New map updates dated June 2019 are available

Fiat 124

⭐️ Map updates dated June 2019 (and Dec 2019) are available!  

(at least for North America)

The prior version of North American maps (USA, Canada, Mexico and Puerto Rico) were 5,738 MB, and were dated December 2018.  I updated my cards this morning, and verified that this latest version still fits on the 8 GB card, as it is has grown in size by only 60 MB (original size was 4,977 MB, almost 1 GB smaller). 

If you are using macOS,  we would like to inform you that after the latest macOS (Catalina) update, Fiat Toolbox won’t be operational anymore – you’ll need to delete the old version and reinstall the current version of the application. 

This will probably be the last FREE 3-year map subscription* update for those of you that purchased their 2017 Fiat 124 Spiders in the Summer of 2016, like I did.

The map service is tied to your VIN, so don’t waste your money buying a new Nav card on eBay/Amazon, thinking you can restart the clock for another 3 years.

♦♦♦♦♦

It is my understanding, that starting with the February 2019 version of Europe maps (which is currently the most recent version, according to Stuart), if you want the Russia maps along with maps for United Kingdom, Germany, France, Italy, Greece, Poland , Portugal, Turkey and Spain, you’ll need a 16 GB SD card to install them on now, instead of the 8 GB card.  Mazda has a procedure for providing an official blank card to accommodate that, but I’m not aware if Fiat has done the same.

As far as I know, the ADR maps (Australia, New Zealand, Latin America, South Africa, Thailand, Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam and Oceania regions) also still fit on the 8 GB card.


Procedure for Updating (if you skip backup, should take about 30 minutes)

Step 1. Download & Install Fiat Toolbox via Fiat 124 Spider Connect site (Windows or OSX version).
Step 2. Open Fiat Toolbox and insert SD card into the computer.
Step 3. Create a backup of the information currently on your SD card following the Toolbox prompt.
Step 4. Log in to Fiat Toolbox using your email/password combination.  If it is your first time, you’ll have to create a user profile.
Step 5. Once logged in, a button will appear labeled “Updates” if a map update is available or “Device” if there are no new updates. Click “Updates.”
Step 6. Create a new SD card backup. If you have an alternate Nav SD card, you can skip this step.
Step 7. Click INSTALL to begin map update.  After “Download progress” has reached 100%, “Installation progress” will commence, eventually reaching 100% as well.  You only need to download once, so if you have multiple SD cards, updating after the first card, is much quicker.
Step 8. Once the new backup is compete, eject your SD card and return it to your vehicle.

♦♦♦♦♦

nav map paid updates

   Starting this summer (July 2019), owners of 2017 124 Spiders will start losing their free map updates, as that only lasts 3 years.  Unlike with some vehicle brands, at least the SD card will continue to function, so you could probably wait for a while before resuming map updates, but eventually you should expect to pay, unless you consider alternatives, like installing the retrofit USB hub, which will then allow you to navigate via Android Auto or CarPlay programs.

 

Securing Your Rocker Panel Trim, Proactively

(Rocker panel trim is the painted plastic body trim underneath the doors)

Rocker Panel advised mod1

courtesy of Long Road Racing; click to enlarge

Quite a while ago, I recall reading how those that were auto-crossing and racing their Miatas and perhaps coming in contact with those pesky orange cones, were losing their rocker panel trim (commonly, but technically incorrect, called rocker panels) and how Mazda had responded by issuing a TSB (Global MX-5 Cup Car Technical Service Bulletin #3-22-17B), which not only answered these driver’s concerns that the panels were just hanging on plastic clips, and therefore, weren’t really “fastened” to the vehicles, but it also made fastening the panels a “legal” modification for racing qualification (I’m curious as to whether Fiat has issued a similar TSB).

I recall reading the TSB, and not having a very good idea as to where the three self-tapping screws were allowed, nor where the mounting surfaces were and what these clips looked like (I didn’t try very hard, as I haven’t looked underneath there since installing the plugs my dealer forgot to install).  Then yesterday, someone posted a common forum question – “What are these plugs for, and what do I do with them?”, and with one of the replies, a very clear photo showing the clips that hold the rocker panel trim, was posted. 

chassis plug

photo courtesy of Casey Jones

Now it became clear, that dislodging the panels probably wouldn’t take too much force.  I’ve been told that driving through an unexpected large puddle at highway speed could be all it takes!

