Piston Slap: TIPM and the Freemont's Enlightening Journey Down Under

Sajeev Mehta
by Sajeev Mehta
piston slap tipm and the freemont s enlightening journey down under

Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit (photo courtesy: blog.fiat.com.au)

Thanks to the 40+ people who sent queries to Piston Slap over the week. I’ve insisted the satisfaction derived from our interaction is why I keep writing, that everything else is merely gravy. Delicious gravy, but just that. You’ve once again validated that fact. – SM

Bob writes:

Good Morning Sajeev,

I am asking a question about the headlights of my 2015 Fiat Freemont, 2.4-liter 4-cylinder variety. In particular, replacing the globe in the left headlamp assembly. In the manual it states to move/relocate the TIPM. On the forums there is nothing mentioned about how to remove this particular item, plus I read all the horror stories about the TIPM, unreliability, etc.

As getting to the globe without removing the TIPM looks like an exercise in British engineering — “if you can make something important inaccessible, please do” — is it safe to (1) remove it? (2) how? and (3) what are the consequences if various things have to be disconnected?

The reason for changing the headlights so early (it’s only been in possession for a week) is that down under these headlights are not very effective. Stock standard halogens do not cut the mustard when you are at 110km/h surrounded by ‘roo’s, goats and other livestock. I would like to see them a bit further down the road, rather than right next to me on the shoulder of the road, before deciding whether to ruin my day and theirs.

Sajeev answers:

G’day, mate! Nice to see you’ve moved from German underengineering to one of Fiat’s finer works of underengineering! Not that the Dodge Journey is a terrible vehicle, even in Italian badge-engineered form.

The forums agree with the factory manual’s assessment of moving the TIPM to access the headlight bulb. It’s not a cause for worry, even if TIPM boxes are rather fragile. If so inclined, disconnect the battery for an hour (so the system will drain out) before starting disassembly. How do you remove the TIPM? Maybe this Jeep thread helps. After that, the process seems easy.

To be fair, I worry about upgrading headlights on a TIPM-controlled [s]Chrysler[/s] Fiat product and burning out the damn module…then voiding parts of your warranty. And whatever bulb you install won’t be a good fit to a lighting pod designed for or halogen bulbs — perhaps a moot point, as you won’t blind other drivers in the middle of nowhere. (Who cares if the ‘roos get a little blind, right?) But if you must, avoid the radioactively bright, high-kelvin HIDs, install headlight relays and an inline fuse going to the TIPM. That fuse might rescue the TIPM, saving you hundreds.

I’d rather avoid it all via aftermarket driving lights from a big name company certified legal in Australia. Run them near/in place of the bumper mounted fog lights, wiring them directly to the battery. Then run a TIPM-free switch directly from the wiring to the interior. Install the switch under the dash or inside the center console, as to not upset the interior’s fine Italian design.

Possibly mediocre US-spec headlights possibly redesigned for Fiat’s global needs? Dubious conversions to stronger headlights with glare galore? TIPM failure issues? Warranty concerns?

Just skip it all and go aftermarket.

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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4 of 8 comments
  • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jul 28, 2015

    Bad Sajeev, using such acronym without definition!

    • See 1 previous
    • Corey Lewis Corey Lewis on Jul 28, 2015

      @RHD LOL. I can't tell how many layers of sarcasm I'm seeing here.

  • Pacificpom2 Pacificpom2 on Jul 28, 2015

    Thanks guys for the tips. My intention is to replace the lowbeams with Osram Night breakers to give me the depth and then CREE's LED's in the high beams to really light up the road. As for destroying/injuring the TIPM, I did look up the relay suggestion and decided that fitting a driving light relay harness to actually power the lights and leave the normal wiring just for control would be a solution. Thanks again. Ps I still have the ML, because the Freemont cannot tow anything like what the ML can.