Prepping for “the great white north” winter

2017_fiat_124_spider_snow

The tire treads have no snow in them – did they air-lift this car in for a photo shoot?  😉  Click image to enlarge.


cold start disableTobias (from Germany) has observed that while starting the 124 Spider in COLD conditions, there are extra “delays and relays”, before the starter engages, all while the lamp, adjacent to the Low Fuel lamp in the instrument cluster, is steady on (not flashing).

Next to the low fuel warning light there is also a pre-glow indicator. You’d think that this hardly makes any sense on a car that isn’t offered with a diesel engine but it still seems to serve a purpose on the 124.

As far as i have figured it out on mine:

Whenever ambient temperature are below ~4°C and the engine is completely cold (i.e. car sat overnight) and you switch on the ignition you see this light flash up, hear a relay clicking a few times and the light will go out after 1-2 seconds.  If you don’t switch on the ignition first, but start the engine right away, this also happens, but it will delay engaging the starter for the above mentioned 1-2 seconds.  None of this happens if temperatures are higher or the engine has some residual heat in it.

Seems to be a Fiat thing (maybe only in euroland?), since my dads’ Panda (mighty 1.2L NA) also does this.

Tobias stated that nothing is mentioned about this light in the German edition of his Owner’s Manual, so I decided to look into the subject further.  Per my U.S. Owner’s Manual (page 99), that amber lamp is the “Cold Start Disable Indicator Light”, and the manual continues…

Apparently if you attempt to start the vehicle and the ambient temperature is below -22ºF (-30ºC), the ECU module will prevent the starter from engaging with the engine, as indicated to the driver by a flashing amber “Cold Start Disable Indicator Light”.

Place your vehicle in a warm garage until the temperature has risen to a sufficient level to enable engine starting.

I had a paragraph on cold weather starting in my trickle-charging article regarding the extra Cold Cranking Amps (CCA) of the battery Fiat chose for our vehicles (520 vs. 350 in the MX-5), that you will really appreciate while starting, when it is between -22ºF and the +teensºF, wherever the car is parked.

Well, that ambient temperature pre-check accounts for some of the delay…

I imagine the Multi-Air brick won’t function properly when the oil is too cold, and the steady activation of that light while starting when temperatures are at, or below, freezing, is indicating that cold weather “pre-check” logic is in-process, as Tobias sort of guessed.

I decided to download the Canadian FIAT 500X Owner’s Manual, since the same engine powers them as well.  I became curious as to why the label for that same symbol (page 6), states “glow plug”.   Then on page 279, I found this:

Cold Weather Operation
To ensure reliable starting under extreme cold conditions, an externally
powered electric block heater (available from your authorized dealer)
is required for the 1.4L Turbo engine below -20°F (-29°C).

To prevent possible engine damage while starting at low temperatures,
this vehicle will inhibit engine cranking when the ambient temperature
is less than -34°F (-35°C) and the oil temperature sensor reading indicates
an engine block heater has not been used.

The message “plug in engine heater” will be displayed in the instrument
cluster when the ambient temperature is below -4°F (-20°C) at the
time the engine is shut off as a reminder to avoid possible crank delays
at the next cold start.

(I found this identical information on page 255 in the Jeep Renegade’s Canadian Owner’s Manual, as well.)

…perhaps an additional delay is attributed to a pre-check of the Oil temperature and calculating the Δ

So, even though it isn’t mentioned in my U.S. Owner’s Manual, the 1.4 L Turbo ECMs (Engine Control Modules), manufactured by Delphi for various FCA vehicles, are probably all programmed to not only check the ambient temperature, but also the oil temperature, and determine if a block heater has been plugged in.

