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Your personal settings such as addresses, pins, clock settings, etc that you make through the screen are stored in memory in the navi unit, they are not saved on the disk and are not lost when you replace the disk.
If there is not a drive in the navi unit it will display the error message No Hard Disk, please check system in trunk. It also displays this message when the only problem is the little door over the hard disk drive isn't closed.
If you go backwards in software versions it will display an error message warning of old data and will not proceed.
A bad disk in a unit can also generate the above two errors even when it is not the case.
The radio and disk units require entry of the anti-theft pin code if power is ever taken away from them. The code is not required for changing out the disk alone and a bad disk cannot cause this problem. The radio needs a 5 digit code and the navi a 4 digit code. This number is matched to the serial number of the unit. When your car was new a small card was given out with these numbers printed on it, and typically inserted in the owners manual binder. If you don't have this code you need to provide the serial number to the unit to your Acura dealer and they will look it up on their computer. Most dealers correctly require proof of ownership and take a copy of your ID.
You can use your anti-theft pin code to reset a lost user1/user2 pin.
It is much much less common but sometimes a screen or the navigation unit will fail.
1999 TL screens are vulnerable to scratches of the anti-glare coating. You can remove all the anti-glare coating using Armor All and Endust computer screen wipes. Alternate products and rub hard. The Armor All melts the coating and the wipes clean the screen well. It's a bit shinier without the coating but I prefer the end result over missing coating.
There is a hidden menu for the disk unit. Turn on the key to boot the navi unit, select OK, then press and hold these buttons in sequence MENU MAP CANCEL. When all three are held down wait a few seconds and you will see the hidden menu. There are options to perform diagnostics on the system's components, backup clear to reset SRAM (you need to have your navi anti-theft code handy and will lose all personal settings), adjust yaw rate, force download (go back a version), adjust for tire size changes, etc.
Alpine developed the navigation unit (the black box in the trunk, a.k.a. the navi brain).
Here's the Acura TSB covering the repair process for navigation system components.
Here's a feature comparison of the 4 generations of navi systems used by Acura and Honda
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