Pioneer AVIC Infotainment Units Hacked to Load Custom ROMs

Pioneer’s flagship AVIC line of in-car multimedia systems is compatible with both Android Auto and Apple Car Play, and offers all manner of multimedia features to the driver of today. What’s more, these in-dash wonders have spawned their own community, dedicated to hacking the units. The ultimate infotainment hack is to develop custom ROMs for these devices.

What this means is that owners of Pioneer AVIC units will eventually be able to flash a custom ROM onto their in-car device, allowing it to operate more like any other generic Android tablet on the market. The potential is there for installing custom applications, extra hardware (such as OBD II readers), or pretty much anything else you can do with an Android device.

The hack involves a whole lot of delicate steps, beginning with using a USB stick with a special image to boot the device into a test mode. This allows the internal SD card to be backed up, then overwritten with a new image itself.

Mostly, the hack has been used to allow map files to be updated on the internal SD card — inability to update maps has been a long festering thorn in the side of in-dash navigation systems. Users have been customizing this to suit their requirements, also adding speed camera locations and other features. But overall this hack is a great example of hacking something to get full control over the things you own. At the least, this will allow drivers to ditch the phones suction-cupped to the windshield and run common apps like Waze, Uber, and Lyft directly on the infotainment screen (assuming you can rig up an Internet connection).

Check out another great Android ROM hack — using a cheap old smartphone as a low-cost ARM platform.

9 thoughts on “Pioneer AVIC Infotainment Units Hacked to Load Custom ROMs

  1. AVICs are after-market units. I’m not sure hacking a unit you can just remove from the dash and install your own hardware qualifies as “the ultimate infotainment hack”.

    Android/Google will be directly embedded in cars (officially) sitting in dealer show rooms in model year 18+ with the N.Car release. After working for the largest infotainment supplier for the auto industry for many years, there are significant vulnerabilities with OEM products as well. And they all start with the same root cause – poor hiring practices.

    This is a trend that will definitely continue…

    1. Android Google will NOT be directly integrated, it will be heavily Locked and protected from Evil end users. you will be required to use it as they see fit.

      Having a unlocked head unit allows you to do what you want. This is something that not one single car maker wants to have happen.

      1. It’s hard to argue with the car manufacturers on this one. The instant your mom wipes out her radio she’s going back to the dealer to get it fixed and they’re going to have to spend time doing that. That’s time and money that either she’s paying, or the dealer sucks up, and either way it won’t be cheap. Wipe out an aftermarket head unit? You bought your ticket….

        1. I’m not sure about yours but the number of times my mother has accidentally unlocked her bootloader, rooted her phone then deleted something core to Android is zero. Most of the time she can’t even find the camera app.

          We’re not saying make them totally open, just more open to those who choose to mess around. Void our warranties if you want.

          1. That’s kinda the point – you can’t accidentally mess it up. There’s no interest for them to open it up to the mod community as it’s a tiny fraction of their customer base and modding the nav system probably cuts down on the resale value.

  2. You can already do this with Chinese Head units. They are already unlocked and offer a tablet mode by default. THeir specs are more like a 4 year old phone but you can load just about any app you see fit and they already include wifi. Teathering is simple with your mobile device once you set it up on your phone and you setup bluetooth. Not sure what the advantage of breaking into a Pioneer unit is anymore.

  3. this is possible with Renault dash Infotainment, we bought a 2015 ex hertz car with 10k on it and the factory reset had been hit deleting map data etc. dealers wanted hundreds as we weren’t first registered owners so reflashed with menarus firmware, file browser, map updates with ease, the optional rearview can enabled and can hardware added and other cool stuff.
    Renault were talking about fitting all extras to all cars and licensing them via a app store. Bring it on, free hardware upgrades if you are prepared to risk bricking your infotainment…phi

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