Since there is no mention of a block heater in my U.S. Owner’s Manual, that explains why it sounds like the 124 Spiders have instead, been programmed to not allow the starter to be engaged at a “warmer” temperature (-22ºF vs. -34ºF), when in fact, perhaps the logic is actually all there to allow starting if colder than -22ºF, if it also determines that the oil temperature is warmer, because a block heater is in-use.  In my opinion, just because the 124 Spider isn’t able to display the a block heater reminder message, doesn’t mean they would change all of the programming.  Something for you brave souls living on the frozen tundra to keep in mind and investigate further…

Re-establishing Oil Flow in Multi-Air “brick” after Long-Term Storage

multiair brick dot

Multi-Air “brick”

While inactive for an extended period*, some of Fiat’s 1.4 L engines have a tendency for almost ALL of the oil to drain out of the top-half of the engine, including the high pressure oil pump and the hydraulic pumping elements in the Multi-Air “brick” that are operated by the intake lobes on the camshaft, that all need enough oil (without air) flowing to feed the actuators used to properly control the fully variable lift of all eight intake valves.

The only way to re-establish consistent oil flow in the pump(s) again, so that the engine will actually run, is to “prime” them (getting the air out of the system) by turning the engine over with the starter (which cycles the primary oil pump delivering oil back into the top-half of the engine), making sure to pause once in awhile, long enough to prevent the starter motor from overheating.

While researching for my “Cold Start Disable Indicator Light” article, I found the actual “Extended Park Starting” procedure on page 255 of Jeep Renegade’s Canadian Owner’s Manual, as the base model also uses the same 1.4 L turbo engine:

NOTE: Extended Park condition occurs when the vehicle has not been started or driven for at least 30 days.
1. Install a battery charger or jumper cables to the battery to ensure a full battery charge during the crank cycle.
2. Cycle the ignition to the START mode and release it when the engine starts.
3. If the engine fails to start within 10 to 15 seconds, cycle the ignition to the OFF mode, wait five seconds to allow the starter to cool, then repeat the Extended Park Starting procedure.
4. If the engine fails to start after eight attempts, allow the starter to cool for at least 10 minutes, then repeat the procedure.

Tip #1

Upon determining that you will be performing this ritual (after the first pause to cool down the starter), it might be best to temporarily remove the fuse for the fuel pump (F34) for a few cycles, to avoid flooding the cylinders.  Hopefully, all systems are go, once you reinsert the fuse and resume starting  –  VROOOM.

Tip #2

One seldom mentioned  tip (hasn’t been officially confirmed) to speed up the upwards oil flow while the starter is turning the engine over, is to have someone engage an air-relief valve “button” that is said to be accessible by removing the oil filler cap (indicated by the orange oval in my photo).  m7art states that it appears as a 5 mm black dot, and simply needs to be pushed down with perhaps a Phillips screwdriver, in order to allow trapped air to exit.  Last December, #Greg from Eurocompulsion was going to look into this further, but hasn’t yet been able to confirm.  Having looked myself, I’m not getting a good feeling that there is a button there either, so I’m hoping someone will confirm – either yay or nay.  I’ve drawn an arrow to the spot that I think has the greatest possibility, but since that area is submerged in oil in my engine, I can’t tell for sure.

Tip #3

Another tip that jbbdc posted today after a positive outcome, is to extract oil out through the dipstick tube, and either pouring it back in through the oil filler port (insuring it is at least as clean as it was within the engine), or simply replacing the same amount with new 5W-40 oil.  He later stated that he only needed to extract/pour-back a half-quart to get the desired outcome, assisting in the priming of the oil pump.  Although more of a hassle for some, I’m confident that extracting the oil via the drain plug would be just as effective, as the benefit comes from catching some of the oil in the top half of the engine, as it is poured into the filler port, but all that effort for only a half-quart?  You could however, take the opportunity to perform a full oil change, if the timing is appropriate…


*   Ideally, if you have an engine that displays this condition, and you wish to avoid the consuming, oil flow re-establishment process, you will simply have to start it often enough to keep the brick’s oil pump primed with sufficient oil.  For some, that period of time is less than a month (perhaps every 3 weeks), yet for me, I’ve gone over 2 months (during it’s first winter) and thus far, have had no problem starting my car.

