Engine Mounts

fiat-motor-mount-break

screen capture showing (sheared) Fiat engine mount, courtesy of Redline Auto Parts

I got a question today regarding our engine mounts, and started my research using Redline’s great video comparing 124 Spider components with those in the ND MX-5. First off, although our engine mount “perches” with the rubber isolator are Mazda castings (with Mazda logos in-fact), do not order these parts from Mazda! They need to be the Mopar versions (part numbers are shown below).

I think Redline may have mislead some people stating the lower mounts were the same as the Miata’s. Although the castings are the same for both vehicles (and have the same casting part #), until you compare the actual assembled mounts side-by-side, you won’t realize that the bolt protruding from the rubber isolators in the MX-5 mount assemblies are about an inch too short (thanks caineroad for pointing this out!).

fiat-engine-perch

Fiat right side engine mount perch ↑

miata-engine-perch

Miata engine mount perch (photo courtesy of caineroad) ↑

The top engine mount “brackets” that are supplied with our engine are Mopar castings. I noticed that mtnghost commented “Good thing the bushing piece (isolator) as it’s called is the only part that should ever go out!”. Well, in the tear-down video, Redline pointed out (as shown in the top picture) that both the Miata and 124 Spider were involved in collisions, and it was the bracket(s) that sheared in both vehicles (by design; the isolator is encapsulated in a longitudinal collision).

Good thing to inspect for when buying these vehicles used, as unlike the replacement of body panels to hide evidence of involvement in an accident, the engine mounts could easily be ignored or “overlooked”.

The Mopar part #s…

Left side ↑
Right side ↑

Infotainment Replacement Touch-Screen Details

No need to buy a new radio!

screen delam

photo courtesy of Trever Talbert


Thanks to Pascal Lemée for providing a link to a replacement touch-screen (the glass screen cover and “digitizer” that overlays the LCD presentation screen), for those experiencing delamination caused by high temperatures within the unvented air cavity between the two screens. It can currently be procured for about $20, including S/H using the link below, but even if you source it elsewhere, this provides the necessary details for comparison purposes (7 Inch, 36 Pin, Glass Touch Screen TM070RDZ38).

https://fr.aliexpress.com/item/3256802049591210.html

touchscreen repl


He also provided a link for an excellent repair guide (alternate google doc), written up with many photos, by Tyler Watthanaphand.

touchscreen

photo courtesy of Tyler Watthanaphand

Differentiating Cabin Air Issues With Your Nose

The most common smells we notice while driving with the top down emanate from the surrounding environment as we pass by – someone’s BBQ, a restaurant’s kitchen grill / deep fryer exhaust vent, farm animal / fertilizer, smoke stacks, etc., but there can be some smells from within the car itself that can serve as clues to potential issues.

Sweet smell

Antifreeze coolant has a unique “sweet” smell, and those that have had to replace their water pumps are probably quite familiar with it, but be aware that the coolant overflow tank vents into the engine compartment when the engine is running hot, so an occasional whiff of that smell doesn’t necessarily mean you have a coolant system leak.  Unlike most cars that have no aerodynamic belly pans, the overflow doesn’t just exit onto the ground, but is captured somewhat in that pan.

Moldy smell

I see many questions regarding a “moldy” smell, and that is usually attributed to shutting off the car with the HVAC system in recirculation mode – Max A/C, Recirc, etc, which results in all of the vent flaps being closed, and yes, the trapped air is getting moldy.

Uric acid / Ammonia type smell

If you instead smell a uric acid / ammonia type smell, chances are good that a critter has hibernated in your engine compartment somewhere – most likely in the HVAC air inlet (underneath the cowl panel). See my article for more on this.

photo courtesy of Goaterguy

“Band-Aid” smell

A new smell was mentioned in a forum question recently – a “Band-Aid” smell, which is attributed to leaking refrigerant oil, which is needed by the compressor, and circulates with the Freon™ 134a (the actual refrigerant) when the A/C is running in our 124 Spiders.  Usually the leak occurs in the evaporator  (requiring replacement), and is identified as a “A/C Freon leak” noted to be strongest when starting the car.  Closely related would be a “garlic” smell coming from other components such as the condenser coil, since R134a itself smells like garlic (although the oil smell usually dominates).

