Fiat has a lot to thank Roberto Giolito for. Were it not for him, Fiat would not be the brand it is today. Might not even be around. You see, Signore Giolito was the man who designed the Fiat 500 of 2007. It was his pen that came up with the ideal blend of curves and cuteness that would fly out of showrooms to this very day. Fiat could have been excused for saying: “You put your feet up now, Roberto, your work here is done.”
The design has been around with only minor tweaks for more than 15 years now, which means many cars are in the ‘affordable’ range. Better still, so are the spare parts, which is just as well because you might need a few of them.
Still, while the Fiat 500 is prone to the odd foible here and there, it’s pretty easy to repair, so why not save a whole load of cash by sorting it yourself? All you need is a bit of confidence and the Haynes 500 manual by your side. We’ll guide you through all the tips, tricks and techniques, so you’ll be back on the road with the minimum of expense before long.
What recalls has the Fiat 500 been subject to?
This might take a while because the Fiat 500 has been recalled a few times. Early cars were recalled because a steering column fixing bolt may not have threadlock applied, and it could come loose.
Then a number of cars were recalled because the rear brake backplate was incorrectly tightened. Faulty fuel manifolds (with attendant risk of fuel leakage) caused another recall, followed by 29130 cars being recalled because the wrong airbag could go off in a crash. A software update rectified this.
Then 91,448 cars were recalled because wiring could chafe against the steering column, causing all exterior lighting and the instruments to fail.
A faulty brake servo pipe caused another recall, then 271 cars were taken back to dealers because of a faulty fuel pump protection bracket.
Seatbelt anchorage links that were not to specification forced another recall, then so did front seat guides that were also not to spec, and which could allow seats to move in a collision.
Below-spec rear brake shoe material caused a recall in 2016, then the following year some cars had to have the power steering replaced. A faulty instrument cluster caused a recall in 2017, and the following year 164 cars were summoned to dealers because the right-side driveshaft could fail.
This seems like a lot of recalls, but bear in mind that the car has been on sale longer than most, and later models have been affected by some recalls that earlier models will have avoided.
What common problems does the Fiat 500 have?
Getting the sudden whiff of fuel while you’re driving along in your Fiat 500 is going to be a bit of a concern. Faulty fuel-injector seals are a common cause, and will need to be replaced.
A number of owners of diesel-engined Fiat 500 models have reported an issue that causes the clutch pedal to vibrate at between 2500 and 3000rpm.
If your Fiat 500 is fitted with the 0.9-litre TwinAir engine, then there’s a chance it could be prone to oil leaking from the timing cover.
Some owners have also reported that their Fiat 500 can make an unpleasant noise and start to vibrate when reversing. The cause is usually a faulty lower rear engine mount.
Exterior door handles are also the source of a common Fiat 500 problem, because the hinges at the front edge of the handle can break, making the handle difficult to use. The hinge must be replaced.
My Fiat 500 smells of fuel as I drive along. What’s wrong?
The odour of fuel is always a worry. Not only does it bring a possible risk of fire, but it also means that expensive liquid you’ve just shelled out a vast sum of money for is dripping on to the road, which is a bit of a waste.
The problem is that the seal on at least one of the fuel injectors has failed, so you’ll need to remove the injectors, then renew the injector seals (part number: 55215424), injector lines (part number: 55216332) and washers (part number: 55205036) before putting everything back together again.
The good news is that this whole procedure is covered in your Haynes 500 manual, from taking each component apart, to replacing the faulty bits and rebuilding the lot. Just follow the steps carefully and you’ll be fine. You’ll save money on a garage labour bill and in the fact that the precious liquid isn’t dripping onto the road.
Why is the clutch pedal vibrating in my Fiat 500?
A vibration from the clutch pedal is never a good thing, and it’s especially annoying in a car that has been designed to feel at home in the cut and thrust of inner-city traffic. But that’s what can happen in the Fiat 500 fitted with the 1.3 Multijet diesel engine.
The issue is a faulty clutch master cylinder supply pipe, and if you don’t fix it, you could end up having to use more force on the gearbox than you might like.
To resolve the problem, you’ll need to remove the battery and tray, remove some brake fluid from the reservoir, remove and replace the faulty pipe with a new one, then replace everything as it was. Again, we’ve already done this, so it’s a procedure in the Haynes 500 manual. Just follow the steps and all will be smooth very soon.
Does the Fiat 500 have oil-leak problems?
A fuel leak would be bad enough, but an oil leak can be worse. Why? Well, while a fuel leak will cost you a load of cash in lost fuel, and oil leak will do the same while putting the health of your Fiat 500’s TwinAir engine at risk.
That’s why it’s important to sort it as soon as you can.
The issue is poor sealing around the timing cover, and the job is straightforward enough. You’ll need to go through all the steps involved in removing the timing cover, before cleaning off all the old sealant from both the engine itself and the inside of the timing cover.
Then it’s a case of applying new sealant and refitting the timing cover.
We’ve covered this in some depth in the Haynes 500 manual, so just take your time and follow the steps.
If you want to know how to change the engine oil and filter in your Fiat 500, just watch our FREE video below.
Does your Fiat 500 vibrate when reversing?
It isn’t uncommon for the diesel-engined Fiat 500 to emit an unpleasant vibration noise at the same time as shuddering while carrying out a reversing manoeuvre.
Thankfully, the issue is nothing to do with the gearbox or clutch. Instead, it’s most commonly that the lower rear engine mount has begun to fail. The only option is to replace the mount.
You’ll need a sturdy trolley jack and a pair of axle stands for a start. So, raise the front of the vehicle and support it on the axle stands. This will allow access to the rear mount.
You’ll then need to support the engine on the trolley jack before unbolting the rear mount and replacing it with a new one.
This is a fairly simple task that should cause no problems for the home mechanic. Just follow the steps in your Haynes 500 manual.
Has the exterior door handle failed on your Fiat 500?
The exterior door handles on the Fiat 500 are a known weak spot. They have thin metal hinges at their front edges, and these hinges are known to become weak and prone to breaking over time.
Fortunately, these hinges are available as separate parts, so you’ll need to remove the door trim and weather shield, before removing the door handle from the door. This will allow you to replace the hinge in the door handle, before putting everything back the way it was.
As a point of note, if one hinge has broken, it’s quite likely that the other will fail soon after, so it’s worth taking the time to replace both at the one time.
The whole procedure to remove the handle is covered in your Haynes 500 manual, so don’t be intimidated – it’s easy!