I brightened up another forum photo showing a screw in place, and it too reveals the clipping better

Rocker Panel advised mod

source unknown

So even though I’m not an Auto-crosser, I think I’ve finally been inspired enough to locate some quality stainless steel self-tapping screws, to insure that some road debris won’t dislodge one of my rocker panels, by pre-drilling and installing at least 3 of those screws per panel (if you aren’t qualifying for racing, 5 might be better), along the inboard edge in the vicinity of those bottom clips, where I’m confident the actual rocker panel sheet metal is directly behind the trim.  This will prevent the panel from “shifting” out of those clips, or falling off should some of them fail under stress, as magoffin’s have.

rocker panel clip failure

photo courtesy of magoffin

It turns out that you needn’t raise the car that much to drill the holes.  Lifting the vehicle at the forward rail “pad” such that the suspended front wheel is about an inch off the ground, was plenty high enough for both drilling and driving the screws in.


About an hour after I published this article, Leon Russ posted this photo , along with his comment that road debris had just dislocated his rocker panel.  This is exactly what I wish to avoid!

rocker panel off

photo courtesy of Leon Russ

Looks like there are about 10 other green clips holding the trim panel on, in addition to the 5 white clips along the bottom edge. 

If your rocker panel does become dislodged, Tim Oyer had this advice for reinstalling:

Take all the green clips out of the body of the car (just take something thin and fairly rigid and squeeze in one side of the squeeze-clip, then gently rotate and yank it out), and put them in place on the rocker panel. Once all in place, slide the bottom clips into place, then rock the rocker upward and push the green clips into the mounting holes. It can be done easier if you lift the car up a bit, but otherwise can be done in a parking lot, no problem.  When you get home, add the screws!

Custom satin aluminum sill plates are available (sold as a pair)!

sill plate

click photo to enlarge

sold

Peter T is a member of  124 Spider Italia, as well as Abarth Club Como (Lake Como, Italy!!!), and they had a fantastic cruise this past weekend, even though it rained.  However because of the rain, fewer participants than expected showed up, consequently resulting in extra sill plates that were produced for the occasion as a goodie-bag gift for each vehicle.  Peter has offered for his club to make them available to my blog readers on a first-come, first-served basis via this link for €40 shipped in Europe / or approximately $50 shipped to USA, should anyone be interested.

abarth club como

The “124 spider” logo (along with Italian colors) has been printed onto the satin-finish aluminum, and then a clear coat has been applied for scratch protection, resulting in a very attractive, anti-scuff, customized door sill.

sill plate installed

There is a beveled surface (not an indent 😉 ) molded into the sills that appears to have been intended for the addition of an emblem in premium versions of the Miata, and these sill plates are designed to mock those in proud Italian fashion for our variant.

♦♦♦

Francesco Ulivieri, you’ve done a great job producing these!  Grazie!

italian flag


Continue reading

PRESERVE YOUR ABILITY TO TWEAK IN FUTURE FIRMWARE VERSIONS ~ VERSION 2.0

This is just a FYI at this point ~ Do not use the new id7 quite yet

from the developer ~ trezdog44

Recently a new version of the infotainment system firmware v70.00.335-C NA was found to have as part of its update process, a highly unnecessary, destructive little script called “neutralizeid7” which DIRECTLY TARGETS ITS USERS BY PERFORMING THE UNDESIRABLE ACTION OF REMOVING THE RECOVERY THAT WE USE TO KEEP OUR SYSTEMS OPEN, CUSTOMIZEABLE AND WELL… OURS!!!

This incredibly destructive script once again acts kind of like ransomware without the ransom and it wipes out all the recovery files, not that they would work after the update anyways for even the mechanism that would run those files during system boot time is also removed, and just locks you out so completely even connecting to the serial port will no longer work. As of right now, this new firmware is only available online for NA region AFAIK, and I haven’t heard of anyone being updated to it by their dealership yet so even though I am extremely busy these days I took the time to think about how to stay one step ahead and I rewrote the recovery scripts so that the update will think it removed the recovery, but really the new recovery slips them right back in there and will even add the required lines of code back to certain files to make the whole thing work again.

