Tire Compressor

tire compressor

Mopar video ~ Tire Service Kit

Last week, I met a Miata owner and observed that he was lugging around a rather large 12-volt compressor in his trunk.  I asked him why, when the car already comes with one in the Tire Service Kit.  He stated that the manual shows the kit’s compressor hooked up with the sealant bottle in-line, and he wanted a compressor for just adding air, since his TPMS light keeps activating.  I think I was finally able to convince him:

  • that for those of us that do not have actual TPMS sensors, false alarms are quite common during spirited drives
  • that the factory supplied compressor can also be directly attached to the tire valve stem without the sealant bottle in between

As proof that the compressor can be used for tire inflation, the Mopar instructional video recommends checking the pressure using the compressor’s built-in gauge (as shown in the photo above), by attaching the compressor directly to the valve stem, approximately 10 minutes after filling the tire with sealant and spreading the sealant throughout the interior of the tire by driving 40 – 50 mph.  If the gauge indicates that the pressure has fallen below 29 psi, use the compressor to bring the pressure back up, which hopefully provides you enough time to proceed to a tire servicing location.

Please understand that the sealant bottle 4114mkgkfjl(good for a single application) should only be used as a last resort if a puncture leak is suspected, and that you might consider purchasing a tire plug kit that can be slipped into your Tire Service Kit as a preferred alternative to the sealant.  Plugs can serve as a permanent fix to a “clean” puncture (such as a nail), vs. the sealant repair, which should not be counted on for more than a day or two.  Many experts advise having a patch adhered to the interior wall of the tire at the location of the plugged tire puncture, especially for those of us without a spare tire to serve as a backup, but if you choose to do so, at least it can wait for a convenient time and place.

Be aware that you should address an abnormal tire condition ASAP, rather than driving on, so that you won’t unseat the tire from the wheel rim.  As long as you didn’t have a blowout, not only will the quick reaction help you avoid destroying the tire and the rim, but it will also allow you to re-inflate the tire with the compressor, which will be highly unlikely after the tire breaks away from the rim.



Replacing the CMU to get Apple CarPlay™ and Android Auto™ / also retrofit kit

Alpine Halo9 ilx f309

photo courtesy of angus15

     Judging by how nicely angus15s installation (see comment #38) of the Alpine Halo9 (model iLX-F309) looks in his MX-5, even though it has a larger 9″ screen, I can confidently surmise that it will look equally nice as a replacement of the Infotainment system in the 124 Spider, thanks to the detachable trim that comes with our OEM units.  Contrary to statements made by some, the ISO single-DIN slot makes it possible for aftermarket units to easily replace the factory units (except for the CMU’s function serving as the go-between device linking HS-CAN and other protocols within the vehicle), thereby gaining all of the other features designed into new system replacements, which in this case include:

General Features:
  • digital media receiver with AM/FM tuner (does not play CDs)
  • 9″ capacitive touchscreen with adjustable vertical mounting positions and viewing angles
  • fits single-DIN dash openings
  • Bluetooth hands-free calling and audio streaming
  • HD Radio tuner built-in
Smartphone Features (see Details for info on compatibility with specific smartphones and apps):
  • Apple CarPlay compatible
  • Android Auto compatible
  • built-in iPod, iPhone, and iPad control
  • playback and control of music files on compatible Android devices
  • Pandora and Spotify control with iPhone and Android
Audio/video Features:
  • plays MP3, WMA, AAC, and FLAC music files (see Details tab for full capabilities)
  • plays AVI and MPEG4 video files
  • 9-band parametric equalizer with time correction
  • high- and low-pass filters
  • Bass Engine SQ
  • MediaXpander HD
  • compatible with Alpine’s TuneIt smartphone app
  • works with SiriusXM SXV300 tuner—supports Tune Mix, Traffic & Weather Now, and Sports Flash features
  • compatible with optional Truck Accessory Controller
  • inputs: rear USB port, HDMI input, auxiliary input, rear-view camera harness
  • outputs: 6-channel preamp outputs (4-volt front, rear, subwoofer)
Other Information:
  • built-in internal amp (18 watts RMS CTA-2006 x 4 channels)
  • compatible with most factory steering wheel audio controls (adapter required)
  • CTA-2006 compliant
  • compatible with iDatalink Maestro (not currently developed for the MX-5, nor the 124 Spider though)
    • retains factory features in a wide selection of vehicles
    • displays engine performance data on touchscreen
  • warranty: 1 year
  • compatible with SiriusXM satellite radio tuner
Alpine Halo9 ilx f309 screen

photo courtesy of Crutchfield; click here and then select Details for their in-depth specs