Replacing the Windshield Wiper Blades

Peter T. has just changed his wiper blade inserts, thereby keeping the very nice Aero frames that are OEM with our car. He provided a nice collection of photos, which I am using for this article, since I have yet to replace my blades.

Description: Manufactured by Mitsuba; aerodynamic design so that wind pushes them down against the windshield at highway speeds; the wide rubber blade inserts are impregnated with graphite; the beam frames are made of plastic; although you can obtain replacement parts from FIAT , MAZDA part #s are shown, since re-branded FIAT parts are ≈ $100 for the pair.

♦ Left side: 18″ (450 mm) blade insert only – N247-67-333;
“Aero” wiper blade assembly – NA8W-67-330
♦ Right side: 19″ (475 mm) blade insert only – N256-67-333;
“Aero” wiper blade assembly – NA9C-67-330

Links:
https://www.realmazdaparts.com/oem-parts/mazda-windshield-wiper-blade-refill-n24767333
https://www.realmazdaparts.com/oem-parts/mazda-wiper-blade-refill-n25667333
(you can ignore any warning that the longer one does not fit your MX-5 Club or 124 Spider)

In Europe:
https://www.wiper-blades-refills.co.uk/windscreen-wiper-blades/24-mitsuba-windscreen-wiper-rubber.html

Mitsuba also manufactures blades for Honda, so if you wish to save even more money, Honda blade inserts can be used instead.

wipers1

 ↑ Remove the frame by lifting this clip, and twisting away from the metal arm.

wipers2

wipers3

When installing refills, be sure to keep the metal stiffening strips (2 per blade; Mazda calls them backing plates) for re-use with the new rubber, with the indent (which keeps them from sliding out) facing out. Peter adds:

The rubber is seated in the frame by way of plastic bumps inside the rail that engage with the indents in the metal strips on both sides. All in all, there are about four bumps on each side. To get the rubber out you have to pull on it so the rubber slides past those bumps. You might even put some silicone oil or talcum powder around those bumps to reduce the sliding friction.

I noticed the drivers side blade rubber (450mm or 18″) did not have the corresponding notch whereas the longer passenger side (475mm/19″) did. Anyhow, I don’t think it makes a difference.

 Install metal strips in new rubber by placing into slots on each side at one end and squeezing…

…run your fingers up both sides, straightening blade to help them snap into place at the other end.

Insert completed refill with metal strips back into wiper blade from the bottom end (toward the wiper arm). Now you’re done, and remember, the shorter blade goes on the left side.

So, my new kayak can fit inside my 124 Spider!

photo courtesy of Shinobu Suzumura – kayak in his ND hardtop

We just bought a couple of Oru Inlet Kayaks – origami folding kayaks, for some new adventures as soon as it warms up.

Normally we’ll put them both in the trunk of our Jeep, but it’s great to know that one could fit in our 124 Spider.

They weigh only 20 pounds (9 kg)
Click here for $50 discount

Although not 124 Spider related, I just wrote up my first mod for our kayaks. The article is however targeted for Oru Kayak owners.

Merry Christmas to all…

xmas

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

This poem written by Kevin Pound (12/2005) written with visions of 20th Century FIAT Spiders in mind, makes me appreciate my dependable 21ˢᵗ Century version (almost 6-years-old already) all the more!!

‘Twas the night before Christmas, and out in the shed
Sat a ten-year-old FIAT, its battery dead

Its fenders were rusted, the floor pan had holes
The seats and the carpets had been eaten by voles

The tires had dry-rot, the gas tank was leaking
A turn of the wheel sent tie rods a-creaking.

So I put on my coat with a weight on my heart,
And went out to the shed to get it to start.