fiats-multiair-valve-lift-system-explained-photo-301273-s-original

courtesy of BRYAN CHRISTIE DESIGN

Turn Signal Audio ~ Insufficient Volume

tpms alarm

The Turn Signal audio “alarm”, if I’m comprehending this properly, is a reminder beep that is in-sync with the turn signal and hazard warning flashing lights, that kicks in after a certain amount of time has passed, [thank you Sergey (ssh16) for clearing this up for me] is apparently  not really an alarm, but audible clicking noises replicating the sound of turn signal flashers of yesteryear, in-sync with the turn signal and hazard warning flashing lights, and doesn’t seem to be loud enough for a majority of us driving 124 Spiders, especially with the top down, which is how the car is meant to be driven.  I’m writing this article in answer to seeing another inquiry posted on the Miata.net forum by MX-5 owners, also wanting the volume turned up.  Even at the Loud setting, just like the beeps letting you know you’ve reached the lower and upper limits of the cluster dimmer control (rather than mechanical stops), I know I can’t hear them either.  Yet, I almost jump out of my seat when a faulty interpretation of ABS data triggers false TPMS alarms, proving to us – that same audio transducer, located on the rear side of the instrument cluster circuit board, is capable of being plenty LOUD!

loud

Sergey provided a nice photo of  the actual transducer (think of it as a tweeter) in his excellent Instrument Cluster analysis discussion.  I’m assuming it’s obscuring the “BZ1” component callout (Buzzer #1), and I’m also curious what purpose a second transducer (BZ2, which is not present) was intended to serve (text-to-speech?).

Anyways, BZ1 is mounted adjacent to the stepper motor for the speedometer, close to the right-side edge of the circuit board, and this probably aligns quite nicely with the small slotted grill opening in the cluster canopy designed to allow some portion of the emitted sounds to enter the cabin.

cluster speaker

courtesy of mx5things.com

So figuring out how to alter the existing personalization command that communicates to the Body Control Module (BCM) via the HS-CAN network, the volume level value for the loud setting for the Turn Signal audio (which appears to use the same transducer) to a value much higher than the current setting, yet not quite as loud as the TPMS alarm, would be of value to those of us, currently unable to hear the alarm.  The TPMS Reset acknowledgement beep (which is quieter than the alarm) volume seems about perfect, and I would like to determine that value, and use it as a good starting point.  If someone could intercept these commands over the HS-CAN network, a tweak that would replicate the personalization command (using the louder volume value though) should be easy enough to write.  This is all assuming that the values aren’t predefined in the BCM, and that the command isn’t simply choosing either the Low or High predefined values, but rather, is actually defining the preferred volume value.

personalization3 turn signals

I’d like to familiarize everyone with the personalization setting shown directly underneath the Turn Signal audio volume – the Lane Change Three-Flash feature.  I find that enabling that feature to be very helpful, as it means that by using the momentary-on portion of the switch, resulting in three light cycles, rather than one, and thereby not actually engaging the turn signal lever past the “click” into it’s auto-cancelling mode, it can’t be left on accidentally.  By using this feature for shallow turns, you should find your turn signals behaving as you’d expect, since the self-cancelling feature functions properly after sharper turns.

Here is an illustration showing how the Turn Signal audio “alarm” functions, and by comparing it to the top illustration, you can see that both alarms seem to be actuating the same transducer (labelled buzzer):

turn signal alarm


I was hoping that perhaps a Mazda or Fiat dealer could program the volume, but found this in the Miata forum, which implies that they can only select low or high, just like we can from the CMU Settings screen, but not the actual volume 😦

Turn And Hazard Indicator Alarm using M-MDS

1. Connect the M-MDS to the DLC-2.
2. After vehicle identification, select the following from the M-MDS initialization screen.
→ →a. “Module programming”
→ →b. “Programmable Parameters”
3. Then, select “IC” from the screen menu.
4. Select an item name, and than select option.

