Reviews

Fiat 500 Reliability

The Cinquecento comes to the states.

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BY The Drive Staff / LAST UPDATED ON March 16, 2021

Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images News

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Everything’s better with a little Italian in your life. Well, maybe not everything. Marinara on a bagel probably wouldn’t be good, but when the Italians get together and bring something new over to the States, it’s usually cause for celebration. And that’s what happened when the Fiat 500 arrived in 2010. 

The pint-sized hatchback was nearly identical to its European counterpart and revived the brand in the U.S. after a long absence. Since then, it’s drawn in a small but noteworthy group of customers. That also means that there’s a ton of data on the Fiat 500’s reliability. 

If you’re in the market for a new car or are already looking at the Fiat 500, look no further for all the information you’ll need to make the best purchasing decision, as The Drive’s put it all together in one convenient spot. Learn all about the 500’s past below.

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What Makes a Reliable Brand?

Reliability depends on a host of variables, but the two biggest structural supports are the development and manufacturing of a vehicle. When auto manufacturers spend the time and money developing a car and its manufacturing line, a car tends to last longer. Hastily designed, poorly manufactured, and cheaply constructed materials will all reduce a car’s longevity and reliability.

There’s also a work ethic variable that cannot be ignored. Honda and Toyota’s cultures of reliability-over-all embody that ethic and have thus kept each’s legendary reliability in the minds of consumers for decades. Lexus spent 15 years creating the perfect paint, for goodness’ sake. Add longer-than-normal warranties and good customer service, and it’s easy to see why these Japanese companies have enjoyed their strong standings for so long.

Yet, once a car leaves the dealership lot, outside factors impact a car’s durability.

What Impacts a Car’s Reliability

Short answer: you. The longer answer is a car’s reliability and longevity are inextricably tied to how you take care of your vehicle, your maintenance schedule (if you have one), your conservative or brash driving habits, and whether or not you live in climates where extreme weather could affect the car’s construction.

Preemptive maintenance like regular oil changes, fluid flushes, tire rotation, and fuel system cleaners, along with keeping the exterior and underside of your car clean, will all increase the life expectancy of your car. Keeping it out of the harsh desert or tropical sun, as well as away from the rust-inducing salted roadways of winter, will also extend its life.

And lastly, keeping the Mario Andretti driving antics to a minimum will keep your brakes, engine, tires, and chassis under-stressed and happy for far longer compared to hitting every trip to the grocery store like it’s the Indy 500. 

Fiat 500 Specs

Vehicle Type: Hatchback

Doors: 2

Engine options: 1.4-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder, EV

Total internal combustion range: 357 miles

Total EV range: 87

Is The Fiat 500 Reliable?

As detailed above, reliability is generally something that depends on the person, the car, and the situation, so we can’t make a definitive statement that the Fiat 500 is reliable or unreliable. 

To better assess its reliability, however, we’ve assembled several data points from numerous sources to present you with as much information as possible. Let’s start with common problems, as told by comments listed in the 500’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) archives.

The 500’s NHTSA History

As collected by the NHTSA, these are the 500’s issues throughout the years.

2020

Recall: NA

Complaints: 0

2019

Recall: NA

Complaints: 1

2018

Recall: Shifter Shaft May Break

Complaints: 2

2017

Recall: Shifter Shaft May Break

Complaints: 7

2016

Recall: Shifter Shaft May Break, Incorrect Spare Tire Information/FMVSS 110, Clutch Diaphragm Spring May Fracture

Investigations: Air Bag ACU Electrical Overstress

Complaints: 11

2015

Recall: Shifter Shaft May Break, Clutch Diaphragm Spring May Fracture, Vehicle may Unexpectedly Shift into Neutral

Complaints: 71

2014

Recall: Shifter Shaft May Break, Clutch Diaphragm Spring May Fracture, Vehicle may Unexpectedly Shift into Neutral

Complaints: 116

2013

Recall: Shifter Shaft May Break, Shifter Cable Bushing May Detach From Transmission, Clutch Diaphragm Spring May Fracture, Vehicle may Unexpectedly Shift into Neutral

Complaints: 132

Common Fiat 500 Problems and Repair Costs

As with other car brands, not all 500 models are built to the same exacting standards. Here’s a quick rundown of problematic 500 offerings, including the issues, customer complaints, and repair costs that will help you make the best decision when purchasing your next car.

2012 Model Year: Pressure Plate Failure

Repair Costs: $1,130, according to CarComplaints.