The engine turned over–there arose such a clatter!
I knew from the sound it was water pump chatter.

From under the dashboard there came a bright flash:
The wiring harness had just turned to ash!

“I’ve had it with Spiders!” I finally swore
“Enough is too much! I can’t take anymore!

”When what to my red, teary eyes should appear
But a little Italian (hell, I need a beer!)

“Buon giorno,” he said, poking me in the belly.
“You needa my help? I’m Gianni Agnelli.

“This one can be saved; there’s no reason to grieve.
All you need is some faith–Man, you gotta believe!

“A hammer! Some duct tape! Get me more tools!
When you work on these cars, just make up-a da rules!

“We’ll get her cranked over—no way that she’ll stall
(But stand over there wit’ you back to the wall.)“

A cough and a sputter, the cacophony stunning–
I couldn’t believe it! The damn thing was running!

The ghost winked at me and said, kicking a tire,
“Whatever you do, DON’T TOUCHA THIS WIRE!”

The old man then vanished amid sneezes and farts
But when the smoke cleared he had left me some parts.

So I opened the shed door and let the top down
Put pedal to metal and went out on the town.

And I thought to myself as I missed second gear
Merry Christmas to All, and a Happy New Year!


xmas nativity

If your convertible top looks like this…

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Apparently, because the top will not be tight if the [tension band] straps are unattached, not only will the top not stay clear off the rollbar hoops, but the rear glass window, headliner and outer skin will be unstable, and flop around in the wind.  It is reassuring to realize that this can be properly fixed though, without relying on the dealer! 

The referenced straps are shown in this Mopar parts view:

Convertible Top parts straps

Steve Kantner offers the cause and solution here:

I just fixed mine today. The straps weren’t securely attached at the factory. You can reach in and find the straps between the internal and external fabric. The bolt they attach to is behind the plastic trim in the roof compartment. There’s a slit in the fabric to allow the strap through.

Once you get the straps through the slits, remove the plastic trim panels, remove the 10mm nut, place the strap’s hole over the bolt, reinstall and tighten the nut, and finally – reinstall the plastic trim panels.

 

convertible top improper install2

courtesy of Steven Kantner; pulling the strap out from behind the headliner to show the attachment hole.

amxuuw00005023

Bonus: Convertible top sections in the Mazda Service Manual (not applicable for the task at hand though):

(See CONVERTIBLE TOP REMOVAL/INSTALLATION.)

(See CONVERTIBLE TOP DISASSEMBLY/ASSEMBLY.)

(See CONVERTIBLE TOP ADJUSTMENT.)

(See CONVERTIBLE TOP SWITCH INSPECTION.)

(See TOP FABRIC REPAIR.)

This photo is invaluable!  Because one like it isn’t in the Fiat Service Manual, might explain why many dealers aren’t installing the straps, when replacing convertible tops in their shop.

convertible top improper install3

courtesy of Steven Kantner; “Attached strap. You’ll need to partially open the top to get enough slack to pull the strap far enough to secure it”

Matt (coast) provided many photos in an informative Mazda forum soft-top repair thread, that shows a properly installed bracket securing the top to the body, adding:

… you can see the black metal brackets. These fit over studs on the car and they are very difficult to get back on tightly – the new top does not want to stretch all the way. It was physically difficult to hold the top fabric tight, get the bracket on correctly, and then get the nuts on the studs. Then the nuts need to be tightened down.

convertible top proper install3convertible top proper install2

Here is where that last frame hoop is supposed to be:

convertible top proper install

courtesy of arbid; FIXED

Wheel well aerodynamics

photo courtesy of magoffin

Today, Magoffin asked another of his thought provoking questions: “I always wonder about the purpose of this small plastic wing on the rear fender. Any idea what it’s there for?”

I was going to simply reply – it has to do with aerodynamics, but I was curious to learn more, as I’ve seen mentioned in other forum questions for example, as to why there aren’t wheel well exhaust vents incorporated in the Abarth’s rear fascia, and decided to write a short blog article instead.

