Radio Upgrade

Joying Radio Unit Upgrade

Radio Upgrade

At the time of ordering our 2016 Ford Transit, three radio options were available:

  1. No Radio, 6 speakers included with the wiring provision
  2. Basic Radio with 2 front speakers
  3. Sync Radio (Ford’s fancy and crazy-expensive radio)

We went with option 2 thinking it would satisfy us, but it turns out the user interface and sound performance are somewhat left to be desired…

So here we are, first day on the road as full-time vanlifers, installing a new fancy head unit in our dash! It’s an Android Radio; to keep things simple, it’s basically like using our Android phones:

  • It got WiFi, Bluetooth, USB port, SD card Port, 7″ 1024px display, yadayadayadablingbling
  • It’s touchscreen, just like a smartphone (we’re didn’t expect it to be as smooth and functional, sweeeeet!)
  • Any Android app can be installed in the radio (Google Maps, Spotify, Waze, Gmail, etc)
  • The screen of our Android phone can be streamed on the radio screen through the USB port or WIFI
  • It’s possible to connect a reverse camera on it


Keep reading for the installation write-up!





TOTAL COST : About 360$ USD



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Part A: Remove the old radio and fit the new one using the Metra Dash Kit

**Note: The Metra Dash Kit includes comprehensive instructions, but here are our take on it


Unclip the dash panel above radio
There are no screws; just use a plastic scraper to pull UP!


Remove these two torx screws

Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (4)


Unclip the factory trim panel
Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (5)
There are no screws; just pull forward to remove!

Unplug the Airbag & Hazard cables from the factory trim panel that was just removed previously:


Remove the right & left vents from the factory panel and keep for re-installation
Remove one screw per side, then unclip the left & right vents. (edit: that’s the picture of the new Metra panel, but the factory panel is pretty much the same thing…)



Remove the Air Bag & Hazard panel and keep for re-installation

Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (8)


Install the left & right vents to the new Metra Panel (using the screws provided in the kit)

Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (10)


Snap the Hazard & Air Bag into the new Metra Panel


Install the 4 plastic panel clips provided to the new Metra dash panel
plastic panel clips = white things


Install the 12 metal panel clips to the top Metra top panel. There are a few different types; make sure to install the proper ones at the right places (refer to Metra Instructions)

Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (14)


Optional step (well, mandatory if you bought a Joying Unit like us): The Joying Head Unit is slightly larger than the Metra Dash Panel Cutout, so we had to enlarge the cutout (about 1/8″ left and 1/8″ right). We used a carpenter knife, because this is all we had but you might find a better tool for the job.
The Joying unit (Buy on Amazon) is a bit too large for the cutout…
Now, the plastic bracket noted below has to go! It’s soft plastic, a carpenter knife works:


After trimming the bracket

Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (21)



Install the left & right Metra Radio Brackets to the Radio Head Unit

Easier said than done! There are MANY holes; the idea is to use the right combination to get the proper radio orientation/depth. This will ensure the radio aligns with the Metra Dash Panel Cutout. It’s a trial-and-error process, it took us quite a while to get it right…

This is how we finally make it works (you might find a different position, we don’t pretend our fitting is perfect…):

Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (19)


The radio is secured with four screws:Ford-Transit-Radio-Upgrade-DDIN-Joying-Android-(24)


Now, if you fitted the radio properly into the brackets, it’s fairly easy to put the Metra Dash Panel and the Top Panel back in place: there are no more screws, it’s just clips. Here it is!

Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (1)


We did it!!
No we didn’t.
We still have to wire the radio.
keep reading.



Part B: Wiring the new radio

Ford Transit Radio Upgrade DDIN Joying Android (22)


To connect the wire from the Metra kit to the radio unit, use crimp cap:

Crimp Cap
Buy Crimp Cap on Amazon

Connect the Metra Harness Adapter to the new Radio using the following TAG (COLOR CODE):

Joying Head UnitMetra Harness Adapter
Battery Constant Power BATT (YELLOW) 12 VOLT (YELLOW)
Negative, Left-Front Speaker (BLACK/WHITE)(BLACK/WHITE)
Positive, Left-Front Speaker (WHITE)(WHITE)
Negative, Right-Front Speaker (GREY/BLACK)(GREY/BLACK)
Positive, Right-Front Speaker (GREY)(GREY)



The Metra Kit (Buy on Amazon) includes a coaxial cable for the FM radio. Ours was a bit too small for the Joying unit, so it would not stay in place. We used electrical tape to “secure” it in place; it’s working well so far (finger crossed)!


