Auto-Dimming Mirror w/ Compass,Outside Temp and Homelink

WHY?  My LE model did not come equipped with a Homelink system for controlling my garage doors; I really like that accessory so I went in search for an aftermarket unit.  The Gentex Corporation provides the auto-dimming mirror/Homelink unit that is an option in many vehicles, including the Frontier, so I did some research on their products to find one that met my needs.  This mirror can be ordered alone or with just about any combination of compass, outside temperature display, Homelink, map lights.  I liked the Gentex model 50-GENK51 that features a self-dimming mirror, compass, outside temp and Homelink.  An internet search turned up many vendors that offered this unit, but I found the best price offered by an eBay seller called Brand-New Electronics.  I bought the unit for $235 plus shipping and paid via Paypal.

SERVICE.  Buying from a complete stranger on eBay can be a scary proposition, but this vendor's feedback was excellent so I took the plunge.    I was very impressed with the service--Rob contacted me via email immediately after the purchase and he provided me with a shipping tracking number as soon as the item shipped.  The package arrived within days.  When I emailed Rob about an additional accessory he responded immediately and thanked me for the business; this is the way an eBay transaction should be done!  If you are looking for this item I'd suggest that you contact Rob first--great service and a great price!  The product arrived in the original factory packaging, with all parts and instructions included.  Everything looked to be of excellent quality, with no visible flaws.

INSTALLATION.  This job could be accomplished by an owner with modest mechanical skills and required only basic hand tools.  Working carefully, I had the unit installed and operating in under two hours.  The instructions are pretty good but are generic and not specific to the Frontier so it might be helpful to see how I did the installation; here are some pics and a description of the process:

1.  I began by mounting the temperature sensor; I wanted to pick a location away from the heat of the engine compartment and in front of the radiator so I clipped it on top of the lower bumper cover (see the pic below).

I ran the lead wires through the radiator brackets and down the driver's side of the engine compartment, passing them below the air filter box and ABS valve.  I cut a small slit in the rubber grommet that surrounds the wiring harness as it passes through the firewall then fished the wires through the grommet into the passenger compartment.  I used zip ties to secure the wiring.

2.  It was time to remove the plastic trim, so I had to use an easy hand.  The driver's side grab rail was removed by gently prying off the trim caps on each end and using a philips screwdriver to remove the two screws holding it in place.  The plastic trim on the side pillar will then pop out, but it's not wise to go prying on it with a screwdriver as it scratches very easily.  Next I removed the small trim piece next to the dash and the lower kick panel and door step plate; all these pieces will pop loose when pried on gently.  Now you can see a clear path to run your wiring.

3.  Following the instructions provided, I attached the temp sensor leads to the mirror wiring harness.  To wire this particular model, I needed to locate a good ground, a wire to tap that provided constant power, and a wire to tap that provided power when the ignition is on.  You might want to use a multimeter or test light to locate these wires for yourself, or you might could use the same connections I did.  I attached the ground wire to a screw located on the side pillar and tapped a wire next to the side pillar to provide constant power.  Here's a pic:

I couldn't locate a switched power source in the same location, so I had to look elsewhere and found one in the wiring behind the driver's side kick panel.  See here:

I tapped both wires and connected them to the wiring harness.  Leaving the wiring in a spaghetti-like mess, I plugged the harness into the back of the new mirror to test its operation before going any further;  I was overjoyed and amazed to discover that all functions were operating properly so I set about getting everything buttoned up.

4.  I removed the factory mirror by sliding a small screwdriver into the slot on the bottom of the mount cover and gently wiggling and pulling the mirror up.  The next order of business was to plug the wiring harness into the back of the new mirror and set it into place on the mounting plate and tighten it with a #120 torx driver.  I ran the wires from the mirror upward to the headliner, leaving a little slack for mirror adjustment; I then moved toward the left, slipping the wires under the edge of the headliner using a plastic credit card to avoid damage to the headliner and the wiring.  Once I got to the side pillar I bundled up the excess wiring and secured it with a zip tie.  I replaced the trim pieces, the door step plate and the kick panel. 

5.  I cleaned up my mess, picked up the tools, and followed the instructions to calibrate the compass and program the Homelink transmitter.  Done! 

RESULTS.  Fantastic.  The compass and thermometer work well, the auto-dimming feature is a nice one to have while driving at night, and I love the convenience of being able to open the garage doors and the gate without having remotes hanging on the visor.  Best of all, the mirror is an attractive piece and looks just like it was factory-installed.

WORTH THE MONEY? Absolutely.  For about $250 and a couple of hours of my time this accessory offers quite a lot.