Pre-delivery reminders ~ after you’ve taken delivery ~ and other tidbits to be aware of

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2017-fiat-124-spider-classica-wheels

As many 124 Spider owners (as well as Mazda MX-5 owners) have later realized, many dealers* seem to be skipping just about everything on their pre-delivery checklists, other than removing the obvious plastic protection wrap from the seats and body.

Be aware of the following items that are supposed to be addressed during dealer pre-delivery…

Wheels are shipped to the Mazda factory with the tires already installed and inflated to the maximum rated pressure, which is 51 psi, so that:

  • the beads will seat properly into the double hump profile of the rim, to minimize the chance of bead seat dislodgement, even when the inflation pressure is lower than the operating pressure
  • tire disfigurement (flat spots) is minimized during the long boat ride overseas, while strapped to the deck of the ship and while parked in storage lots for long durations
  • any faults in the rim castings, tires and/or tire valves might be revealed, should the pressure not be retained during the build process

☑ The dealer is supposed to deflate the pressure to around 29 psi as part of their pre-delivery tasks, and customers going for test rides hopefully aren’t driving vehicles that still have 51 psi in the tires, as this will have a very negative effect on the expected ride quality.

If you have a tire pressure gauge, it is easy to deal with over-inflated tires as many gauges have a small nub built-in designed to depress the valve stem and allow excess air to escape.

Be advised though, that 29 psi might not be sufficient for highway driving, if cargo and occupants weigh close to (or more than) 340 pounds, which is the stated weight limit on the B-pillar tire placard.  Wish this had been made clearer somehow, before we took all of those long weekend trips.  Read this article for details.

☑ And if they haven’t deflated the tires, then they also didn’t reset the TPMS (Tire Pressure Monitoring System), so you can expect that (loud) alarm to sound within a couple hundred miles.  Here’s the procedure for doing that, after you’ve verified that the (cold) tire pressure is set to the B-pillar placard pressure (29 psi) on all four tires (note that this only applies to the Classica & Lusso; the Abarth should reset itself).

Tire Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS):
Classica & Lusso uses ABS algorithms; no actual wheel sensors
Reset TPMS system:
Hold TPMS button until beep, and lamp has flashed twice

☑ If your vehicle came with the Navigation option, the dealer should have installed the SD card, but most buyers are finding the packaging in the either the armrest cubby, or the cubby between the seats in the rear bulkhead (that’s our “glove box”) after they arrive home, wondering why their Infotainment system informed them that “your 124 Spider is not equipped with Navigation”.   The 3″ x 5″ ziplock bag containing the SD card in yet another smaller ziplock bag, will be labelled “NAVTEQ MAPS” and may also have the Mopar Part # 68366118AA label attached.  You’ll find instructions on how to install the SD card here.

☑ Another clue that the dealers aren’t following instructions is when you find a bag (as shown below)  containing two chassis plugs in your glove box or trunk…

spider-plugs

Installing these plugs are also part of pre-delivery.  They aren’t installed at the factory, because I’m told that the holes serve as both production line fixture locators in the factory, as well as vehicle tie-down locations during transport.  The latter seems questionable. since photos I’ve seen of the vehicles being prepped to be driven off of the transport boat show them tied down to the deck via the front and rear tow-eye bolts.

fiat-124-spider-secured-front-on-boat

Your vehicle does not need to be raised off of the ground to install the plugs.  By using a mirror along the under-body in the vicinity under the B-pillars (rear of the door opening), and using this photo as a guide, you should be able to find the two oblong holes that these plugs are intended for.


