Nissan Elgrand Japanese to English conversion? 38


I was asked recently whether the buttons and interface on the Nissan Elgrand could be changed from Japanese to English.  This seems to be asked frequently, so I thought I’d post my response to the question.  The following is based on the most commonly encountered Nissan E51 Elgrand as per this article.

Nissan Elgrand Japanese to English conversion: what’s the problem?

We should start by considering the problem.  Most, although not all Elgrands have a screen to the left of the main dials.  This is used for navigation, car information, TV and DVD player or AV input where fitted.  These items are controlled by a set of buttons immediately in front of the screen, or by remote controls in the case of the in car entertainment.

The buttons all have Japanese labels and the car information/warning messages are all in Japanese.  The messages are things like a low fuel warning or service warning.  The service warning amuses me because it features the English word “pit” creating in my wandering mind a scene of Grand Prix competition in an Elgrand!

Please forgive my digression.  I’ll move on to consider each of the problem areas in turn.Picture of the target for Nissan Elgrand Japanese to English conversion.

What will work?  What won’t?  What can be converted?

Navigation

This only works in Japan and cannot be converted within the existing system.  I’d love to tell you it is as simple as uploading a new map file, but it isn’t.

Many double DIN systems include navigation, so this is a route (no pun intended) to built in working satellite navigation in the Elgrand (see later).

Car information system

This gives car-related warnings and information as described above.  They are all in Japanese and cannot be converted to English, so are there to stay.  I’ve read of people taking a picture of the message on their phone and using Google translate on the picture to work out what the message is saying.

DVD Player

Your car may or may not have a DVD player.  If it has one, there are potential region and format issues.  In the UK we use PAL format DVDs.  DVDs for the Japanese market have a different region code and are in NTSC format. This means you’d need to rip, re-encode and burn your DVDs if you wanted them to work in the stock DVD player.

If DVD playing is all you want, you could plug an external DVD player into the auxiliary AV in plugs at the side of the rear seats.  A smaller solution would be a multimedia player which could play films & music from SD cards.  A number of these run on 100-240v.  In Japan the mains voltage is 100 volts and many Elgrands have 100v power sockets built in, so you’d just need to make sure you got an adapter with the correct plug.

TV

The TV won’t work at all.  You’d need a digital TV box to continue enjoying this functionality in the UK, connected in the same way as the DVD/multimedia player described above.

Radio

Japan uses different FM frequencies to the UK, so in the UK you’d only be able to listen to Radio 2 with the radio ‘as is.’  If this is the only issue to be resolved, it can be fixed with a band expander connected between the aerial and head unit for relatively little outlay.

Need an English language manual for the AV system?

Buttons

The dashboard buttons for the heating and air conditioning mostly use internationally recognisable symbols so these should be fine.  The buttons for the DVD, TV and navigation are in Japanese and as far as I know there isn’t a replacement panel with English labels available.  I’ve seen some people make their own individual labels for the buttons and stick them over the Japanese labels.

However, as I’ve already mentioned, a lot of the built in features controlled by these buttons won’t work anyway.

Remote controls

Most Elgrands have 2 remote controls for the rear passengers.  One for the TV/DVD/auxiliary video input and one for the sunroof, rear aircon, audio and lights.  The second of these will probably be more useful, and you can get/make stickers with English translations of the main functions.

Clock

The Elgrand has a clock in the upper centre console (above the rear view mirror) which receives an external time signal so it is always correct.  Unfortunately this is always correct to Japan time and cannot be changed.  The only way to alter this would be to wire in a new clock module in place of the original.  This is a fairly involved process and I think most people just accept the clock telling the wrong time.

So is E51 Nissan Elgrand Japanese to English conversion possible?

As always, this is a yes and no answer.  Yes for the audio, navigation and DVD.  No for the car information system, TV and control buttons.

The best solution to the audio visual problems in my opinion is to fit/have fitted a replacement double DIN in car entertainment system.  There are some really nice Android based devices available with navigation, bluetooth handsfree, radio and multimedia built in.  I’ll be reviewing one of these in a future post.

You may or may not need a replacement centre console fascia panel, depending on whether yours already has a double-din sized slot.  These are readily available if you need one.

Replacing the head unit sorts the radio, navigation and DVD issues.  The video output can be routed to the front and rear screens.  If your car has a reversing camera it should still work and the steering wheel stereo controls can also be wired up to work properly.