Mazda Modular Diagnostic System (M-MDS) display		Function			Initial setting		Setting contents	Control unit
Turn Signal Volume.									The volume of the 	Low					Low / High			Instrument cluster
indicator alarm can be changed.						turn and hazard

124 Spider ~ Coolant Confusion

[This information was originally a sidebar to the Coolants section of my Specs page, but since it was getting rather lengthy, it has turned into an article with photos instead]
100_3091

This is what my coolant looks like after 2 years – still a bright green

There has been quite a bit of confusion regarding the coolant to be used in the 124 Spider, much of it caused by Fiat calling out the Mopar purple Antifreeze / Coolant (# 68163848AB) that it specifies for other FCA vehicles using the 1.4 liter turbo engine, like the Fiat 500, Jeep Renegade and Dart Sport.  There is nothing wrong with using that coolant, but it doesn’t mix well (at least color-wise), with the green FL22 premix coolant that Mazda uses to fill all vehicles built at their Hiroshima Assembly Plant, including the MX-5 and our Spiders.  As you introduce more of it in with the green, the color will darken, eventually turning black.  If you develop a coolant system leak, it won’t be as easy to differentiate from other fluids.

The photo above is indicative of how the coolant reservoir appears leaving the factory, so if you purchase a new vehicle with it appearing like the photo below, someone has probably added purple Mopar coolant.  

black coolant

Looks like dealer added Mopar purple coolant.  Photo courtesy of Steve Russell. (click on it to enlarge)

Mazda also installs their metal coolant reservoir pressure cap, which specifies using the conflicting FL22 coolant.   As a note of caution, that cap is for the closed-loop pressurized cooling system (small section of the reservoir on the right, along with a port leading to that pressure cap) and should normally not be opened, especially if the engine is hot.

Coolant level should normally be supplemented via the integral (unpressurized) expansion overflow tank (black plastic cap accessing the remainder of the reservoir) to keep the level somewhere between LOW and FULL.  In order for the system to not build up too much pressure, the relief valve allows some coolant to be released into the expansion tank when the coolant is HOT, but it will also eventually allow coolant to be sucked back in, as the system cools down again. 

If you allow the overflow tank to empty itself, the system is susceptible to also pulling air into the closed-loop system, which is not desirable in either the radiator or the heater core, as they become less effective, but in particular, air pockets — or hot spots — within the engine, can be dangerous, as they can overheat, crack or warp any part of the engine where air is trapped!

A hot spot is nothing more than trapped pockets of air or bubbles inside cooling system passages that prevent coolant from carrying heat away from those areas, causing that section of the engine to overheat and corrosion to start setting in.

black coolant1

Steve’s expansion overflow tank

Anyways, getting back to the confusion over which coolant to use, Fiat has recognized and addressed the issue this year, as noted in their Mopar catalog for the dealers, and is now finally recommending Mopar # 68334695AA  Antifreeze / Coolant (or equivalent), since it too is FL22 coolant, and matches the coolant Mazda installs (including the green color).  It appears to be unusually expensive though, so if you might like to have some on hand in your garage, you might find it financially advantageous to procure this coolant at a Mazda dealer, rather than at your Mopar dealer.

Coolant Mopar

Mazda Coolant

Water should never be added to the reservoir, if a Premix configuration of coolant is being used, as it has already been added to that coolant.  On the other hand, if a concentrate is being poured in, allow room for adding in distilled water in a 55/45 ratio (55% concentrate and 45% water).  Just as in the case of topping off your lead-acid battery, the use of distilled water is very critical, not only for a proper pH balance, but to avoid introducing other minerals normally found in water (hard well water particularly) that will alter the chemical configuration.

Per the description of Mopar’s 68334695AA Antifreeze / Coolant, it is “5-Year POAT (Phosphate Organic Additive Technology)”, and therefore doesn’t appear to be Extended Life (which is 10-year / 150,000 miles), so keep that in mind if the coolant has been drained from your vehicle’s cooling system, and isn’t going to be re-introduced (as in a coolant flush), as the originally specified purple, Extended Life Mopar # 68163848AB Antifreeze / Coolant (or equivalent) now becomes a viable alternative to the FL22 formula, along with subsequent top-offs.  If choosing alternative brands, it is most important that your coolant choice be OAT, extended life, ethylene glycol based and no 2-ethylhexanoic acid  inhibitor (2-EHA free).