Removing the front and rear tie-down hooks from the grille and rear fascia access locations seems to be carried out pretty consistently, but what they do with them is another story.  My guess is that the dealers are instructed to give the customer the front hook (stow it near the tire service kit in the trunk), in case you wish to use it as a tow-hook (perhaps to a flatbed tow-truck driver to facilitate winching your vehicle onto the truck) or a tie-down hook.  I don’t know what happens to the rear hooks (which are shorter), but it is usually not needed by the consumer anyways, since the front hook fits either location. I’m again guessing that they are recycled, and this is probably why they tend not to end up in the vehicles by the time customers get them.

tow-hook

the front tie-down hook needs to be longer in order to reach the frame weld-nut

☑ If you find a package that looks like this (shown below) in one of your storage compartments, it is a cover that the dealer was supposed to insert into the access hole in the the front grille, after the front tie-down hook is removed.

tow-hook-cover1


Tire pressure deflating, resetting the TPMS, installing Navigation and installing these plugs are all tasks that should be easy to do yourself, so if you discover later that these tasks were skipped, you needn’t experience the inconvenience of returning to the dealer for these tasks alone.

*
*
    Based on what I’m reading in the forums (which may in-fact be exaggerated, since positive experiences may be less likely to get reported) and based on my personal experience.

The only pre-delivery task (of those mentioned in this article) that my dealer performed, was deflating the tires (they put green valve cover caps on to indicate that they then re-inflated the tires with Nitrogen @ 29 psi), which I presume they planned on charging the purchaser for, as a dealer add-on whenever they can get away with it.  Unless you are driving a Formula One race car, don’t fall for this one!   Here’s a sticker from someone else that was purchasing a 124 Spider Lusso from a questionable dealer (they got it waived)…

roltcqt

As another Spider forum member stated…

“Anyone who pays $299 to have 100% nitrogen in their tires (as opposed to 78% nitrogen which is normal in atmospheric air), has rocks in their head. It’s the most ridiculous scam I’ve ever come across.”


Other tidbits…

There are other potentially bothersome items that your “knowledgeable”  4ad94ce74a1bcb7a5c61f642d8cdf678-emoticon-emoji salesperson could have shared with you, some of which are either incorrectly described or not even addressed in the owner’s manual:

☑ The forward viewing obstruction caused by the rear-view mirror in it’s factory installed position, especially if you are a taller individual. The Homelink mirror is even larger making the blind spot even worse. It may not occur to you get the mirror out of your forward line-of-sight by pushing the mirror all the way up at the pivot point closest to the windshield (which most people don’t realize exists) until the top of it touches the header, and then adjusting the swivel at the other oft-used pivot point (which the ladies are constantly adjusting as they check their makeup) for proper viewing behind your vehicle (it is also very helpful in viewing rearward over the top of the wind deflector rather than through it).  Ohhhh, what a difference that makes!

☑ The passenger power window may be inoperable from both the driver’s and passenger’s switches.  The likely cause of this is that the power window lock switch has probably been accidentally enabled (it will be in the slightly depressed position).  This tip has saved more than one reader a wasted trip to their dealer.  The switch is pretty useless on our 2-door cars, but the module, designed for child-proofing 4-door vehicles, is used on a wide variety of Mazda vehicles.04070104-lnd-001
Three other windows items to note:
1) In order for the automatic window operations to function properly, they need to learn where the upper and lower limits are by being initialized.  Read more about this here.
2) You’ll have about 40 seconds to operate your windows after shutting down your vehicle, before the switches are disabled – as long as neither door has been opened.
3) Also, get in the habit of not starting the vehicle as the door is being closed, as that will interrupt the auto-close function of the window.

☑ There is an actual (emergency) key hidden in your fob(s) that will open/lock your driver door and the storage cubby (without the fob, you won’t be able to disable the alarm or start your vehicle though).  I’ll bet the dealer doesn’t show you that (or how to release it using the button on the rear side) though…
key fobAnother key item to note:
Get in the habit of storing your key fob(s) away from the vehicle.  Not just line-of-sight either, but in distance.  Unlike old-school key fobs that only communicated with the car when you pushed a button, the closer the fob is to the car when not in use, the quicker the battery will die, as the fob is always communicating with the car, when it is within a certain range.  Your keys could be hanging in another room adjacent to the garage (or just above), yet still communicating with the vehicle.  If the fob is close enough in proximity:

  • you may prevent your vehicle from going into sleep mode, which will discharge the vehicle battery quicker
  • an intruder may be able to unlock the vehicle,  gaining access to your Homelink buttons (garage door) and the trunk release
  • and if one key fob is left within the vehicle, they’ll be able to start it up, and drive away, as if it is theirs

