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Since its inception, the Fiat 500 has served as one of the best city cars with its small dimensions and equally-sized cost. The subcompact gained size, power, and features for its U.S. debut, but not enough to keep it around. Unfortunately, it was discontinued after the 2020 model year, living on through its crossover sibling, the Fiat 500X.

Despite its charisma, the Fiat 500 had plenty of issues. For Italophiles looking to bag a modern “cinquecento,” look out for six common faults, according to Engine Patrol.

Fault #1: Defective clutch pressure plate

Fiat 500 owners may experience difficulty engaging the clutch pedal or experience a lack of pressure when depressing the pedal. For manual transmission cars—particularly the 2012-2016 models—the clutch diaphragm spring was prone to fracture and failure. The National Highway Transportation and Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a recall in 2016. Solving the problem is as straightforward as replacing the part itself.

Fault #2: Steering shaft issues

Numerous Fiat 500 owners have lodged complaints detailing mechanical noises occurring when turning the steering wheel. The “clunking, popping, or knocking” noises on 2012-2015 models are not said to pose a danger to drivers, only an annoyance. In some instances, the issue can be remedied by greasing the slip joint of the steering shaft. However, others replaced the intermediate steering shaft, which matches the steering mechanisms with the transmission.

Fault #3: Incorrect tire pressure placard

Fiat 500
Fiat 500 | Tim Graham, Getty Images

For the 2015 model year 500, the tire placard indicates a tire inflation pressure for the spare tire that exceeds its maximum working pressure. Such an issue means owners could be unaware they are overinflating the tire, which could increase the crash risk. The NHTSA issued a recall, and Fiat added an information overlay on the tire placard.

Fault #4: Premature wear on suspension components

Another common issue in 2012-2015 Fiat 500s is “clanking and clunking noises,” mainly at the front of the car. Quick-wearing strut mounts that anchor the suspension to the vehicle’s body are to blame. The issue could also prematurely wear the shocks themselves. To solve the problem, the owners replaced the parts.

Fault #5: Interior problems

Poor build quality shows up everywhere, from keys stuck in the ignition to flashing panel lights to mysterious beeping noises. Owners have reported failing seat mechanisms, faulty Bluetooth, broken trim pieces, and a faster-than-normal clock, among others. These issues seem to occur in most Fiat 500 model years but are commonplace in the 2012 model. Engine Patrol says, “it’s best to pay a visit to the dealer” when they occur.

Fault #6: Refueling difficulties

Across all Fiat 500s made from 2011 to 2019, owners complain that the pump constantly clicks off when filling the tank with fuel. The issue occurs at various gas stations in near-countless pump nozzle positions. The solution, however, is less formal than the previous five. Reportedly, owners have successfully alleviated the annoyance by first taking out the rear seat. Then, “whacking” the top of the fuel tank rollover valve with the handle of a screwdriver. The valve occasionally gets stuck, blocking escaping gas or vapor.


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