1999 Acura TL GPS Repair

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!

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. Put the CompactFlash card into the adapter, and insert it into your laptop in the place of the TL's hard drive.
  6. Transfer the files from the temporary directory on your hard drive to the new removable drive.
  7. 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.
  8. 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.

23 Comments

size question

I have Acura 99 with GPS. The GPS system hasn't been working for some time now. when I called acura they mentioned that my current hard drive doesn't have enough space to hold the current data. So, even if I get 256 MB or even 512 MB flash drive, I won't have the latest data for the drive. Can you post the files for the hard drive on the Internet? I would really appreciate your help.

Thanks,
Rahul

VW Van

OK heres what i aam going to try and maybe you guys will tell me if this work before i try it. 99 TL also Nav Pcima card as well. Going to take my VW van dvd and copy it and then get a card that will hold 900 MB and see if that will work. What do yoou guys think.

Confirmed working

I recently bought a 1999 TL and the DVD system in the back has a PCMCIA to CF adapter, and a CF card in it. I will pull it out and check the size later (and make a backup!). How does one get updated map and POI data?

Any way you can upload the

Any way you can upload the software of CA/NV even an old version is ok? My hard disk has already died. I cant even use my navi system anymore. I can pick up a pcmia adapter with memory stick for cheap i think. If you can pls send or have a link to eunos.r@gmail.com

Thanks I really appreciate it.

2003 Acura CL

Will this work for my car?

1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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.
4. 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.
5. Put the CompactFlash card into the adapter, and insert it into your laptop in the place of the TL's hard drive.
6. Transfer the files from the temporary directory on your hard drive to the new removable drive.
7. 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.
8. Start your car. If you're lucky, it will work!

if someone can make a video of how to do this for dummies, I would appreicate it

In regards to the permanent

In regards to the permanent issue, it will last as long as the cf card. which is long enough. the car might not be around then!
Perhaps the problem is with compatibility of the format of cf cards with the nav system. I had tried a number of different cf card manufactures with no success. yet another issue might also be the format denisty of the cf card. Window 95 vs Window XP. There is one guy that sells a completed cf card with the loaded region but he charges a redicously 125 bucks plus shipping. While one can get a cf card for $15 and do it themself, if they had access to a laptop with PCMCIA support and a working acura navi HD.

1999 TL Navigation

I took your advice and found a PCMCIA adapter and a Scan Disk Ultra 2 Gig flash drive. I then went to the dealership to download the software. When I plugged in the flash drive to the navigation unit, the navigation unit displayed the picture of the earth but stops and reboots. Any suggestions?

Jack

Newer Nav System

Can a Navigation unit out of a newer Acura be installed without major modifications? What years are the same plug in but different units?

cd

I recently purchased a 1999 tl but the navigation cd is missing any suggestions of where i can buy a replacement cd?

How should the CF card be

How should the CF card be formatted - in a Win98 machine or can I do it as FAT/FAT32/NTFS in Win 7? I've triedusing a Transcend 1GB and 2 GB cards but no luck. I just got a 512MB Lexar card from a friend to try but don't know if how I format it could cause an issue. I've been doing it in a Win7 machine.

Any advice is appreciated!

Thanks,
AJ

I have a 1999 TL with

I have a 1999 TL with navigation and replaced the hard drive with the adapter and the flash card, all has been working well for the past 5-years. Now I have a new problem, the gps won't track properly or show my heading properly, long lag time in catching up to my position and the heading indicated is always wrong. Replaced both the display and the computer, still no good. Any suggestion on what is wrong, possibly the antenna or bad data on the flash card I'm thinking?

I don't have a laptop that

I don't have a laptop that will take the double-height PCMCIA hard drive.
Is there any other way?
I also have a spare double-height PCMCIA hard drive with nothing on it 260MB but still don't know how to get the data on it.

I have a 99 TL and converted

I have a 99 TL and converted from the hard drive about 7 years ago and has been working fine until recently. Heading on the display always points in the same direction and will not change as the car heading changes. Seems to track O:K but it takes a lot longer for it to update your position on the display. Any ideas on what is causing this problem?

Has anybody try this pcmci

Has anybody try this pcmci adapter and copying the files from the old hard drive into an sd card or flash card yet? I have a 1999 Acura tl and I got the maps and i am about to try that, but I wanted to know if anybody has tried this yet

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