2005 Mercedes-Benz CL65 AMG: Installing Bluetooth
February 17, 2014
One of the problems that used-car shoppers face is that a car designed and built several years ago was never intended to co-exist with today's portable technology. Two of the features that have become commonplace are iPod/iPhone music connections and Bluetooth phone connectivity. The latter is, for all intents and purposes, legally mandated in most states.
So, what happens if you're buying a used car that doesn't have these features?
It's an issue my cousin is experiencing as she's set to inherit her mother's 2004 Honda CR-V and one we're dealing with in our long-term 2005 Mercedes CL65 AMG.
Bluetooth is the more pressing issue for many given hands-free phone laws. It's also a more widespread problem amongst used cars, as it took longer for Bluetooth to become a standard feature. One common solution is to buy an aftermarket, stand-alone unit that mounts to the visor or elsewhere. I bought one for my wife's 2007 Mazda 3s and it seems to work acceptably. There are also more expensive systems that can be integrated into the car.
Thankfully, however, our CL65 has a built-in solution. Certain Mercedes from this era had a phone system that worked ostensibly like one of today's Bluetooth interfaces. Calls are heard over the car's audio system, you can dial through the car's number pad and it even downloads the contacts from your phone. I especially like how it organizes them into individual, alphabetical folders.
The only difference is that the system back then was intended for you to physically plug-in a special phone. This obviously went out of fashion rather quickly, but Mercedes created a Bluetooth-enabled unit that plugs into the phone system's port. We bought one of these "Mercedes Bluetooth Module Cradle Adapters" on eBay, pre-owned, for $249.
It took me all of two minutes to set up. Plug in the unit, hold down the only button for three seconds, wait for the "MB Bluetooth" name to show up on your phone, enter the code provided with the instructions, and that's it. My phone's contacts were seemingly downloaded instantly. The Bluetooth systems of modern cars can sometimes take quite a while.
As long as no one looks inside the secondary under-armrest bin, they'd never guess our 2005 Mercedes CL65 didn't leave the factory without Bluetooth.
In terms of a portable music player connection, cars from the early-to-mid 2000s were produced in the period before the ubiquity of auxiliary jacks, but after tape decks went out of fashion. Our long-term Acura NSX, Buick Grand National and my personal BMW Z3 can all use tape adapters to play an iPod.
In the case of our CL65 AMG, there is an integrated iPod interface available for the car's COMAND unit, but the functionality seems terrible. A simple auxiliary jack seems to be the preferred method of connection, but it'll take some time to nail down the right solution and will most certainly need to be professionally done.
James Riswick, Automotive Editor