In some of my prior projects, to get between the dash and the frunk area, I ran a few wires around the door. While fairly easy, it’s only suitable for a few thin wires and is far from ideal. If you are installing the amp inside the dash, then a new power lead needs to be routed from the fuse box to the dash. If you’re installing the amp in the frunk, then you’ll need to run the line-level inputs and the sub-woofer speaker wires from the dash area to the frunk.
Fortunately, Tesla provides a nice rubber grommet on the passenger side in the firewall that is perfect for this. The bad news it is really hard to access the grommet on either side. We’ve worked out an approach that minimizes the disassembly effort. In my specific installation with the amp in the dash, I only need to run one thick power lead. I used the 8 gauge power lead included in the NVX installation kit. It’s a rather thick wire, but it’s well insulated. The wire even includes a secondary mesh jacket over the portion we’ll leave in the frunk. While these instructions are specific to my installation, it can be adapted to having the amp in the frunk or other projects.
We need to make a hole in the grommet to pass our wire through. While this took me about 3 hours to figure it out and document it, I think it would take only 20-30 minutes to perform this part with these instructions. For me, it was the hardest part of the entire project!
- In the cabin, if the front passenger plastic sill plate is still attached, remove it by lifting up on the rear portion of the sill and snap it out.
- In the frunk, remove the top cover near the windshield. Remove the passenger side rubber bumper (it unscrews counter-clockwise). Then lift out the passenger side cover.
- Remove the air filter from the Front Plastic Assembly (FPA).
- Now we’ll make it possible to access the grommet from the frunk side. Fortunately, this spot is only a single firewall layer to deal with, as other areas have two firewalls with an inch of insulation between them.
- There is a substantial rubber cover that goes over the top of the shock absorber and covers part of the FPA. This rubber cover difficult to remove, so we’ll work around it. Peel the portion of the rubber cover that is on top of the FPA, you’ll see a black plastic clip. Remove the clip by using a thin screwdriver to pry up the center snap, and the plastic fastener will release and can be easily removed. There are two more similar plastic fasteners that also need to be removed (one is shown in the image above). Be careful not to drop these into the bowels as I did. You’ll never recover it. There is one more fastener under the driver’s side cover, but it’s not important to release this one as we’re not removing the FPA.
- Now peel back the rubber cover enough to pull up the FPA on top and push the rubber cover under the FPA.
- Pull up on the FPA (maybe 3-4” at most) near the rubber cover. With a flashlight, at one angle you should be able to see the rubber grommet that is about 18” down from the windshield and about 5” from the outside edge of the car. It’s not important if you can’t see it, as all the work will be done by touch.
- Reach in under the FPA and find the grommet by feel so you get comfortable as to its location.
- You’ll need a few tools to make a hole in the rubber grommet. These must be under 4” long to fit into the area. I used a small screwdriver and a stubby #2 Phillips screwdriver. To prevent dropping a tool I drilled a small hole in the handle of each screwdriver and attached a 6 ft length of 22 Gauge stranded wire. Any thin wire or string will work. The 12V battery is below the grommet, so you don’t want a metal tool getting loose and rattling around on top of the 12V battery!
- Starting with the small screwdriver in hand, locate the rubber grommet by feel. Poke a hole in the center of the grommet. Remove the tool and switch to the Phillips screwdriver. Enlarge the hole with the Phillips screwdriver.
- Take the end of the power cable you’re going to use. I soldered a 6” length of 12-14 Gauge solid wire leftover from a house wiring project. I then used some heat shrink tubing over the junction. You want a gradual increase in the diameter so it can be pulled through. It doesn’t have to look good, as we’ll chop it off later on.
- With the solid wire in hand on the frunk side, poke the wire through the grommet as far as it will go. You’ll likely find you can’t push any more than just the solid wire. Leave plenty of slack in the attached power wire.
- Move to the passenger floor and with a bright light, you should see the solid wire sticking out of the grommet. Grab this wire and pull to get the power wire through the hole. This sounds easier than it is. You’ll be in a very awkward position and find there is almost no room to get your hand there. I used some long-nose pliers to bend the 14 gauge wire and make a hook I could grab. As you pull, the power lead will come through. Keep pulling until you have enough wire. With the NVX installation kit, I pulled until the braided portion was close to the firewall. I’m guessing about 14 feet of wire pulled through. You may need to switch back to the frunk several times to keep the wire from hanging up. Even better, have someone help feed the wire in the frunk while you pull the wire under the dash and tell you when to stop.
Now we want to feed the speaker wire and the power wire from the passenger side to the driver’s side where we’ll mount the amp. While the entire dash could be removed (a huge project), Tesla was nice enough to provide an empty structural tube that runs the length of the dash. We’ll route the wires through the tube and save a lot of effort and time.
- Remove the black plastic side panels on each side of the dash. These are held in place with 3 snaps. I found starting near the bottom with a plastic tool works to detach each panel. A FOB antenna is mounted on each side panel and should be disconnected to get it out of the way. There is a tiny latch that can be depressed with a small screwdriver to release the connector.
- With a light, you should see the steel tube we use to route the wires from the passenger side to the driver’s side.
- Back at the passenger side; feed the wires up between the dash and the side of the car. There is a small slot that can be used.
- Using the fish tape, feed the tape through the tube from the driver’s side.
- Connect the 14 gauge leader of the power wire to the fish tape and pull it through to the driver’s side.
- While the above image is helpful, I hadn’t yet routed the wire between the dash and the side of the car (step 3 above), so the dash side panel would never have gone back on as shown!
- Repeat the process to pull the speaker wire to the driver’s side as well.
- Do not pull the wires tight – leave an inch or so of slack.
- Now we’re done with the passenger side cabin if you’re using the line-level outputs (described in more detail in the next section). If you don’t need access to the right-side speaker wires, you can button this up.
- Reattach the side dash panel. First, reconnect the FOB antenna connector and check that no wires will be pinched. I find starting at the top snap to work best and then the center and finally the bottom snap.
- Reattach the bottom sill panel. Angle the panel in the front and snap the snap in the front first. Then push from the back and snap the rest of the panel in place.
Continued in Part 3: Amplifier Installation…
or return to Part 1: Installing the Sub-woofer and Wiring