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When you’re in the market for a reliable car, you can’t go wrong with a Fiat 500. Both new and older model years have something great to offer, from high safety ratings to excellent performance. Its resale value is also good, only depreciating by 61% in five years, according to CarEdge.com.

Are Fiat 500s Reliable?

The Fiat 500 enjoys above-average reliability ratings, with some model years scoring better than others. RepairPal gave it a rating of 3.5 out of 5.0, ranking it 18th out of 21 subcompact cars in its category. Meanwhile, J.D. Power rated the Fiat 500 a 70/100.

On the other hand, US News & World Report ranked the 2019 Fiat 500 12th out of 13 subcompact cars, giving it a rating of 5.9 out of 10. With these figures, it’s apparent that with careful handling and regular maintenance, the Fiat 500 can easily enjoy a long service life.

Top Fiat 500 Problems

Although the Fiat 500 is one dependable car, it still has its fair share of problems. Here are the most commonly reported issues for different model years:

Suspension Issues

According to some owners of the 2015 Fiat 500, problems with its suspension system are common for the model year. Several drivers heard clunking noises after going over bumps, hitting the brakes, or going around the curb. In some cases, their car also bucked wildly after hitting potholes.

When they took their vehicle to the dealer, most of them learned that the right shock was blown out and the left shock was worn out because of it. They had to have both shocks replaced with a new set to resolve this problem.

Steering Problems

Steering problems are among the most reported 2013 Fiat 500 problems. Many owners have complained that their car produces odd noises when they’re turning. Most of them had to replace their steering column to fix their ride.

2013 Fiat 500 Lounge Wikimedia
Steering problems are among the most reported 2013 Fiat 500 problems. Image source: Wikimedia.

Meanwhile, several drivers had to deal with a faulty lower steering column shroud, which they had to replace to restore their car’s superb steering. As of this writing, Fiat has not issued any official recalls to fix these steering problems.

Many owners of the 2013 Fiat 500 also experienced problems with the wiring in their vehicle’s steering column. In fact, in June 2014, Fiat issued a recall on a number of models that had wiring that was prone to premature wear. This means that the wiring could cause electrical failure anytime, increasing the risk for road accidents.

Engine Problems

Many owners of the 2013 Fiat 500 complained about a variety of engine problems. Some of them noticed that the check engine light activated after having the oil changed.

Several 2013 Fiat 500 drivers also had to deal with engine exhaust problems. Most of them were able to resolve the issue by getting an engine valve replacement.

Some owners experienced having the low oil pressure warning light come on even though the oil level was fine. Sometimes, their check engine light would illuminate while they’re driving at 65 mph. Afterward, their engine would emit white smoke.

Affected 2013 Fiat 500s may also exhibit a sudden loss of power. More often than not, only an engine replacement can fix this issue.

Fortunately, Fiat issued several recalls and technical service bulletins to resolve most of these dangerous engine problems.

Interior Accessory Troubles

Some owners of the 2012 Fiat 500 have complained about problems with their car’s interior accessories.

2012 Fiat 500 Interior Wikimedia
Some owners of the 2012 Fiat 500 have complained about problems with their car’s interior accessories. Image source: Wikimedia.

These problems include the clock running fast and not keeping time accurately, the key getting stuck in the ignition, the odometer blinking, and the phone system not working. Many drivers have also reported that their seats’ forward recline lever was faulty and their power door locks would fail or only work intermittently.

Despite the wide variety of complaints about the 2012 Fiat 500’s interior accessories, Fiat has yet to issue a recall for any of these problems.

Bad Pressure Plate

Many owners of the 2012 Fiat 500 have had problems with their vehicle’s clutch pedal and pressure plate. The issues can occur in vehicles with as little as 24,000 miles on the clock.

When they reportedly try shifting into 4th gear, the clutch pedal sticks to the floor, keeping them from shifting gears. In some cases, the clutch would start slipping under load of acceleration. This can happen as early as 16,000 miles.

When the owners brought their cars to the dealer for a diagnosis, most of them found that the clutch leaf springs that hold the clutch against the flywheel are weak. This allowed the clutch to slip under load. Unfortunately, despite these complaints, Fiat has not issued any recalls to resolve them.

Premature Ball Joint Wear

According to some owners of the 2012 Fiat 500, problems with the ball joint are common for some model units. The ball joints in some units are prone to premature wear because they were not fully pressed into the lower control arms. Replacing the upper control arms and the worn-out ball joints usually resolved this problem.

If you’re in the market for a Fiat 500, be prepared to embrace the good and the potential bad. As long as you know the issues that the specific model year you’re planning to get may have, buying it should come with little risk. Knowing what to watch out for will also help you avoid costly repairs through preventive maintenance, so you can maximize the service life of your subcompact car.

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