Project Cappuccino: Witchcraft and Wizardry

To most home mechanics, wiring is pure witchcraft.  Voltage, amperage, DC vs AC, resistance, impedance, high vs low side switching, relaying, analog vs digital…all engineers get a crash course in electricity during their schooling, but few actually understand more than the basics of electricity, wiring, and how to diagnose and repair electrical issues.  Ask most car builders what their least favorite job on a car is and wiring is almost always in the top 3 of their list.  So when smoke started pouring out from under the dashboard of our Project Cappuccino, you can imagine the sinking feeling that immediately followed.

This wiring short, which happened in September of 2018, is why Project Cappuccino has been absent from MotoIQ since we road tripped it across America.  Tracing and repairing the short was a daunting task, especially with the short being deep under the dashboard.  Initially we intended to take the car to a shop to have the wiring repaired, but when those plans fell through, we took a crash course on wiring and picked up a few tools and supplies to prepare for a deep dive into the nervous system of our little Kei roadster.

Blown Cappuccino Fuse
The short circuit caused a number of strange issues in the car. We lost the horn, the interior light, the gauge illumination lights, the radio, and the cigarette lighter. This is a very eclectic set of items to have fail. We found the horn and radio could be brought back to life by replacing a fuse, but the fuse would fail again soon after. We actually drove the car with all of these issues, but the drives were pretty infrequent as it wasn’t all that safe to be driving around with no horn. At the time we also weren’t sure what the culprit was and we were rather afraid the car could cut out without warning.

The most important tool for this type of job is a factory service manual, specifically one with a full wiring diagram.  Fortunately, the fine chaps at SCORE (the Suzuki Cappuccino Owners Register for Enthusiasts) have a Cappuccino service manual available for all members.  SCORE is an owner’s club based in the UK and has a huge forum full of Cappuccino owners and their years of experience.  More importantly, they have uploaded a Suzuki service manual for owners to use.  Best of all, because the Cappuccino was sold new in the UK, the manual is in English!  Huzzah!  We joined the club, downloaded and printed the entire electrical section of the service manual and got to work on the Cappuccino.  While the service manual was useful for diagnosing the short, it was utterly useless in helping us disassemble the interior of the car, so the following steps should help other Cappuccino owners who need to root around the interior of their own cars.

Cappuccino Driver's Seat Removal
The first job was to start stripping the interior. We started by removing the driver’s seat so we could more easily lay in the floor pan of the car and work under the dash. We also went ahead and removed the roof and dropped the rear window for easier access to the cramped interior of the Cappuccino.
Cappuccino Center Console Screw Locations
Next we removed the center console. Four of the screws are easy to find on the outside of the center console (two next to the seats, and two at the front of the console), but the two in the cubby hole are hidden under the rubber cover at the bottom of the center pocket. You don’t actually have to remove the center console lid like we did here, though you may want to just to clean out all the dirt that builds up under the hinge. Yuck!!!
Cappuccino Center Console Removal
Remove the shift knob, remove the velcro for the parking brake boot, and carefully slide off the center console until you can unplug the window switches and the interior light. This allows the center console to come out completely. You’ll also have to unlatch the rear window to get the console over the release handle.
Cappuccino Radio Surround Screw Locations
The radio surround comes out next. Three screws on either side of the surround, plus one in front of the shifter, are all that hold it into place. Make sure to unplug the cigarette lighter.


    1. In the Cappuccino, there is no dimmer for the dash lights. I’m not sure if they are dimmable in other vehicles. But for the Cappuccino the dash lights are so dim to begin with they bring the readability up from “useless” to “regular 90’s car.”

      1. I replaced the cluster lights in my e30 with leds, and they dim perfectly with the standard dimmer.
        It really is a great upgrade. And they will practically work forever.

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