Early awareness of all this will help minimize the amount of users that loose access to their systems, but THIS WILL ONLY WORK IF YOU INSTALL IT BEFORE UPDATING, IF YOU UPDATE TO V70.00.335+ WITHOUT THIS VER 2.0 RECOVERY INSTALLED, THERE IS NO CHANCE OF EVER TWEAKING YOUR SYSTEM AGAIN; SERIAL CONNECTION WILL NOT EVEN WORK ANYMORE!


If you are lucky enough to have version 56 firmware, by installing this tweak, you will not only preserve your ability to tweak version 59 and version 70 firmware, but the new counter measures to delete this tweak written into 70.00.335+ firmware will also be defeated.

If you instead have 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 70.00.100 (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.  70.00.335 as trezdog previously mentioned, goes so far as to remove that backdoor tweak, so now a revised version 2.0 of the id7 tweak will need to be installed, so that the ability to continue tweaking will prevail.  As for Fiat, we don’t know what their plans are yet, but we’ve got some time – stay away from .335 for now though.

Update

Questions have been raised as to whether you can downgrade the firmware after mistakenly upgraded to .335, to which I’ll answer:

  1. I am not aware of Fiat releasing firmware past version 59, and
  2. I am not aware of anyone making any version of Fiat firmware available

which is why the “FIAT” CarPlay upgrade project uses Mazda firmware and tweaks it decently for Fiat usage. If Fiat firmware was available, yes you could downgrade, but you would still need to concurrently install id7ver2 using serial access, if you wan’t to reverse the harmful effects of 335 that disallow tweaking.  If you are going to go through all that trouble, you might as well keep the most recent version.

 

Update for Date-to-Statusbar Tweak

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

[UPDATED 11/11/2018]
A few readers have written to me that the Date-to-Statusbar tweak either didn’t display the date as expected, or the white text was hard to read in light background screens (like the Navigation screen), to easily read the displayed contents (perhaps they chose version 2.3).  If you are happy with your statusbar display, don’t feel compelled to install this tweak update, but it’s available for those that might desire the changes.

Specifically, these are the mods contained in the tweak [G] update:

  1. Displays the date in the localized date format (DD MMM for much of the world) using version 3.3 mod.
  2. Dark 80% opaque statusbar background to facilitate reading, unlike the version 2.3, which I’ve noticed is a light grey in Navigation screen.
  3. Disabled the (ugly, IMO) red border around area reserved for system messages, as did version 2.2 and 2.3 mods.
  4. Smaller font size for all statusbar text, as did version 2.2 and 2.3 mods, along with smaller, relocated icons for paired phone (WiFi, Bluetooth, battery level, etc).
  5. FFFF00

    was

    Gold

    now

    Gold

    Gold font for system messages, to highlight them for the driver, relative to the white font of normal statusbar text.
    (ffdd00; rather than previously selected bright yellow (ffff00), to coordinate with HD info)

I used MZD-AIO version 2.8.2 to compile this update (updated 11/11/2018 to work with version 59 & version 70 firmware as well), and by making a copy of my USB installation drive containing the tweak, it turns out to be an easy means of making this install available to others.

statusbar-tweak

click image to enlarge

Confirmations

  • Andrea L. has confirmed that the date is now properly displayed on his Italian system with this update
  • Guido B. appreciated that the statusbar background is now dark (with 20% transparency), similar to the Fiat-AIO updated version 2.2 install
  • along with others, I myself like this update better, primarily for the yellow font, as messages like upcoming street names catch my eye better (if I’m seeking that info)

Compatibility

Compatible with the following versions of our Fiat firmware:

  • 56.00.521-NA (for Fiats in North America, USA, Canada, Mexico)
  • 56.00.521-EU (for Fiats in Europe, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Russia. etc.)
  • 56.00.530-EU (for Abarths in Europe, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Russia. etc.)
  • 56.00.530-4A (for Abarths in Australia, NZ, Thailand, Philippines, South Africa-America, Oceania)
  • 56.00.530-NA (for early 2018 Fiats in North America, USA, Canada, Mexico)
  • 56.00.530-EU (for 2018 Fiats in Europe, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Russia. etc.)
  • also version 59+, as well as the Mazda version 70+ (for those installing CarPlay retrofit kit), if you have the id7 tweak installed

Installation Instructions

  1. Download the USB tweak (only click the light green download button for the zip file), and Unzip the contents of the downloaded file onto an empty FAT32 formatted USB 2.0 or 3.0 drive (not larger than 32GB).
  2. Insert the USB drive into your car USB port.
  3. Tap your Start button once (without touching the brake pedal) to put the car in ACC mode.
  4. Be patient and wait for the first message (could take as long as 5 or 6 minutes), acknowledge the OS version message (using the touchscreen) and wait while the progress messages scroll by.
  5. A  reboot message should appear. After the screen turns black (system reboot), pull out your USB drive and…
  6. Enjoy!

New USB Audio Tweak

USB Audio Mod. Developed By Enlsen
usb_mod

updated “Now Playing” screen


I recently noticed that a USB Audio Tweak had been added to the Mazda AIO Tweaks (turns out, since June 2017), and although I don’t believe it updates any codecs, it does improve the behavior of the selection and display of your USB audio files, and reconfigures the ten buttons in the Menu Bar.  After testing the tweak out, I feel that the firmware should have been programmed to reflect these improvements years ago!  As a bonus, Speedometer app users, along with those that travel with the Navigation screen displayed, may appreciate the status bar display of audio track info, as each new track begins.

Specifically, these are the mods contained in the tweak:

  1. Adds new icons for new USB root menu option on the Menu Bar    IcnUmpUSBMenu_En    IcnUmpUSBMenu_Ds
  2. Removes “More like this” button from Menu Bar
  3. Adds folders button to Menu Bar
  4. Displays folders and song list icons correctly (were switched) in Menu bar
  5. Removes trailing “/” character from folder names for list control, and from the title in “Now Playing”
  6. Adds folder and song icons to the list control
  7. Adds folder and playlist icons to “Now Playing”
  8. Removes indent from “Now Playing”, to allow more room for text display
  9. Long press (click hold) in folders, selects ALL songs to play
  10. Bonus: At the beginning or each track, shows Artist – Title in a status-bar notification, even on other screens (will not override Navigation route instructions though).

I used MZD-AIO version 2.8.0 to compile  this update, and by making a copy of my USB installation drive containing the tweak, it turns out to be an easy means of making this install available to others.

Compatibility

Compatible with the following versions of our Fiat firmware:

  • 56.00.521-NA (for Fiats in North America, USA, Canada, Mexico)
  • 56.00.521-EU (for Fiats in Europe, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Russia. etc.)
  • 56.00.530-EU (for Abarths in Europe, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Russia. etc.)
  • 56.00.530-4A (for Abarths in Australia, NZ, Thailand, Philippines, South Africa-America, Oceania)
  • 56.00.530-NA (for early 2018 Fiats in North America, USA, Canada, Mexico)
  • 56.00.530-EU (for 2018 Fiats in Europe, UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy, Russia. etc.)

Installation Instructions

  1. Download the USB tweak (only click the light green download button for the zip file), and Unzip the contents of the downloaded file onto an empty FAT32 formatted USB 2.0 or 3.0 drive (not larger than 32GB).
  2. Insert the USB drive into your car USB port.
  3. Tap your Start button once (without touching the brake pedal) to put the car in ACC mode.
  4. Be patient and wait for the first message (could take as long as 5 or 6 minutes), acknowledge the OS version message (using the touchscreen) and wait while the progress messages scroll by.  As long as you have a variation of 56.00.521 or 56.00.530 firmware, just answer YES when prompted to continue installation.
  5. Acknowledge the reboot prompt (using the touchscreen).
  6. After the screen turns black (system reboot), pull out your USB drive and…
  7. Enjoy!

Original Configuration

Several of the original ten buttons were not well chosen!

