Fiat denies design fault with its Fiat 500

Steering wheel shake problems begin at around 8,000 miles and become much worse by 26,000, it's been alleged

Fiat denies design fault with its Fiat 500
Spencer said that more Fiat 500 owners need to come forward before the issue is addressed properly.

A Fiat 500C convertible owner has been left shaken after the steering wheel in his new car began to vibrate when driven faster than 40mph just months after purchase.

The problem became so bad that Spencer Smart soon deemed his car “no longer driveable”.

He asked an independent garage to examine the car which, by now, had clocked up 9,000 miles and was nine months old.

The independent, who has not been named, said the condition of the vehicle was neither “reasonable or acceptable” for its age and that the fault was due to an inherent design flaw.

Fiat has declared that the “vibrations” are a “characteristic” of the model and refused to release Smart from his finance agreement.

There are 15,000 Fiat 500C convertibles on Britain’s roads and Spencer says that the problem only emerges on those with higher mileages.

He said: “I have driven four 500C convertibles of different ages and mileage at the dealer.

“The newest, with fewer than 600 miles on the clock, drove perfectly.

“Two cars with roughly 8,000 miles vibrated much the same as mine.

“A fourth, older 500C with 26,000 miles, was considerably worse.

“The Fiat engineer was present when I tried that car and mentioned it before I did.”

“I’ve spent days dealing with this, as in garage visits, engineer visits, etc – and countless hours on phone calls, emails and general grumbling.

“It wouldn’t be acceptable if a customer bought a new TV that became unwatchable over time because of a design fault. So why should car manufacturers, selling £16,000 products, treat their customers any differently?”

Fiat initially declined to respond in regard to the allegations of a manufacturing design fault but, after Guardian Money raised the case, Fiat agreed to replace his car with a hard top Fiat Abarth.

Spencer added: “Until more come forward, Fiat won’t address the issue properly.

“It shouldn’t take the Guardian’s involvement to get a large company like Fiat to treat its customers fairly, but I guess that’s the world we live in.”

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