Fiat electrical restoration page

by James Seabolt, updated 05/30/05
No flash, just content. Deal with it!
Why do Fiats have so many electrical problems? What if I told you that you could
eliminate virtually all problems, prevent future problems, and get your electrical system
in almost "like new condition" all in one day? The reason Fiats suffer from so many
problems is because of the electrical terminals, not the wiring. Its not nessessary to
replace any of the e!isting wiring nor is it nessessary to replace every terminal on the car.
"ust the ones in the problem areas.
These procedures are centered around the #$% &pider '(((s and ) *+$s but these methods
can be applied to any year or model.
,-T./ I take no responsibilty for negligence0 If you do something to your car and your
electrical system catches fire, dont email me0 I actually recieved an email from a guy
who installed some headlight relays and then emails me and says smoke started coming
out from the behind the dashboard. ,eedless to say I never replied. 1ow and I supposed
to know what this guy did? &ee precautions below.
What causes this:
2oor plating is the reason. -ver the years, humidity slowly penetrates the plating material
and gets into the steel terminals+bulb sockets. This rust+corrosion acts as a resistor. This
restricts current and causes a voltage drop. Fiats seem to be the e!ception for some
reason. The wiring on my 34 Fairlane looks far worse and Ive done practically nothing to
it and it still works perfectly.
Main problems:
5im headlights
&low windshield wipers
&low or non functioning park+turn signal lights
&tarter problems
These are where most of the problems crop up. 6ainly because the ground connectors
used for these circuits are within the engine compartment and are not protected from the
weather. 7lso the tailight sockets are vulnerable because the gaskets leak and allow water
to gather on the sockets.
Precautions:
7lways disconnect the ,.87TI9. cabel from the battery before working on the
electrical system.
7lways use the correct guage wire.
7lways install a fuse rated for the wire used to operate the component.
7lways wear saftey glasses when working around acids :you see later; and stripping
wires.
asic !ools/e"uipment:
Its not nessessary to go out and buy a whole arsenal of tools for this pro<ect. I have
amassed most of these tools over the years.
5igitial multimeter :get a digital not analog;.
Test light.
Wire stripper :cheap pair from 7uto=>one will do;.
1igh ?uality crimper :dont use the above tool for the purpose;.
5rill.
2op rivet gun
7ssorted electrical terminals.
,ew assorted nuts and bolts.
.lectrical grease/ I prefer Truck=@ite :from I72;. Aopr shield is another :from .astwood
and Bo;.
&mall brass bristled brush.
9arious grit sandpaper.
Wiring diagram for your model. :see below for *'C &piders;
e#ore starting:
If your not e!periencing any dead batteries, you could skip this step but its a good idea to
have the alternator checked anyway. 6ost rebuilders will do it for free. 7 good alternator
should produce a voltage of at least *C volts. The current will vary depending on what
year your car is. Its also a good idea to check for a loose or worn 9=belt and top up the
battery will distilled water. If you notice the battery is swollen :caused by water that has
evaporated; replace it.
!echni"ues:
7fter cutting off the old connector and stripping back the wire, If the copper wire looks
shiny, you could go ahead and install a new terminal. Dut if it looks black, green or
otherwise, it must be cleaned to ensure good contact with the new connector. 6y method
is to strip the wire back about *+'" and then spread the strands apart so they are not
touching one another. Then I swirl the wire in a bottle of acid. "ust about any kind of acid
will work :but not sulfuric00;. I have been using an acid specifically used for cleaning
copper. I cant remember the name right off hand but its in a black bottle and is sold at A=
6art.
-nce the wire is clean and shiny, swirl the wire in a cup of water then wipe dry with a
towel. Then twist the strands of wires back together.
$nstalling a terminal:
This ne!t step may seem trival, but for a long time I had been doing this the wrong way.
If the wire is already stripped, cut the strands off so that about *+C" is visible from the
insulation. "ust enough so the strands will slide into the connector. 6ost connecters
e!cept for butt connectors, have a small slot in the metal sleeve where the wire is
inserted. When crimping the connector, place the curved side of the <aws of the crimper
on this side. The toothed side goes on the side of the connector where there is no slot.
