CC Tech: Adding a USB Charger, and Random Shade Tree Musings.

The 2011 LR4 I have written about came with a wonky iPhone cord…..that plugs into a dedicated port in the center console. It allowed you to charge and play music from your phone. Bluetooth is used for the telephone feature, but the LR4 does not stream music using Bluetooth like most 2017 cars.

Then when the iPhone 6 came along with the new “lightning” connector, the LR4 proprietary cable was obsolete. If Jaguar/Land Rover makes a new coiled cord with a lightning connector, I haven’t found it yet. I just wanted to be able to once again charge, I never played music from my phone anyway. I tried this white adapter pictured here to go from the larger iPhone connector to the lightning connector, but it did not work for whatever reason. There was also a USB socket in the center console, but it charged so slowly it was of little help.

I could use a charger plugged in the dual cigarette lighter sockets, but the Type A in me didn’t like the appearance of that as a daily arrangement.

In doing a little reading, I realized that my onboard USB socket put out 0.5 amp, which is why it was so slow. Household iPhone chargers typically output 2.1 amps, which is the “normal” charging speed we are used to. But, I have had household chargers that output 3 amps, which results in a faster charge.

I also thought that USB’s for every row would be nice. This idea came to me when we flew out west this year and rented an SUV from Hertz that had USB’s in all three rows. Very handy.

I found lots of hard wired chargers like these on eBay. These were $8 each with free shipping, but some on there were less. Some have an in-line fuse holder which seems like a good idea, but you are tapping into a fused power source anyway so maybe it’s overkill. They have two USB sockets that you can conceal in a compartment, or leave accessible in about any way you desire. These are 3 amps, which is a good charge rate. In my 90 minute commute I make a day or two a week, it will take my phone from 40% to 100%.

I’m no mechanic, but the center pin of the lighter socket is usually (+) and the outer wall is (-). So, you cut into the wires on the back of any lighter, and splice or connect these leads with the correct polarity lead from the car, and the lead going back to the socket. That way, the socket is still usable as well. I twist the ends of the wires together and secure it with a couple of inches of heat-shrink tubing.

I connected one to the lighter socket on the front center console that you see at the top of the picture here, and left the USB sockets emerging from the passenger side of the center console. So, we have two USB sockets, and two lighter sockets for the front seats. Handy for road tripping with two phones, and you can still charge a digital camera too.

I connected another to the lighter at the back of the center console. I left the leads accessible through a 3/4 inch hole I drilled in the “roof” of the open cubby you see here. The lighter I connected to is concealed behind the door just under the vents in this picture. So, we have two USB plugs as well as a lighter socket for the second row (my teen boys, usually)

For the rearmost row, we have one factory lighter socket present as well. Since I had a little more flat surface area to work with here, I ordered a “built in” dual USB port. It has a 1.0 amp socket and a 2.1 amp socket, so not my ideal 3 amps, but it at least adds USB to the third row. And, I just wanted to try the built-in design where I had the room to do it. There’s open space behind the panel here, whereas the sides and rear of the center console are chock full of wires and ductwork.

Now, for the maintenance musings. I got around to the front and rears diffs, and transfer case this weekend. This is what came out….pure black. Bear in mind I have changed all three already at 30,000 miles, 60,000 miles, and now we are at 99,812 miles.

The factory schedule calls for the first change at 150,000 miles. I can’t imagine going that long based on how this looks after 40,000 miles of use, but that’s just me. The magnetic plugs were pretty clean, so I guess the fluid (75w90 in the diffs, ATF in the transfer case) is getting the job done. Once the old fluid had drained, I pumped a cup of new in and let it run out before I reinstalled the drain plug and filled it.

The next morning, I tackled the spark plugs with a cold engine. This went better overall than I expected. About three hours start to finish, which included removing the two air cleaner boxes and a rigid plastic wiring harness down each valve cover that runs the variable cam, fuel injection, and coil wiring together. So, there are 12 somewhat hidden, locking connectors on each side that have to be disconnected first. Then one torx screw holds down each Bosch coil, and you can reach the plug.

I always make sure I have a car free (i.e., not blocked in) for runs to the store when doing something like this…..and sure enough, none of my spark plug sockets would fit. They went down into the head, but were larger than the plugs. So, off to the AutoZone in the Cayenne with one of the new plugs for a test fit. The saleslady thought was off an ATV when I showed it to her. When I told her it was for a Land Rover,  she said “oh, we don’t have anything that will work, sorry”. I was rummaging through the tool aisle myself and another saleslady came over and handed me a small, “Fits Subaru, Honda and others” spark plug socket. It was a perfect fit the new Denso Iridium plugs.

The new socket fit the old plugs too of course, but it was not magnetic, and the rubber sleeve inside lacked enough grip. The plugs, old or new, just kept falling out of the socket before you could seat them or pull them out of the head.

My high tech solution. Half of one gummie in the socket worked perfectly. It provided enough grip to hold the plug in the tool, but also “let go” and didn’t stick to the new plugs once installed.

Have you come up with any other charging additions or ideas for your devices, or a tool “fix”?