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The Fiat 500 Years To Avoid

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Red Fiat 500

Source: Pixabay

The Fiat 500, a compact car that’s as charming as it is practical, has made a name for itself in the automotive world. Known for its distinctive Italian design and efficient performance, it’s a vehicle that offers both style and substance. As a compact car, it’s known for its fuel efficiency, maneuverability, and distinctive style, making it an attractive option for city jaunting and those looking for a car with personality.

If you’re looking for a used compact car, the Fiat 500 offers unmistakable retro charm and taut handling in an affordable package. In terms of cost-effectiveness, the Fiat 500 tends to depreciate faster than some other models, which means you can often find used models at attractive prices.

When buying a used Fiat 500, know that some years are less reliable than others. In fact, there are a few years any prospective buyers should avoid. In today’s post, we bring you some of the worst Fiat 500 years to avoid. Let’s get to it.

Which Fiat 500 Years To Avoid?

For reliability, the Fiat 500 has had some reported issues, particularly with electrical systems, powertrain, and other mechanical components. However, many of these issues can be mitigated with regular maintenance and prompt attention to any problems. With that said, below are the Fiat 500 years to avoid when buying used:

  • 2012 Fiat 500
  • 2013 Fiat 500
  • 2015 Fiat 500
  • 2019 Fiat 500


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2012 Fiat 500

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has recorded 377 complaints and four recalls regarding the 2012 Fiat 500. Perhaps the prominent sore spot of the 2012 Fiat is its transmission system. Below are some of the reported transmission-related issues of the 2012 Fiat 500:

  • Clicking noise: Some owners have reported a clicking noise from the transmission. The cause and solution for this issue are not specified.
  • Downshifting hard at slow speeds: There have been reports of the car downshifting hard when driving at slow speeds – a sign of transmission wear or a malfunctioning transmission control module.
  • Erratic shifting: Some Fiat 500 owners have experienced erratic shifting, possibly due to various factors, including a defective transmission control module, worn transmission components, or software issues.
  • Pressure plate failure: There have been reports of pressure plate failure, which can cause shifting issues and lead to transmission damage if not addressed.
  • Won’t gear correctly: There have been reports of the car not shifting into gear. This could be due to a faulty clutch, damaged transmission linkage, or other transmission issues.

Electrical issues are also widely reported for the 2012 Fiat 500. For instance, There have been reports of the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) light coming on and fuses blowing, which potentially indicates an issue with the vehicle’s stability control system. In some complaints, Fiat 500 owners have reported problems with the starter motor failing to engage.

2013 Fiat 500

Unfortunately, the following Fiat 500 year was another bad one for the compact car. The 2013 Fiat 500 has been met with mixed reviews with regard to reliability. According to Consumer Reports, the model has poor reliability, with a dismal score of 1.0 out of 5.0 and a customer satisfaction score of 2.0 out of 5.0.

Edmunds users have also shared their experiences, with one 2013 Fiat 500 Abarth owner expressing satisfaction with the car’s performance, fuel efficiency, and overall reliability. However, they noted that visibility can be a challenge, and the turning radius is not as tight as they would like. Some owners praised its fuel efficiency and fun-to-drive nature, while some complained about issues regarding the vehicle’s body integrity and power equipment.

Also, most of the NHTSA complaints still revolve around the troublesome powertrain. One disgruntled owner recounted the incident where the stick shift of their 5-speed manual transmission car broke suddenly while reversing, leaving their car stuck in reverse.


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2015 Fiat 500

The 2015 model is one of the worst Fiat 500 years to avoid due to its questionable reliability ratings and poor crash test scores. Consumer Reports says the 2015 Fiat 500 succeeds with its cute, retro look, good fuel economy, and fun-to-drive personality. However, the consumer advocate website also listed some downsides, including the tight rear seat, the noisy cabin, and the stiff ride.

Moving over to the NHTSA, the category that received the most number of complaints is the powertrain, with 28 filed reports. There are multiple reported issues against the Fiat’s automatic transmission, including rough shifting, failure to shift, and inability to reverse shift.

As for the aforementioned poor crash test scores, the NHTSA and Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) have conducted their tests for the 2015 Fiat 500. The NHTSA gave this model average to above-average scores but did poorly on the Front Passenger Side tests.

On the other hand, the IIHS provides a more detailed overview of the 2015 Fiat 500’s crash test performance. In the small overlap front driver-side test, the 2015 Fiat 500 received a “Poor” rating – revealing that the driver’s survival space was not maintained well during the crash. Conversely, the 2015 Fiat 500 scored “Good” for the rest of the categories.

2019 Fiat 500

Lastly, the 2019 iteration is another of the worst Fiat 500 years to avoid. Although there are no widely available data on the 2019 Fiat 500’s reliability, there are some issues and areas of concern to keep in mind.

According to U.S. News, the 2019 Fiat 500 belongs near the bottom with a #12 rank out of 13 subcompact cars. While it was praised as a good city commuter and for its engaging Abarth model, this Fiat also had many glaring drawbacks like the low-rent cabin, cramped passenger space, and poor predicted reliability ratings.


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Car and Driver gave the 2019 Fiat 500 a low rating of 4.0 out of 10, citing its charm and personality as positives but criticizing its cramped seating, underwhelming performance, and outdated technology. Additionally, the NHTSA has issued a recall for this model due to a potential risk of the shifter breaking during driving, which could lead to accidents.

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