USB screens1

 

GRACENOTE® MUSIC DATABASE VERSION 9 UPDATE

GRACENOTE LOGO

A database update dated June 2018 is available!  

When playing music on your Infotainment Center, you may notice the album covers that are displayed corresponding to the current song.  This is one of the features of the Gracenote® database stored in memory.  The initial 2017 Fiat 124 Spiders were shipped with version 5 of this database which dates back to 2015, so songs released since then will not be recognized, so by updating your database, more recent songs will be recognized.

Other benefits of updating your database:

  • Because a phonetic database is also included, voice recognition of artist and album names will be improved when searching using the microphone
  • Once music is identified by MusicID, Gracenote® algorithms can transform music into killer playlists organized by similar Genres, Moods and Tempos
  • Logo and Genre database for all known AM, FM and HD radio stations is also updated
large-album-art

HD Radio station album art example (I tweaked the system to enlarge the album art, display current date, compass, altitude, speed, get rid of the red border around the status bar message & display my preferred background)


Although more recent 2017 and 2018 vehicles may have come with version 7, rather than version 5, in either case an even newer update – version 9 has recently been released (June 2018) for the Fiat Connect system (and Mazda Connect).  My North American file (280 MB), took close to 15 minutes to update.  Downloads:

European version for Europe (UK, Russia, Germany, France, etc)

North American version for US, Mexico and Canada

ADR version (Australian Design Rules) for Australia, NZ, Taiwan, South America, South Africa, Philippines, Thailand and Oceania

Chinese version is for China, Hong Kong and Macau

Japanese version

usb_mod

Instructions

Using a USB drive, here are the Windows instructions to update (do not use a Mac computer to format the USB drive as files are added that your Infotainment Center doesn’t like*):

1. Insert a FAT 32 formatted USB 2.0 or 3.0 drive into your computer.

2. Download the appropriate gracenotes .up file (from the links above) to the USB drive. Please ensure you have at least 400 megabytes of space remaining and the gracenotes.up file is saved to the top level of file folders on your USB drive.

  • Firefox: After selecting the “click here” link on the website and selecting “Save to Disk,” click “OK,” find the gracenotes .up file in your designated download folder, right-click on the file icon, select “Send To,” and select your USB device by name and/or drive letter in the window to transfer the file.
  • Chrome: After selecting the “click here” link on the website, click “Show in folder” next to the gracenotes .up file name at the bottom of the window, click “Move this file,” locate your USB device by name and/or drive letter in “My Computer,” and click “Move” to transfer the file.
  • IE8/9/10: After selecting the “click here” link on the website, click “Save” in the “File Download” window, select where you will save the gracenotes .up file. It is recommended that you save the gracenotes .up file directly to your USB drive.

3. When the download to the USB drive is complete, safely remove the USB drive from your computer.

4. Make sure your phone is unpaired from the vehicle, especially if you have a lot of contacts, and remove any USB drive(s) with media files, so that you free up enough memory to install the new gracenotes .up file.

5. Insert your update USB drive into your vehicle’s USB port.

6. Select “Settings” on the vehicle’s main display screen.

7. Scroll right and select the “System” tab.

8. Select “Music Database Update”.

9. The system will ask you if you would like to search for an update package for the Music Database on your USB device. Select “Search”.

10. The system shows your current Music Update version and lists updates available on your USB device. Select the newest update.

11. The system displays the version of the Music Update currently installed on your system and asks if you want to install the Music Update version you selected in step 8. Select “Install”.

12. The update may take several (close to 15) moments. Once completed, the system will display that the update was successful and instruct you to acknowledge a reboot.  If by chance the update is taking longer than 15 minutes, be sure to momentarily step on the brake pedal to insure that the system doesn’t go to sleep as this will corrupt the upgrade.

13. The USB drive can be safely removed from the vehicle port as it’s rebooting.

*     bspielman recommends using Funter to clean up USB drives that were formatted using a Mac.

♦♦♦♦♦

A map update dated June 2019 is also available!  

Depending on what version your navigation maps are at, it might be a good time to update your SD card as well.

