H3 Radio Swap

Maintenance Article

If this site has helped you consider a Donation. Donation Info
  1. With the engine off, and the key in the "RUN" position, place the shift lever in position "1"-- you'll need the lever in its most rearward position to make room for the bezel removal later.  Yes, this means that you can't pull the key from the ignition. Place the key in the ACC position.  Set the parking brake.
  2. Disconnect the battery.
  3. The bezel surrounding the H3 radio is easily pulled free. It's held in only by about a handful of friction clips.  Grasp the two power outlets at the bottom, and pull slowly and firmly until the corner of the bezel pops free.  Once you have a corner of the bezel out, get your fingers under the free edge and carefully pop the rest of the bezel free, working from bottom to top.
  4. On the back of the bezel, there are 8 electrical socket connectors, but you only need to remove 2 near the top -- a small 3-wire connector for the emergency flasher switch that removes simply by lifting the locking tab on the top of the connector, and pulling it free.  The second connector, the one for the 4WD control switches, is a little trickier.  It has a blue locking tab that must be slid straight back about 5mm (don't try to remove the blue tab altogether), and then another locking tab underneath the blue tab must be squeezed to release the connector.  The rest of the electrical connectors can remain connected and the bezel rotated out of the way for the radio removal.
  5. The radio itself is held in by four 7mm screws, and after those are out, you can easily slide the radio forward, and remove the two multi-wire connectors on back by squeezing the lock tabs and pulling. Finally, remove the antenna lead by simply pulling it straight out of the back of the radio.  The radio is now free to be removed from the vehicle.
  6. Put the new radio in place, and reverse the removal procedure.  Make sure each connector locks into place with an audible 'click' when you reconnect it.  Take your time putting the bezel back into place.  Start by pushing the two top vents into place, and then slowly pushing the rest of the bezel into place, working from the top down.
  7. Reconnect the battery, and turn the key to "run", but do NOT start the H3 yet.  The lights on the climate control buttons will flash for about 10-15 seconds while the system initializes, but then everything should be back to normal.  Push the "4H" switch on the 4WD control panel, and make sure its lit.  Check the operation of all switches on the bezel to make sure everything is in order.

As far as my particular situation goes, the replacement radio worked -- until I turned the key from 'acc' to 'run' -- then I got the "LOCKED" message, and I was off to my local dealer.

They had never installed a different factory replacement radio in an H3 before and they told me they were not sure that it could be done without totally pulling and reflashing the ECU, etc - they said "figure a half a day". 4 hours labor at $90 per = $360... Damn.I was pretty sure that level of work would NOT be necessary, so I asked them to 'give it a quick try' and see what they could do, while I waited and kept an eye on the clock.

Well, they came back in about 20 minutes with the new radio properly coded to my truck, and a invoice for $50.  They said it was easy -- much easier than they thought.  Turns out they didn't need any of the codes or numbers from the back of the radio either. Works great.