Note: The Metra Kit doesn’t have provision for the “auxiliary” cable, unfortunately.


Finally, we put the GPS antenna of the Joying unit on the little shelf near the front windshield:



Optional: Dual USB Flush Mount Panel Installation

The Joying unit included two USB data ports that can be used to:

  1. Connect an Android phone and stream the screen to the radio
  2. Connect a USB stick to update the unit firmware
  3. Connect a USB stick to use as an external drive for music


We bought a USB flush mount from Amazon (Buy on Amazon) and installed it as follows:

Remove the blank USB factory panel. Use a plastic scraper to pry it off. Disconnect the auxiliary jack.

USB Flush Mount Installation Ford Transit (5)


Trim the plug at the back of the USB port


USB Flush Mount Installation Ford Transit (1)



USB Flush Mount Installation Ford Transit (2)


Make a cutout for the USB Mount (it’s approximately 1″ diameter). Then install and secure it to the panel using the provided plastic nut.

USB Flush Mount Installation Ford Transit (3)


USB Flush Mount Installation Ford Transit (4)


To route the 2 USB cord, we had to remove some plastic back there. It’s very tight; you will need patience and dexterity to route the cables!

USB Flush Mount Installation Ford Transit (7)


The USB cords are routed up to the radio unit and plugged



That’s it!
The next task is to delete the factory 4″ speakers and upgrade them with 6.5″ JBL GT7-6C. Wait for it!
JBL GT7-6C 300W 6.5″ Speakers with tweeters. Buy on Amazon.






Short term:

ANDROID OS: We’re glad we went for the upgrade! The Android interface is superb; it’s very similar to our Android phones so we feel at ease. Any app (Google Maps, Spotify, Pandora, Waze, Youtube, Gmail, etc) can be installed on the radio so it’s fun and entertaining to use 🙂 It’s also possible to “stream” our phone screen to the radio screen. Google Maps reduced the number of fights over driving directions; it’s a good thing for a couple 😛 It’s always Google Maps fault now.


JOYING HEAD UNIT (Buy on Amazon): This is a “Chinese” product. What’s not, right? What we mean is, it’s not a major brand with world-class-everything. The website and documentation is a bit confusing and english is clearly not their native language…  That being said, the final product feels just like a higher-end product. However, there are few bugs and strange behaviors we can live with: sometimes, the apps cannot access GPS data and the Bluetooth disconnect and reconnect every 10 minutes. It can probably be fixed with a firmware update; we will keep you updated. We would NOT recommended this unit if you’re not technologically incline and willing to spend some time troubleshooting/setting.  In this case, you better choose a higher-end radio such as the Pioneer AVIC 8200NEX Android Radio (Buy on Amazon); you can’t go wrong with this if you don’t mind the higher price tag.

Here are some bugs we ran into and how we “solved” them:

  1. Google Maps grey dot (Grey dot = cannot find location). First fix we found was to select “Start Driving” in Google Maps menu, then the location is updated. But what really works is to set the radio to NOT be dormant (under Car Settings –> Settings (password is 3368)) when we turn the car off. When dormant option is OFF, the radio perform a full reboot at each start and this solved our issue.
  2. Bluetooth disconnection every 10 minutes. This still have to be solved!
  3. We had the GPS go crazy one time, loosing location or being way off. Rebooting the radio solved the issue!
  4. How to stream the phone screen to the radio screen (this is not a bug, it’s a how-to): On your phone, go into Settings –> About Phone –> then press 7 times on “Build Number”; now go back to About Phone and “Developer Options” is now available. Under “Developer Options” turn on “USB Debugging”. Connect the phone to the radio USB port. Select “Easy Connect” app on the radio; it will also launch the app on your phone. Select USB (or WiFi if this is what you wish, but you will have to activate the Hotspot feature on your phone which will drain the battery more quickly). On your phone, accept USB Debugging mode in the notification area. That’s it! Tip #1: Put your phone in landscape mode. Tip #2: Once finished, close the Easy Connect app in your phone because it messes with the auto-landscape/portrait detection.


