Haven’t mastered the Japanese language and find yourself behind the wheel of an import staring blankly at the entertainment system? 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.
AM / FM radio
If you’re lucky enough, you might get one good radio station which can keep you entertained, but if you want the selection of Hauraki, ZM or Classic Hits, you’re going to need to buy a band expander. This is a cheap $20 accessory which, with a little wiring can make your vehicle pick up some more frequencies. It might 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.
In reality you’re faced with two options, either ignore the systems and use aftermarket devices or invest in a multimedia system that can do everything you need. We’re talking NZ maps, NZ radio, Bluetooth, Aux, USB and more. Only downside is the price, an upgrade like this, you’re looking around the $1,000 mark. Check out digidrive.co.nz.
Japanese entertainment systems will be able to 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 previously recorded by the old owner!
Aux / iPod / USB
A little bit of Google research can help shed some light on your vehicle and its connectivity. This can really expand the possibilities of the system in your car allowing streaming services like Spotify and Apple music as well as your own personal collection of music by harnessing the power of one’s smart phone.
If you see aux, iPod or USB written on the entertainment unit, chances are there is an audio connection point somewhere in the car; sometimes it’s just a matter of finding it. iPod connections are pretty self explanatory so see if you can find one in the glove box or in the consoles. If you have searched high and low and cannot locate the connections, they may not be present or it could be that an extra cable is required. In this case, search for the vehicle model you have and have a look at online listings. The chances are you’ll find something relatively affordable on an online listings site, or overseas shop.
There are still plenty of people driving around New Zealand in Japanese import vehicles that are still 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 car journeys instantly more enjoyable.