Customer Complaint:

“2012 Fiat C, less than 16,000 miles owned by a 68 year old, babied, and the clutch starts to slip under load of acceleration. I've owned a dozen sticks over my life, never burned up a clutch. Even rebuilt stick shifts before. My diagnosis and dealer agreed, the clutch leaf springs that hold it against the flywheel are weak, allowing the clutch to slip under load. Now that is a design defect in my corner. Fun car, what a disappointment. Out or warranty of course..... $1250 later. Service was very nice, I blame this on Fiat Designers.” 

2015 Model Year: Turbo Compressor Failure

Repair Costs: $2,000, according to CarComplaints.

Customer Complaint:

“Car went to bob boyd fiat alfa romeo in Columbus originally they placed a restriction on the lifetime warranty due to a go fast bit diverter valve which they didn't prove caused to failure(violating Magnusson moss warranty act). Talk to attorney suggested to just get fixed would be cheaper then proving to a company they cant bully consumers. So had Crown fiat of Dublin do the repairs. They replaced the turbo, cleaned all intake hoses, cleaned the intercoolers, replaced spark plugs, did oil change and replaced oil filter, and replaced all oem parts. Had to call them to remind them to remove restriction was trying to tell me I had to go back to bob boyd and pay them to do a inspection to remove warranty restriction. Car was given back from crown fiat with a empty gas tank and mud around both doors on inside drive side door has paint scratches door to metal were they opened door into something and front bumper passenger side also has a deep scratch. Also several items were stolen from trunk of vehicle. The covers for the A pillars were warped and had clips broken on them.”

2012 Model Year: Ball Joint Failure

Repair Costs: $800, according to CarComplaints.

Customer Complaint:

“Just heard from mechanic and the ball joints were not fully pressed into the lower control arms. Will be contacting the department of highway safety along with sending them pictures. Let Fiat know the crap storm that is coming!”

JD Power Consumer Reliability Score

According to JD Power, this score, “Measures the level of defects, malfunctions and design flaws experienced by vehicle owners. Covers the entire vehicle from engine to infotainment system. A higher rating means fewer problems.” 

2018-2021: Not Yet Rated (NYR)

2017: 70/100

2016: 66/100

2015: 74/100

2014: NA/100

2013: NA/100

2012: 71/100

FAQs About the Fiat 500

You’ve got questions, The Drive has answers!

Q: Is The 500 Expensive To Maintain?

A: They can be, though again, that depends on how you treat it, how the previous owner treated it, and if you’ve followed the 500’s regularly scheduled maintenance. It’ll also depend on whether or not the 500 you purchased is an early model or one built later into production. 

Q: Is a 500 High Maintenance?

A: That depends on the production date and, more importantly, if you or the previous owner followed its regularly scheduled maintenance and treated it with care or like a used newspaper. 

Q: How Many Miles Does a 500 Last?

A: According to Consumer Reports, new cars are all designed to exceed 8 years or about 200,000 miles. However, individual mileage may vary based on, as stated above, how you treat your car. 

Q: Are Repairs Expensive on the 500?

A: As with all repairs, it depends on the part affected. If it’s deep within the engine, it could be quite expensive. If it’s a loose body panel, likely not.  

Video

EXTENDED WARRANTY COVERAGE MORE … FOR LESS

Endurance

Save $350 on an Endurance warranty plan with coupon code: DRIVE350

Going with a factory extended warranty is a good option for basic protection, but you can get more and save more with Endurance, ranked the top extended warranty provider by Consumer Advocates, Consumer Affairs, and Retirement Living.

Get a Free Quote

Save $350 with coupon code: DRIVE350

<br>

CarShield

CarShield — USA’s #1 Auto Protection Provider

CarShield pays claims directly to a US or Canadian ASE-Certified® repair facility of your choice. Our contracts have low or no deductibles to prevent stress to your wallet at a critical time. Never worry about being stranded somewhere after a breakdown. All of our vehicle repair contracts include towing services to transport you and your vehicle to a safe repair facility.

Get a Free Quote

<br>

Carchex

Nationwide coverage for cars new and old

CARCHEX has something for everyone. Have an old car? No problem. Live in California? Not an issue. CARCHEX 's plethora of warranty plans includes options for cars up to twenty years old with up to 250,000 miles, regardless of any existing or expired warranties. Click below or call 1-877-207-3304 for a free quote.

Get a Free Quote