Door Locks

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth Convertible

Based on many discussions I’ve been reading in various forums, there is a lot of clarification that Fiat (and Mazda) could have provided in the Owner’s manual to help owners of 124 Spiders (and MX-5s) better understand many of the convenience features, including the door locks.  I’ve already discussed some of the others like power windows, Infotainment display brightness and Navigation.

To start off, the Available Settings column in Personalization options pages in the 124 Spider Owner’s manual regarding Door Locks, Keyless Entry and Advanced Keyless Entry (AKE) is difficult to read.  The unlocking doors menu option is also missing for both Keyless Entry and AKE.

⇓  Here is my corrected version of that page with my additions/revisions in bold.


Adaptive Menus

If having a manual transmission triggers the available menu options in the same manner as having the installed options in the vehicle, then you probably aren’t presented with any meaningless menu options for door locks.  For instance:

  • I don’t have Auto-Wipers nor Blind Spot monitoring, and as expected, I am not presented with any menus to change the operability of Auto-Wipers or the BSM warning beep volume.
  • I have an automatic with electric door locks, and I am presented with a menu to choose among all of the shown options.
  • I have Advanced Keyless Entry, and I am presented with a menu to choose among all of the shown options.
  • For those in Europe and ADR (Australia, NZ, Thailand, Philippines, South Africa-America, Oceania regions), apparently they don’t have electric door locks and that explains why they question the ability to see the Door Lock menu options.

Walkaway feature

There are many issues in regards to the Walkaway feature that in my opinion favor disabling that option (see illustration above ⇑):

  • If the car is left running with the key fob inside, there is a good possibility you may confuse the system ( and be locked out).
  • If the driver closes their door and walks away prior to the passenger getting out and closing their door properly, the vehicle may unintentionally remain unlocked.
  • If you need to walk around the vehicle to access the other door or your trunk, you’ll find that your vehicle has already locked itself by the time you get there.
  • If you have RHD, your doors may lock while you walk around to the left side to open the fuel door at the gas station to refuel.
  • If your significant other also has a key on his/her person, the system will get confused and likely not behave as you expect.
  • Valet attendants may do untypical things with the key fob that may also confuse the system.

Making changes using the Infotainment system

From the Home screen, select the Settings icon
Scroll to the Vehicle section
Select the item to be Personalized
Important:  Ignition switch must be ON (not Accessory mode)
Also, remember that the fuel door is locked/unlocked in conjunction with the passenger door – whenever the ALL LOCKS command is issued


⇓  Here are my preferences regarding Door Locks and AKE:



Post-Window Tinting Issues…

…Car won’t start / Windows don’t work

Apparently, window tint technicians spray A LOT of soapy water on the inside surfaces of the glass when applying the film to the windows (to aid in removing the air bubbles with their squeegee), and no rain shields are designed into the vehicle for water entering from the inside, especially when they are pulled away from the window to work on the unexposed edge of the film.   Electronic modules and water do not mix well, and until they are dried out (hopefully leaving no corrosion behind)…

  • one or both of the window and door lock switch modules and/or the door lock actuators may act up after the door windows have been tinted¹.
  • the receiver module for Advanced Keyless Entry (AKE) if you have that option, may not function after the soft top rear window has been tinted and your vehicle will not start by pushing the Start/Stop button as it normally does; another clue – the red key warning light is illuminated.
  • some have successfully used the A/C to speed up the removal of excess moisture without removing the trim panels: Max A/C, recirculating, all windows and doors closed, highest fan speed.

Underneath the trim which is behind the driver’s cubby (located behind the driver’s seat) is the receiver module for AKE, and as described in the service manual page (shown below) regarding that module, it is quite involved getting to that module.  The only way to start the vehicle while that module in out of commission, is to press the Start/Stop button – with the key fob in very close proximity to that button so that the RFID chip inside the fob can be detected.

A few vehicle owners (and service technicians) tend to leave the keys within the vehicle, and after a certain amount of time, your vehicle may not start simply because the communication functions of the key have been temporarily suspended to “prevent theft of the vehicle”.  To correct that situation, you (or a thief?) only need to press the unlock button of that key fob – and if the fob is still within the vehicle, the Start/Stop button is re-enabled.  Leaving the key fob in the vehicle while it is not in use is not a good habit to get into, as the key fob’s battery life may be significantly shortened.

¹   Regarding the windows not working:

  • the rubber that seals against the window interior surface is pulled back allowing soapy water used during the tint installation to run down into the door and into the door latch and lock actuator connector.  Mazda advises “cleaning and drying the connector and if problems still persist, the door latch and lock actuator will need to be replaced.”
  • here is one other item to investigate, especially if you haven’t just had your windows tinted – make sure your windows lock switch hasn’t been engaged (details here).

