Used car of the week: Fiat 500

Find out everything you need to know about buying a used Fiat 500 including what problems to look out for
Fiat 500
Fiat 500

Fiat is offering young drivers a cost effective way of getting behind the wheel of a new Fiat 500. It's teamed up with Carrot to offer a 1.2 Pop on a three-year PCP for £239 per month after a £1475 deposit.

If you don't want to buy new but still want a car that's suitable for a young driver or for an urban runabout, a used Fiat 500 is a great option. Here's what you need to know.

Ideal model 1.2 Lounge
Prices from £3500

Why should I buy a used Fiat 500?

The 500's retro design makes it one of the more stylish city cars on the road today.

Inside, there's room for four, although those in the front seats have the best deal. The 185-litre boot is by no means huge but it can cope with a small weekly shop.

The 500 is very much at home in town, where its light steering and decent all-round visibility come into their own.

If your heart isn't won over by its cheeky looks, perhaps your head can be persuaded by the low running costs and decent availability on the used market.

Which model should I choose?

Older models (pre-2011) were available with a 1.4-litre petrol engine that produced 99bhp and was our favourite. If you're looking for a newer car, however, we'd recommend going with the 69bhp 1.2-litre. It might not be very powerful but it is considerably quieter than the 0.9-litre Twinair.

Trim-wise, we'd avoid entry-level Pop because it doesn't have air-conditioning. Our pick is top-of-the-range Lounge specification which comes with air-con, alloy wheels, Bluetooth, electric front windows, a CD player, split-folding rear seats and a fixed glass roof.

How much should I pay?

A high-mileage 2008 1.2 Lounge car will cost you £3500. To get a 2012 car with a more reasonable 30,000 miles on clock you'll need to spend around £6000.

What problems should I look out for?

Reliability is better than on older Fiats, but there are still a number of things that you need check before handing over your hard-earned cash.

One of the most important things to check are the brakes. A number of owners have complained that they need to have all new discs and pads after as little as 20,000 miles. Listen out for any squeaks on a test drive and make sure that the brakes don't fade and that the warning light isn't illuminated on the dashboard.

Owners have had issues with the shock absorbers. Listen out for any strange noises coming from the suspension.

Electrical faults and problems with the air-conditioning have also caused headaches. Check that everything works as it should and that the air-con system cools the cabin effectively. It's also worth testing that the vents aren't stuck because some owners have reported this problem.

Fiat has worked hard to improve the build quality of its cars but it's still worth listening out for any creaks or rattles from the dashboard.

One final thing to check is the boot mechanism which can develop a fault that requires the driver to open the tailgate with the key.

Fiat has recalled the 500 for problems with the airbags, brakes and steering. All the remedial work should have been carried out. Find out if your car is affected here

It's also worth noting that the 500 comes with a two-year manufacturer warranty and that the third year is covered by Fiat dealers.

If you're interested in a used Fiat 500, check out the examples that you can find in the What Car? Classified pages.

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