Dutt connectors have no slot, so this does not matter.
Primary connections:
&tart with cleaning the battery connectors. There is a small circular brush made
specifically for this purpose. Eeplace the bolt that holds the negative battery cabel to the
chassis and coat the new bolt with Aopr shield. I checked the resistance of an old
negative battery I took from my 4* &pider and it measured .* ohms which is perfect. The
battery post connectors are sealed well and should not re?uire replacing unless the wires
are separating from the connectors.
Then goto the starter. -n most models you will find three connectors at the main post.
-ne is big thick cabel with green insulation. This cabel leads to the positive post of the
battery. I wouldnt worry too much about this connector since it is usually in good shape.
Dut if the connector is corroded, replace it. Then you should find a thick brown wire and
a thick red wire behind it. -ne wire leads to the alternator and the other wire leads to the
ignition switch. Install new terminals on those two wires and at the other end of the wire
going to the alternator. Its also a good idea to install a new connector on the small red
wire going to the starter solenoid.
%rounds:
7t some point in time, Fiat consolidated the grounds. These grounds are connected to a
main "pod" as I like to call it. These pods are located behind the headlights on the inner
fenders on the '((( &piders. ,-T./ some *$#4 *'C &piders have these pods. -n later )
*+$s, these pods are located within the headlight motor compartments and there is an
e!tra pod located on the drivers side in the engine compartment. There is also an e!tra
pod located under the dash :both models; but these are usually -A since the are shielded
from the weather. Im not sure if *F*+Dravas or &tradas have these pods, but I imagine
they do.
The best method of restoring these is to sandblast and replate them. I use a Ginc alloy
electroplating kit I bought from .astwood and Bompany. The kit sells for about H3I so if
dont feel like its a good investment, you can hire this work out by an electroplater. "ust
about any metal used to plate steel is acceptable. Bhrome, gold, Ginc alloy, etc. are all
good conductors.
If you use the .astwood kit, youll notice that afterwards the metal has a white layer of
<unk on it. This can be removed with J(((( fine steel wool. 7fter the pods are restored
and the wires+connectors have been taken care of, coat the pods and connectors with Truk
lite or a similiar grease.
Whenever you find a ground stud, clean it with a brass brush and coat it with Aopr shield
and install a new nut. Whenever you find a bolt, replace it and coat it with Aopr &hield.
I prefer to use Truk lite on newly plated connections but anywhere a bolt or stud is used, I
like to coat it with Aopr shield. Truk lite is not as good but is not as messy. Dut Aopr
shield can use used anywhere if you can live with the mess and is very good for
protecting bare steel. Bopper based antiseiGe compound can be substitued for Aopr
shield.
The final method is to replace the pods. I spoke with .d at Baribou imports and he says
he has new pods in stock.
When it comes to earlier models, you will find that the grounds run everywhere and are
connected to ring terminals secured to the chassis with a bolt, stud+nut or screw. The best
way to take care of these type grounds are to install new ring terminals and create a new
connection to the chassis. 5rill a hole and secure the wire with a ring terminal to the
chassis with a sheet metal screw. Kou may have to e!tend the wire . If so use the same
guage wire with a butt connector. 7lso be sure to use the Aopr shield on the screws.
Bheck that the ground cabel which goes from the chassis to the bell housing on the
transmission :all models; is not broken. If you dont mind spending a few bucks, go ahead
and replace it along with the bolts.
&ome people like to run an e!tra *( 7W8 wire from somewhere on the engine like the
fuelpump block off plate to the chassis. I never found this to be nessessary but any e!tra
engine ground cannot hurt.
!ailight soc&ets
Kou will probably find that the lower bulb holders will be ?uite rusty. These are held onto
the cards by pop rivets. Degin by drilling out the pop rivets that secure the bulb holders to
the cards. I know on the '((( &piders, the tailight cards have a rear cover which are also
secured with pop rivets which must be drilled out before the bulb holders can be
removed. .arly &piders and ) *+$s are a bit different but same method applies.