Disabling i-Stop Feature


I’ve been wondering what i-Stop actually entails, thinking that the engine simply shuts down while you are sitting at a standstill, and then the starter-motor kicks in once you’re ready to proceed to get the engine going again.  Apparently Mazda’s Idling Stop Technology¹ is much more sophisticated than conventional idling stop systems that depend so much on the starter-motor, and I didn’t realize that they’ve adapted it to Fiat’s engine…

While conventional idling stop systems rely on a starter motor to restart the engine, Mazda’s i-Stop restarts the engine through combustion; fuel is directly injected into a cylinder while the engine is stopped and ignited to generate downward piston force. The result is a quick and quiet engine re-start compared to other systems and a significant saving in fuel.

To restart the engine by combustion, the compression-stroke and expansion-stroke pistons need to be stopped at exactly the correct positions to create the right balance of air volumes. Mazda’s i-Stop ensures precise control over the piston positions during engine shutdown. With all the pistons stopped at the optimum positions, the system then identifies the initial cylinder for fuel injection. It injects fuel and ignites it to restart the engine. Even at extremely low rpm, cylinders are identified for sequential ignition, making the engine quickly pick up to idling speed.

These technologies enable the system to restart the engine with exactly the same timing every time, to enhance fuel economy, and to deliver smooth and comfortable acceleration for the driver at restart. The restart takes place in a mere 0.35 seconds (internal measurement on vehicle with automatic transmission), which is about half of the time taken by conventional starter-motor idling stop systems.


Perhaps many of those that have this feature don’t realize that the starter-motor isn’t working extra duty after all, but regardless wish to disable i-Stop and forego the 8% savings in fuel economy².  Other than a programming change via the OBDII port (using a ELM327 diagnostic scanner and figuring out what to change), I’ve been reading other little tricks that will disable the feature that is incorporated into the 124 Spiders built for certain regions of the world.   I’m personally not familiar with the feature in the U.S., so I assume North American vehicles in general don’t get it, although Fiat has specified that Mazda install their “Start-Stop” heavy-duty battery in all Spiders.

  • Pressing the i-Stop button once the vehicle is started will disable the feature for the current trip.
  • If the windshield defog is activated, i-Stop will not engage, so if that function survives through the restart procedure, that might be a viable alternative.
  • A permanent method was described in the German Mazda-3 forum and ronnie has provided the Google translation:

In the hood lock is a small switch, which mediates whether the hood is open for maintenance purposes. The i-Stop is disabled for maintenance purposes. The switch is fixed with a screw and has a plastic pin that sits in a bore. Loosen the screw, turn the switch so that the pin sits next to the hole and screw on again. Now it is no longer pressed with the hood closed and the i-Stop is permanently deactivated!

Since there is [no ‘hood open” light in the cluster], there is also no error message!

¹    quote and illustration courtesy of Mazda
²    (under Japan’s JC08 mode test cycle, per Mazda)

Headlight Aiming

fiat-124-spider-abarth-geneva-1Since quite a few 124 Spider owners are choosing to lower their vehicle’s stance, those with auto-leveling headlights are probably discovering after the fact, that the vertical aiming of their headlights are in need of adjustment (headlights are pointing at the ground immediately in front of the vehicle), and having difficulty figuring out the process of doing so as well.  The auto-leveling control system assumes the front load hasn’t changed and that all of the change in the suspension movement is in the rear (a LOT of weight has been placed in the trunk), which is why the headlights are aimed downwards.

Having just discovered processes that I haven’t seen mentioned in any forum on the subject, I am writing this article for discussion purposes, looking for verification that adjustable headlight linkages don’t need to be purchased and brackets don’t need to be modified to get your auto-leveling headlights to be aimed properly, even after lowering the vehicle.

First of all let’s clarify the 2 different headlight systems:

  1. Self-adjusting LED headlights that are controlled by the auto-leveling control system which gets it’s primary input from a height sensor that is linked via a bracket to a control arm that is attached to the rear suspension on the driver’s side, as shown below.  This option, in conjunction with Adaptive Front Lighting (AFS), is not available in Classicas and is offered as part of a Premium package in Lussos and Abarths only.amxuuw00003329
  2. Fixed-aim Halogen headlights (see step 13 in the manual headlight aiming section), which are standard in all 124 Spiders.


Flyin’ Miata and Good-Win Racing both offer adjustable headlight linkages to replace Mazda’s stock aluminum control arm in the 124 Spider, as identified in the photo above, and described in these instructions.

