I have had my iPhone pretty well integrated with my OEM stereo ever since my first-gen model. However, I’ve only ever had it located down low in the central console, which makes it a bit tricky to operate whilst driving (glance, poke; glance, poke; glance, poke – and if you’re lucky the third poke did what you actually wanted to do). I had heard a lot about Brodit car mounts, and how they were pretty much the best way of mounting gadgets in your vehicle. However, none of the mounting options available for my model and year were really any better than what I already had – the best I could do was to put the phone alongside the gearstick. This wasn’t really worthwhile, so I stuck with my Belkin Tunedok holder.
However, when I got my 3GS and TomTom was announced, I renewed my interest. If I could only mount the iPhone high enough, I could use it for everything – music, calls, and navigation! I considered a windscreen suction mount, but I always worry about the security concerns with suction cup marks left on the glass, not to mention the fact that my satnav mount frequently drops off onto the dashboard (enraging my wife). So I applied a bit more effort into finding out if there was any way I could fit a Brodit mount higher on my dash.
After trawling the internet, I found that there were two companies offering brackets that fitted into the central driver’s side air vent. This was about the best mounting height I could hope for, and both manufacturers responded to email enquiries positively, saying they were sure the bracket would fit my model year Civic.
The first mount I found was from dashmount.co.uk. They confirmed via email that they were “100% certain” it would fit my vehicle, and quoted me £18 + P&P for the bracket.
The second mount was a Scorpion product, which after some investigation I found out was sold by the Chameleon Group. Again, they were very helpful via email, advising that if my car was an early ’04 model the bracket would fit, but if it was late ’04 it would have a newer style dash and would not fit. Their bracket was sold direct on eBay (seems to be quite common for manufacturers these days) for only £14 delivered, so seeing as my car is an ’04 and not ’54 reg, I decided to take the chance and ordered the second bracket. (I also had my doubts as to whether Dashmount’s 100% certainty would hold much water, given that the two brackets appeared to be all but identical.)
The bracket arrived the very next day – that’s really very impressive, I never expected a product purchased on eBay to turn up so soon! I’m generally pretty impatient with new gadgets, so I installed the bracket the same night. Here are some photos of the process, to aid anyone else trying to achieve the same as me (I had real trouble finding any info, hence this post!).
First, here is my dash, just to compare it with your own. My car is an ’04 reg 1.4si Civic.
Second, here is a picture of the bracket I purchased. The large hole goes over the air vent spindle, and the smaller hole is for a countersunk self-tapping screw for added stability of the installation.
Third, here I am trying to prise the air vent out of the dash… I really should have put some masking tape on the dash to protect it before this step, as quite a lot of force was actually required to get it out, but luckily no cosmetic damage occurred.
Now, here is a picture of inside the air vent. The hole is where the air vent spindle locates, and see the triangular section to the rear of that? The triangular cutout on the bracket is supposed to fit right on there, for a nicely braced, secure mounting position once the vent pops back in.
Supposed to. On trying the bracket in place, it became pretty clear that I must have the late ’04 style dash after all :o( The bracket just didn’t quite fit. The side wall of the vent in my dash is slightly curved, and the bracket is flat. No problem, I’ll bend it a little. Except that it still wasn’t right – the prongs at the rear weren’t the right profile, and the bracket wouldn’t line up with the hole for the vent spindle.
However, I wasn’t going to let this slight setback stop me. The metal of the bracket had already proved itself amenable to bending and forming, so I took a hacksaw to it and removed the offending prongs that were preventing aligning the bracket with the hole. Obviously there was no going back at this point! Fortunately, after filing down any sharp edges, I found that the bracket could now be positioned over the spindle hole. With the prongs removed there was now no support at the rear of the bracket, so I was definitely going to need to put the optional screw in to keep it firmly in place. And so, here is a pic of the bracket mounted in the vent:
You can see how I cut off the prongs, and installed the screw. (And look, I had put masking tape on by this point ;o) ) At this point I was still a bit concerned that the vent wouldn’t fit back in with the bracket in place, but I needn’t have worried – it popped back in surprisingly easily. So, here are a couple of pics of it installed:
Now all I need to do is attach the Brodit iPhone mount to the bracket. I had decided that I didn’t want to leave the cradle permanently in place – for one thing I didn’t want to advertise the fact that expensive gadgetry was used in the car, and for another, I didn’t want an empty phone holder staring my wife in the face every time she drove the car (especially since she’s the main driver). Brodit have a solution for this, which they call Move Clips. This would also have the advantage that I could clip another device to the mount, if required. However, their usual product is mounted to the bracket with adhesive, which didn’t sound too good to me – I wanted to be able to take it off again when I eventually have to get a new car. A bit more research uncovered a different version of the Move Clip that installed onto any bracket with an AMPS hole pattern, however it only seemed to be available from one retailer – GPSforless.co.uk. Also, it was a special order from Sweden – so I’m still waiting for it to arrive. The Brodit iPhone 3GS mount I ordered from eBay is here, though, so I’ll be test-fitting that tonight!