Advice for buyers
What should I look for in a used Fiat 500 hatchback?
Problems reported with the Fiat 500 include the diesel engine, where the engine warning light comes on, requiring an immediate trip to the dealer to solve.
Despite a solid feel, the interiors of some 500s have suffered with items of trim falling off and rattles and squeaks appearing. Plus, the paintwork can mark easily, with black and bright red models appearing to be especially at risk.
Some owners have highlighted problems with interior trim rattles, the driver’s door handle breaking off and troubles with the heating and ventilation system.
Check the clutch
A large number of 500s have been used as driving instructors’ cars. Although this shouldn't be a problem if the car is well maintained, it could shorten the life of components such as the clutch. Check that there isn’t any slippage or any notchiness since this indicates abuse and the likelihood of large repair bills.
Also, check for any bodywork damage; a car that has to earn its keep in the cut and thrust of traffic may have had one or two bumps in its life, so look for any scrapes to bumpers or poor accident repair to body panels. If the work hasn’t been carried out to Fiat’s workshop standards, then this could lead to future rust problems.
What are the most common problems with a used Fiat 500 hatchback?
The 1.3-litre diesel engine in the Fiat 500 was fitted with a diesel particulate filter (DPF). Considering this was designed primarily as a city car, it's unlikely that many owners will have taken their 500 on frequent motorway journeys to ensure the DPF can regenerate, which is crucial. You should therefore check how the previous owner has used the car.
Other potential problems with the DPF-equipped cars come if it has been shut off part way through a regeneration. The result is contamination of the oil system with fuel, which leads to the oil level rising gradually over time. This can cause damage to the engine, if it hasn’t already, so it’s worth getting the car checked out.
Is a used Fiat 500 hatchback reliable?
Historically, Fiat hasn't had the best reputation for reliability, but the 500 is performing well to date. It uses proven engines from the Fiat Panda, as well as sharing major components with the Ford Ka, so parts availability will be better than most if something does go wrong. The 500 finished in 17th place out of 24 cars in the small and city car class in our latest reliability survey. Fiat as a brand finished in 12th place out of 31 manufacturers in our most recent reliability survey.
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