There has been a lot of scientific research involved with wheel well aerodynamics (https://publications.lib.chalmers.se/records/fulltext/250512/250512.pdf is a good example), since straight line wind tunnel testing (called onset flow) reveals that it can account for 25 – 30% of the overall drag. 

courtesy of AeroApp

Normally, there is a lot of turbulent air flow within the wheel well, so ideally you want to vent it as much as possible, which is why you’ll see race cars with over fender vents and / or wheel well exhaust vents, to help relieve pressure and create down-force.

without wheel arch spoiler
and with. Note the higher pressure behind the wheel, that a spoiler would negate. courtesy of ÖMER FARUK CAVUSOGLU.

Apparently, for highway speeds greater than around 45 mph, the wheel arch spoilers (like a mini mud flap on the forward bottom edge of the wheel arch; Mazda calls them air deflectors – part #3 in the parts diagram below), which are much easier to accommodate into car design, do a sufficient  job of keeping most of the air from entering the wheel well, hence lowering the resulting drag. 

Because of the contour of the side of the vehicle, especially in the rear, my theory is that the additional “wing” spoiler (shown in the first photo), also aids in preventing that last bit of air pressure from developing behind the wheels. Tobias (see comment #3) thinks that the wing are there for homologatory reasons instead, and he could very well be correct – I’m not going to defend myself here 🙂

courtesy of AeroApp

♦♦♦♦

I find the science of aerodynamics to be quite fascinating. Apparently German racing driver Volker Wawer, was able to shave 20 seconds off his Nürbürgring lap time, by widening the front fenders to better direct air into the engine air intakes on the side of his Porsche GT4, actually gaining an increase in power from his engine (allowing for wider tires for better grip helped too).

courtesy of Racecar Engineering

3D-printed parts available for the 124 Spider

delta1

[updated 9/25/2022]
Delta Lab Roma, a company in Rome, Italy, has responded to requests coming from members of “124 SPIDER ITALIA” for some unique parts for the 124 Spider that, until now, have not been available anywhere.  They sent me a sampling, to help get the word out in North America. Some of my blog readers might be interested in procuring some of these items, including:

  • Cap for the forward cup holder slot
  • Caps for the door bushings
  • Wedges for the convertible top stowage stops
  • Grille emblems for the Classica and Lusso

Cap for the forward cup holder slot

In most of Europe, cup holders are not included accessories, and many had no idea what purpose the gaping hole along the side of the gear selector console was supposed to serve.  Indeed, many of us that did receive cup holders, have just tucked them away in a storage cubby behind the seats, since they are awkward to use, at least with the slots on the backside of the console armrest (which do have hinged caps built-in). Although I too don’t use my cupholders, I make use of the slot with a 3D printed bracket to hold a soft case for cell phones, portable CB radio, etc.

Delta Lab has produced a “bellissima” black rubber cap that snaps into place, and looks like it should have come with the car.  I did find that until you learn how to manipulate it into place, it would fall into the cavity.  I quickly realized though, that by pushing the cap’s “top” edge against the wall first, the cap will swing down and snap into place every time.

Price = € 12.00 + Shipping* ~ with 124 Spider or Abarth insignia (RUBBER)

delta3


Caps for the door bushings

Although the door latch keeps the door securely closed, what actually holds the door in alignment and helps the door actually become part of the mid-section structure in regards to rigidity (especially in convertibles), are the door bushings that mate with the bushing receiver mounted to the door, also serving as the door stop, and addressing one of the primary potential NVH (noise, vibration and harshness) issues, by minimizing any door latch rattle.  Much of the bushing is open and exposed to accommodate the A-pillar mounting screws, and the black rubber caps that Delta Lab has produced, snap into these screw openings, with the goal of increasing the factory bushing rigidity even further (rather than actually replacing the bushings with “oversized” aftermarket parts).

