07 August 2023
USBs are an easy addition to your Land Rover’s interior. Alisdair Cusick explains how they’re fitted to a Defender TDCi
Need to know
Time: 1 hour
Difficulty: 1 out of 5
Models: Plug and play kit for TDCi-engined Defenders, but the basic principle is the same for any Land Rover model with a cigar lighter – Range Rover EFI, Discovery 1, 2, 3 and 4, Range Rover Sport, Freelander 1 and 2, Range Rover L322.
Tools needed: Screwdrivers, trim tool, drill for secondary USB.
Parts used: From Mobile Centre:
• USB standalone plug and play USB A & C socket (as fitted, with plug and play connectors for Defender fitment), 407DUSB4, £33.60.
• Conversion kit with bare ends, for adapting to almost any vehicle, 68USBPANL301, £33.60.
• Splitter/Y adaptor, 407DCIG1, £14.40.
• Two-way cigar extension lead 500mm long, 407DGIG2, £12.96.
• Use the right tool for the right job.
• Always be fire safe in the workshop.
• Never take risks with electrical wiring.
• Get an expert to do the job if in any doubt.
Thanks to: Tim Consolante and Mobile Centre (mobilecentre.co.uk), Ian Baughan and IRB Developments (irbdevelopments.com).
Modern cars come loaded with so much tech nowadays that it can be hard for our ageing Land Rovers to keep pace. One increasingly essential feature of modern life is a USB socket, or two. Fewer smokers nowadays means that what was once a cigar lighter is now called an auxiliary power socket, but in recent years both have given way to consumer demand for USB sockets to power our everyday devices on the move.
Rather than rely on a flimsy USB convertor hastily plugged in the cigar lighter socket, a neater solution is to fit hard-wired USB sockets. Fitting them couldn’t be simpler, not least thanks to a plug and play conversion offered by Mobile Centre. Its single USB socket conversion comes with connectors ready for you to simply unplug and remove the cigar lighter, replace it with a twin-USB power socket (with both USB A and C sockets) and reconnect the power feed using the ready-wired factory connector, which even matches the wiring colours. It really is that easy.
Adding a second USB socket for a passenger is also plug and play. The Mobile Centre offers a splitter cable that plugs into the factory cigar lighter connector, but has two connector blocks off it – one is for the first centre console USB, and the other for the second USB, though this could also be used for any other 12 volt accessory such as a dashcam or satnav. For a glovebox-area USB socket, Mobile Centre has a ready-made cable, wired to match the factory colour, with a factory connector ready to plug straight into that splitter cable. You just need to drill the hole for the socket to mount. No soldering, just plugging in.
Tim, together with Ian Baughan of IRB Developments, walk us through fitting a kit to a 2.4 Puma Defender 110.
Fitting the single socket
The components: USB socket (top left) is pre-wired to connect to the existing cigar lighter feed. To add another, there’s a splitter connector, extension and an extra USB socket.
Get to the job: First, remove the centre console, unscrewing the visible torx fixings, and prising out the centre with a trim tool. Take care and don’t stress any of the electrical cables.
Separate: Next, disconnect the radio, heater and switch connectors. You shouldn’t need to force anything. If something won’t release, you’re doing it wrong and may damage a connector.
Swap over: Remove the cigar lighter socket from the console. The plastic socket surround usually cracks as you remove it. Swap in the USB socket, and fix it in place.
If you’re only fitting one USB, then that’s the job almost done, you just need to plug the USB to the factory loom and replace the centre console. It really is that easy. Here though, we’re adding a second USB, in the passenger glovebox side panel. That means a little more to do, but we’ve got everything stripped out already, so all we need to do is drill a hole for the socket. So let’s do that.
Adding a second socket
Measure once: Mark a position on the passenger side (we’re holding the securing nut to mark the position), within reach of the centre console. Check behind the dash for clearance.
Drill clearance too? Most importantly, can you get the drill in? Here we’re using a step drill to gradually size the hole to that of the USB, then fit the USB socket.
Plug and play: Feed the single connector down to the passenger USB socket and connect up, then connect the centre USB socket feed, then the factory loom supply. Easy as that.
More connections: Reconnect the centre console switches, radio and heater wiring. Don’t let the console hang on the wiring while you do this, as it could cause wiring issues.
Refit the console: Confirm all switches and dash features work as they should. If something doesn’t, as a starting point locate the connector and double-check it is fully home.
USB power: Check both the USB sockets are working. You will know this by the blue telltale light on each socket. If that isn’t illuminated, then you’ve wired it wrongly.
No fuse needed
Note that we haven’t added a fuse. That’s because we’re using the factory cigar lighter loom which already has a 15 amp fuse. Although we’ve added potential load to that existing loom, each USB socket is capable of delivering 3.6 amps at 5 volts, which is equivalent to 1.5 amps at 12 volts, so it’s well within the maximum current draw for the factory fuse.
Find and repair previous bodges
When he reached the wiring behind the centre console, Ian spotted something that is unfortunately fairly typical of ageing Defenders: evidence of less than ideal previous workmanship. Here the heated windscreen feeds have been added using lazy quick-fit connections.
The way to sort this wiring is by using mid-point solder joints, as here. This means the wiring joints will be mechanically strong. They are then wrapped in insulating tape and, finally, fabric loom tape.
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