☑ After turning your car off, you may hear a humming sound and wonder what that is.  An electric auxiliary pump insures proper cool-down of the turbo bearings by circulating coolant through it after the engine is stopped, and it usually shuts itself off within 10 minutes.  Additionally, if the coolant temperature is above 223º F, the radiator fan will also run after the (hot) engine is stopped to aid in bringing the coolant temperature down quicker.
b26f-d005-4fff-a2d6-8f5aa047785d

☑ For those of you wondering what this slot is for,

cupholder front slot

you can install the driver’s cupholder here (a pair of them comes with the car, at least in the U.S.), as an alternative to the dedicated slots behind the armrest.

cupholder front

☑ In the U.S., with the Advanced Keyless Entry (AKE) option, in addition to the interior trunk release switch (near the hood release lever), our 124 Spiders also gain another switch on the underside overhang of the trunk lid itself in-between the pair of license plate lamps and, if you have the Infotainment system, to the right of the ParkView reverse camera.

decklid

click image to enlarge

☑ For those of us that don’t have the Vehicle Security Alarm System, you may wonder why, what looks like a red alarm system light in your instrument cluster is blinking every 2 seconds, whenever the engine is off.  This is normal behavior, and I’m glad to have that feature, since it alerts questionable individuals, even when my top is down, that I may have the factory-installed alarm system (with ultrasonic intrusion detectors) that are currently in armed status, just waiting to be triggered 😉 , when in fact, it is simply the engine immobilizer that is always active when the ignition is OFF.
immobilizer

☑ Although the owner’s manual erroneously states that the passenger airbag lamp should turn itself off after starting your car (and that you should go to the dealer if it doesn’t), it in fact should remain on, unless an adult is occupying that seat.  This is an indication that the dashboard airbag will not activate in an accident that could potentially cause more harm than good to an infant or child occupying that seat.  Read more regarding the airbag message panel here.

airbag desc1

click image to enlarge

☑ Insure that the radio antenna is screwed in tightly as good static-free radio reception depends on it, plus you don’t want it working loose and falling off.  Some dealers have been known to just give it a couple of spins. Read more regarding the antenna here.

ShortAntenna_close

☑ Disabling the auto-dim feature of your gauges and Infotainment screen by dialing the brightness control knob to the maximum bright (clockwise) position (indicated by a quiet beep), which will allow you to see the screen during the daytime when your lights are on.  More on that in my new dedicated article regarding this subject.
05020106-nda-001

☑ If you have the Bose system, don’t be alarmed if whatever media you have playing (XM, FM, Bluetooth) cuts out for a second while latching/unlatching the top, as a switch in the latch activates the respective “top up” or “top down” audio profile.

☑ There is a stirrup to hold your gasoline cap while refueling that keeps it from swinging in the wind and possibly marring your paint.
fuel cap stirrup

☑ Speaking of the fuel door, because of the AKE walk-away feature being ON by default, the doors may lock themselves as you exit the vehicle to refuel (especially for RHD vehicles), and that will prevent you from opening your fuel door as that locks at the same time your doors lock.  It can actually be a better experience to simply turn the walk-away feature OFF, which can be:
•  inconsistent, especially if the passenger is slow to exit
•  inconvenient, especially if you park your car in a private garage

☑ There is an access panel to a “hidden” soft-sided storage cubby behind each seat back, one of which is perfect for storing your cup holder(s), when not in use.
2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth Convertible

☑ There is a capped 12-volt accessory outlet incorporated into the HVAC fan housing that merits an illustration in the owner’s manual, because the description that Fiat’s professional technical writers have provided will not help you locate it.   HINT: You will find it hiding above the top edge of the floor carpeting.  It is tied into the ignition switch, so devices plugged into the outlet will turn off when the ignition is turned off.  In LHD vehicles it is located above the passenger’s left foot rest and looks like  ⇓.   In RHD vehicles, it is the inverse in appearance and you’ll find it located above the passenger’s right foot rest.

