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Adding The OEM CD Changer To Your M2

By John Pellegrino

I first became aware of the OEM CD changer for the M2 when it was mentioned in press materials about the introduction of the M2. Somewhere along the line, however, your local U.S. Mazda dealer never got the word that it existed, and even now, a query to the parts department will be met with a denial that a changer for the M2 exists. When I purchased my car in April 1999, my dealer was therefore unable to sell me the changer.

According to a Mazda Canada Customer Support representative, Mazda in Canada markets their options more "aggressively," and the changer is a CN$629.95 dealer-installed option in Canada. A Canadian Miataphile, in a post to the Miata Mailing List on in late May 1999, remarked that he was considering its purchase. I queried him, and with his help was able to purchase the changer from a Calgary dealer by mail. Although I had to pay shipping and customs duty, the favorable exchange rate brought my total to only a little over $400.00. Now that I know the changer's part number, my local Connecticut dealer told me that the changer lists for $499.00. Yes, it is possible to add an aftermarket CD changer to your car for less, but not one that is hardwired to, and controlled by, the head unit you already own. A bonus is the ease of installation-it is not even necessary to connect the changer to power or ground.

The part number is L046 79 DG0 US (the 0's are zeros), and its original application is for the Mazda MPV, Protégé, and 323. What you receive is a box with the changer, a single connection cable, and a selection of rather generic mounting hardware. The changer may be mounted horizontally or vertically. Instructions are provided, but they apply only to the aforementioned models. Curiously, the connection cable plugs into the back of the M2's cassette player, not the AM/FM/CD head unit. This is fine if you received the cassette player as part of your Leather Package, or your optional Bose Audio System, or had the dealer install the cassette player as an option. If you don't have the cassette player, you cannot add the CD changer. Since the cassette player plugs into the back of the head unit, it would be a simple matter to purchase one and add it to your system at the same time as the changer.

Before you install the changer, you should first disconnect the negative terminal of your battery, unless you like to chase down blown fuses. Next, you remove your center console. This reveals two screws underneath the airbag switch and lighter which must be removed. You now have to pry off the trim panel that surrounds the stereo and ventilation controls. I used a flat blade screwdriver, wrapped in electrical tape, inserting it between the stereo components, ventilation controls, and the panel. Be as gentle as possible or you will damage the trim panel. Once you manage to pull it off, you can safely disconnect the lighter wiring, but do NOT disconnect your airbag switch module. Even though you have disconnected the battery, it is still possible that disturbing the module could cause your passenger airbag to go off, which is extremely dangerous. Carefully let the trim panel hang by the switch module wiring. Next pop off the two narrow plastic covers that flank the cassette player, revealing the "DIN" radio removal holes, two each side. I have read that it is possible to make the U-shaped "tool" that is now necessary by cutting and bending a coat hanger, but I ordered the pair of tools from Crutchfield on-line, order number 150DINTOOL, for $3.00 plus $3.95 shipping. You may find that your local auto parts store does not carry, or wants considerably more for such simple tools.

Insert the "U"s into the holes until you hear a "click", and you can then carefully pull out the cassette player. Feed the correct end of the connection cable into the dash, and the connector plugs right in to the open "socket" on the back of the cassette player. Enough cable is provided that it should be possible to route the cable under the carpet of the footwell and under the doorsill, but I ran the cable past the shifter and under the console. Wrestling off the plastic plugs holding down the bulkhead carpet will allow you to run the cable under the carpet behind the driver's seat. You will find a gap in the bulkhead next to the door jamb, through which you can pass the cable alongside the fuel tank and into the trunk. After removing the trunk carpeting and trunk wall liners, I used a coat hanger "crook" to snag the cable from inside the trunk and pull the cable underneath the sheet metal panel that protects the fuel filler neck.

Now comes the hardest part-deciding where to mount the changer. There is no "official" mounting location, according to Mazda Canada. By playing with different mounting spots, you will quickly realize that you do not want to mount the changer in a location that prevents access to either the spare tire or the battery. I also wanted to still be able to toss items in the plastic "bucket", so after much debate, I settled on mounting the changer horizontally and lengthwise on the "frame rail" that separates the spare tire well from the bucket area. The extra cable is hidden under the bucket, which removes with a screw in its bottom.

At first I was dismayed to lose any valuable trunk space, but now that I've lived with it for a few weeks, the changer's location no longer bothers me. The overall quality of manufacture and engineering of the unit is not up to name-brand aftermarket car audio standards, and like a VCR, I do not expect to get ten years out of the thing. It does not appear to have any sort of shock protection, and really bad jolts will make it skip, but I wouldn't describe it as overly sensitive to skipping, and I have 40-series tires on my M2. In what felt like pretty nutty engineering, I slipped four little cone-shaped hardware store springs over the mounting studs of the changer, in effect suspending the weight of the changer on the springs. This has reduced the skipping somewhat.

When I describe what it's like to drive my Miata, I always tell people that you don't just drive a Miata, you hold on. So the advantages of a CD changer are obvious. Discs are changed by pressing the previously unused "DISC" button on your head unit, and once you are playing the disc you want, the track change control works on that disc. My taste runs to classical and opera, and it is marvelous to have a trunkful of Debussy, Puccini, and Wagner at your fingertips.

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