METRA DASH KIT (Buy on Amazon): Nothing to say here. We really dig it, it looks just like a factory install!


Long Term: 

Wait for it! We installed the radio on August 2017, it’s still too soon for the long term review!





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Hello! We’re Isabelle and Antoine 🙂 In 2017 we sold our house (and everything in it), quit our engineering careers and moved into our self built campervan. We’ve been on the road since then and every day is an opportunity for a new adventure; we’re chasing our dreams and hopefully it inspires others to do the same!




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22 thoughts on “Radio Upgrade”

  1. How did you get the backup camera to show up on the head unit as that factory setup only has it come through the rear view mirror?

      • I actually managed to pull it off today. I spliced into the rear view mirror wires and cut the end off an old RCA cable and it worked great! Now I’m getting reverse on both mirror and the radio. One big issue I’m having is the metra clips don’t seat/re retain properly at all and the dash won’t stay in place. Really at a loss for what’s going on but it seems you didn’t have this problem as me and some other Amazon reviewers did

  2. Hello! We are in the process of converting our radio on our transit. Did your radio controls on your steering wheel still work after the upgrade? Been following your website and have been beyond impressed! Thank you!

  3. So I have a question about the metra panel… does the radio screen in your opinion sit back far enough to be blocked by the vent from the drivers point of view?

  4. We bought this same unit for our van. Are you still having the Bluetooth dropping out issues? I was having the same problem and performed the most recent upgrade on the joying web site which is supposed to fix this issue, however now I’m still having the Bluetooth issues and I’m also no longer cable to connect phone through USB. So I’d advise not upgrading software if your considering.

    • Thanks for letting us know about the update; we haven’t perform it and will most likely not!

      We’re still having the issue, so we don’t really use the Bluetooth anymore… we might upgrade to a more high-end unit at some point.

  5. Can you elaborate at all on how you routed the USB cables (specifically, what plastic you had to cut out)? I’m having a heck of a time trying to figure it out. 🙂

    • Oh boy, it’s been a while… the plastic just behind the dash console. Cause the radius is too tight to pass the rigid part of the USB cable. Sorry, no pic.
      I remember you have to get angry at some point, then it works.

      Good luck!!

  6. Hello Antoine, your site is amazing and inspiring. Thank you for so thoroughly documenting your planning decisions, choices and costs. I will be purchasing a 2016 Transit HR in a few days. I really like this radio unit but I’m concerned about the Bluetooth not working consistently. Have you tried installing a firmware update? Is there one available?

    • I would only recommend this radio if:
      – Spending over 800-1000$ for a good brand is out of question
      – You don’t mind issues like Bluetooth disconnect and Google Map not working randomly…

      It’s a cheap unit, not a great unit.

      We haven’t tried to upgrade the firmware; the instructions are half Chinese / half mumbling and the video shows that the unit was super slow after the upgrade! Nothing to inspire confidence…

    • We haven’t tried it and like we mentioned in the “Second Thought” section, our Bluetooth disconnect every 10 minutes so we don’t really use the Bluetooth.


  7. So you’re… on the road now? And your first blog post is… replacing your radio?

    This lifestyle may not be for you. Then again if you have enough money to slowly turn your van into a moving apartment (but where will you fit the treadmill?) best of luck to you.

    • Hi Declane,
      You can’t really understand who we are and our situation just by a few blog posts and some instagram shots. It’s more complicated than that. So far we’ve biked, camped at a lake a few days, traveled through the province; but we didn’t blog about it because we don’t have to if we don’t feel like it. We needed to unplugged a bit.

      We had to leave our house by august 15th (sold) but we haven’t exactly finish the van conversion. So here we are visiting friends, family, finishing the van while we live in it. We plan on crossing USA border by august 3rd: this will mark the “real” beginning of our journey.

      This website generates some revenue by referring products that we installed and tested in our van. More products = more revenue = more time on the road! How neat is that??!!

      So, Declane, the internet might not be for you. It’s complicated.
      Anyway, cheers mate!!!

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