We get a number of enquiries from Mercedes customers looking to install or retrofit a comand unit into their vehicle.
For some its a relatively straight forward task and even plug and play in some cases. However, its worth being aware of the pitfalls and potential problems.
W204 C class - 2007 onwards (NTG4 & NTG 4.5)
The main issue with retrofitting Comand to these vehicles is cooling. From the factory cars with Comand come equipped with additional cooling, ducting and a fan. There are people around who will install a Comand for you without the ducting and the fan. We wont do it. The fan is there for a good reason. The comand system runs hotter than audio-20 and therefore requires extra cooling. If you dont fit these components then your comand system will run hotter than it should which will lead to premature failure or even worse, it could cause a fire. When we fit Comand to a W204 we do it exactly as per factory. That means cooling. The other issue to beware of is the GPS antenna. Aftermarket GPS antenna's do not have the correct right angled plug on them. This causes the comand system to not fit in the dash. If you do manage to force it back into place the cable for the antenna will be squashed hard behind the comand unit. This will eventually cause the cable to fail.
NTG 4.5 comand can be retrofitted to the W204/w212/W207 (facelifted) cars. However, the serial numbers of the comand units are all checked and coding these units can only be done online via a supported DAS/Xentry system. It is not possible to simply plug in a 'used' NTG 4.5 and expect it to work. It will lock up or at the very least not enable the navigation system. The coding process for these units is tightly controlled and only units that have been supplied new or via an authorised route can be coded. Here at www.comand.co.uk we can offer this service.
W211 E class 2002 - 2009
The W211 E class was one of the first vehicles to come equipped with the MOST fibre optic based comand system. This was a complicated option as it involves a colour screen head unit, an Audio gateway and a separate navigation drive. On higher specced cars this also meant linguatronic, phone, TV and Cd changer all connected onto the fibre network. This system is good when it works but if any single component on that fibre ring fails then they all stop working. This is characterised by the Mercedes logo appearing on the screen for a few seconds and then the unit switches off. Finding the faulty component is just a matter of isolating them optically one by one until the problem goes away. Retrofitting this Comand system (NTG1) is a lengthy job as the three minimum components required are all separate and located in different parts of the vehicle. A far better upgrade path is to go to Comand NTG 2.5 as fitted to the last of the W211 E class cars from mid 2008 onwards. This system can easily be retrofitted and does not rely upon a whole host of other components to make it work. The NTG 2.5 comand also supports full seven digit postcode input something that the earlier Cd and DVD based navigation systems couldnt offer. The system incoporates bluetooth phone, DVD movie playback and optionally ipod integration also.
One of the pitfalls we have seen is customers sourcing their own NTG 2.5 comand and plugging it straight in to the existing Audio-20 loom in their car. This causes damage and blown fuses. It is imperative that you use a good loom converter to adapt your cars wiring. Another common issue is that of the comand coming up 'Auto theft protected'. This occurs when an NTG 2.5 comand with recent firmware on it is removed from a car and then installed into another vehicle. To unlock this requires DAS/Xentry access. We can do this but unless we are absolutely sure of the source of the comand unit itself we wont. Mercedes are now storing serial numbers of comand units and cross referencing these during installation. We know of at least one customer who bought a Comand from a well known auction site, took it it to his local dealer to have it installed and was told the unit was stolen. They promptly kept the unit in order to return it to the rightful owner. For this very reason we will not unlock a Comand unit unless we have supplied it or the source can be verified as legitimate.
If you are wondering where your comand may have come from, then ask when it is installed, to see the map screen on it before the GPS antenna is plugged in. You can zoom in and out and see the precise location. This will show you where the unit was when it was last active on the GPS network. If its come from a suburb of a major town in Germany or a car park near an attraction such as a theme park or a forest/lake or close to an airport, draw your own conclusions as to its legitimacy. Brand new comand units show the location of the Mercedes factory.
Lastly the point to remember with most comand retrofits is proper coding. Many 'used' comand units come from cars which had additional options fitted, such as Harman Kardon, Media interface or convenience phone. Sometimes its possible to just leave these options coded in the comand but others such as HK will mean that unless your car has HK already, then you will get no sound from the Comand until it is properly coded. Here at www.comand.co.uk we always fit the fans and always code the car properly using genuine supported Mercedes DAS/Xentry systems.