Garage door remote

door opener

I see so many convertibles at car shows with the garage door remotes hanging on the visor, and besides being unattractive, they seem so susceptible to loss via the wind or theft.  Since I have the Classica model, I do not have the bulky Homelink mirror which negates the need for a remote, and so I was determined to find a compatible spot to locate it.  During my search, the first thing I noticed is that our non-padded visors won’t even accommodate the visor clips that come with garage door opener remotes, and I noted that I didn’t want the remote…

  • occupying the limited space of the “shelf” adjacent to the USB ports panel designed to accommodate your phone
  • anywhere on the dash panel
  • inconveniently hidden in the difficult-to-access rear bulkhead cubby
  • rattling around and occupying a good percentage of the tiny armrest cubby

so I decided to attach it to the underside of the armrest cubby lid with Velcro hook and loop tape.

After prepping the surface by wiping it with rubbing alcohol, I attached a 1½” piece of the “hook” tape near the hinge, and while was at it, I installed a second piece further up on the lid (as shown in the photo above) in case I find myself wanting to secure some other small item in the future.  In general, I usually apply the people-friendly soft “loop” tape to devices, but since the remote won’t be handled much outside of changing the 9-volt battery, it doesn’t really matter.

A year later, I’m still pleased with my hidden, rattle-free placement of the remote!

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Soft-top drain filter

drain filter grasp

courtesy of nasara

The drain tubes for the convertible top well (allows rain/car wash water to drain out the underside of the vehicle so that it won’t otherwise collect and eventually seek it’s way into the cabin or trunk) in our 124 Spiders (and the ND MX-5) are each protected by a dual filter system

  • upper – the filter cap screen (as shown in the photo above) and
  • lower – an underlying foam filter

so that the tubes should never need to be snaked out, unlike the unfiltered tubes in the previous generation (NC) Miatas.

Although the owner’s manual recommends cleaning these filters (they are symmetrically placed on both sides of the vehicle) annually, as the owner, you should be familiar with how much debris (leaves, pine needles, bugs, etc) your vehicle has been exposed to, and only address these filters when you suspect that they might actually need cleaning.

In my case, I’ve never parked my car underneath a messy tree, and I park the vehicle in my garage nightly, so I am confident that for now, this difficult maneuver would be a waste of time.

Karatou-Oyaji produced a YouTube video that although is in Japanese, shows how to access the filters for removal and cleaning without removing any panels.  I don’t know if he was viewing his camera while locating the filter for removal and re-installation, but I like djwhiplash2001‘s comment:

When I do this, I’m going to stick a GoPro to my rear window and view it on my phone – that way, I can see what I’m doing (hopefully).

Raptor5244 offered this advice (which is demonstrated in the photo above) in the Miata forum:

I found it easier to get to the drain filters if I stood outside the car and reached my arm down there vs. sitting in the seat. The trick to getting them out is to use you index finger front knuckle pressed on the tab, and then use your thumb and middle finger to pinch/grab enough of the filter [cover] to wiggle it free.

It took are a few tries but figured out a way that works best for me. To orient where they are, look through the back window and look for the foam around the base of the filter.

As Mark Booth commented…

It would have helped a LOT if Mazda had added some texture to the top of that little release tab instead of making it slick.


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Towing your Spider

towing

We should all be aware that our 124 Spiders are Rear-Wheel Drive (RWD), and should our vehicles ever need to be towed, familiarize ourselves with the three allowed configurations shown in the illustration above, as the rear wheels of a 124 Spider being towed should not be on the ground, especially if you have an automatic transmission.  You’ll want to be confident that the tow-truck operator is also aware that you have a RWD vehicle before he attempts to hook up.

Towing your 124 Spider with the front wheels on the ground (top illustration) is probably the least desirable of the three configurations, as the front end of  the vehicle may encounter some damage, especially if the rear end is hoisted up too high and the road surface is irregular.

Having your vehicle transported in a trailer or on a tilting flat-bed truck is the most desirable method.  If the vehicle can not be driven onto the flat-bed, remember to remove your tow hook out of the trunk (and even install*) for the tow truck operator prior to him/her winching it up, so that the strap/chain hook can be attached to that, rather than some easily-damaged “gram-strategy” cross member or linkage on the underside of the vehicle.


*       Although the front tow hook cover is easily removed from the grille without tools,  if you remove it yourself, you can see that it is removed carefully and safely stowed away so that it won’t get lost/damaged, assuming of course that the vehicle is oriented such that it will be winched up from the front.  If the vehicle is oriented such that it will be winched up from the rear instead, you might want to carefully pop the tow-hook cover off of the rear fascia yourself (using a key or small screwdriver), so that the painted surfaces won’t be damaged, and again stow it away.

 

Paint colors

paint 124

mariokart wrote a nice article on 124 Spider paint codes, but since 124Spider.org forum articles are only editable for a few hours, he is unable to edit/update his article, so I’ve decided to expand on it further.  I’ve added a Paint section to my Specs blog page and I’m asking for readers to help fill in missing information (indicated by  — ) for some of the colors, like the paint code listed on the B-pillar placard.  I think the Mazda code should be identified separately from the Fiat codes, to aid in cross referencing with other paint suppliers.

vin placard

example of B-pillar placard on a Grigio Moda Lusso

My goal is to make it easier to find touch-up paint for our cars (at a Mazda dealership) if it can’t be located elsewhere.  As examples:

  • Mark Booth pointed out in the 124 Spider forum, that the new Bleu Scuro color for 2018 is reported to be a Mazda color called Eternal Blue, but another Miata forum reader stated that it looks much more like Mazda’s Deep Crystal Blue Mica.  Until someone identifies the paint code, we won’t know for sure. 
  • I don’t know if there is a Mazda color name for our Passion Red, so that entry may remain as    .
  • The color of my car is Bianco Gelato, and since my Fiat dealer had no touch-up paint available back in 2016, it was nice cross-referencing Mazda’s color Artic White (A4D) with Mercedes Benz’s Artic White (147), which turns out to be the same color, and was readily available on Amazon for a greatly reduced price.