♦♦♦♦♦

If you find mistakes in the Gracenote database, you are encouraged to submit corrections (using iTunes) that hopefully will be implemented in the next update.

Turn Signal Audio ~ Insufficient Volume (& Solution!)

go directly to:   Solution     Other Cluster Beeps

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’ve yet to know what they sound like.  Yet, I almost jumped out of my seat the first time a faulty interpretation of ABS data triggered a false TPMS alarm, 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) on the circuit board, 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 Instrument Cluster 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 Instrument Cluster, 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

Additionally, be aware of the personalization setting shown directly underneath the Turn Signal audio volume – the Lane Change Three-Flash Turn Signal 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



SOLUTION TO “INAUDIBLE TURN SIGNAL REMINDER”

[UPDATED 10/19/2018, 10/30/2018]

My previous assumption…

This is all assuming that the values aren’t predefined in the Instrument Cluster, and that the command isn’t simply choosing either the Low or High predefined values, but rather, is actually defining the preferred volume value.

turned out to be false, and rather than attempting to tweak the Instrument Cluster, Sergey (aka ssh16;  website: mx5things.com) has developed a plug-in “Warning Timer for Turn Signals” device that plugs into the OBDII port, also monitoring the turn signal lights over the CAN network, that is programmed:

  • to activate at a respectable volume, a reminder beep (similar to the seat belt TPMS warning), should the turn signals be left on for more than 16 seconds,  while the car is in motion (over 2 mph)
  • to then remain on, until the turn signals have been turned off
  • as a bonus, to also serve as a footwell courtesy lamp when the driver’s door has been opened, dimming the built-in LEDs, once the door has been closed

I have one on order, and a review is forthcoming.

I’ve installed the Warning Timer for Turn Signals device, and am somewhat disappointed that I need to slow the car down (and turn off the radio) in order to hear the turn signal reminders, even after I changed the AKE beep* volume from Medium (default) to High.  In my opinion, I don’t find the turn signal reminders to be of sufficient volume within a convertible sports car (which really is the primary purpose of this device), and I’m encouraging Sergey to implement the TPMS beeper instead.  <<< See the Update further down, where I installed Version 2 with the reprogrammed beeper.>>>

However, just so my feedback doesn’t sound all negative, other than the volume, I REALLY like the device!

  • low profile – I can’t even see any protrusion, so naturally your knees are never going to bump it
  • can be easily removed so that deep-sleep current draw isn’t an issue during winter storage
  • footwell lighting seems to be the same 6000K light from LEDs that my SiriusLED dome lamp replacements display (nice clean bright white)
  • very robust construction means that device should never fall apart
  • can be easily installed and removed by feel, once you are familiar with the orientation, so that you needn’t crouch besides your vehicle
  • hopefully, it can be easily reprogrammed as consumer demands dictate

⇓  If you use the OBD2 port for scanners or other devices, you might be interested in a pass-thru OBD2 24″ cable, that will allow your Warning Timer for Turn Signals device to remain plugged in (albeit protruding out ¾” more), yet be able to plug other devices into the extension cable at the same time.

pass-thru obd2

aha4aicon*   Apparently, the “Non-Presence of Remote AKE Transmitter Beep” is the one chosen for the initial devices, but I have had faith that mx5things will would eventually find a different CAN command to trigger louder reminder beeps.  Since a publicly available list of CAN commands addressing the Instrument Cluster doesn’t exist, it’s much easier to monitor the communication of an existing module as it triggers a beep, and borrow that set of instructions instead.  Below, you will find a list I’ve put together of various other beeps that can be monitored, and using the passive TPMS beep commands currently looks the most promising.

[UPDATED 11/8/2018, 7/17/2019]

Rating:   ★ ★ ★ ★ ★   (5 out of 5)

mx5things did reprogram the device (Version 2) to trigger the passive TPMS beeper, which unlike most of the other beeps, functions at 100% volume!  Although some might consider it to be a tad too loud once in awhile, it definitely fulfills it’s mission for most any driving environment now.  

