Pioneer Avic Z1 Upgrade

My Pioneer Avic Z1 has been a great car stereo, with one tiny exception. Ever since the day I had my stereo installed I have a warning message pop up when the stereo turns on (“Warning! Improper parking brake connection detected”) and I am locked out of all the map and setting functionality on the unit if I’m moving.

To be fair, anyone with this unit is going to get locked out if the car is moving. It’s a “safety feature” of the unit. But it’s really stupid. If I can adjust all the controls on my music then why on earth shouldn’t I be allowed to adjust settings or enter destination addresses? Too dangerous? Okay, what if I have a passenger in the car with me? Why lock controls that a second person could use?

The solution to all my trouble? A bypass procedure and a software update. I’ve been planning to do this for three years or so and just never got around to it. A week or so ago I bought an upgraded hard drive on eBay. For only $80 I got  2012 maps, updated Gracenotes and way more space for music.

Yesterday I had my center console pulled apart to add insulation around the shifter so I figured that was a good time to tackle the project. Putting in the new drive was a cinch (pop out the old one, transfer the mounting bracket and then slide the new one in). The software is now up to date (I was still running the original 2006 version). Then it was time to tackle the bypass.

Pulling the Avic out is not a fun procedure. There are so many wires, modules, harnesses and cables that it makes me cringe. But I went for it. While I was digging around I noticed this weird relay contraption. I’d seen it before, but this time I decided to give it a closer look since it was hooked up the parking brake ground on the Avic. I think it was put in by the guys at Sound Warehouse when I had the deck installed (it might have been a bad attempt at a bypass & was probably the cause of my error message). Out it went. Ounces shaved off the car’s weight. Win.

Performing the bypass operation was fairly easy. Cramming all the stuff back into the console was hard. Here is a great video that shows bypass instruction for the Avic Z series (if it doesn’t play click the “watch on YouTube” button on the bottom right corner):

Problem solved! I got the bypass done, no more warning, and now I have access to all my controls even if I’m in motion. Rest assured people-  I’m not planning to use my new power to do anything reckless.  I guess only one question remains: Am I a crazy stereo bypassing criminal or a equal rights stereo control liberator?