7fter installing the restored bulb holders, I like to s?ueeGe the sockets slightly with a pair
of Bhannel lock pliers so that the bulb cannot be wiggled which aids in a better
connection. &and the "fingers" on the cards where the tip of the bulb touches . Boat the
sockets with Truk @ite and install new bulbs. Its a good idea to install new bulbs because
over time the glass bulb separates from its brass socket.
I would also suggest coating the tailight gaskets with ET9 sealant to prevent further
leakage.
Trace the ground wires and replace the ring terminals. '((( &piders should have <ust one
ground connection ad<acent to the drivers side tailight and shares the same connector for
the fuel pump :F.I models;. .arly *'C &piders and ) *+$s :all models; should have two
grounds :one for each tailight;.
7nd while your at it, inspect the bulb sockets in the front bumper :all models; for
corrosion.
'eadlights
Eemove the headlights and install new connectors. Defore re=installing the headlights,
test the voltage at the connector with the engine running. 7nything above *' volts is
good. In my opinion this works well for ordinary sealed beam headlights but 1Cs re?uire
at least *F volts before they come to life.
Wipers:
If the wipers are e!treamly slow, the linkage assembly could be rusty or if the wipers do
not work at all, the linkage assembly could be seiGed. First disconnect the linkage from
the motor. Kou should be able to move the linkage back and forth with no effort. This
usually does not happen on a "running" car but in the case of where a car has been sitting
out in the weather and has been brought back to life, youll need to dissasemble the
linkage. I did this to my 4* spider and the wipers work great now. If memory serves me,
youll need a pair of ring pliers to remove the clips but it only costs a few dollars. -nce
the clips have been removed, spray the spindles liberally with penetrating oil :2D Dlaster
is my favorite;. Ive had to hit the linkages with a wooden hammer in addition to the oil in
order to free them up. &pin them several times and they should free up eventually. Defore
reassembling everything, mi! up a solution of F in * oil and powered graphite and apply
to the bushings and all moving parts with an acid brush. 2owered graphite is used to
lubricate locks and can be found in the lock section at @owes or 1ome 5epot.
Then disassemble the wiper motor. The brushes should be in good shape. If they are worn
you may be able to talk an electrical rebuilder into installing new brushes.
Bheck to see if the park switch is broken. This was one reason why the wiper motor was
locked up on my 4* model. If this clip is broke and you remove it, the wipers will still
work, they <ust wont return to the bottom of the windshield when you cut the wipers off
and the intermitant feature is now useless. 5ig out the old dried grease from around the
reduction gear, clean the internals with an electric motor spray :available at most autopart
stores; and then lube the small ball bearing at the end of the shaft with oil. De sure to
repack the reduction gear with grease.
1eres a trick I use to put the motor back together. 2ull the brushes apart and slide the
commutator :copper thingy on end of shaft; between the brushes. Then insert a
screwdriver between the reduction gear and the screw drive at the end of the shaft. This
way when you slide the casing back on, the fields :magnets; does not pull the motor
apart.
1eres another trick I used to speed up the wipers on both of my cars. I did this because
when I turned my headlights and heater fan on, the wipers would slow down
considerably. These three circuits pull the most current and they are all playing a tug=of=
war and usually the wipers lose. -ne way to get around this problem is to create a new
path to the wiper motor.
I will keep it generic because all models are different. @ocate the connector :usually a
white block with si! connections; on the end of the wires leading to the column switches.
5etermine which wire:s; operate the wipers. Lsually you will find two wires crimped
together which control the park function and the motor itself. Insert a small screwdriver
and bend the tab inward so it can be removed from the connector. Eeconnect the
connectors and check to see that the wipers do not function. "ust to be on the safe side,
connect a test light to the wire you removed and check that no power is present to
determine that this wire is the "receiver" wire and not the "supply" wire.
Then connect a *C 7W8 wire :and a #.I in=line fuse; to this wire:s; and then connect the
new wire to one of wires at the ignition switch. There are usually two wires that supply
power only when the ignition switch is in the run position. 7nytime you crimp two wires
together which share the same connector, you can use a larger connector. In other words,
remove the connector on the ignition switch, twist the two ends together and install a
*(+*' :yellow; 7W8 connector. What this does is create a new path. That way the wipers
are not sharing any other accessories on that fuse.