Recently jpwfz6 has come up with his own version mod for his lowered Spider’s self-adjusting headlights, for a fixed 1″ drop (not adjustable) and entails drilling a new hole in the bracket while using the stock control arm – all described in detail here.

Today, when I investigated the subject in the Mazda MX-5 Service Manual (partially extracted below – see actual manual for a complete guide with all of the illustrations), I learned that there is an initialization of the auto-leveling system that I haven’t seen mentioned in the forums, and may preclude having to go through all this extra work, since it allows the system to basically learn the new “normal” setting of the height sensor.  

  • I guess the question remains – why did the vendors come out with the adjustable linkages?   Perhaps a 1″ drop brings the height sensor close to the limits of it’s range, such that further lowering of the rear end because of additional weight in the trunk, passenger seat,  etc. no longer properly registers change in the auto-leveling control system?

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Trouble Code P0128: Faulty Thermostat

look up:   OBDII Diagnostic Trouble Codes

Although I haven’t experienced this issue thus far, apparently a few of the thermostats that Mazda has installed (the majority of the cooling system is Mazda MX-5, so this is not the Fiat thermostat used on the 500, although some of those have issues as well) onto our Fiat engines have been troublesome (sticking in the open position or opening too soon), which results in the engine warming up to normal operating temperature too slowly.   There a a few clues, that you may observe eventually, that you may have one of these faulty thermostats:

  • the blue engine coolant lamp remains ON for longer than about 5 – 7 minutes after starting your engine that has been off for more than an hour
  • the coolant temperature gauge takes more than 5 – 7 minutes to get to normal operating temperature
  • the CEL (Check Engine Lamp) is ON, and the error code P0128* will come up if an OBD-II diagnostic tool is hooked up to your vehicle

Consider this as an inconvenience issue rather than critical, but don’t ignore it either. This is obviously a warranty item that your dealer will fix for you, but the thermostat is very difficult to get to at the rear of the engine, and they seem to be on back-order, so you are advised to ask the dealer to pre-order the following parts and verifying their arrival (on hold in your name) prior to your service appointment for the repair, so that your vehicle isn’t kept for a couple of weeks waiting for said parts:

  • replacement thermostat (Part # 68320858AA)
  • vacuum pump gasket (Part # 68140726AC) >> perhaps the vacuum pump has to be removed in order to get to the thermostat?
  • (thought there was also an electrical connector?, but can’t find mention of it right now)

It is OK to drive the vehicle in this condition while you are waiting for your service appointment, but as the manual advises you to do when the blue coolant lamp is ON, go easy on engaging the turbo  😉  for the longer duration that that lamp is illuminated.


Apparently, the 124 Spider’s ECU (also known as the Power Control Module (PCM)) is being flashed at some dealerships to alter the engine operating temperature vs. time algorithm somewhat, so that the CEL (and the P0128 trouble code*) isn’t illuminated for marginal thermostat behavior.

*     P0128 Trouble Code:  Indicates that the coolant temperature has not achieved the required thermostat regulating temperature (engine operating temperature) within a specified amount of time after starting the engine.

How to disconnect most electrical connectors


Mark Booth put together a helpful explanation for someone wanting to know how to disconnect the locking wiring connector underneath their seat, and I thought I would repeat an edited version of it here to help others in general.  These locking connectors are not unique to vehicles produced by Mazda, but rather are currently typical within the automotive industry.

  • Pull lock (#1; usually a contrasting color like white or yellow) partially out (should notice a detent*)
  • Depress tab (#2) and hold it down…
  • While pulling the connector (#3) away from it’s mating connector

BE SURE TO DISCONNECT THE NEGATIVE BATTERY CABLE FIRST and depress the brake pedal to discharge the circuits.  This will help insure that the electronic modules will recognize all connected devices upon re-connection.

*    For instance, in order to change the oil filter, a similar connector at the turbo diverter valve needs to be disconnected to get it’s harness out of the way, but if you are too aggressive with the yellow lock, it will inevitably fall into the bottom of the engine compartment, and the pan may make it very difficult to retrieve.

⇓  This photo shows the unlocked connector ready to pull away from it’s mating connector on the diverter valve.

turbo diverter valve connector1

Adding missing trunk release switches

Adding the exterior switch


click photo to enlarge

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.  Mazda has thus far decided to exclude the camera in the MX-5, and in some markets (like Canada), that exterior trunk release switch, leaving only the interior switch to release the trunk lid.

