FIAT Spider
Headlight Relay Upgrade



Why bother with this upgrade?

For a variety of reasons, FIAT electrical systems may fail to deliver adequate voltage to the headlights.  Significant voltage drop (the difference between power produced at the alternator and what actually reaches the electrical component in question) results in VERY dim headlights, which in and of themselves constitute a serious safety concern.  The modification described in this document cures voltage drop and reroutes main power to the headlamps, resulting in excellent nighttime illumination and greatly lessened stress to your carŐs original switching system


Components, notes and miscellaneous warnings.


Buy yourself a set of Cibie 7" European E Code headlights for right hand traffic, some 55-60 watt halogen bulbs  and the RIK-2 relay upgrade kit from Daniel Stern lighting.  http://www.danielsternlighting.com/.  While it's easy to find his double 87 terminal Bosch relays, I couldn't find anything else (fuseholders, terminal blocks, light plugs, etc.) as nice as the stuff that comes in his kit. 


Stern's upgrade paper http://www.danielsternlighting.com/tech/relays/relays.html

describes  all the terminal wires connections.  Read this paper carefully before you begin.  All wire terminals on the relay and headlight plugs are labeled, so if you pay attention it's hard to make a mistake.


You 'll also need a good set of wire cutter & crimping pliers, three colors of 12 Ga AWG wiring for automotive applications, soldering iron and heatshrink tubing.  A small pack of 1/4 inch ring terminals (I used 6 in all but remember I ran a new ground from the alternator body to the studs holding my charcoal canister down), some baby zipties and some small wiring loom tubing and you're good to go. 


You'll construct two independent fused relay circuits, one for high and one for low beam. 



You might not need to be as anal as I was about it, but be vigilant of shielding the wires as they pass through holes in sheetmetal.


Crimp, solder and heatshrink all wire to connector joins.


Beware of cold soldering!..You must get the terminal hot enough to wick solder in by capillary action. Practice w/ some generic spade clips if you aren't an accomplished solderer (the spade clips that come w/ stern's kit have spring tabs that hold them in the terminal block, and he only allows you a couple extra, so don't mess up more than twice!


Make sure you remember to put the heatshrink on the wire before you do the connections!


Remember to use dielectric grease on all connections!



Step 1.  Disconnect Battery!


Step 2.  Remove both headlight bucket assemblies.  Use this opportunity to take care of any rust issues and it's also a great chance to inspect the inner fender area for trouble as well.  I don't know what color wires power your headlights, but there'll be three of them for each headlight.  One wire provides power to the low beam, one to the high beam and one is a ground.  Cut them off , remove the headlight bucket and locate where they emerge into the engine compartment through a grommeted hole in the fenderwell.  I was careful to preserve the original watershields running from the headlight bucket to the fenderwell passthrough by threading the new wires through.

You'll use the DS power wires to trigger the relays.  The PS wires will be superfluous after this install and so be careful to terminate these wires safely.


Step 3.  Run the new wires from the light terminal plug (it hooks on the wires via spring loaded jaws) to the terminal block for the relays.  I used blue for the low beam circuit  and red for the high beam circuit, black for all grounds.  So it goes like this:

Light plug-wire-spade clip (at relay end).  You'll make six of these wires, hi, lo, ground for each light.  The power wires run all the way to the terminal block and the grounds mount where the original grounds did. Reassemble the headlight buckets, and install the headlights.  Don't put the trim rings on yet as you'll have to aim the lights later.


Step 4.  Run the Power supply lines from the alternator output to each terminal block for the relays. Construct it thusly:

Ring terminal-wire-inline fuse-wire-spade clip. The inline fuses attach to the wires via internal screws.


Step 5.  Relay grounds: make two. spade clip-wire-ring terminal


Step 6.  Use the original hi and low beam power wires as "triggers" for each relay.  Just attach a spade clip to these wires.


Step 7.  Plug all the spade clips into their respective terminal blocks and mount the blocks on the ds fenderwell.


Step 8. Plug the relays into the terminal blocks.


Step 9. Connect battery and turn on your new lights.


Step 10. Tidy everything up w/ looming and zipties as appropriate.


Step 11. Aim your lights


RIK-2 Component identification:


-Black round cylindrical devices: Fused fuseholders. Push inward on ends

and twist to remove/replace fuse. To install, strip no more than 3/16" of

insulation from end of wire, loosen setscrew in fuseholder, insert wire

and tighten setscrew. Do this ONLY with fuse installed!


-Black cubical devices with metal pins: Relays.


-Metal "chain" : String of spade clip terminals for wire ends. Simply cut each

terminal off the chain as you need to use it. Install terminals on the

ends of all wires that will go to the relays.


-Black "hollow" plastic devices with mounting tabs: Relay holder/terminal

blocks. After installing the terminals on the wire ends, push each wire

end into its correct relay holder slot from below. It will snap lock into

place. Then the relay can simply be plugged onto the relay holder.


-Black square objects, about 1/4" thick and 1" on a side: H4 bulb

sockets. Squeeze one release tab at a time, insert wire, release tab.