Price = € 20.00 + Shipping* ~ Door caps kit with 124 spider insignia (RUBBER)

Driving over my local railroad tracks crossing, all I hear is tire noise, but I can’t say that I recall my doors (or anything else, in this Japanese-assembled automobile, for that matter 😉 ) rattling, prior to today either.

IMG_0373


Wedges for the convertible top stowage stops

This is probably the most unique part produced, but since it addresses an issue that most of us aren’t experiencing – where the leading edge of the convertible top comes so close to the roll-bar hoops as it is latched into the stowage position, that it rubs on the canvas, eventually wearing a hole at the point of contact. 

There are stops that engage into a recess as the stowage latch engages, and again Delta Labs has developed wedges specifically designed to be adhered into said recesses with two-way tape, that will hopefully work to keep the stops far enough back, so as to eliminate any rubbing.  Technically, the dealer should have addressed this under warranty by replacing the top assembly, but in some Fiat forums, it seems that a few individuals that took their vehicle in for this issue, wish they hadn’t, as the top repair/replacement ended up in even worse shape.  If you are concerned that the gap is a little to close in your car, these wedges would be an alternative that I would encourage, before taking the car to the dealer.

delta5

delta2

delta4

Notes:

  1. Since the parts are produced in Italy, in might not be obvious that the right side recess should be mated with the part labeled DX-B (apply a piece of two-way tape over the “DX-B”), and similarly the part labeled SX-B, is for the left side.
  2. These wedges are not visible, so they haven’t been labeled with “124 Spider” insignia, making them suitable for consideration by Mazda MX-5 owners wanting to address  the convertible top rubbing issue, as well.

[Armon’s review added 9/24/2022]

Super excited, I came home to these wedges that will keep my pricy top in tip top condition for years to come. Recently I noticed the top rubbing on the forward most edge of the passenger rear hoop cover. Found this blog and contacted ameridan about purchasing them, as I could not get in contact through the posted links. He was kind enough to send me his sample pair. Here are my thoughts.

So not sure if I will be able to attach photos but I took some before and after to show how much of an improvement these made. In the before pictures you can clearly see the lack of gap and the resulting scratches from the rubbing. After there is a healthy gap keeping the top and the covers safe! The wedges fit absolutely perfect, are inexpensive and a must for any ND Miata or 124 spider [having convertible top rubbing issues]. I would like to extend a huge thank you to ameridan, you have saved me thousands in damage I never would have noticed if it wasn’t for your thread on the 124 forum and this part. Some pics below:

before wedge install
wedge install
after wedge install
Price =  € 17 for two wedges + Shipping* (RUBBER)
Payment is through Paypal @ deltalab.roma@gmail.com When the shipment departs, Deltalab sends a foto by mail or whatsapp so one can see the tracking number. 
Specifically, the spacers are made using a rigid high shore rubber

The install procedure is quite simple!

– Place the spacers in the appropriate seat, the spacer including its bevel in its corner follows the shape of the hole.

– In the rear part of the spacers there is an indication for the correct positioning where SX means the driver’s side.

– On the back (to cover the positioning indications of the spacer) a simple double-sided adhesive tape will be applied, not included in the package, it can be fixed with glue or silicone instead.

– In most cases, the low thickness double-sided tape (of the same thickness as a packing tape) is more than oppurt and adequate

– If the hood notably touches the rollbar, before the temporary assembly of the spacers, it may be necessary to use a thicker double-sided tape.

—— We recommend that you first check the operation of the spacers without adhesive and then apply the double-sided tape or the adhesive that is considered most appropriate.

——- Attention! if the double-sided adhesive chosen is too thick, the soft top will be pushed in excess towards the rear and the soft top locking block (located in the central part of the car) will not work and will remain open. It is advisable to carry out a series of opening and closing tests before final fixing


Grille emblems

It looks like they are also offering resin grille emblems in 3 different configurations, but they are single color. These are for the Classica and Lusso only, as the Abarth ones are a different shape.