[UPDATE 5/15/2018]  I just got off the phone today with Danny at DPS, and apparently, when Augusto (angus15) switched from the factory radio over to the Alpine Halo9, he didn’t lose anything, because he only had the base radio with the 3″ screen.  Presently, there is no way to get the interface screens for Personalization, Maintenance, Fuel Economy. etc. to display in the Halo9 unit, but if you browse through the instructions, you’ll note that there are two other methods for changing your personalization preferences, and the preferred method for resetting the maintenance light doesn’t involve the maintenance menus either.

Naviplus Retrofit Kit to get Apple CarPlay™

[photos courtesy of Naviplus]

Mazda has been promising an Apple CarPlay Retrofit Kit for MazdaConnect for over a year now, and if Naviplus is the supplier?, it looks like it is becoming available now.  They stated that the upgrade would require a minimal hardware upgrade.  Well since it involves only replacing the USB/SD/Aux Input Hub, it may be minimal in hardware replacement, but not in $$!, as it is kinda’ pricey at $678 (AU$900) , considering that the Alpine unit, discussed above retails at $899, and I’m pretty sure that doesn’t include the labor charges to swap the hub.  The firmware that takes advantage of the modified USB/SD/Aux Input Hub is Version 70.00.00, as shown below.


How to bring up Apple CarPlay, into Factory Audio screen


Press and Hold of ‘HANG UP Button’ on Steering wheel will switch screen display mode to Apple CarPlay so that you can use the 7″ touchscreen/Commander knob.


The kit contains a new USB/SD/Aux hub that will have updated compatible (2 amp Lightning vs .5 amp charging) USB ports along with Apple’s required chip.  Since Android Auto doesn’t require the Lightning USB or the licensed chip, perhaps the firmware will work for AA without the hardware upgrade?

Below are screen shots from the European firmware 70.00.00 (written to work with the retrofit module/updated CMU hardware) that confirm the availability of both Apple CarPlay and Android Auto.



Adding a second camera

I received an email from Nikos P. this morning asking:

hello my friend i need to enable back camera rotate i place a cam and its not turn back when i put reverse

I’m not sure I understood his question, but it sounded like he added a second camera without a video switcher, so it took priority over the reverse camera.  I remembered coming across a solution months ago that was developed for our Infotainment Systems by a small company in Russia (with which I have no affiliation with, other than sending them an email asking if this would work on the MX-5 and the 124 Spider – it apparently does, as they’ve been added to the list of intended vehicles) which allows you to control the various camera functions using the DSC switch (or an independent switch if you prefer).

It appears that their various electronic products (Wireless screen mirroring, DVD and TV controllers, etc) are well thought-out and fabricated nicely, using wiring connectors that mate with the appropriate OEM connectors in the vehicle to minimize splicing, and the Front View Camera Controller seems like it is fairly priced at $110, which includes shipping.  I am presenting this, to hopefully answer Nikos’ question; in case others might also find it helpful; or in case others might wish to purchase this solution for even greater utilization of the 7″ screen.

Front View Camera Controller v 52D.11

If your car has a rear-view camera installed, then by adding a controller, it will make it possible to also install and view the output of a front view camera as well

ACTIVATION:  The choice of modes is possible by pressing and holding the “DSC” button for more than 1 second. Each press switches the OFF – AUTO – ON

  • OFF.  (front view camera disabled)
  • AUTOMATIC.  When the vehicle is moving forward at a speed of no more than 7 km / h, the image from the front view camera is displayed.
  • ON.  In this mode, the image from the front view camera is constantly displayed.