7lso applying fre?uent applications of Eain=) to the windshield will reduce friction.
(P)*!+, I finally found an alternative to the crappy 6arelli wiper motor0 Blick here.
'eadlight tric&:
This ne!t step involves installing headlight relays. There are three reasons I like installing
headlight relays. -ne is because there are so many connectors that current must pass
through , it would be e!tremely time consuming to replace everyone of them. &econd is
to save wear on your headlight and column switches. 7nd third is because I think 1C
headlights re?uire more than *' volts in order for them to perform at their best. If I
remember correctly after replacing the F prong connectors, the grounds, the connectors at
the fusebo!, power went from 4 volts to around *'.F volts and the 1C headlights were
still dim. When purchasing headlight relays, stick with a good brand like 1ella or Dosch.
5ont waste your money on those cheap HF.(( relays. They are <unk and I can speak from
e!perience.
-n the *'C+'((( &piders, I mounted the headlight and foglight relays behind the
instrument cluster :actually behind the fuelgage;. De sure not to place them to far to the
right or they will be behind the speedometer and the instrument panel may not fit. I did
not take any photos but here is how I did it. 5rop the fusebo! and drill up through the
framerail that runs above the fusebo!. Then use some *.I" long J*( screws and nuts to
hold the relays. Dy mounting the relays here you can simply unplug the wire from the
fuse bo! and hook it to the relay. Then by using a *' guage <umper wire, run the wire
from the relay back to the fusebo! where the original wire came from. Then the circuit
splits through two separate fuses, then one wire goes to the left headlight and the other
one goes to the right headlight :low or high beam which ever the case may be;. The main
supply wire is a *' guage wire % a F( amp in=line fuse which is connected to the starter.
&ince the fusebo! is the last point before power reaches the headlights, placing the relays
here will ensure that they will be recieving full power. To make things easier, I used blue
wire for the high beams, green wire for the low beams and yellow for the foglights.
1eres a tip. Kou are running foglights you can easily get your feed wire from the
fusebo!. Kou will notice that 7FT.E the fuse, there is a second unused connector. If you
wish your foglights to run off the low beams, connect the feed wire to one of the low
beam connectors. &ince my au!illary lights are so bright I do not run them against
oncoming traffic so I connected mine to one of the high beam connectors. &o when I need
ma!imum lighting, I flip on my high beams and my au!illary lights come on. &ince -.6
au!illary lights do not work on high beams, I assume my method is against the law. I
dont know what thats all about. 6ost -.6 au!illary lights are pointed so low I dont see
what the deal is.
-n my ) *+$ I mounted the relays behind the fusebo! on the bulkhead. It may be easier
to crimp an e!tention wire to the wire coming from the fusebo! so you dont have to
unwravle the black tape which is wrapped with other wires. Lse a butt connector and a *'
guage wire to make the e!tention. Kou can connect the main supply wire to the relay
directly from the battery on this model. 7ctually I got laGy and only mounted one relay
for the low beams so far. Dut I do have two relays on the &pider.
7ll countries have different law regarding headlights. In the Lnited &tates, both low and
high beam headlights cannot burn at the same time :I think this is an accurate statement;.
With that in mind you can use a single *( guage wire from the starter or battery and then
split the wire into two more *( guage wires using an 4 guage connector to connect the
three. Twist the two *( guage wires together and insert them into the 4 guage butt
connector. For the single wire, strip the wire back about *+'" , twist and bend it so that the
wire appears to be twice as thick as what it should be. This will mimic a thicker wire and
ensure a snug fit when you crimp it.
When I relocated my headlight relays from the steering column support bracket to behind
the instrument cluster, this time I used *' 7W8 wire for both the wire coming from the
battery and the feed wire going back to the fusebo!. I originally suggested using *( 7W8
for the main wire but @ittleFuse sells F(amp fuse holders connected to *' 7W8 wire.
The original headlight wiring is rated for no more than *3 amps so *' 7W8 wire should
be sufficient.