☑ When using a cordless drill to attach the rear license plate, dealers need to open the trunk to prevent the chuck from rubbing the paint off of the decklid’s bottom edge, as some customers have later discovered (if you find evidence of this, the dealer owes you some body shop work).  I also think they are supposed to drill proper-size pilot holes prior to driving in those two large screws, but it is very evident on my car when I later removed the plate to install my own frame, that they just rammed the ¼″ screws into the fascia (at least they installed the plate level though).

☑ There are some personalization options that you’ll need to get familiar with, so that the door locks, headlights and all of the electronic upgrade options, will behave to your liking.

20 thoughts on “Pre-delivery reminders ~ after you’ve taken delivery ~ and other tidbits to be aware of

  1. My dealer (Fiat of Manhattan) didn’t do tire pressure, didn’t put the two rubber plugs into the frame, tried to charge me $500 for the (included with the tech package) GPS card…And worst of all, they never registered my car! The temp expires today and there’s no sign of plates (and no trace of my VIN in the state’s system…) Obviously I’ll be going elsewhere for service.

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  2. My dealer didn’t put the plugs in (will get to it this week-end looks easy) and did not properly remove the plastic film off the Abarth wheels! One of the wheels had what looked like a scratch (more like a gash really!) on it and when I inspected it further it was the film still applied in that area. The sales service and deal I got were great including the financing but the actual prep service: eeesh. All the car got was a basic wash and I did get the tyres filled with nitrogen (comes with the 2yr road hazard warranty on the tyres they threw in) but the lack of details is where they failed.

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  3. In case anyone was wondering, it took a month for them to figure out what had happened to my registration paperwork. I’m finally registered and inspected and can actually drive the car legally now…

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Hey guys, just checked my tire pressure, it was 51 lbs on all 4 corners. Should have been 29 lbs. Does not give me a warm fuzzy about my dealer.

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  5. They know! They have checklists and forms to fill in, for instance they are supposed to do a battery check and fill in the values to prove they have not let the battery go below 12.0 volts while in inventory, but you’ll not see that either (if it is dead, I bet they’ll just jump it).

    Here is another sample Mazda pre-delivery form showing tire pressure check and battery check, and I’m sure Fiat has something similar:

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    • Only thing my dealer did was rinse the car as far as I can tell. No detailing in the engine bay, warning light for windshield washer came on during the trip home. No fluid in reservoir. TPMS came on a day later. Adjusted tire pressure and calibrated system. I ordered the premium package and they still tried to charge me $900. I refused and got up to walk out when they said they would go ahead and throw it in but it had to be ordered and I had to bring the Fiat back to install and program the computer. That night at home my grandson was sitting in the car and opened the storage box and said “what’s this, grandpa?” It was the nav card. I popped it in and the nav fired right up. I complained to the dealer and they gave me 3 free oil changes good at any Fiat dealer in America. I can guarantee you it won’t be at the dealer I purchased the car from.

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  6. Ditto on the air pressure-50ish, and the chassis plugs are in the “glove box”. Now I know what they are! I was missing a lug nut that cost me $15, and was easier to order one than deal with the dealer I got the car from 100 miles away. Who knows what else they didn’t do….? I’m afraid to take my car in for service if/when I need it, with clowns running the circus.
    I wish I hadn’t already sent in my owners questionnaire. I have a few things I’d like to bring up about my dealer, the manual, and the coolant that everyone seems to be confused about-including me.

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    • I was missing a lug nut too, plus had to install the drain plugs and let out the air in the tires. They checked off the dealer sheet, but didn’t do much that was on it. I had to drive 60 miles to find a 6 speed classica down in Ft. Pierce, Fl. When I got there they had an automatic! They ended up driving the RIGHT car to my home a couple days later, and we drove back to the dealership and I bought it (the 50 psi tires made it so stiff and loud, I nearly backed out). They stuck me with a 4% interest rate, so I paid it off the 1st year.
      The salesman indicated I was going to get a nice plexiglass windscreen if I bought from the dealer, but I didn’t get one. Since I got Fifi brand new and paid right at $24,000, I’m very happy. Since then, have put in coconut mats, Autorecumbi (baffled) exhaust, a new DV turbo valve, and free-flow air cleaner, and a few minor Italian touches. The rest is stock and it’s awesome!

