These Are The Worst Fiat 500 Years to Avoid and Common Reliability Problems

Patrick Oziegbe
Updated On:

If you’re looking for a mini or a small compact car that’s stylish and fun to drive, the Fiat 500 might have caught your attention.

But before you purchase, it’s important to know that not all model years are equal. Some have been labeled as “Never Buy” by Consumer Reports due to various issues.

So, which years should you avoid? Keep reading to find out and ensure your Fiat 500 experience is positive.

Fiat 500 years to avoid

Fiat 500 Model Years to Avoid

As a Fiat 500 enthusiast, it’s essential to know which model years to avoid due to various issues. This section discusses the problems associated with the 2012, 2013, 2014, 2018, and 2019 Fiat 500 models.

2012 Fiat 500

The 2012 Fiat 500 is considered the worst model year due to many problems reported, particularly concerning its electrical system. Some common issues with the 2012 model include:

  • Faulty power steering
  • Alternator failures
  • Premature battery drain

Avoiding this model year because of these reliability concerns and higher repair costs is best.

2013 Fiat 500

While the 2013 Fiat 500 is not as problematic as the 2012 model, it still has its issues, particularly for the Abarth 500 variant.

The 2012 and 2013 Abarth models have been reported to have problematic turbos and a tendency to leak.

2014 Fiat 500

The 2014 Fiat 500 model also has some reported issues, though less numerous than in previous years. Some of the problems mentioned include:

  • Transmission issues
  • Clutch failures

However, it’s worth noting that this model year has fewer complaints than the 2012 and 2013 Fiat 500s.

2018 Fiat 500

The 2018 Fiat 500 has significantly fewer problems reported than earlier models. It falls under the best years for the Fiat 500. Still, it is essential to be aware that it may have the following issues:

  • Air conditioning system malfunctions
  • Exterior cosmetic defects

2019 Fiat 500

Similarly, the 2019 Fiat 500 model year is considered one of the best years, with the least customer complaints.

However, this model year also saw a significant decline in sales, which may be a point of consideration when evaluating its long-term support.

As a potential Fiat 500 owner, being aware of these issues will help you make a more informed decision when purchasing or maintaining your vehicle.

Common Issues and Complaints

In this section, we’ll go over some of the common issues and complaints reported by drivers of the Fiat 500. We’ll break it down into three main sub-sections: Drivetrain, Rust, and Tailgate.


The Fiat 500 has had a few reported drivetrain-related problems, including:

  • Steering clunking, popping, or knocking noise
  • Overheating engine
  • Constant oil warning light

It’s essential to be aware of these issues and address them as soon as they arise to keep your Fiat 500 running smoothly.


While rust isn’t a widespread issue, some Fiat 500 models have been reported to experience premature rusting. It can often occur in the following areas:

  • Wheel arches
  • Door sills
  • Underbody components

To minimize the risk of rust on your Fiat 500, keep your car clean and regularly inspect these areas for any signs of corrosion.


Another common issue with the Fiat 500 is related to the tailgate. Many owners have reported problems such as:

  • Difficulty closing or opening the tailgate
  • Noisy operation
  • Misaligned seal

You’ll be better prepared to keep your Fiat 500 in optimal condition by staying vigilant regarding these common issues.

Reliability and Maintenance

Repair Costs

Generally above-average in reliability, some years tend to have more issues than others.

To help keep repair costs down, you should stay informed about common problems and recalls. A great resource for this information is Consumer Reports.

Oil Changes

For the Fiat 500, regular oil changes are an important aspect of proper maintenance. The recommended oil change intervals may vary depending on your model and engine type.

As a rule of thumb, aim for an oil change every 5,000 miles or every six months, whichever comes first.

Changing the oil in your Fiat 500 is essential for maintaining the engine’s performance and longevity. Regular oil changes can also help improve fuel efficiency and reduce potential repair costs.

Recalls and Safety Concerns

Fiat 500 has had its fair share of recalls and safety concerns. In this section, we’ll discuss some of the most significant issues that have affected various Fiat 500 models to help you make an informed decision when considering a used Fiat 500.

As of September 2020, there have been five recalls for a variety of problems, including:

  • Inability to shift through gears
  • Transmission shifts to neutral on its own
  • Sudden loss of stopping power

Among all Fiat 500 model years, the 2012 and 2013 models are the least desirable due to the highest number of recalls across all Fiat 500 cars.

The most common problems with the Fiat 500 include issues with the tire pressure placard, faulty transmission, etc.

