Introduction: Make a Cool IPod/iPhone Dock for Any Car Out of a VW Cup Holder!

About: I'm a 29 year old guy who's passionate about building and fixing things, sometimes if they aren't even broken. I get a great sense of enjoyment out of creating, designing and building new things. I also love t…

So I've been trying to think of a good way to integrate some sort of iPod holder into my car for a while now. I drive a 2009 Hyundai Accent and there's no real place to put your cell phone or iPod where you can check it at a glance while driving. Sure, you could buy one of those vent clip or suction cup cell phone holders, but it's more fun to make your own! So I put my thinking cap on and figured out a solution!

My mom used to drive a 2000 VW Jetta and I loved how the cup holders popped out of the dash at the push of a button, not to mention that they were a great utilization of otherwise wasted space. I remembered that they were just above the radio and were exactly the same width as the radio/cd player. I figured that I could probably make these cup holders fit in my dash since there is a standard size for the in-dash stereo on most cars and the cup holders from the VWs are the same width.

Since my car has a double DIN area for the stereo but only uses one for the actual radio itself (the other just has a small tray for holding cds etc.), I thought that I could place the cup holders directly underneath my radio if I just removed the tray for the cds. Of course these cup holders weren't designed for a Hyundai, so I needed to figure out a way to keep them secured in the dash so they don't fly out when I go over bumps in the road!

Note: I can't guarantee that this mod will work on all cars, but it did work perfectly on my 2009 Accent, which leads me to believe that it will work on a variety of vehicles.


-Flat tipped screwdriver or plastic trim removal tool.
-Screwdriver for radio removal (my car uses a #2 Phillips).
-Dremel with cutting and grinding bits (for cutting a slot in the cup holder bottom for a 30 pin connector, if you so choose).


-Mk IV Golf or Jetta cup holder assembly (the kind that pops out of the dash above the stereo. I got mine for free from my local auto recyclers).
-1/2 DIN plastic knockout trim (Got mine from another Mk IV. The "City" versions of the Golf and Jetta at some point changed the location of the cup holders and just put a plastic trim knockout piece in the dash where the cup holders had previously been located. This is the piece that I used).
-Various hardware (All cars will be different. You may not need any hardware depending on your car's dash).

Let's get to work!

Step 1: Gather Parts

If you don't own your own scrap Jetta or Golf, then it's time to take a trip to your local auto wreckers!

Once you've found a scrap Golf or Jetta with the cup holder unit intact, remove it. To remove it, first, open the cup holders by pressing on the trim (they will magically emerge from the dash). You will notice a small metal tab on either side of the unit. All you have to do is depress these tabs with a small flat screwdriver and then just pull the whole cup holder assembly right out of the dash.

The small 1/2 DIN knockout that I described in the materials list is located in the exact same spot as the cup holders, but only on some models which have the cup holders in the console instead of the dash. So you'll have to search around a bit for one of these as they aren't as common as the in-dash style. Once you find one, just insert a small flat blade screwdriver around the edge and gently pry until it pops out.

Most auto wreckers are pretty nice about small parts like these and just appreciate the fact that you're not trying to steal from them. They'll most likely let you have these parts for free or just for a couple of dollars.

Step 2: Dremel Out a Dock Slot in Your Cup Holder

This step is optional. I just decided that having a slot cut out of the cup holder would not only make connecting my iPod easy, but it also keeps your iPod/iPhone standing upright while it is connected.

First, just measure the general length and width of your connector and mark the cup holder. Then, use your Dremel cutting and grinding discs to cut/shape the slot so you can fit the connector through it. Make it as snug as possible. If the slot is too large, your iPod/iPhone will wiggle around while you drive.

Step 3: Remove Dashboard Trim

Now that you've got your parts, you'll need to remove the dash trim surrounding the radio in your car.

