Using an iPhone 3G with a 2009 Hyundai Elantra SE

Here are my notes on using an iPhone 3G with a 2009 Hyundai Elantra SE. This requires the purchase of a special iPod cable (part # 086202L000 according to my dealer’s invoice, for $29.99) that has the iPod dock connector on one end and a combination of the 3.5mm audio connector and USB connector on the other end. From what I can tell, there is no official support for the iPhone, so your mileage may vary greatly on whether this works or not.

Disclaimer: Your mileage may vary on whether this works or not. I have done VERY limited testing for approx 10 minutes in my car. I have not tested it on the original iPhone or the iPhone 3GS, only a 16GB white iPhone 3G. I do not know whether any or all of this applies to the iPod touch or other iPod models. Please do not contact me for support, your best bet is to contact Hyundai. I can only report my experiences.

Tested with an iPhone 3G, Hyundai iPod kit, and a 2009 Hyundai Elantra SE.

Before you start:

  • Pick up an Hyundai iPod adapter from your local Hyundai dealer’s parts store. I bought mine at Autofair in Manchester, NH for $29.99 (part #086202L000).
  • Just to save you trouble: no, you cannot use a 3.5mm male-male audio cable and iPod USB cable to copy the Hyundai iPod cable. The Hyundai cable most likely includes a special chip that lets the steering wheel controls and the stereo control the iPhone/iPod. Without that chip, the iPod USB cable is useless, you will get just audio from the 3.5mm cable, and no controls on the steering wheel or stereo outside of volume.
  • The Hyundai cable is not long at all, maybe a couple of inches. If you have an iPhone mount or another location you wish to put it, you either have to mount it real close to the iPod jack in the car (which is immediately behind the shifter) or see if an extension cable of some kind will work. There is a spot immediately in front of the iPod port where you can lay your iPod or iPhone.

The initial connection:

  • I am doing more testing, but it appears you must have the car turned on when you plug in the iPhone. If you do not have the car on and just run on battery power, the iPhone freaks out (keeps flashing between iPod connected and unconnected mode every second) and cannot connect to the stereo despite the stereo being on. I don’t know why the car has to be on first, but it does, trust me.
  • Make sure you unlock your iPhone first if you have the passcode feature enabled. I have had better and more consistent results this way.
  • When you plug in the iPhone, hit the No button on the Airplane mode option. Hitting Yes will disable the iPhone’s radios.
  • If all goes to plan, you should be able to play music now and control the iPod from the stereo.
  • I have usually found with car iPod interfaces that it is quicker and in most cases, easier to pre-select what you want to play on the iPhone itself then plug it in so that item plays instantly.

What works:

  • Steering wheel controls (volume and track forward/back) work flawlessly in my testing. Track changes are instant.
  • You are able to access Playlists, Artists, Songs, and Albums on the stereo.  Scrolling through the lists are pretty fast, as quick as you can turn the right knob really.
  • Folder and Cat buttons bring you to the main iPod menu on the stereo (listing the items above) or to the previous menu.
  • Press right knob to select something (such as a song, playlist, etc.). Turn knob to navigate down the list. There is no loading delay scrolling through the list, titles are loaded fast, although the more songs you have, the longer it takes to scroll from beginning to end of course. No way to jump sections of the list at a time.
  • Press the Random button to go into shuffle mode on that playlist. Repeat button does what it sounds, repeats the previous song.
  • Good amount of info displayed on stereo. Artist name, Song Name, track # on playlist, playback time. Easy to read when driving, no odd formatting that I have noticed.
  • Info button lets you cycle through artist, track, album, etc.
  • The iPhone 3G DOES charge! No need to worry about bluetooth and music killing the battery.
  • The iPhone’s Sound Check feature works with this interface, keeping all song volumes relatively close to the same. Big feature for those of us who hate changing the volume after every song.
  • NEED TO TEST: I have not answered a call yet via the Hyundai’s bluetooth add-on for the 2009 Elantra and do not know how the iPhone will handle transitioning between playing music, taking a call, and then going back to music.