Instructions for installation and implementation (includes wiring diagram).


New Fiat firmware is showing up

fiat abarth 2018 new firmware.jpg

I received an email from Greg B. today wondering why he is unable to install tweaks in his 2018 Fiat (Abarth model) 124 Spider built late in November 2017 for the U.S. market.  Although he was pleased to learn that the

  • Abarth name is now embroidered on the seats
  • the steering wheel proudly displays an Abarth logo, rather than Fiat’s
  • the radio’s animated Abarth boot sequence now matches the rest of the world

his photo (shown above) is disappointing evidence that the equivalent of Mazda firmware version 59.00.502 (and higher) is now getting installed, which among other changes like updated USB drivers, prevents tweaks from being installed via the USB ports.  Rather than 56.00.521 or 56.00.530 firmware, his system came with 59.00.524, which can only be tweaked by pulling the system out of the dash, soldering in a serial USB cable, and hacking into it using a laptop computer – something I would never wish to attempt.  Again, you can find your firmware version by starting at the main menu and selecting  Settings > System > About > Version Information.

I predicted the day was coming, but anyways, I will now have to add some explanation to my Tweaks article that lets my readers know that if they have 59.00.524 firmware, don’t bother seeking tweak software, as it will not do anything.  If you wish to know more about why, and the history behind this decision, see this article.

This could also be forewarning that Fiat dealers may start upgrading the firmware in our cars as we bring them in for service, in which case (if you appreciate the improvements enabled by installing tweaks), you may wish to install the ID7 autorun prior to that visit, as that will allow you to continue installing tweaks regardless.

This is a list of what is supposed to be improved (although there are reports that USB behavior is actually worse) since the initial firmware versions in the 124 Spiders:

TSB North America 59.00.502.pdf

The music database is still update-able by the user with the newer firmware though – see this article for the details.

Maintenance Monitor Settings


I have found the Maintenance App to be somewhat confusing, especially in regards to the Oil Change settings, but after some research, I think have a better understanding of the logic behind the settings now.  In the United States and Puerto Rico, it appears that Mazda has chosen to make Flexible mode the default setting for Oil Change, and it doesn’t appear that you can alter that to Fixed mode.  That appears to have carried over to the Fiat firmware as well.  So, in essence, there are no Oil Change setting changes available for us in the U.S., nor does it appear that you can reset the system after an oil/oil filter change from within the app either.  At the bottom of the article*, I’ve posted the Reset procedure.

Based on values that are displayed in the Scheduled Maintenance as well as the Tire Rotation screens, and according to the Mazda manual stating that the value is supposed to be displayed while in Flexible mode (and the fact that there is plenty of room on the screen, shown above), the remaining Oil life % should be displayed, as it could be somewhat useful for maintenance-planning purposes.  I’m still waiting for my wrench light to illuminate. so that I can get my first oil change, even though this coming July, I’ll have had my car two years.  This summer, I’ll be changing my oil, regardless of whether the system notifies me or not, as the Multi-Air “block” that controls the intake valves requires that the oil’s viscosity not vary from the 5W-40 specs and be free of sludge to function properly.

Since I found errors in the 124 Spider manual (for example, there is no setting to switch the notification of  the oil change off, as the manual indicates), and some details were lacking, I’ve pulled together the available settings options for this app from the Mazda manual and modified those instead, to help clarify our options.

Continue reading

RFID Toll Collection Transponders


In the stock photo above, the E-ZPass transponder would have looked much better in the obscured “printed-screen” section immediately above it’s mounted location, and since I have a Classica, that is, in fact, where I’ve installed mine, hidden from view behind the mirror.  That real estate is not available to those that have cameras mounted there for all of the factory “luxury” options like automatic wipers, auto-dimming headlamps and lane change assist.