You should also know about Technical Service Bulletins (TSBs) issued for certain 2016 Fiat 500 models.

These bulletins cover parts that may be faulty but don’t compromise the vehicle’s safety. For example, the tire placard for some 2016 models shows a tire inflation pressure for the spare tire that exceeds its maximum working pressure.

For more information on recalls, issues, and complaints related to the Fiat 500, websites like CarComplaints can help you better understand potential problems with specific model years. Be sure to research properly before making your decision.

Remember, owning a car is a major investment, and understanding the recalls and potential safety concerns of any vehicle you consider buying is essential.

Fiat 500 EV

The Fiat 500e is an electric version of the popular Fiat 500. Launched in 2013, it was one of the earlier EVs on the market.

While it might have piqued your interest due to its compact size and distinctive design, there are some points you should know before making a decision.

One of the main concerns with the Fiat 500e is its discontinuation in North America. This means you may face difficulties finding parts, servicing, or getting support for your vehicle should any issues arise.

Even Fiat Chrysler CEO Sergio Marchionne once requested that buyers avoid purchasing this model.

In terms of range, the 500e may not meet your expectations if you’re looking for an electric vehicle capable of long-distance driving.

With an estimated range closer to 150 miles, as detailed by Consumer Reports, you might find it limiting for extended road trips or living in an area with limited charging infrastructure.

Regarding reliability and safety, the Fiat 500 electric achieved a four-star rating of a maximum possible five in a Euro NCAP crash test.

While this is a reasonable score, it’s worth noting that other EVs on the market have achieved better ratings in the same category.

Depreciation and Resale Value

On average, when new, Fiat 500 models depreciate 27 percent in the first three years. It’s important to remember that, like most cars, the Fiat 500 experiences the most significant depreciation within the first 18 months.

One way to get a more accurate estimate of the Fiat 500’s depreciation and resale value is to apply factors such as vehicle age at purchase, annual mileage, and time kept.

Keeping solid records of regular maintenance can demonstrate responsible car ownership and potentially maintain a higher resale value, according to Kelley Blue Book.

But let’s dive a little deeper:

  • After five years, a Fiat 500 is reported to depreciate by 50 percent, with a resale value of around $9,086. However, this may vary depending on trim level and condition.

To help minimize your Fiat 500’s depreciation, consider the following tips:

  • Maintain your car regularly: Keep up with scheduled maintenance, such as oil changes, tire rotations, and inspections.
  • Keep accurate records: Retain receipts and documentation for any work performed on your vehicle, as this can assure potential buyers of the care you’ve provided.
  • Choose a popular trim level: Certain trim levels are more in-demand and can yield a better resale value.
  • Avoid unnecessary modifications: Aftermarket modifications can decrease the resale value, as future buyers may not desire them.

Comparing to Other Subcompact Cars

This section will compare the Fiat 500 to the Ford Fiesta, BMW Mini, and Volkswagen Jetta.

Ford Fiesta

The Ford Fiesta is a popular choice in the subcompact car category. It offers agile handling, an attractive interior, and efficient engine options.

The Fiesta’s fuel efficiency ranges from 27 to 37 miles per gallon, giving you more miles per tank than the Fiat 500, which gets between 28 and 33 miles per gallon.

The Fiesta’s performance is also slightly better, providing a more powerful engine without sacrificing fuel economy. While the overall cost of ownership might be similar, the Fiesta has a better reputation for reliability.

BMW Mini

Another rival of the Fiat 500 is the BMW Mini, which has a more upscale feel and design. The Mini’s stylish interior and sporty driving experience make it an attractive option for those who want a small car with a premium touch.

However, the Mini also comes with a higher price tag and may not be as reliable as the Fiat 500 or Ford Fiesta. Regarding fuel efficiency, the Mini achieves similar mileage to the Fiat 500, reaching up to 28 cities and 37 highway miles per gallon.

Volkswagen Jetta

Though it’s slightly larger than the other cars in this comparison, the Volkswagen Jetta offers a blend of refined driving dynamics and excellent fuel economy.

It achieves up to 30 city and 40 highway miles per gallon, surpassing the Fiat 500’s mileage. The Jetta also provides a more spacious interior and trunk space, accommodating passengers and cargo more comfortably.

Considering these different subcompact cars, consider your priorities, such as fuel efficiency, interior quality, and reliability.

The Fiat 500 offers a unique style and urban convenience, and its competitors might provide better all-around packages in some aspects, like the Ford Fiesta’s performance, the BMW Mini’s upscale feel, or the Volkswagen Jetta’s practicality and fuel economy.


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