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Scion Head Unit in a Toyota 4Runner: 2003 Toyota 4Runner

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I’ve always been a fan of using OEM parts when making modifications on a car. Because car manufacturers can share parts across different makes, you have access to a wider range of OEM parts when you’re looking for a replacement. Depending on the age of these OEM parts, many can be found on eBay or with other classifieds because many people change out their OEM equipment. These OEM parts can normally be found for a bargain because people don’t have any other use for these original parts.

In the case of my 4th generation Toyota 4Runner, there are many Scion OEM head units fit directly in the center console. These radios have connections in the back that fit the Toyota wiring connectors and so there are typically no other extra parts needed when replacing the head unit. I set out looking for a replacement for my OEM Toyota head unit, which not only looks incredibly plain, but also sounds awful.

4runner 4th gen sr5 4x4 v6

Stock radio head unit

First Upgrade: Scion T1806

Over the years, I followed this thread on T4R.org, which is a FAQ for those looking to replace their 4Runner head units with Scion ones. I tried several different Scion head units on my car with particular reasons for each upgrade. The first time I changed my OEM head unit, I replaced it with a Scion T1806 unit. I couldn’t find a photo of it installed in my car, but here’s one from member the4Rdan on T4R.org:

Image from: http://www.t4r.org (member the4Rdan)

Right away, the most noticeable difference is the power that is produced from the head unit. The OEM radio sounded very tinny and was barely audible, however with the new head unit (especially with tuning of the internal equalizer), the sound was significantly improved with greater volume and increased bass.

The great thing about the T1806 is the ability to change the background color to a variety of colors; this reminds me of the head units of the 2000’s that my friends used to have. This brought back a bit of nostalgia for me as I cycled through the different backlight colors. Many 4th generation 4Runner owners use this head unit for a quick and cheap upgrade meanwhile being able to match the head unit backlight color to the car’s OEM amber color.

Finally, the T1806 plays MP3 CD’s, so you can play tons of music off one CD. I also purchased an adapter cable online that allowed me to connect my iPhone 3GS (30-pin)–this allowed me to play music directly through the head unit, as well as charge my phone at the same time.

When I upgraded my iPhone and it began utilizing the 8-pin connector, I purchased yet another adapter that allowed me to play music through my new iPhone. But with the iPhone voltage also changing, I lost the ability to charge at the same time this double-adapter setup. Nonetheless, it still played my music and using a separate car charger, it also charged my phone at the same time.

Find on eBay: Scion T1806 Head Unit on eBay

2nd Upgrade: Scion T1814

When I purchased a subwoofer to further increase the bass on my 4Runner, I needed a head unit with analog inputs. After looking through all the different OEM Scion head unit options, I settled on a model T1814. It has analog inputs for the sub, looked quite nice, and had a similar color match to the OEM amber color. It was a bit more red, but it was close enough for me.

Find on eBay: Scion T1814 Head Unit on eBay

Front of Scion T1814 Head Unit

Rear of Scion T1814 Head Unit

I realized that the reddish-orange color was not the only thing that didn’t match; the white lettering became a noticeable contrast from the OEM color. I still really liked this unit for its usability. It ran my subwoofer like a champ and and I enjoyed the button feedback. The sound was on-par with the T1806 pre-subwoofer, but once the subwoofer was hooked up to the T1814, the sound quality just went through the roof with the added low frequency range.

This head unit still played MP3 CD’s and I used a cable adapter to play music through the 3.5mm headphone jack in my iPhone. I needed an adapter like the following, which connected directly into the back of the head unit.

Purchase on eBay: Car Aux Adapter 3.5mm Interface Cable

The Last Upgrade: Scion T10015

I was never all that interested in a touch screen head unit. The physical buttons of my previous head units worked perfectly well for me, and I used my phone for all GPS needs. OEM touch screen head units were just a non-necessity for me and I knew it would cost much more than non-touch screen versions.

t10015 head unit radio - scion

Why did I end up replacing my T1814 with a newer touch screen T10015? Well this time it was because of my backup camera. My backup camera setup was an eBay backup camera that I wired directly to a rear view mirror add-on. When I changed the gear selector to reverse, a little picture-in-picture would pop up on the rear view mirror with the rear camera view.

This option worked well for some time, but the eBay backup camera was not a wide-angle camera (even though it claims to). It was basically a normal camera facing the rear of my car. I found a better quality camera that was truly wide-angle and it looked a hell of a lot better than the eBay backup camera. This made me want to get a touch screen so that I could hook up the new backup camera, which would allow me to ditch the rear view mirror and have the rear view show up on the head unit screen instead.

I kept an eye out on eBay for a Scion T10015 head unit, but they were typically going for over $150 used. Eventually, I found a deal on one for $90 and snatched it up quickly. It arrived in what looked like almost new condition.

Next: Scion T10015 install in my 2003 Toyota 4Runner and what takes it up an extra notch over the T1814!


Some tips for finding a deal on OEM head units: 

  • The name of the head unit you’re looking for my be called a Scion T1814, but find out what the model number is called. Since it’s made by Pioneer, you can identify the model number and use that in your search.
  • Almost every part in a car has a part number; the same goes for the head unit. The Scion T1814 (or equivalent Pioneer model number) also has an OEM Toyota part number. Another useful search term to use.
  • Do some online research to find out what years and model vehicle the T1814 head unit was used in. These can also be searched for to further expand your search to find hidden deals.

Scott enjoys fixing and improving cars, motorcycles, and his home in his spare time. He does his best to transcribe his journey as he navigates across unknown territory, finds himself in peculiar predicaments, and figures out how things work in the process.

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