As Sergey has noted in his article on FasTrak (the California version of RFID electronic toll collection), the cabins in the 124 Spider and the Mazda MX-5 are “RF-transparent”, meaning that the interior transponder can be located in either cubby, in the well for the opened convertible top, on the dash, etc. – anywhere that isn’t shielded overhead by metal, so that it can communicate with antennas mounted overhead to vehicles passing underneath.  See my Garage Door Remote article for an alternative mounting location that hides the transponder, yet keeps it from rattling around.

Commercial trucks (because of their vertical windshields)  and cars that have a metal-oxide coating on their windshield (for tinting), along with some hard-top car owners that simply don’t want a transponder visible within the car, utilize exterior transponders instead, designed to be mounted to their front license plate brackets, but that isn’t necessary with our vehicles.

Illinois was the first state to incorporate open road tolling with the E-ZPass technology, meaning drivers needn’t bother with toll booths, but rather, usually just drive at normal speeds underneath antennas on the tollway itself .  The E‑ZPass trademark belongs to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, so other states branding their own systems are legally required to use a different name for their systems, but any of these  transponders will function in all states using the same technology (currently 16, as shown below).  For instance, in my state of Illinois, the system is called I-Pass.

i-pass states1Not only are the transponders so convenient to use, but usually a significant cost savings vs. the cash price results from using them.  On a trip from Illinois to the Outer Banks in North Carolina we took last month, not once did we have to fumble with cash at a toll booth as we passed through Indiana, Ohio, West Virginia, Virginia and North Carolina.  Total of tolls was $5.00 (see report below).

i-pass states

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Tweak to disable touchscreen input


(I can’t imagine anyone actually using this as a screen background)

Apparently, some Mazda owners have somehow broken their touchscreen displays (after their 3-year warranty has expired), which results in a random rogue behavior of their systems, at least while the vehicle is stopped or under 5 mph.  If the screen looks anything as dramatic as the photo above, I imagine that you would be filing a claim under your vehicle’s insurance policy, rather than your Warranty though.

Responding to several requests for a tweak to totally disable touch-input capability from the touchscreen allowing them to forego replacement of the Infotainment system, Trezdog44 has written and published (February 2018) a tweak that toggles the touchscreen input function of the display, limiting system inputs to the steering wheel and Commander panel knobs/switches,  along with voice commands.

Although all Fiat 124 Spider owners should currently be covered by their 4-year warranty, I’m publishing this in case there are any owners that might want to totally* disable the touch-input capability of their touchscreen for some other reason that I can’t envision right now.  By copying the files to a FAT32 formatted USB drive and following the normal tweak installation instructions (at your own risk),

  • it will disable* the input function of an active touchscreen,
  • and if run again, it will re-enable the input function of the disabled touchscreen.


*   One user reported that although this tweak did disable the touchscreen for all factory functions, it didn’t disable the touchscreen while parked/travelling under 5 mph using the Android Auto app.

Don’t confuse this tweak with the normal “touchscreen tweak“, which among other things, actually enables touch-input capability from the touchscreen at any speed.

Fiat responded to Speedometer feedback?


this is what my speedometer looks like

Some of us that bought the early builds of the 124 Spider responded to feedback surveys complaining that the speedometer needle obliterated the 30, 50 and 70 when travelling at those respective speeds, as you can imagine just looking at the photo above of a panel from the early 2017 124 Spiders.

I’m not sure when the change actually took place, but apparently FIAT listened to the feedback, because I see the speedometer mph numbers are now not only larger, but they also read 20, 40, 60… (rather than 10, 30, 50…), which makes the gauge a little more user-friendly (and now conforms to the industry norm, at least in the U.S.).

Here is a panel from a more recent 124 Spider instrument cluster that clearly shows the improvements.


photo courtesy of chutoyy


I may have been overly optimistic in that the panel shown above appears to be exclusive to the Abarth model only, since photos of 2018 Classicas and Lussos that I’ve found after writing this article, seem to reveal that the speedometer hasn’t changed after all.  Note the change to accommodate and illuminate the red tachometer gauge, also exclusive to the Abarth model, but I still maintain that the mph version of speedometer gauges should have looked like the Abarth version for all models of the 124 Spider.

