Project Truck gets iPod/iPhone Connectivity

Ever since the H3 came out in 2005, customers have been asking for a way to connect their iPod directly to their trucks. General Motors heard the demands and answered with the “Personal Audio Link” (PAL), which is a direct, wired link from your iPod or iPhone directly to the H3’s factory radio.

FM modulators just don’t have the sound clarity that most audiophiles desire, and previously, only aftermarket direct connections were offered and many caused problems with the radios operation – problems that wouldn’t be covered under warranty at the local HUMMER shop. The PAL has gone through GM’s stringent testing process to ensure operation will be “consistent and will not interfere with the operation of any other aspect of the vehicle.”

What does that really mean? It means GM has addressed the concerns that are often problematic with other aftermarket systems such as:

1) Drawing low amounts of power when the vehicle is turned off – leading to dead batteries.
2) Audio distortion from the device or cabling, creating a “whining” noise during operation.
3) Operation in extreme temperatures (-50ºF to +160ºF) will cause device failure.
4) Touching the accessory connector and discharging a static shock can damage the device.

H3iPhoneiPod - CopyGM has taken all these into account in the construction of the PAL, and while you probably won’t be operating a vehicle at 50 below, I can tell you the whining problem is VERY common among aftermarket audio devices. To fix this, extra devices and wiring often have to be added to reduce the interference. So far, we haven’t experienced anything less than perfect clarity from the PAL.

Operation of the device is similar to other devices – buttons like Category, seek, etc allow you to shuffle through playlist and song options directly from the radio. It definitely takes some getting used-to, but after a while it becomes second nature. One cool feature is the “radio detent knob” speed sensor, which makes advancement through enormous song lists a little easier. When it detects faster knob speed, the faster the PAL will scroll through the list.

Currently the PAL charges your device at the same time, except for the later generation iPods (4th gen Nano, 2G iTouch) and the iPhone 3G and 3GS. These devices require a USB (5V) charge instead of the older 12V charge. For those purchasing in the meantime, a connector that goes between the cable and your later generation device will convert the power to enable charging. That connector will be available free of charge, and is expected to be available in a couple weeks. In a month or two, an entirely new cable will be available for around $25 that will merge those two elements into a single cable. It is currently going through the validation process as described above.

A dealership installation is recommended, but not absolutely necessary – the toughest part of the install is splicing through a wire or two. Though by default the device is programmed for a factory Nav unit with XM, so if you have another radio like the 6CD or single CD, a dealer visit will be required to program the unit to your radio. Some dealers may do this for free, and others may have a small charge which will probably still be less expensive than a complete dealer install.

Overall, we’re impressed with the PAL as an addition to our project H3 sound system with an affordable price to boot.

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  1. How much did it cost including installation?

  2. The GM part # is 19202101.

    The part has an MSRP of $235, though dealers can choose to sell it for more or less. There are some online parts places that are selling it for around $170.

    We did the install ourselves, but would probably be around $100 through a dealer or custom shop.

  3. Dose anybody know if there is something like this for an 06 h2, with navgation?

  4. Not from General Motors – only aftermarket.

  5. Awesome website, very insightful, hope you can help..

    1. Will this work with a 06 h3?
    2. Can you control the ipod’s functions through the iphone itself, or will it have to be through the radio’s buttons?

  6. Thanks!

    1) Yes, though you may need to get your radio reprogrammed from the dealer (some may do this for free since it’s so quick). By default, it is setup to work with the factory Navigation.
    2) Not through the iPhone – when you access the music function on the phone, a message says “Accessory Connected” and does not allow you access. After you figure out the controls, it’s not bad.

  7. What a great website, thank you for your almost instant help. If I wanted to install one of these myself, where can I guide or instructions on how to drop the glove box or route the ipod cord through the center console?

  8. * “…where can I find a guide…”

  9. Anyone know a link where it can be purchased?

  10. How hard is installation? The ad says something about splicing wires where it seems like a lot of aftermarket models are plug and play. I have an 08 h3 with xm no nav and the monsoon system so I guess I’ll need the reprogram at the dealer too?

  11. “In a month or two, an entirely new cable will be available for around $25 that will merge those two elements into a single cable.”

    Any word on whether the new cable is available yet? If so, is there a part number?

  12. Questions:
    If I purchase the cable now (Jan 2010), may I expect it come with the new cable which can charge newest iphone/itouch?
    If not, should it come with the free convertor you talked?

  13. Great write up, thanks! So I called my local dealer to order the part and schedule installation. They first replied that there is no such thing as a “PAL”. When I gave them the part number, they eventually found it, but claimed it would only work on 2009 and up models. It literally took them all day to figure that out and I have no confidence they know what they are talking about. Is it true, PAL are good only for 2009 and 2010 models?

  14. Pretty sure it will work on any model year, but it may need programming from the dealer for any radio — the 6CD/single CD radio configurations I think are exactly the same for every year model produced…

  15. Great article! Do you know if the new cables are shipping with the PAL yet? My dealer said that they didn’t think it would charge anything – even the regular Ipod. They have never done an install before on the H3, so they weren’t sure about the new cable.

  16. I’m with Ian – is the $25 part upgrade available yet? And a part # would be great as others have proclaimed the dealers are not up to speed on everything! Awesome – I’ve been wanting to play my MP3’s in my Hummer!

  17. Will this work with a H3 that has a standard radio (single CD player/XM radio)?

  18. Yes – though it will need to be programmed by dealer equipment.

  19. I tried to ask a dealership and they had no idea what I was talking about…. I don’t understand exactly how sometimes it is said that it will work with nav and sometimes you say it wont. I have a 2006 with factory nav, single cd and no satelite. Will it work for me

  20. This unit is by default programmed to work with the nav. Where is it listed that it will not work with the nav?