Fiat 500 Problems: 14 Most-Common Issues (Explained)

The Fiat 500, a compact car with a retro design, has gained a reputation for its unique style and agile handling.

However, there are some common issues that have surfaced for owners of this vehicle over the years.

Let’s dive into it.

The Main Problems

Wiring Harness Defects

A problem with the wiring harness fitted to Fiat 500s manufactured between September 12, 2011, and July 8, 2014, can lead to failures in both interior and exterior lighting of the vehicle.

Owners should verify if their car is affected by this issue and take the necessary steps for resolution.

Shifter Shaft Breakages

Some Fiat 500 models may experience issues with their shifter shaft breaking, as seen in the 2018 recall. This problem can create difficulties when trying to shift gears, potentially causing dangerous situations while driving.

Interior Accessories Complaints

Though no recall has been issued, many 2012 Fiat 500 owners have reported problems with interior accessories.

Issues in this category can be wide-ranging, with the possibility of impacting user experience and comfort.

Clutch Pressure Plate Issues

One of the primary issues experienced by Fiat 500 owners is a bad clutch pressure plate. The clutch diaphragm spring can be prone to fracture and failure, which in turn causes an inability to change gears.

This problem is predominantly linked to 2012 – 2016 models.

Acceleration Difficulties

Various Fiat 500 models have been reported to experience acceleration problems. These issues can manifest as an inability to increase speed while the engine continues to rev or being unable to move from a complete stop after hitting a red light.

Fortunately, these problems might not always be related to the transmission, and a proper diagnosis can lead to relatively easy fixes.

Problem Affected Models
Clutch Pressure Plate Issues 2012 – 2016
Wiring Harness Defects September 12, 2011 – July 8, 2014
Shifter Shaft Breakages 2018
Interior Accessories Complaints 2012
Acceleration Difficulties Various Models

Other Smaller Problems With Fiat 500

The Fiat 500 has experienced various other issues in addition to the more common problems mentioned earlier.

Below is a brief overview of these issues to help shed light on possible challenges Fiat 500 owners may encounter:

  • Interior accessories: Some owners of the 2012 Fiat 500 have reported issues with the car’s interior accessories, such as malfunctioning power windows, problematic seat adjustments, or a temperamental sunroof.
  • Clutch pedal and pressure plate: Some vehicles with as few as 24,000 miles have experienced problems with the clutch pedal and pressure plate, causing them to wear down prematurely or operate inefficiently.
  • Diesel engine clutch pedal vibrations: Owners of diesel-engined Fiat 500 models have reported a vibrating clutch pedal at RPMs between 2500 and 3000.
  • TwinAir engine oil leakage: The 0.9-litre TwinAir engine in some Fiat 500s could be prone to oil leaking from the timing cover.
  • Acceleration problems: Several owners have reported difficulties with acceleration. These problems include the vehicle staying at a constant speed while the engine continues to rev, or not being able to move after a full stop.
  • Steering issues: Some Fiat 500 owners have experienced steering problems, often accompanied by a clunking, popping, or knocking noise when turning the steering wheel.
  • Shifter shaft concerns: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has reported issues with the shifter shaft in some years of the 500 model.
  • Timing belt malfunctions: There have been reports of the timing belt tensioner failing in some Fiat 500s, causing the belt to slip or even break.
  • Electrical issues: Some owners have encountered electrical problems with components like the air conditioning system or various sensors within the vehicle.

Bear in mind that while these issues have been reported, they do not affect every Fiat 500 on the road. Regular maintenance and proactive care can alleviate many of these concerns and help ensure a positive ownership experience.

General Pros and Cons with the Models

The Fiat 500 has been a popular choice for many car enthusiasts due to its iconic design and practical city driving features.

However, like any car, it has its pros and cons that should be considered when making a purchase decision. In this section, we will discuss the general pros and cons associated with various Fiat 500 models.


  • Iconic, retro styling
  • Fun to drive
  • Great for parking in tight spaces
  • Good fuel economy
  • Good handling
  • Great for city commuting
  • Abarth models are sporty and very fun to drive


  • Cramped seating space
  • Issues with interior accessories in some models
  • Bad pressure plate and clutch pedal problems
  • Slow acceleration in some models
  • Poor rear visibility performance

What’s the Resale Value?

The resale value of a Fiat 500 can vary depending on factors such as the trim level, model year, and mileage. Generally, the Fiat 500 experiences a depreciation in value over time, like most vehicles.

To give you an idea of its resale value, we have compiled a simple table with the prices and related information for a few used models.

Model year Mileage Price Depreciation
2013 50,000 $9,000 50% after 5 years
2015 30,000 $8,500 46% after 5 years
2017 20,000 $11,000 40% after 5 years

Keep in mind that this table provides a general overview and actual resale values may vary depending on the specific vehicle condition, location, and other factors.

It’s important to research and compare vehicles to ensure that you are getting a fair price for your chosen model.

What Do the Reviews Say?

The Fiat 500 has received mixed reviews from authoritative automotive websites.

Some common concerns have been raised regarding the car’s suspension and build quality.

Here is a quote:

“Not all 500 models are built to the same exacting standards.”

– The Drive (

It is important for potential buyers to carefully research the year and specific model of the Fiat 500 they’re considering due to these reported issues.

Does it have more problems than its competitors?

The Fiat 500 may have a reputation for encountering various issues; however, this reputation is not entirely warranted when compared to its closest competitors. Fiats, in general, are often considered more dependable than similar European city cars.

Here’s more on problems with the smart cars.

Among the problems faced by Fiat 500 owners are concerns with steering, which sometimes results in clunking, popping, or knocking noises while turning the wheel. This so-called ‘steering clunk’ issue is not exclusive to US models; however, it’s important to note that these occurrences might not necessarily be more frequent than with other cars in its class.

Fiat has acted on this issue by issuing several recalls and technical service bulletins to resolve these dangerous engine problems.

In conclusion, it would be unfair to state that the Fiat 500 has significantly more problems than its competitors. While it does face some specific issues, it remains in line with other cars in its class in terms of dependability and performance.

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