You can use a flat screwdriver with a bit of electrical tape wrapped around the tip to pry the panel off, but I would highly recommend buying a set of trim removal tools. They will ensure that you won't scratch or damage your panels when you remove them and they're always handy to have.

It is a good idea to just search your car on google with regard to trim removal. There are plenty of forums with detailed descriptions of the exact location of the trim clips and how to pop them out without damaging them. Or, if you have access to your car's service manual (not owner's manual), there is usually very detailed information and step by step processes for pretty much anything to do with the car.

That being said, I will go over how to remove the trim faceplate on my 2009 Hyundai Accent. Since this model lasted a while, these steps should also apply to any Accent model from 2006 to 2011.

I've marked the location of the clips in the first pic. The way I removed the clips was first to just gently pull on the vent grille just enough to get a small gap between the trim and the dash, and I then inserted my plastic trim removal tool into that area and gently worked it around the faceplate. You will hear a loud click whenever one of the clips release. Then, once all of the clips are free, just pull the entire trim panel towards you. I just let mine hang and didn't disconnect the wiring harnesses from the hazard, defogger and clock units, as I read that the immobilizer unit in these Accents is tied into the clock somehow and just didn't want to mess with it. It also isn't really necessary to disconnect them anyways. 

Step 4: Remove Radio

This step may or may not be necessary depending on your individual car.

I needed to remove the CD tray that is directly underneath the radio to accommodate the VW cup holder and knockout trim piece. In order to get access to the screws that secure it, I had to remove the radio. On this car, it is very easy to take out the radio. There are four Phillips screws (two above the radio and two below it). Take these four screws out and pull the radio unit out towards you. The CD holder is screwed to the radio frame with four Phillips screws (two on each side). Remove these four screws and take the CD holder out and set it aside.

At this point, you can put the radio back in if you like. It is easier to work on when you have it out, but not absolutely necessary.

Step 5: Fit Your VW Cup Holder and Install Mounting Hardware

This step could be as simple as just sliding the VW cup holder assembly into your dash, or you may require some sort of mounting hardware to secure it in place. Again, it just depends on the design of your particular car.

In order to accurately gauge what type of hardware I would need and where I would have to install it, I first just held the cup holder assembly in the spot where I wanted it and checked if there were any mounting holes nearby in the radio frame that I could attach hardware to. I found a few. 

After mulling it over in my head, I decided that the simplest solution would be the best. I had some small 'L' brackets in my parts bin and figured that by attaching four of them, I could create a simple shelf for the cup holder to sit on. 

Remember the holes in the frame that the screws holding the CD tray went through? That's where our new hardware will attach. I chose to use some M5 bolts with washers and M5 lock nuts to hold the 'L' brackets to the radio frame. Get your bolts almost as tight as you want them and then slide your cup holder assembly in. Then just move the 'L' brackets up or down until your cup holder sits in the place you want it. Then remove it, tighten your bolts and slide it back in.

Although the assembly just sits on the tray, the fact that it is wedged between the 'L' brackets and the radio holds it in place. It's not going to come out unless you accelerate from 0 to 60 in 0.5 seconds!

Step 6: Install Knockout Plate Beneath Cup Holder

By now, your cup holders should be snug in their place. The only problem is, you have a 1/2 DIN open gap underneath the cup holder assembly! This is where the trim knockout comes into place.

The best way I can describe how to install it, is just jury rig it! Every car is different, so you may not be able to get away with installing the trim the same way I did unless you have the same type of car as me.

I simply epoxy glued two more 'L' brackets to the back of the knockout panel and then epoxy glued the other part of the 'L' brackets to the plastic ledge that is directly behind where it will sit.

I also chose to drill a hole on either side of the knockout and put grommets in the holes so I could feed my aux cable in and out of the dash just to make it all look a little cleaner. 

Step 7: Plug and Play!

Now all that's left to do is open your cup holder, connect your iPod or iPhone and play some music!

I hope you enjoyed this Instructable and, as always, any questions or comments are welcome!