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Great information!

    No dealer prep for my new 2017 Lusso fiat spider. Bought 3 months ago and next day car wouldn’t start. Doors unlocked green start button lit but nothing. Noticed red key warning lit and also I noticed the beep for lock 7nlock didn’t work. Read up about hard start where you touch key to start button. Worked. Battery had been replaced by dealer as they never charged it during long storage. I changed the key fob batteries. Everyday same thing plus rain sensor wiper feature didn’t work, outside temp reading screwy, seatbelt alarm didn’t work. Many trips to 3 different dealers. Finally they said BCM needed replacing. Then they couldn’t flash the system to update to new BCM. Weeks car sat at dealer. I escalated with FCA and now they say computer in steering wheel is issue and back ordered. Should be on the slow boat and here by middle of February. I have owned Mazda’s for decades and never repair issues and good service. The Fiat repair places are dodge dealers and they don’t seem to know anything.
    Any advice or thoughts?
    I loved the ride when I got to drive the car. Only has 1000 kilometres! Ya I know what FIAT stands for! I used to have the original fiat spiders both the 850 and the 124 (1600 with dual Webber carbs. Fun ride)

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    • Sorry for your troubles. I hate to tell you this, but I don’t think there is any computer in the steering wheel; just switches and an airbag.

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      • Maybe they meant the Start Stop Unit? That’s directly behind the steering wheel.
        Looking at the Miata Wiring diagramm it is part of the immobilizer and also has the wiper controls and the keyless receiver connected to it.

        Wouldn’t explain the wonkey ambient temperature gauge. Miata has it connected to the PCM, but 124 might be different here.
        Also the seat buckle sensors feed into the SAS module.

        Now that might just be me being still haunted by the time i owned a smart roadster. Whenever I hear of multiple systems failing i immediatly blame a bad ground connection. Might as well check these

        Or lemon it…

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  8. Thanks for your response. I wonder about a bad ground. I wonder how long FCA will take to solve this. I wish I could take it to mazda. I had Mazda’s for years and always good service. Probably because nothing went wrong!

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  9. The 124 Spider is just as good a car as the Miata! I can’t say the same for some of the FCA vs Mazda dealers though.

    Unless somebody had abused this new vehicle while at the original dealer, I honestly believe that the dealer has “broken” a perfectly fine, brand-new car, in their improper attempt to get it running (dead battery or perhaps re-establishing oil flow). That’s just my opinion though, but as Tobias stated, if they can’t resolve all of the issues very soon, I would demand another Spider from a different dealer, at this point.

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  10. After reading this, I am having second thoughts on this car. I am supposed to pickup on April 12, 2019 and to be honest, this feedback doesn’t give me a warm fuzzy. Hopefully these are the worst of the worst and not typical.

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    • I bought a 2019 Jeep Grand Cherokee Limited two weeks ago, and the salesman kept insisting that if I wanted GPS, I had to get a more expensive model. I knew that wasn’t the case, and I asked him to find one on his lot that had not been prepped with any dealer options and badging, for a test-drive. Bought it immediately afterwards, as it was exactly what I wanted. The salesman apologized afterwards saying that the 2018s didn’t come with the uConnect 8.4, which has got to be one of the best infotainment systems available. It even sent a report to my phone, telling me that the tires were all at 50 psi 🙂 when I got home, and I took care of that.

      The items are dealer/salesmen FYI related in my mind, and not faults of the vehicle. You should have a warm fuzzy, knowing that you now know more than the dealer! ENJOY the car!!

      [EDIT] Perhaps you were referring to some of the comments, rather than the article itself.

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    • UPDATE: I took delivery and LOVE this car!!!

      True to your article, I was more aware of the requirements than the dealership. They missed almost every item on the checklist. Had I not driven 4 hours to pick it up, I probably would have had them fix it and came back the next day.

      This article is a MUST READ!

      Thanks for taking the time to write the article!

      Liked by 1 person

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