The European version of the Abarth instrument cluster reveals front & rear fog light indicators next to the headlight indicator, rather than our “check fuel cap” indicator.

abarth europe instrument panel

photo courtesy of denzel


Windshield Replacement – must also replace garnishes!

Photos by Mark Booth


I found Mark Booth’s posting on Miata.net’s forum regarding his windshield replacement experience to be very  informative and felt that it might someday prove to be helpful to Spider owners, should they ever need to get their windshield replaced.  Mark strongly advises becoming familiar with the instructions so that, while observing the process, you can verify that the garnishes are installed properly.  You will find many more descriptive photos further along in the thread.

Be aware that Mazda issued a TSB to the dealers several months ago stating that all three exterior trim pieces (1 upper and 1 for each side), which they call garnishes, need to be replaced following a windshield  replacement, and logic would dictate that Fiat has done the same, but I don’t know if that has actually occurred. The side garnishes can not be reused, and chances are one or more of the 4 snap clips in the upper garnish will not survive removal, in which case, the upper garnish can not be reused either.

Aside from insuring that the replacement glass matches the trim level of the vehicle (the brackets for mirrors, rain sensors, cameras, etc. should already be adhered), the 3 garnishes (which will add an additional $400 to the repair bill), need to be ordered and on-hand before allowing the windshield replacement to take place.

The entire procedure is spelled out in Mazda’s Service Bulletin E001/17.  The only way the upper garnish can be removed (and installed) properly is by first removing:

  • the interior A-pillar trim pieces
  • the two wedges that engage the soft-top (you will need a T-40 Torx bit to remove the four wedge bolts)
  • which then will allow the interior header trim to be removed (you will need a T-30 Torx bit to remove the two header bolts)
  • the two 10 mm nuts that mechanically attach the upper garnish

After all these bits, the garnish can be pried off at the four snap clips, which if they survive, must be reused when reinstalling that garnish to keep it from flying off at some point.


Here is Mark’s time-lapse video of his windshield replacement.

etcthorne added:

Of additional note to others having the top garnish replaced….. If you notice the garnish popped up in the middle a bit after the installer is finished putting it on, it’s because they didn’t set the middle fasteners. It takes quite a bit of pressure on the center to get them seated. I had to do that part myself while standing in the car. I heard them both click in securely, but I was worried about the amount of pressure I had to apply. No issues with the top garnish since.

Delayed implementation of new cluster gauge with compass


There’s the missing compass!

The 2018 124 Spiders were supposed to come with the upgraded Multi-Information TFT Display.  In the Classica model, you would have had to order the Technical package to get the new gauge though.  I have a theory as to why that didn’t materialize.



The MX-5 RF debuted a new cluster gauge (the left-most gauge) which is actually a TFT (color) screen presented in a similar style to the mechanical gauges, but which can be customized to show a variety of different information, unlike our LCD info screen which is very limited in it’s capabilities and couldn’t be programmed to display feedback regarding the state of the retractable hardtop.  It appears that a compass has also been added to the primary screen to make up for the deficiency in the Navigation screens (and no Heads-Up Display).

It is officially called the 4.6″ Multi-Information color TFT display and I was wishfully thinking that Fiat would incorporate a turbo boost gauge in place of the unused monotone water temperature gauge (the color version functions nicely), and if not, perhaps a tweak of some sort might accomplish this goal.

Technical problem

Apparently the first generation of new clusters debuting in the RF have a significant battery drain issue (after about a week of not being driven, the battery will be incapable of starting the engine) when the ignition is off and the cruise-control has been left “On” prior to shutdown preventing the vehicle from going into “sleep-mode”.  This was only recently discovered as the root cause and although replacement of the defective cluster gauge assemblies is the fix to the problem, they may simply modify the software to insure that cruise-control is always in the Off mode during shutdown to cover-up the problem.

Perhaps the last minute discovery of the issue without knowing the root cause explains why Mazda recommended delaying the implementation of the new the new cluster gauge into MY 2018 124 Spiders and the soft-top versions of the MX-5.  I expect we’ll see the fixed version of it in the MY 2019 124 Spiders though.