 5000 mile marathon last summer.

No issues with the Gilsson yet. I'll give that other one a look if it craps out. Gilsson was the only one I could source locally (we have two big online GPS places in town that allow local pickup and they carry decent toys). For a change, it was cheaper to source something locally than getting is Stateside.

Just to add, the Gillson kit has some hits on Amazon where people are saying that there is nothing int eh box, so there is no actual protection, that's it's essentially a dummy box.

Well, I wired in a new Garmin, and popped open the old Gillson box to see what was inside, and there is indeed some circuitry, so the hits about not having anything in there are not true.