(another great article on coolants confusion)

Maximum occupancy / cargo weight & Tire pressure

max occupant weight

tire placard

Vincent Venat submitted an interesting question this week on the 124Spider.org forum, regarding the maximum occupancy weight restriction shown on the B-pillar tire rating placard.  He had included a photo of that label (edited for clarity and shown above) to prove that indeed, the maximum combined weight of cargo and occupants is listed at 340 pounds, and he postured “How serious is this?”  My first thought, after realizing I’d not noticed this spec before (I really only paid attention to the 29 psi recommendation), was that one wouldn’t think there should be a concern regarding the weight of two “normal” people getting into our 124 Spiders, since:

  • the cabin and trunk are relatively small, and there being only two seats – whoever/whatever can physically fit in there wouldn’t be an issue, at least regarding the tires
  • the car is so lightweight due to Mazda’s gram strategy design, one would believe that there would be extra capacity for cargo and occupants vs. a normal 4-door vehicle using these same tires (perhaps these particular tires aren’t installed in any sedans though)

Oh, and that weight restriction includes cargo, which could easily approach 75 pounds for a weekend getaway, or a trip to a big-box store.  So the weight of two people shouldn’t exceed 265 pounds?  Maybe in Japan, the gram strategy applies to occupants as well, and that limitation didn’t seem unrealistic.  🙂  What margin of safety is Fiat assigning to both the tire load capabilities and the GVWR?

I can imagine that in many instances, the total actual weight could realistically easily hover around 500 pounds!  So indeed, how serious is this?

Continue reading

Mopar Vent Bezels

GREAT PHOTOS COURTESY OF Cal from Calgary (CLICK THEM TO ENLARGE)

MOPARRedBezel2

Cal from Calgary has installed the Mopar coloured (that’s his spelling 😉 ) vent bezel replacements accessory items (# 68307700AA for gloss red, or 68307699AA for gloss black) that replaces the OEM vent bezels, and has sent me some photos and comments to share:

All I have to say regarding this is that they’re bloody hard to remove from the dash, and that with 20/20 hindsight, I would strongly suggest people have this done by their dealer. That way if anything gets broken, they pay for it, not you.  If you do install these yourself, you’ll note a small notch in the centre finger grip that you use to open and close the vent. With the vent in its open position, you will install the vent bezel with that notch facing straight up (12 o’clock position).

I’m also incorporating a Defi boost gauge in the center vent, which requires an aluminum pod mount ring (Cravenspeed # CS-AA259), both available at Eurocompulsion, in the empty dash vent hole first, before adding the [new] vent bezel onto that.

A few considerations with the installation:

  • The Defi gauge is a snug fit inside the pod mount, so the two included pads can’t be used to hold it in place.
  • The Defi gauge has the screws located on an angle (8 o’clock and 2 o’clock position, rather than 9 and 3), so the included black plastic back cover can’t be screwed on, as it would block the two input jacks on the back of the gauge
  • Solution I used was to use 5 minute epoxy, and apply a dab at three locations inside the pod to affix the back of the gauge to the inside of the pod housing, I then used a few dabs to apply the black plastic cover to the back of the pod housing

AbarthCabinMods

Continue reading

Mopar Wind Screen

GREAT PHOTOS COURTESY OF Cal from Calgary (CLICK THEM TO ENLARGE)
AbarthCabinMods

After

AbarthCabinStock

Before

Cal from Calgary has installed the Mopar wind screen accessory item (# 68307694AA) that replaces the black OEM wind screen, and has sent me some photos and comments to share:

When you look at the product as listed on the MOPAR site, you get the impression it is tempered glass. It doesn’t actually say that, but for the cost, I wasn’t expecting polycarbonate.  The package includes the poly “glass”, and all the necessary mounting hardware, and a sheet of paper which are the cut out templates for the hole locations you will need to drill.  Complete job took me about an hour.  Measure once… measure twice… measure three times…. Check the installation guide again.  You definitely don’t want to bugger up where you drill those holes!  Important points:

  • Removal of the stock wind screen is dead simple. You just lift it straight up out of its two mounting slots.  It’s a friction fit.
  • The template is on metric A4 size paper, so that’s your indicator that you’re going to be using some metric sized equipment.
  • The drilled holes are created in three stages, starting with a 2.5mm bit, then a 5mm, and then a 9.5mm.  I have more imperial bits than metric, so I opted to use equivalent size imperial drill bits, and that worked like a charm. The final hole size should be 3/8”.
  • You will end up mounting three metal brackets and two rubber cups. Although not super obvious in the instructions, you do not use washers with the two bolts that hold the centre bracket in place.  You will use washers with the brackets on the sides of the headrests, and the five bolts that hold the actual glass in place.
  • The bolts are all metric sized Allan heads. I honestly can’t tell you the size, but I can confirm imperial Allan wrenches will not work.
  • Lastly, and this is very important. Because this glass is much larger than the plastic mesh that comes stock on the vehicle, and it doesn’t have a centre cut out, it means that lowering the roof from a seated position is going to be a challenge… especially for shorter drivers.  I’m 6’-2”, and fortunately my arms are long enough I can still reach over the glass to put the top down. For drivers with shorter arms, it may mean you will have to slide up on your seat to do this, or do it before entering the car.

Continue reading

DIY Oil Change ~ via Extraction & Billet Cap

go directly to:   Machined Aluminum Billet Oil Filter Cap          (Don’t Forget to) Reset Oil-Life Monitor
print oil change article – as a checklist (without any photos)
A good portion of the instructions + photos courtesy of  XtremeRevolution’s post (with permission)

Introduction

I’m not trying to suggest that extracting the oil is better than draining, which is the common method, but in many instances, it is easier, requires no lifting of the vehicle to gain access to the underside, less spillage, no crawling required, etc.  This article details the procedure for my preferred method of changing the oil (myself), even though I’ve entrusted the task to others on most of my previous vehicles over the last forty years.  The new kid that the dealership service department hires gets assigned washing cars and doing oil changes, and I don’t want them learning on my car. 😉

Supplies

Purchase of 4 quarts of oil recommended along with an oil filter cartridge:

Oil Grade Recommended: API Certified, FCA MS-12991 SAE 5W-40 Full Synthetic,
(example: Pennzoil Platinum Euro, $ rebate $)
Oil & Oil Filter Change Interval (shorter of ): 10,000 miles max. or ≈1 year or when the oil-life monitor indicates “Oil Change Due!” (the yellow maintenance wrench symbol also illuminates in your instrument cluster)
Oil Filter CartridgeMopar 68102241AA (or equivalent; includes new cap O-ring)

Total for me thru Amazon Prime (oil purchased in conjunction with the filter, as add-on items individually ($5.96 less rebate of $2 per quart), rather than the full-retail price of $8.96:

  • $3.96 x 4 + $8.09 = $23.93 retail

so why an oil change at the dealer goes from $19.99 (non-synthetic) to $89.99 (full synthetic) is beyond me, as I’m thinking they probably pay less than $10 wholesale for the oil and filter either way.

Tools

A quality vacuum fluid extraction device (that won’t leak or easily collapse) like Air Power America’s model 5060TS Topsider Multi-Purpose Fluid Removing System, ratchet wrench, 10 or 12 inch extension, and a 27 mm socket (1 116 inch or depending on the configuration of your socket, a 1 18 inch socket may also work) for the oil filter cap.

