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Mercedes E430 Radio, CD and Phone
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Mercedes Radio

Mercedes Radio and Sound System Control- 1999 - 2003

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Every E430 comes with a premium Bose sound system. It's optional on lesser models like the E320.

The volume automatically increases and decreases with speed.

What looks like a radio is actually a control unit for everything. It works like a regular radio, and also does a lot more. Unlike cars ordered with navigation systems, the standard unit works great and is super easy to use.

Most Mercedes of these years use exactly the same head unit, whether or not one has the premium Bose amps and speakers.


It has a special radio that also picks up free 24 hour weather broadcasts directly from the US government's NOAA. Just press the "WB" button and scan, or press a number button between 1 and 7. There are seven weather band channels used throughout the USA.

In the USA the radio also tunes FM and AM. I don't know how to turn on LW reception, which is a trick one can do on BMW radios. LW is an extra band only used in Europe.

CD Changer

The trunk-mounted six CD changer is optional.

It appears to be the usual Mercedes-branded Alpine. The magazines interchange with Alpine and the same changers used in BMW.

It couples to the rest of the system optically.


Of course there is a real volume control knob. Tap it to turn on and off. There is a second volume control on the right of the steering wheel. Press the + and - if you prefer not to spin the knob.

The control unit (radio on the dash) has twelve keys, just like a phone. These allow dialing the phone right from the dashboard. They also allow direct selection and setting of 10 radio presets per band and direct CD and CD track selection.

To set a preset, just hold it in until you hear a beep. Easy!

The keys allow direct station tuning! Just press "*" and the station's frequency. To get to 104.3 FM, type "* 1 0 4 3." For 980 AM just press "* 9 8 0." That's it.

With a CD changer, press a number to go to that CD. When playing a CD, press * and the track number to skip to that track. Want CD #3 and track 12? Just press "3" and then * 1 2" and you're there.

The keys are specially shaped so you can do this by feel. You do not have to take your attention off the road. This could save your life.

There are four arrow buttons around the volume control. Left and right arrows scan stations or skip CD tracks. The up and down arrows tune each channel regardless of signal strength, or fast forward or reverse within the current CD track.

Tap the steering wheel menu button until you reach AUDIO. It's one back from the odometer display as you run through them. Now the left + and - steering wheel buttons let you go through CD tracks or stations and see them displayed in the middle of the instrument panel.

Audio Upgrades

Only an idiot would remove the factory radio. It is very good and very expensive and I believe made by Becker in Germany. Replacing it with an Alpine, Sony, Kenwood, Pioneer, Elite, Premier, Jensen or JVC is a severe downgrade and will dump the value of your car. If you have to, save the original and be sure to replace it before resale.

This is a real Made-in-Germany Mercedes, not some SUV made in Alabama or a Lexus or Cadillac.

The head unit is fully integrated with the rest of the car, special amplifiers, the CD changer and the phone.

There are eight independent channels of amplification, each with special equalization designed expressly for the interior of the E430 and the special speaker drivers. Only an idiot would attempt to change the drivers to something else, because the EQ and everything are designed to work together. Any other speaker driver replaced as an "upgrade" would sound much worse. Keep your kids away from the stereo; this isn't the old days when cars amps and speakers were generic.

It might be possible to augment the bass. I suspect the signal sent to the speakers is pre-EQd, which wouldn't work well as a source, and that the signal to the Bose multi-channel amp from the head unit may be optical. Good luck, let me know if you find anything.

There is no factory iPod adaptor. Let me know if you figure out how to add one.

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