I hope this has reassured you rather than put you off Elgrand ownership!

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusmail

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

38 thoughts on “Nissan Elgrand Japanese to English conversion?

    • Debs De

      Hi, I think the best thing is to change to one the double din DVD player to one of the Chinese BRANDED
      I Mean branded Chinese double din.
      I’ve changed one in my Elgrand E51 and is working well but you need the branded Chinese model not the universal type. Pumpkin and Joying this two brand have very good reviews on them and you can get help from manufacturers they can even repair it if it has a fault it’s best to look into it.
      Thanks this is my little contribution.

      Regards
      Debs

  • Red Blake

    Thanks for all that ! just what I needed to know.
    Im going to try and put in a double DIN entertainment system, I havent removed the old ‘strada Panasonic ‘ yet but got the idea from above that the centre facia panel is available if I need one – -great.
    Are the wiring reconnections relatively straighforward, audio and GPS aerials, speakers etc. some of the new systems look fantastic, have you reviewed or recommended any for us yet please. Thanks, keep up the good work ! !
    Kindest Regards
    Red Blake

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Red,

      Thank you very much for your comments, I’m glad this post was useful.

      About the wiring connections, it depends on the head unit you’re going to use. The simplest way is to use a Nissan to ISO adapter, then a 2nd adapter to convert the ISO plug into suitable plugs for your head unit. If you’re handy with a multimeter and soldering iron, you don’t need all these adapters, but they do simplify things. Regarding the GPS aerial, some of the multifunction head units these days come with their own GPS antenna and it may be simpler/more effective to install the new antenna rather than modifying a connection to the existing one.

      I haven’t done a proper test of any head units yet, but I like the look of some of the Pumpkin brand Android units and will report back when I’ve tested one.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

  • Danielle Lane

    Great article thanks. I have plugged a DVD player into the aux near the rear seats. Sound is perfect t but picture is in black and white. Can this be solved or is it a PAL/NTSC problem? Thanks

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Danielle,

      Thanks for your question. Is the picture in black and white on both screens or just one? Also, is the picture quality good or is it fuzzy/hard to see? If you’re getting a poor quality black and white picture on both screens, I would certainly suspect a PAL/NTSC issue first of all. Are you playing an NTSC DVD and does your DVD player output in NTSC?

      There are a lot of good USB video players available that have an NTSC component video output that would be suitable. I recently bought a Sumvision Cyclone Micro 4* recently which seems very good value and has a suitable output. Something like this might be an option if your DVD player can’t output the right format.

      I hope this helps! It would be great to hear back from you if/when you manage to solve the problem with details of how you fixed it.

      Thanks,
      Andrew

      *affiliate link

      • Danielle

        Hi Andrew, Thank you for your response. The picture is in black and white on both screens. The picture seems to ghost, like it is playing twice. The front it worse. I am playing a PAL DVD through a UK DVD player. There is nothing obvious to say my DVD player can output NTSC and I haven’t been able to find a DVD player that says it can output NTSC. I will continue searching and update you if I get it working. Many thanks, Danielle

        • Andrew Post author

          Hi Danielle,

          This sounds like an issue caused by a PAL signal to me.

          Good luck with sorting it out!
          Andrew

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Niki

      Yes it will run both screens if wired in correctly. The simplest way to do this is to connect the component video output of the new head unit to the AUX input panel in the back of the car on the driver’s side.

      Cheers
      Andrew

      • Niki

        Hi iv fitted a double din run the wires to the rear right and im getting black and white picture and screen is split horizontal any idea what is going on cheers andrew im running a pioneer sph da120

        • Andrew Post author

          Hi Niki

          I’m sorry to hear you’re having problems getting your new double din head unit to work. Have you set the video signal output to NTSC?

          Cheers
          Andrew

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Derek

      My understanding is that if you remove the existing head unit and associated Xanavi TV / DVD / navigation unit, the flip up screen on top of the dash will become redundant. You do have the option of leaving things as they are, and connecting a Freeview TV tuner box into the RCA AV sockets, which would enable you to watch TV on both existing screens. Unfortunately this means living with the not-so-great existing head unit, including Japanese only navigation.