I havent had any problems with using a single feed wire on the &pider. If for some reason
use should blow the F( amp fuse fre?uently on the main supply wire, install a second
wire for the high beams. I thought at first that toggling between low and high beams
would cause a surge and blow a fuse , but so far so good. -ther countries may allow the
low beams to burn when the high beams are on, if this is the case, then install two *(
guage wires from the starter or battery.
When running au!illary lights, be sure to fuse each foglight. I used *C 7W8 wire and two
#.I amp fuses.
1ere are a list of problems and potential solutions/
Starter problems:
Starter does not turn/no clic& present-
Bheck the wire going to the solenoid. &ometimes this wire comes loose, breaks or
becomes corroded. The best solution is to <ust install a new connector.
Starter does not turn but a .clic&. is present /mostly an intermittant problem0-
I had this problem on my 4( &pider. The reason this happens is because there is not
enough voltage being supplied from the ignition switch to operate the solenoid. This
problem is more apparant when the headlights and other circuits are turn on when trying
to start the car. 6y 4( &pider has had this problem since I bought it si! years ago. 7bout
three years ago I purchased a low voltage relay :which re?uires a minimum of four volts;
from 6aduko which was invented to cure this problem. The problem got worse over
time, so I decided to stop procrastinating and install the relay. &ince then the car has
never failed to start. 6akuko as since bit the dust. The only supplier that I know of that
supplies this relays is Baribou imports which I was told by .5 was the original supplier.
To be honest I see no reason why you cannot use a F( amp foglight relay. 7ll your doing
is supplying enough power to engage the solenoid.
Starter drags:
6ost common is a weak battery. If the battery gives an output of more than *' volts the
brushes and+or bearings inside the starter or worn. 7lthough the factory shop manual on
the &piders says to drop the starter from between the steering linkage, I found that
method impossible. 7 much easier method is to remove the alternator and remove it that
way. I had the radiator out at the time so it may be nessessary to do so but first try
removing the windshield washer tank :F.I. models;.
1ther points 2orth mentioning:
*; Bonnectors on ignition coil. Eeplace the control module on the '((( &piders if
original.
'; Fuel in<ector grounds. Found on air intake plenium on '((( &piders, cam cover on )
*+$s.
If the battery light still glows at some point or another, I wouldnt worry too much about
it. I installed a voltmeter guage directly to the ignition switch and found that no matter
how many circuits are turned on, the alternator is still producing over *C volts. The
voltmeter guage on ) *+$s is useless the way it is wired. It can be re=wired directly to the
ignition switch for a true reading.
7s I said before, the terminals inside the car are usually not the problem. I went to all the
trouble to install new terminals on the fusebo! on my 4( &pider. I also polished the fuse
holders with a dremel tool attachment. I saw no noticeable difference afterwards. It is a
good idea to install new fuses. &ome people may dispute me on this but fuses are <ust like
bulbs. 7s they age they will eventually blow for no apparant reason. 6y 4( Fiat &pider
once left me stranded because of this. I only had the car for about F months when the fuse
to my fuelpump decided to blow one night while I was in town. 7s most of you know, the
fuse on fuel in<ected models is located in a separate fuse holder. I didnt know where it
was located and had to call a towtruck. The ne!t day after calling a friend I finally found
it. I replaced the fuse and it has been there for over five years.
Fuelpump #use holder:
While I am on the sub<ect of the in=line fuelpump fuse holder, I had a little mishap on the
way to Fiat Freakout '(((. 7bout *#( miles into the trip, the car <ust died. To make a
long story short, the fuse holder melted due to age. Dakelight plastic doesnt last forever.
Instead of simply replacing the fuel holder, I thought of a neat trick. This trick only works
on &piders without power windows :like they actually work worth a dime to begin with;.
Fiat intregated the power window circuits into the fusebo! which use the two leftmost
fuse holders, but without power windows, they are basically <ust spare fuse holders. 5rop
the fusebo! and unplug any wires you see connected to these connectors. I know there is
a red wire and possible a pink wire. I cant remember if these wires have power on them
or not. To be on the safe side, wrap electrical tape around the connectors.