(the watermark obscures #3 pretty good)
Price = € 12.00 + Shipping* ~ indicate A, B or C

* shipping costs TO INCLUDE:
€ 6,00 POSTAPRIORITY INTERNATIONAL packaging and shipping costs in European territory (EU)

€ 15,00 POSTAPRIORITY INTERNATIONAL packaging and shipping costs in Continent of ASIA, AFRICA and AMERICA 

Caps for GT hardtop external mounting bolts (not available yet)

Fiat didn’t choose the ideal caps for cosmetically covering the 124 Spider GT hardtop’s two external mounting bolts, as the wind tends to separate them from the “inadequate” metal retaining clips.  Delta Lab is taking a stab at coming up with a more robust 3D-printed pair of caps (along with a pair of 3D-printed retaining clips for the caps to snap onto), for the small group of lucky individuals with carbon fiber hardtops.

Peter has to add double-sided tape, to keep from losing his caps, but because of the gap, even that isn’t always certain.


Here is a link to their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/DeltaLabRoma/

Here is a link to their catalog: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1ppKQTdKJbEPm6vQPIdB1qit3IhbnauVx/view

European ⇔ North American ⇔ Japan Radio Tuner module (TAU) exchange hookup

amxuun00000644

TAU is in the same spot for LHD and RHD

Due to the superior performance of Google Search, I’m creating this thread (with specific search tags to focus searches further) to hopefully assist the few blog readers that have transported their vehicles across the pond (or will be), and find that the FM/DAB tuners no longer function properly, and hopefully help them “hookup” with someone that has done the same, but in the opposite direction, so that they can barter an exchange with each other.

FM Tuner channel spacing:

  • 50kHz channel spacing means no RDS.
  • 100kHz channel spacing allows for RDS.
  • 200kHz channel spacing (like in the US) also allows HD Radio.

I got the idea for this, after getting this email from Tomas P.

I buy fiat 124 spider from US and im living in Lithuania (Europe) so my problem is radio frequency. How i can change US radio frequency to EU? Do you have that firmware?

As far as I know, there is not a firmware fix for this, and I’m under the impression that you don’t have to change your firmware region to accommodate the new TAU.  I’m also not aware of a firmware repository for Fiat firmware anywhere – unlike Mazda firmware, so if it turns out you would like firmware installed for your new region, you’ll probably need to have a dealer (in that new region) do that for you.   You can download the new Navigation maps yourself though.

I could be wrong, but aside from Japan (I do know of one guy that shipped his 124 Abarth to Japan), I don’t know of cars getting imported/exported to/from other countries like Australia, South America, etc.   Anyways, if I’m wrong, I’m happy to add those tags too – all are welcome to post here 😉


I welcome and encourage readers that have the 7″ screen radio, to use this thread to exchange TAU modules (reminder: this is a module behind the right-side kick panel – not the CMU or screen) with each other, using comments below.  You should state:

  1. the part # shown on the label of your TAU unit* (since you probably won’t remove your TAU until a replacement is forthcoming, you can leave this blank for now – we can edit it in later when you have a label to read).
  2. model year (this probably doesn’t matter so much, although some 2017 TAU modules for North America didn’t have an XM antenna port).
  3. model (Classica, Lusso, Abarth – although, again, this probably doesn’t matter too much) (also MX-5 GT, Club, RF).
  4. is your radio Bose (line-out to the Bose AMP) or non-Bose (integrated 4-way AMP)?
  5. does your trunk lid have a sharkfin antenna?  (this indicates SiriusXM capability)
  6. the original country that TAU did work in.
  7. and the new country that you need the tuner to work in.
  8. your email address (use the format name at domain dot com, rather than name@domain.com ➤ so that robots are less likely to scrape it).

* The first 4 digits of the TAU part # can be obtained from the Audio system diagnostic screen:

  1. Switch the ignition to ACC or ON (engine off or on).
  2. Press the Music button, Favorite button, and the volume mute knob simultaneously for 2 seconds or more.
  3. Use the Test screen presented to use option:
85Part Number Readout TAUDisplays the tuner and amplifier unit part number (first 4 digits)