Thursday 12 November 2015

Heated Rear Seats & US Centre Console

It's been a few months and I have the modding bug again... this time it has got to me pretty badly and I have made some drastic changes to my A3.

First up was another one of my lucky eBay finds... Heated rear seats!
I wasn't even looking for these when I found them... in fact I was looking for a set of leather interior for a customer of mine who has a bad back and needs lumbar support. As I was searching for the seats he needed I stumbled across a very rare set of full electric adjustment and lumbar support with heated front and rear seats!

The customer didn't want to go to the extent of adding heated seats to his car as he has the older style heater control switch which would have cost him near £300 just to upgrade the switch (the part is so rare that I couldn't even find a picture of it on google) to allow for heated fronts on top of the cost of the seats themselves so we came to a deal and I managed to get the rear heated pads off him.

Now when I received the rears it turned out that whoever sold the seats decided that simply unplugging the connector was going to be too hard so he just chopped off the wiring and gave it with loose wires. I had to repair this loom so I pulled out the wiring diagrams and got to work.
Then I needed to get the leather off the new heated rear seats and get my half leather and Alcantara seats on to the seat pads

Once I was done I built up both seats and you would never know I had done anything!

So since I already had the rears out I figured I may as well just strip out the front seats and lay out all the wiring... also while I was doing this upgrade i had another upgrade up my sleeve so I knocked out the lot in one go...

Now there is a fundamental flaw with the European spec Audi A3... the cup holders! Some bright spark at Audi decided that it would be a good idea to go and put cup holders underneath the armrest thus forever stopping you from putting bottles into the car, or enjoying a Macdonalds drink.

Now from an OCD point of view its not entirely a bad thing but from a practical point of view its totally useless and you have no option but to either stick the water bottles into the door pockets or just leave them rolling around on the floor.

Its always annoyed me since I bought the A3 but there wasn't anything I could really do about it... that is until now! I have found solution from our friends over the pond in the US!

Now I don't know why Audi did this but for the Americans Audi decided that they would reinvent the lower centre console and give them functional cup holders. Since it was in the LHD model A3 I figured we could adapt it to work on our cars.

As you can see the cup holders are now located next to the handbrake with nothing on top of it meaning that you can now store a bottle there easily.

So going back to the mods I was doing... I already had out the rear seats, I also plan to fit in the US centre console so I stripped out the Front seats and got to work.

I then got rid of the standard centre console

Now while I had out the front seats another thing I had planned was to add the storage pockets under the seats since those are very handy to put things in.

Ok so back onto the heated seats, I now had to run the wires under the floor carpet and connect it all up. I tried to get a few pics while I was doing this but I was in 'The Zone' working away and getting it all wired up.

The wires also ran up to the new rear heated seats switch which sits in the new centre console so I switched to getting that ready and installing it into the car.

Now from the below pic you can see the difference between the 2 centre consoles, it turns out it won't be a straight swap since there is a huge bulge in the left side of the US console which doesn't exist in our UK version. I think its got something to do with the climate control pipes on the LHD cars.

So I got measuring and started chopping up my brand new and fairly expensive US centre console 

After a fair bit of measuring and cutting I got the console to a point where it would get in the car although it turns out that one of the screw points done line up which is on that bulge part so it sticks out a fair bit. I had to find a way to make it sit flush so when I was fitting it into the car I made up a custom screw point (I just made a new hole basically) and secured the centre console.

I also installed the new heated seats switch into the back of the console.
I then made sure everything worked properly and fitted everything back into the car.

Now finally usable cup holders! 

Oh one thing I forgot to mention... you see that the cup holders moved forward but what happens to the space it used to occupy? Well since the cup holder takes over the Cigarette lighter socket and the  pointless small tray, the cigarette socket moves back to where the cup holders were.

And not one but 2 sockets now! its not fair how the Americans got that as standard.

Heres a pic I took of where the bulge was sticking out, it was actually pretty bad.

That hole you see is where the original mounting screw point is, you can see how much higher it is on the LHD cars as the cover above it is where the original screw point for their cars is located.
Once i put that screw in the side trim was held in closer and wasn't noticeable at all.

And here is the finished picture

After completing such a mammoth install I was done for the day.

A few days later i already had planned the next upgrade...

You see the US centre console is so much better than the one we get in our UK cars, but I wanted to make it the bit more special.

The trim piece with the cigarette socket and 12V socket in the US centre console comes in 2 different styles

The One I had in my car
The Aux Socket Version

Now I have a Pioneer Headunit in the car so there wasn't any point in getting the factory AUX socket in the car so I installed the blank one, however I had always planned on doing a custom installation where I would have a USB and AUX that is compatible with the Pioneer Stereo in the US centre console plate... the only problem was keeping it looking OEM.

It took me a fair bit of time on google and the Audi/VW parts manuals to find the perfect part but after a week this part tuned up.

I believe its from a VW Passat.
Now the project in mind was to get this into the car and keep it working with the Pioneer stereo.
First problem was that the connectors on the back wouldn't work with Pioneer kit so I needed to improvise.

I split the plug up into 3 pieces - The housing, the USB socket and the AUX socket.
I then took the Pioneer cables and modified it to fit into the OEM housing. 
I basically shaved down the USB socked and made it sit snug in the USB part of the housing. 

The AUX was a bit more tricky since the Pioneer solution for AUX was a standard 3.5mm extension cable. The cable wouldn't fit in the housing since the OEM part was rectangular and the AUX extension leads are round. 
So i stripped down the OEM unit again and used a part of the AUX holder and sort of hybrid' the 2 parts and got it to sit and hold well.

Once I was happy with how it sat I fitted it all back the housing and glued it all in place to create my custom VW/Pioneer accessory plug:

I then measured up and cut a hole into the 12V socket plate and mounted the new hybrid socket

Fitted it back into the car and wired it all up to have the best OEM plus setup 

Really happy with how it all turned out!