Lnplug the two brown+white wires leading to and from the fuse holder. These wires are
long enough to reach to the fusebo!. ,ow <ust plug each wire onto the opposite ends of
the leftmost fuse holder. If you havent robbed the *3amp fuse by now for something else,
be sure to replace it with an 4amp fuse. 7nd be sure the wires are on the opposite side of
the fuse holder to make sure the circuit is protected. "ust to be on the safe side, remove
the fuse to make sure the engine wont run. ,ow the fuelpump fuse is where it belongs, in
the fusebo! and not up underneath the dashboard.
3igarette lighter #i4:
-A, so its not cool to smoke in the '*st century. Well I do so sue me0 If you have to
press in on the cigarette lighter element until it gets hot or it doesnt work heres how to
fi! it. Koull probably have to remove the radio console to do this. Kou will find two small
tabs that hold the end of the element in place while its heating up. When the element gets
hot enough, the tabs e!pand, they release the element and your ready to light up. These
tabs get weak overtime. The trick is to bend them inward &@I81T@K with a flathead
screwdriver. De sure to disconnect the connector first.
Slo2 signal/ha55ard lights:
.ven after you have done allot of the steps Ive mentioned, if your turn signals+haGGard
lights flash very slow :like once every two seconds;, the problem is most likely the
flasher unit itself.
6adio tric&:
7s you know there is no position on the ignition switch for the radio. Its not a good idea
to leave the switch in the -, position without the car running if you want to listen to the
radio while sitting. This can damage the ignition system. I wish I could take credit for this
since its such a great idea but I cannot. I read it in a F@L Eicambi issue. 6ost people by
now have disconnected the door chime. Kou can use the % wire going to the chime to
power the radio. &o when you insert the key into the ignition switch, the radio
automatically comes on. This wire is fused on the '((( &piders but to be on the same
side, install an in=line fuse before the radio.
Spider 2iring diagrams:
L257T.00
Finally0 The day has come. *'C+'((( &pider Wiring diagrams are now available for
downloading in >I2 format0 7lthough I didnt care to distribute these diagrams via email,
it was a hassle. Dut I did it regardless for the love of the car. Thanks goes out to fellow
*'C &pider owner Bhris 7lemany for providing the space for these diagrams on his
server.
I scanned these diagrams at a high resolution so they wouldnt look blocky when printed.
They are ?uite large so grab a 2epsi or smoke while they download if using a phone
modem. Kou will need something such as 2aint&hop 2ro or similiar graphics program in
order to print each "28 to a single sheet of paper. It wont work using Internet .!plorer.
-r at least Ive never been able to get it to work using I..
Im trying to obtain wiring diagrams for other models. &o far these are all I have. Ive
heard there isnt much difference if all between #C to #3 in the wiring so its possible the
#3 diagrams will work with earlier models but I cant swear to this. I would appreciate
any information as to where the #3 diagrams will work on earlier models. 2lease let me
know so I can mention this on my webpage for other owners. Thanks.
If you are downloading diagrams for the #$ or 4( &pider, you will notice the heading of
some diagrams that will say 4* to 4'. There is no difference in the wiring as far as I am
concerned but one owner reported that the fuses were in a different order in the fusebo!
on his #$ model. Dut these cars have been around for so long, who knows if a 2- did
this. 1is is the only case I have heard of. 7nd the only difference between the carburated
and fuel in<ected '((( models is fuel delivery system. The carburated version has a single
page related to components related to the carb which the fuel in<ection version doesnt
have and vice versa.
*$#3 *'C &pider
*$## *'C &pider
*$#4 *'C &pider
*$#$=4( '((( &pider :carburated;
*$4(=4' '((( &pider :fuel in<ected;
1ere are some diagrams for the Fiat ) *+$. I have not studied these to see what year they
correspond to. They are linked from another page.
Fiat ) *+$
If you happen to have any good diagrams :circuits broken down on several pages, no
single page 1aynes diagrams; for other models not listed here please scan them at a high
resolution and email them to me. If you dont have access to a scanner, how about
photocopy them and send them to me through the mail. This will help other &pider
owners keep their cars on the road.
I hope this page is of some help to you. If you have any ?uestions, feel free to email me.
Dut remember if you wire up your relays wrong and smoke your wiring, dont ask me
what you did wrong.