Using brochures from Europe, USA and Australia, I attempted to make corrections to some of the color names, but if any errors or other omissions are observed, please let me know, and I’ll get them fixed.

Removal of taillight body-colored inserts

photos, quoted text and technique courtesy of  steve6225

taillight insert1

I remember [reading] a couple of threads where people were wondering if the taillight inserts were removable for painting, [wrapping], etc.

I had a couple of minutes today, so I gave it a shot. Not only are they removable, but they are very easy to remove.

They [snap into] two black plastic [retaining clips that are part of the mounting hardware] used to attach the taillight to the car.

I used a thin plastic trim removal tool and pried the insert out away from the taillight. Start at the inboard edge and pry it out, slide the tool along the top and give it a twist when it gets tight. The insert will pop right out of the first clip. Continue along the top and twist again to pop out the second clip.

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MY 2019 Fiat Connect?

2018toyotacamryentune

2018 Toyota Camry’s Entune display

For Model Year (MY) 2019 vehicles, which start being built around May of 2018, Mazda is reportedly switching suppliers for the CMU headunits (the Infotainment system) from Visteon/JCI to Toyota.

The question remains however –  what will Fiat specify for MY 2019  124 Spiders?

  • will they continue getting the current JCI -built systems?  >>  (I kinda doubt it)
  • will they get the 3rd-generation Toyota Entune system like the MX-5s?  >> (lowest shared development costs – this is my bet)
  • or will they get a uConnect system like the rest of FCA’s vehicles?  >> (seems the least likely)

The Entune, which is a result of a joint effort between Toyota and Mazda, pairs with your in-vehicle smartphone, but does so with it’s proprietary Entune app (which is only free for the first 3 years), rather that dealing with Apple’s licensing fees (CarPlay) and Google’s data stronghold (Android Auto).  That doesn’t preclude Mazda from going in a different direction with their own apps that could include CarPlay and Android Auto, as I’m sure this hardware already is capable of supporting those interfaces.  I guess it depends on how much pressure future customers relay to Mazda Marketing.   😉

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Safety rating = 5 out of 5

Mazda-mx-5-gets-five-star-ancap-rating3

Dual frontal, side chest and side head-protecting airbags (all standard) and collision absorption framing

Due to its relatively low sales numbers in the USA and no expected shortcomings based on other tests performed in Europe and Australasia, it is unlikely that the 124 Spider will undergo a thorough series of crash tests, but due to it’s structural similarity to it’s sister vehicle, the MX-5 (“and all it’s variants”, which includes the 124 Spider), having done so well in the ANCAP testing (5 out of 5 stars), we should feel confident that we are not shortchanged regarding occupant protection in our tight little cabins.

The MX-5 did well in Euro NCAP testing as well, and they awarded the vehicle 4 out of 5 stars, apparently getting nicked for “the driver’s airbag did not have sufficient pressure to prevent the head from making contact with the steering wheel, through the airbag material”.  Here is a link to a summary of their test results.  Also note in this Euro NCAP YouTube video, that it shows the active bonnet in action, as required in Europe for pedestrian protection and explained further here.

Here are 2 photos from the ANCAP tests performed last year  ⇓

Mazda-mx-5-gets-five-star-ancap-rating1

Mazda-mx-5-gets-five-star-ancap-rating2

Preserve your ability to Tweak in future firmware versions

 

Because Mazda…

  • was replacing so many “bricked” CMUs (that significantly added to Mazda’s warranty tab) due to haphazard hacking
  • was wrongly accused that there were safety concerns with their CMUs being so easily hack-able
  • was made aware that “NNG_Tool” and “NNG_patcher” hacks (at one time part of the MZD AIO package) allowed the use of pirated maps

they are now shipping Model Year 2018+ vehicles with firmware version 59.00.502 (or higher*) that Visteon has programmed to permanently disable the ability for scripts on USB drives from running, resulting in no known method to tweak those vehicles except by removing the CMU from the dashboard and truly hacking in via the serial port.

Mazda is also gradually upgrading the older CMU firmwares to 59.00.502 (or higher*) in prior-year Mazda vehicles, as they come in for service, in order to no longer allow tweaking in those vehicles either, *** UNLESS *** you have installed a “backdoor” tweak like “ID7 autorun” prior to that upgrade, which will then allow you to use a SD card to tweak those “locked-down” firmware “upgrades”.  For installing tweaks I wouldn’t recommend using your Navigation SD card, but it will apparently work.

Not knowing what strategy Fiat is going to implement, I am proactively making available a free download to install (at your own risk) “ID7 autorun” along with Recovery scripts, which is a ‘set-it-and-forget-it’ tool that trezdog, id7 and others have developed (that will remain in the CMU through firmware upgrades), and essentially instructs the system to be on the lookout for run.sh, and if that file is found on an installed SD card during system boot-up, execute that file – which can in fact be a renamed tweak install script (tweaks.sh such as the one generated after compiling your tweaks using the AIO program). If run.sh isn’t found (such as in a normal Navigation SD card), the system simply continues it’s normal boot-up process.  Feel free to put it off, until we get word that Fiat has new firmware for the dealers to install and you are due to visit the dealer for scheduled service. Continue reading

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 124 Spider Owner’s manual regarding personalization options of the Door Locks, Keyless Entry and Advanced Keyless Entry (AKE) are difficult to read, especially the  Available Settings column.  The unlocking doors menu option is also missing for both Keyless Entry and AKE.

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

personalization2

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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.

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