The 1999 Acura TL was sold with an optional touchscreen GPS navigation system accessory option, which ran off a hard disk drive mounted in the trunk of the car. Unfortunately, the hard drive is prone to overheating and failure, especially after seven years of frequent use and bumpy roads. When the car is started, the GPS system will, more and more frequently, fail to start, giving an error such as "Read Error" or "Hard Drive Failure." Luckily, thanks to digital cameras, there's an easy fix to this problem.
(NOTE: I assume no liability if you totally screw over yourself, your car, your laptop, or anything else. Exercise your own discretion.)
First: Buy Parts
The 1999 TL's hard drive is not a drive of the standard laptop variety, but rather a CT521RM1 PCMCIA hard drive, mounted in a standard double-height PCMCIA bay in the trunk unit. It uses a standard ATAPI interface, but due to the relative unpopularity of PCMCIA hard drives, it's farily expensive to find a replacement, with prices sometimes running north of $150.
However, due to the increasing popularity of digital cameras, another inexpensive storage option is available to TL owners: solid state storage! In the seven years since the 99 TL's introduction, flash memory has become so cheap that it's now less expensive than an comparable hard drive at low data densities (such as this GPS system.) In addition, many of the downsides of hard drives are eliminated: moving parts, heat production, and sensitivity to outside motion.
Next: Do the Repair!
- Remove the hard drive from your TL's navigation system. There should be a button towards the left of the unit that ejects the hard drive.
- Find an old laptop with a double-height PCMCIA hard drive bay, and insert the TL's hard drive. If it's still operational, it should appear as an external drive.
- Copy all the files from the TL's hard drive to a temporary folder on the laptop's hard drive. This should take approximately 231 megabytes of free space.
- Buy a compactflash-PCMCIA adapter, available at any electronics or photography store. (Here's one CompactFlash adapter, or Froogle search for a compactflash-PCMCIA adapter) Also buy a CompactFlash card: 256 megabytes worked for me, but any larger size is also OK.
- Put the CompactFlash card into the adapter, and insert it into your laptop in the place of the TL's hard drive.
- Transfer the files from the temporary directory on your hard drive to the new removable drive.
- Eject the CompactFlash adapter (with the CompactFlash card still inside) and place it into your TL's navigation system, where the TL's hard drive used to be.
- Start your car. If you're lucky, it will work!
Good luck, and happy hacking!
1 Model numbers include 9010-SZ3-A820-M1, 39010-SZ3-A830-M1, 39010-SZ3-A831-M1, 39010-SZ3-325RM, 39010-S0K-A010-M2, 39010-S0K-A030-M1, 39100-SLK-A00-RM, 39010-SZ3-315, 39010-SZ3-325, and 39010-SZ3-335.