      Cheers
      Andrew

  • sherman white

    HI , i have just bought a Elgrand and love it. we have had a double din audio unit fitted but can not find out what make it is as yet. It works well but the only problem we are facing is that when you play a DVD for the passengers that you can not fade out the front speakers to the rear , but you can when playing music [ie radio]. any solutions. we had it fitted when purchasing vehicle

  • sean

    hi can I buy a new dvd to go in my elgrand highwaystar in English and roughtjy how much should it cost by the way my elgrand is 2004

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Sean

      If you’re looking for just a DVD to insert into the existing navigation system to convert it to English, unfortunately this doesn’t exist as far as I know. The only way to achieve an English language navigation system in your Elgrand would be to replace the head unit with an English language unit. The display for the AC controls and the service warnings etc. would still be in Japanese.

      Costs for a replacement head unit vary enormously, depending on what you want. A cheap Android unit would cost anything from £200 upwards if you fitted it yourself. A better quality unit professionally fitted would probably start at around £650.

      Cheers
      Andrew

  • Robert B

    I would like to purchase the double din navi system for installation into my e51 – 2005 model. Pls email me your quotation at [email address removed]

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Robert

      Thanks for your enquiry. Unfortunately I don’t sell AV systems at present.

      Best wishes
      Andrew

    • Andrew Post author

      Have you tried pressing the top left button in the middle cluster of 8 buttons above the AC controls? This is the button for the 2nd screen.

  • Marcus

    Hi, information very useful, thanks. To watch films from an SD card what format do they need to be in today be able to watch them?
    Thanks

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Marcus

      That very much depends on the player you are using to watch the film files.

      What are you going to use to play them?

      Cheers
      Andrew

  • Sandy

    Hi Andrew,
    I have tried to connect Lenovo tablet to the AUX input panel in the back of the car on the driver’s side by using cable (Red, White and Yellow). I can hear only voice but there is no video on either screen.
    Can you tell me what type of cable should I use to connect AUX input panel in the back of the car on the driver’s side.

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Sandy

      I’m assuming this is the standard unmodified E51 Elgrand AV system? It is difficult to say for certain what is causing the problem without seeing it, but I can think of 2 things to investigate:

      • Your Lenovo tablet is outputting the video signal in PAL rather than NTSC. Usually you’d get some black and white fuzzy lines on the screens if this was the case.
      • The cable you’re using is only transmitting the sound. Are you using a HDMI to RCA converter? You don’t mention which tablet you have but it might be worth taking it to an electronics shop (e.g. Maplin) or the shop where you bought it and asking if they’ve got something that will enable it to output an analogue component 3 x RCA signal. Before you do this, make sure your tablet can output in the NTSC format.

      I hope this helps.
      Andrew

  • Iulia Ah-Poe

    please can you help me …. we cant watch anything on our Nissan elgrand car I just need someone to translate everything we don’t have a tralator book or whatever but seriously need help

    • Andrew Post author

      There is an English language translation of the Elgrand AV monitor owner’s manual available on Amazon which might help.

      Best wishes
      Andrew

  • Rebecca

    Excuse my ignorance, can you explain what a double din is. I have just bought a Elgrand campervan, and would like a sat nav and radio that works.. And how is it to put in.

    Thank you.

    Rebecca

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Rebecca

      DIN stands for ‘Deutsches Institut für Normung.’ This was the organisation who set up the internationally accepted standard size for car stereos / head units, now organised by the ISO (International Organization for Standardization). Still awake? 😉

      Anyway, head units can be single DIN size or double DIN size. The double DIN size is the same as 2 single DIN stereos stacked on top of each other. The larger units facilitate more features or a bigger screen, so are often better for satnav.

      Is it easy to fit a new double DIN stereo into an Elgrand? Difficult to answer that because it depends on how comfortable you are fiddling with vehicle electronics and removing various trim panels! The conversion (including the new head unit) can be done for you by a car electronics specialist from £700 upwards, depending on which head unit you choose.

      Cheers
      Andrew

    • Andrew Post author

      Hi Joanne

      I’m not sure there is a button to eject the DVD on the remote. None of the translations I’ve seen have included one. However you could always test this by taking a picture of your remote and using Google Translate to check.

      Cheers
      Andrew

  • chris

    thanks for the info and it is as I thought. the car has a new radio/cd/sat nav fitted which gets over most of the problems. just have to learn Japanese now Ha Ha.