XM Radio Installation


A number of coworkers have been talking about how much they liked having a satellite radio receiver in their vehicles.  I wasn't sure if was worth the monthly expense so I decided to wait a while.  Well, we recently received our custom ordered camper.  It came with a Dolby 5.1 surround sound system, a 19" LCD TV, and an unmentioned XM receiver.  Nice surprise!  The cradle for the receiver was already mounted in the camper.  $50 later at Circuit City, and I now had a car cradle.  The receiver can be easily moved from the camper to the Xterra.

The tough part is is how to route the antenna wire.  The examples on the XM website show carving notches in the metal lip under a door seal.  Or drilling a hole in the sheet metal.  Neither of those sounded good to me.  Take a look at the method I used.  No drilling necessary.


On my Xterra, there's a rubber grommet for the rear window washer sprayer.  it can be popped out, and the washer line disconnected.  This is necessary as the antenna connector won't fit through the grommet with the washer line in place.

Once the grommet is removed, nip a small notch on the inner edge.  This will allow the antenna cable to fit.

Doesn't take much, and doesn't need to be pretty!

TIP: Put the antenna on the roof, and feed the antenna cable under the lip of the hatch before proceeding.  Otherwise the hinges will prevent the antenna from being positioned after the cable is routed.  Don't ask how I know. 

The antenna connector is pushed through the grommet, then the washer fluid line.  The line can be reconnected.  Push the antenna connector through the opening in the roof, then push the grommet back into position.

Here's how it should look with the antenna wire and the washer fluid line in position.

This is the only panel I removed.  It's snapped into position.  I probably didn't need to remove it, but it simplified the wire routing.

This thin antenna wire is easy to sneak under the rubber door seals.

I used a screwdriver to gently pry the headliner back from the trim panel and slip the antenna into the gap.  I continued this technique down the door post seal by the driver's door.  The cable was then laced under the dash until I was close to the receiver.  The antenna cable is completely hidden, except at the receiver.

I will eventually pull a section of dash, and hide these wires too.  But for now, they are out of the way.

The antenna has a very strong magnet and will stay in place.  Only a short section of the cable is exposed, and won't be pinched by the hatch.


So if you have an Xterra, or a vehicle with a rear hatch & a rear window washer, you might be able to do this simple install.  Took about 20 minutes.  No drilling, no worry about creating a future rust spot.

The XM receiver I'm using has a built-in FM modulator.  So I simply find a clear frequency, and set the modulator to match it.  The better way is to tap directly into the head unit of the stereo system, but that requires an interface, and a lot more work.  This sounds great, and was a painless install.

It's nice to be able to drive all day, and listen to good music the entire way.  Yea, it's an additional $12/mo, but it's getting enough use to justify keeping.





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Last updated 12/08/06    All rights reserved.