Just in case Fiat has also chosen to exclude that switch in some markets (limited feedback indicates that Fiat includes this switch with the AKE option across all markets), I’m bringing up a solution that Sergey (ssh16) has come up with as a nice alternative, and that JumperThumper has verified in his Canadian MX-5, which involves “piggybacking” the exterior switch (don’t know the Fiat part number, but the Mazda part number is N243-56-8D0) with the interior switch, as the wiring back to the Body Control Module (BCM, inconveniently located behind the left kick panel in close proximity to the interior fuse panel) should already be in place.

The piggybacked switch will actually be more convenient than the intended application, as you won’t need to have the key on your person to activate the exterior switch.  It will work whenever the interior switch is allowed to work ⇒ whenever the vehicle is unlocked.  When both doors of the vehicle are locked, both trunk release switches will be deactivated.

So just how did he accomplish this?  He made a jumper wire (≈6″ long) that connects together:

  • the yellow wire connected to the exterior switch that is plugged into terminal “2S” on the BCM
  • the Brown/Green wire connected to the interior switch that is plugged into “3U” of the same BCM.

trunk switches

There are links to wiring diagrams and illustrations in the referenced thread.

Adding the interior switch

For those that have wiring leading to a dummy insert (as pictured below) rather than an actual interior switch (Europe and Australia market?), a few readers have already discovered that purchasing and installing an interior switch (Mazda part number GJR9-66-630A) and plugging in the harness will not, by itself, enable it’s function.

However, I’m happy to report that collincn has verified that Sergey’s inverse solution ⇒ piggybacking the added interior switch to the exterior switch (as illustrated above)  will enable the interior switch to function, although only if you have the key on your person, as is required with the exterior switch, as reported in the same aforementioned thread.


Why would the Europeans not get an internal trunk release button?

Auto-closing windows

2017 Fiat 124 Spider Abarth Convertible

Fiat 124 Spider switch assembly

Desired outcomes:
Unlatch open top to close > window goes down less than an inch, rather than half-way
Latch closed top > either close windows then, or when the lock button is activated
Unlatch closed top to open > window opens all the way, rather than half-way

I noticed in this video showing how the windows are controlled while the MX-5 RF top is being opened and closed (at least outside the North America market):

  • windows (if closed) only drops less than an inch prior to both opening and closing the top
  • windows return to the fully closed position after the top is closed (as long as you keep the “Close Top” button engaged

After all, if you are caught in a rain storm, why would you want the windows to open halfway while you are closing the top?  But, that is minor in comparison to the window being left halfway down (or all the way down) while you are in the process of closing the top and exiting the car as the soft top currently behaves.  I’m sure it has something to do with U.S. laws resulting from someone getting their fingers injured while the windows were closing on their own.

It would seem that the logic we desire already exists in the module, since the desired movements already occur while the door is being opened and closed:

  • Open door with windows closed > windows go down less than an inch.
  • Close door with windows closed > windows return to the fully closed position.

That is why I’m following the progress of sergey’s (known as ssh16) “Automatic roll-up windows” project, especially when hitting the lock button while the top is closed) on either:

  • the key fob remote
  • or the exterior door handle (with advanced keyless entry option)

The exterior door handle lock button is my preferred lock procedure, since I turned off the walkaway automatic door lock feature and I never need to remove the remote from my pocket. Ideally though, I feel that the windows should close as soon as the top is latched into the closed position.

Ideally, no extra modules/hardware should be required; I hope instead that it just requires a addition/triggering of code or perhaps we’ll have to exchange the window switch module from another market that also has the door lock function (Europe does not), since that logic may also be programmed into the same module.

⇓  The European 124 window switches do not have the door lock switch, so I bet they don’t have the door locking options in the Infotainment system either.

euro 124 window switch

⇓  Sergey, keep in mind that even though the underlying switches in the 124 Spider (shown in top photo and directly above) are the same as the Miata’s, hopefully they are easily separated from the trim bezels, so that the new part you develop may work with both versions in both vehicles 😉


Miata MX-5 switch assembly

Adding Lumbar Support

seats construction

The seats in our Spiders are relatively lightweight (around 30 pounds due mostly to the frame fabricated in steel) with no springs and foam like previous generation seats, so all of the comfort and support in both the seat bottom and seat back is attributed to the combination of the outer covering and the tight mesh fastened along both sides of the frame underneath that skin.  Other than the outer coverings, the construction is exactly the same whether they are:

  • Classica’s premium cloth seats
  • Lusso’s Italian Nappa leather seats
  • Abarth’s premium cloth, Nappa sport leather options or the Nappa leather with Alcantara suede inserts used in the Recaro seats
  • MX-5’s various assortment of seats

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