Preparation

The smaller of the 2 sizes of tubing that are included with the Topsider, they call the “suction probe”, and you will need to slide the rubber adapter (“spacer”) onto one end, so that it will  engage snugly into the larger tubing (“hose”) when you are ready to assemble them together.  It is a good idea to line-up the other end of that tubing with the end of your (wiped clean) dipstick, and using a Sharpie, draw a line on the tubing identifying the location of the O-ring seal on the handle of the dipstick.  This will help to eliminate a lot of guesswork, by giving you a good idea as to how far you’ve entered the suction probe into the dipstick tube (it should bottom-out on the oil pan around 2 inches beyond the Sharpie mark).

OK, now to put the rest of the Topsider together… Continue reading

VIN # Decoder

(Specific to our 124 Spiders)

 

vin_number

(fictitious VIN #)

Deciphering the 17 digits:
☑  = identifiers that appear to be verified and accurate)

  • 1st three digits = “World Manufacturer Identifier” (“WMI”), which originally had been assigned as:

♦  1st digit = Country of Manufacture: J for Japan  ☑
♦  2nd digit = Manufacturer: C for  logo-fca    (Fiat Chrysler)  ☑
♦  3rd digit = (sometimes used for) Category Type: 1 for passenger car  ☑

…so at least during MY 2017, Mazda, which used JM1 for MX-5’s VIN tags, assigned JC1 for the 124 Spider “WMI”.  Apparently, at some point (is this a MY 2018 or 2019 thing?), they switched over to the SAE “WMI” for Fiat (ZFA) used for their other models that are produced in Italy, in place of  JC1:

♦  1st digit = Country of Manufacture: Z for Italy  ☑
♦  2nd & 3rd digits = Manufacturer: FA for  logo-fca    (Fiat Chrysler)  ☑
(Category Type not represented)

  • Next 5 digits (4 through 8) = “Vehicle Description Section” (“VDS”), as configured by Mazda & Fiat:

♦  4th & 5th digits* = Platform Brand:

NE for logo abarth  (Abarth brand)
NF for logo fiat  (Fiat brand)

…when did Abarths stop being assigned NE platform?  I’m quite sure I remember readers reporting in the Fall of 2016, that their Abarths had NE assigned in their VIN, along with a different version of firmware, which is why I addended detailed information on the subject in my tweaks article.  Perhaps Mazda decided to reclaim NE for the successor platform to the current NDs, now that Fiat vehicles are identified with their own WMI?

So it seems that lately, all models of the 124 Spider are assigned:

NF for logo fiat  &  logo abarth

♦  6th digit* = Restraint system:

tether europe

(click image to enlarge)

A for Driver & Passenger ~ Seat Belts, Front & Side Air Bags
6  for Driver & Passenger ~ Seat Belts, Front & Side Air Bags plus (3) Child Seat Latch Points for the passenger seat  

♦  7th digit = Body Style: E for convertible  ☑
♦  8th digit = Engine Type: K for 1.4 L Turbo  ☑

 

  • 9th digit = check digit (0 – 9, X) to legitimize the serial #  ☑
  • 10th digit = Model Year: ☑

H = 2017
J = 2018
K = 2019
L = 2020
M = 2021
N = 2022

  • 11th digit = Assembly Plant: 0 for Hiroshima  ☑
  • 12th thru 17th digits = production serial # (xxxxxx)  ☑

♦♦♦♦♦

In North America, since there is no Abarth brand, other than the last six digits, the only significant digit that varied amongst our Spiders, is the 10th (Model Year), at least for MY 2017.


*[UPDATE] The first few comments have convinced me that my decoder may need further refinement, as perhaps the methodology was altered for MY 2019?

At that point, I added  ☑  next to identifiers that appear to be verified and accurate, so that we know which digits to concentrate on.