This is a fantastic add-on for both MX-5s and 124 Spiders, especially if you find the default reminder beeps to be too quiet, and I think it’s a shame that Mazda design engineers didn’t choose a louder beep to accompany some other warnings, like the “Low Fuel” lamp.  In fact, the “Low Fuel” lamp (which is hidden from view for many, doesn’t even have an associated beep, so by not catching the attention of the driver, it’s execution schema could potentially result in a life-threatening situation, rather than serving as a timely useful reminder/warning.

If your vehicle has a TPMS Set button, and virtual software triggering, rather than actual TPMS sensors, then this device will work!

** NOTE **
The 2019 Spiders apparently don’t utilize the same (passive) TPMS beep command any longer, so for those vehicles, Sergey had to revert back to the Seat Belt Reminder beep which may not be loud enough for some (it wasn’t for me), so be aware of that (and test that beep out) before ordering.  Hopefully he can learn the active TPMS command, and perhaps program the device to broadcast both, so that one of the commands will result in the desired beep.

tpms set   


Various Warning Beeps to choose from…

Source:  online MX-5 Owner’s Manual      Beep Volume SourceSergey

Lights-On Reminder

The lights-on reminder is operable when the time setting of the auto headlight off function is off.

If lights are on and the ignition is switched to ACC or off, a continuous beep sound will be heard when the driver’s door is opened.

If the light switch is left on, the auto headlight off function automatically turns off the lights about 30 seconds after switching the ignition off. The time setting can be changed.

[The beep volume setting can be changed High (75%)/Low (50%)/Off.]

Air Bag/Seat Belt Pre-tensioner System Warning Beep

If there is a problem with the air bag/seat belt pre-tensioner systems and the warning light illumination, a warning beep sound will be heard for about 5 seconds every minute.

The air bag and seat belt pre-tensioner system warning beep sound will continue to be heard for approximately 35 minutes. Have your vehicle inspected at an Authorized Mazda Dealer as soon as possible.

[The beep volume is preset at Unknown.]

Seat Belt Warning Beep

If the driver’s seat belt is not fastened when the ignition is switched ON, a beep sound will be heard for about 6 seconds. If the driver or the passenger’s seat belt is not fastened and the vehicle is driven at a speed faster than about 20 km/h (12 mph), a beep sound will be heard again for a specified period of time.

Until a seat belt is fastened or a given period of time has elapsed, the beep sound will not stop even if the vehicle speed falls below 20 km/h (12 mph).

[The beep volume is preset at Unknown.]

Advanced Keyless Entry

Key Left-in-trunk Warning Beep (With the advanced keyless function)

If the key is left in the trunk with all the doors locked and the trunk lid closed, a beep sound will be heard outside of the vehicle for about 10 seconds to notify the driver that the key is in the trunk. In this case, take out the key by pressing the electric trunk lid opener and opening the trunk lid. The key taken out of the trunk may not operate because its functions have been temporarily stopped. To restore the key’s functions, perform the applicable procedure.

Key Left-in-vehicle Warning Beep (With the advanced keyless function)

If all the doors and trunk are locked using another key while the key is left in the cabin, a beep sound will be heard outside of the vehicle for about 10 seconds to notify the driver that the key is in the cabin. In this case, take out the key by opening the door. A key taken out of the vehicle using this method may not operate because its functions have been temporarily stopped. To restore the key’s functions, perform the applicable procedure.

keyless beeper

Non-Presence of Remote Transmitter Beep (With the advanced keyless function)

If the remote transmitter isn’t present in the vehicle, when both doors are closed with the ignition not switched OFF,  a beep sound will be heard both outside and inside the vehicle, to notify the driver that the presence of the remote transmitter cannot be verified inside the cabin.

[The beep volume setting can be changed High (75%)/Medium (??%)/Low (50%)/Off.]

Power Steering Warning Buzzer

If the power steering system has a malfunction, the power steering malfunction light turns on or flashes and a continuous beep sound will  be heard at the same time.

[The beep volume is preset at Unknown.]

Passive Tire Inflation Pressure Warning Beep (TPMS) ✅

The [loud] warning beep sound will be heard for about 3 seconds when there is any abnormality in tire inflation pressures.

[The beep volume (at least for passive TPMS) is preset at 100% (High).]

