Common Fiat 500 problems

  • Retro city car
  • Recalls explained; problems to look out for
  • Read this before you buy used
Read the full Fiat 500 ('08-) used review
Read the full Fiat 500 ('08-) used review
In 2008, the Fiat 500 name was reborn with the cheeky car that's still on sale today. The retro looks and low price made it an instant success.

The 500 is most at home in the city. Its light steering and good all-round visibility make parking and navigating traffic a doddle. However, at faster speeds, there is too much wind- and road noise.

Four engines are on offer – three petrols and one diesel. Petrol buyers can choose a 69bhp 1.2-litre, a 99bhp 1.4-litre or the 84bhp 0.9-litre Twinair. The diesel option is a 1.3-litre that produces either 75bhp or 94bhp.

Fiat claims the 1.2-litre petrol does an average of 58.9mpg, the 1.4-litre does 44mpg, while the Twinair averages 68.9mpg. The 1.3-litre diesel does 72.4mpg.

Inside, the retro theme is clearly evident. The dashboard is bright and disguises its Fiat Panda origins well. There is plenty of room in the front, but the back seats are uncomfortable for adults. Headroom is restricted in cars with the panoramic roof fitted. Boot space is 185 litres, which is more than that in the Mini – the 500's main competitor.

Pop is the entry-level trim. It comes with power steering, electric front windows and a CD player. To get air-conditioning you need to move up to Sport trim, which also gets alloy wheels and Bluetooth.

The top-of-the-range specification is Lounge, which brings split-folding rear seats and a fixed glass roof.

Our pick of the range is the 1.4-litre Sport. It has more poke than the entry-level 1.2, and it benefits from more equipment.

Fiat has improved the reliability of its cars over the past few years, but some problems have affected the 500.

Fiat 500 fuel leak problem ('08)
The fuel manifold on some petrol versions was not manufactured to specification. This meant that petrol could leak and cause the car to lose power. Relevant cars were recalled and had the faulty part replaced.

Fiat 500 brake problem ('08-'09)
Fiat recalled 1.2-litre petrol and 1.3-litre diesel models because there was a risk of the rear brakes locking up. Bolts had not been tightened sufficiently and could become loose and jam the wheels. Affected cars had the bolts tightened.

Fiat 500 brake problem ('12)
The second brake issue affecting the 500 was caused by a faulty brake pipe, which could reduce brake function. Recalled cars had the pipes changed.

Fiat 500 steering problem ('09)
A problem with the connection between the steering shaft and the steering shaft fork was discovered. It could cause the two parts to separate and the driver to lose control of the steering. Fiat recalled affected cars and remedied the issue.

Fiat 500 airbag problem ('10)
The biggest recall to affect the Fiat 500 was to fix a problem with the airbags. Due to a software glitch, the wrong airbag could activate in a side-on collision. Fiat recalled the affected cars and updated the software.

Fiat should have remedied all of these faults, but make sure the used Fiat 500 you're considering has had the work done.

What Car? Approved Used Fiat 500 examples >>

Read the full Fiat 500 ('08-) used review >>

By Matthew Burrow

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