What doesn’t work:

  • Audiobooks and Podcasts do not show up on the stereo’s main iPod menu, so you will either have to access them by song/artist or make a playlist containing them.
  • The fact it still goes makes the iPhone 3G go into airplane mode is disappointing. The iPhone has been out for over 2 years now, you would think the manufacturers of these connections could design their devices to not trigger this message.
  • I do not see any way to mute a song outside of pressing the power button on the stereo itself or manually turning down the volume. This goes for any stereo source in this car.
  • Like I said above: if you do not have the car on when you plug the phone in, you will most likely have issues.

As I stated above, this has been limited testing. The real test will come in real life conditions, when I am on the road and trying to use this (vs. 9pm at night sitting in my parking lot and pressing every button for about 10 minutes).

If you have more tips on using an iPhone or iPod with the 2009 Hyundai Elantra iPod kit, please feel free to leave a comment.

A new car: this wasn't part of the plan

I have always had the policy of taking a car and running it into the ground. It has served me well over the years, getting me through high school, college, and those first few years after graduation when every college graduate is poor. For the past 7 months, I had been driving a 1993 Saab 900S Convertible that my grandparents gave to me after my wife’s 1998 Dodge Neon became too expensive to repair. She took my 2002 Subaru Forester. The plan had always been that when the Subaru was paid off, we would try to save up as much as possible for a certified used car or a new car.

Well, it didn’t go to plan. The Saab was a fantastic car to drive, but as all 17-year-old cars, its original parts were slowly breaking one at a time. It felt like every month I was sinking in $200-300 in repairs into that thing. If I am going to do that, why not just get a new or newer car? It had even gotten to the point where we were not taking that car wherever we went. When you can’t drive a convertible in the summer, afraid it will break down, you know something isn’t right.

With our Subaru going to be paid off in October, our search began. Looking around hard for some deals, we weren’t very impressed with the quality of the used cars on the market. It seems like with the economy, everyone was looking for good deals on used cars, not new cars. I was not impressed with the used cars around us.

I began to look into new cars, just to leave no stone unturned. What I found startled me. My wife and I went to the dealer Friday night after work and after 4 hours, walked out with a new 2009 Hyundai Elantra SE.

Our 2009 Hyundai Elantra SE is an automatic, has ABS brakes, Electronic Stability and Traction Control, Bluetooth adapter, iPod interface, 5 year / 60,000 mile bumper-to-bumper warranty, and 10 years / 100,000 mile powertrain warranty for $16,500. Not to mention it can get upwards of 35-38 mpg on the highway. A compatible American car would run near $20,000 with a warranty that doesn’t come close. Even a Honda Civic or Toyota Corolla would come in around $20,000 with similar features.

Why a new car? A few reasons:

  • The difference between comparable used cars in price wasn’t enough to outweigh the added benefits of a new car (warranty, safety features, mileage, piece of mind). Our payments will go up about $100 a month compared to our Subaru Forester.
  • Given our low mileage commutes (mine is 3 miles one way, my wife’s is 6 miles one way), we can use the Elantra for all of our trips and still not rack up much mileage on it. Probably less than 8,000 miles a year total. Yet we would save a lot of money in gas (28mpg combined, but I was getting 36mpg on the highway yesterday!) compared to the Forester (21mpg combined) and our old  Saab (18mpg combined).
  • The killer Hyundai warranty was a huge selling point. Especially since the Subaru Forester is getting up there in miles and years, we did not have to worry about paying for repairs on two used cars. I can be running this 9 years from now, the transmission dies, and still get it replaced under warranty at no cost. And given our low mileage commutes, we would almost certainly fall under the year limits of the warranty, not the mileage limits.
  • The Subaru Forester is being paid off by October. With payments on the Hyundai Elantra starting in September, we will have one or two months worth of double payments. Plenty room in our budget to work with that.
  • I can’t talk to the insurance agent until Monday, but doing comparisons online with other insurance companies online suggest my insurance will actually go down with the new car compared to the Saab. I am guessing 17-years of safety and reliability improvements really outweigh the cost of a insuring a new car.

Anyways, we are loving the new car and think it was the right choice for our situation.