Active Tire Inflation Pressure Warning Beep (TPMS)

The [loud] warning beep sound will be heard for about 3 seconds when there is any abnormality in tire inflation pressures, but the command is different from the passive alarm.

[The beep volume is preset at 100% (High).]

Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) System Warning Beep (Some Models)

Driving forward

The warning beep operates when the turn signal lever is operated to the side where the Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) warning light is illuminated.

[The beep volume setting can be changed High (75%)/Low (50%)/Off.]

Reversing

If a moving object such as a vehicle or two-wheeled vehicle approaches on the left or right from behind your vehicle, the Blind Spot Monitoring (BSM) warning sound is activated.

[The beep volume setting can be changed High (75%)/Low (50%)/Off.]

Lane Departure Warning Sound (Some Models)

While the system is operating, if the system determines that the vehicle may depart from the lane, it triggers a warning sound.

[The beep volume is preset at Unknown.]

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DIY Oil Change ~ via Extraction

ALSO OIL FILTER BILLET CAP

go directly to:   Machined Aluminum Billet Oil Filter Cap          (Don’t Forget to) Reset Oil-Life Monitor
download + 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. 😉

If I could count on the job getting done properly, along with seat, carpet and steering wheel protection covers, and not sending it through the car wash, I’d pay to have the job done for me.

SQUEEZE THE 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

Tire Compressor / Adding a Jack

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 semi-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.


Adding a jack

jack-kit-for-nd-mx-5_550

By now, you’ve probably figured out that a tire service kit is provided in the trunk in lieu of a spare tire, but did you know that the jack that you may be expecting to find in the trunk someday, is also no longer provided?   I’m not saying that you need a jack, but if some kind stranger might take you and your wheel into town, so that you can have your tire repaired/replaced, that can’t happen without having procured one, can it?

There is a spot behind the trim panel cover {2} on the right side of the trunk, fitted for mounting an OEM scissor jack, but make sure the one you procure comes with a wing bolt* (or a T-bolt) {3} needed to mount and hold it safely and firmly in place (and so that it doesn’t rattle).

To install the jack:

  • Remove cover by pulling on indentation {1}
  • Retract jack fully by turning jack screw {4} counter-clockwise until tight
  • Align jack such that wing bolt {3} is inserted in the slot of the jack pad and into the dedicated weld nut and turn clockwise until tight
  • Reinstall cover

My Story

I find comfort knowing that a jack is present, and so I purchased a used jack from a 2008 Mazda CX-7 on eBay, that came with it’s own tray (that I recycled).  Had I known that just because it was a Mazda OE jack, they aren’t all alike (nor is the mounting hardware), I would have spent a few extra dollars and just ordered the jack setup from Deyene Racing*Although the end result was fine, here were my notes:

  • as expected, the lug wrench and jack handle are common to the MX-5 unit, but the jack was a little larger (made for a heavier vehicle), as was the M10 wing bolt, which is too large to mate with the vehicle’s M8 x 1.25 weld nut.  If you find that your mounting bolt is missing, or not the proper size, consider procuring a M8 x 1.25, 60 mm wing bolt to fasten the jack properly in the 124 Spider, as an alternative to trying to locate the official Mazda part # B00156170C.  Since Home Depot didn’t have any metric wing bolts, I sorted through their inventory and produced my own using a M8 x 1.25, 80 mm Phillips pan-head bolt, a M8 x 1.25 wing nut and a M8 x 1.25 regular nut.  Total cost for all stainless steel hardware = $2.34!  Oh, and I had to bend the holding tabs out to accommodate the larger jack, but that was easy with the proper pliers.
  • the 2 tie-down/tow hooks that were included, are both short (too short for the front).  I’ll see if they’ll work on my Jeep, but for the 124 Spider, you are better off just keeping the long tow hook that should have come with your vehicle, as that will work in either the front or rear.

*     Deyeme Racing sells a complete kit that includes the correct original equipment scissor jack and lug wrench, along with the correct M8 x 1.25 stainless steel mounting bolt fitted  with a high-visibility yellow handle.

ba1emjack-1

click photo to enter Deyeme Racing website; their jack is shown installed