Since I couldn’t find this information anywhere using Google, I reverted back to the initial decoder that I created based on Mazda’s 2016 Service Manual, but  apparently things may have changed since… Continue reading

New Abarth 124 GT Carbon-Fiber Hardtop & Exclusive OZ Wheels

Great Photos courtesy of Peter T. (click them to enlarge)

Logo_124GT

A few lucky Abarth shoppers in Europe have already been able to scoop up some pre-releases of the new Abarth 124GT, and although they don’t have the GT emblem affixed to the decklid, they do have all of the package goodies – the primary ones being:

  • the stunning new 35-pound carbon-fiber composite lined hardtop, which I predict will also become a highly sought after Mopar accessory item, despite the price, especially among those that race their cars
  • and OZ’s great looking black aluminum alloy wheels that were produced exclusively for this model.

⇓  Peter T. (from Italy) not only is the proud owner of one of these vehicles, but I see that it is the new hue of blue!  He has shared some close-up photos with me, so that others considering purchasing a 124GT or simply thinking of adding the removable hardtop to their 124 Spider (or perhaps a MX-5), will have an idea how they are attached to the vehicle.  Take note of the great field of vision due to the wraparound rear glass that almost parallels having the top down (80% better than with the closed soft top).

hardtop1

Peter probably didn’t realize how much interest there would be in the OZ wheels, when he happened to include a couple of photos of those as well.   😉

Right off the bat, I hit him with a question that I deemed off-topic, but now I’ve decided that this article will be about both the hardtop AND the special wheels.

I wonder if the offset of these OZ wheels is their normal +37 mm, or the typical +45 mm of Mazda/Fiat wheels?

My guess is that since OZ’s normal retail 17″x7″, 4×100 mm “Ultraleggera” (Ultra-Light) wheels:

  • each weigh 7.257 kg (16 pounds), and are each rated for 1,254 pounds for a total of 5,016 pounds, which includes quite a variety of vehicles.
  • certifications affixed to wheels:    oz certifications
  • are available in 30, 37 and 44 mm offsets, but not 45 mm.

and the OZ wheels that are standard equipment on the Abarth 124GT  (which only weighs 2,500 pounds):

  • were developed by OZ exclusively for this car, so the offset may very well does meet Fiat’s spec of +45 mm (to clear the Brembo brakes), as verified in a photo Peter sent me on 5/30/2018 (shown below) and OZ’s coding “ET45”
  • based on the same photo, OZ’s part number is probably W01A60001 and it looks like the color is matt black (probably be the only color they will make this wheel in)
  • are each 3 kg (6.6 pounds) lighter than the stock Abarth wheel per Fiat, reportedly resulting in a weight of 15.18 pounds (without the TPMS sensor)
  • which makes them 0.82 pounds lighter than their aforementioned retail equivalent, so they obviously have a lower weight rating ⇒ actually rated at 750 pounds max. (340 kg) for a total of 3,000 pounds (vs. 5,016 pounds)
  • same Ultraleggera alloy mix: Al Si 7 Mg
  • “7Jx17H2”: I was curious what the H2 meant ⇒ Double hump profile of the rim for fitting tubeless tires which ensure that the bead is seated on the two balconies, even when the inflation pressure is lower than the operating pressure, preventing bead seat dislodgement.
  • aside from the JWL VIA (Japanese Homologation Institute VIA), unsure as to what other certifications these wheels have received, since Peter’s photos don’t reveal all of the markings.

The Brembo brakes are substantial, which is why the +45 mm offset is required.

brembo

courtesy of Phillip Stephens (showing off his Ohlin coilovers)


Which brings up another question:

Can 124 Spider owners now order these wheels and/or the hardtop, as a Mopar accessory item?

⇓  

⇓  The weight savings resulting from choosing OZ’s certified alloy wheels vs. the standard wheels on the Abarth 124 intentionally counteract a good portion of the weight gain from the added hardtop, so that there would be no net-loss in performance claims, as a result in ordering the 124GT package.

oz wheels

oz wheels1

oz wheels4.png

⇓  This has got to be the first piece of 124 Spider glass, that doesn’t have the Mopar logo on it.  Instead it has an Abarth logo prominently displayed.  Is this a clue that the GT isn’t coming to North America?

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