Fiat 500 excessive tire wear

I bought a 2012 Fiat 500 Sport manual transmission in October 2011. I put on around 2,000 miles/month mostly commuting to work. In August 2012, I took it to be inspected and the tires would not pass inspection (NH). I replaced the tires (Continentals) in September 2012. I brought it to the dealer in February 2013 for a couple warranty things and they told me the tires were shot. I was shocked. The dealer kept it, checked some things out and ended up replacing the rear axle, putting on four new tires (Pirellis) all no charge, and even paid for my rental car. In May when I had the oil changed, they said the tire wear looked fine. I did not have them rotated but probably should have. By August, at inspection time, the tires almost did not pass. In January, I needed a left bearing replaced and put four new tires on (Continentals). My mechanic and I decided on a rotation schedule of 5,000 miles. If this doesn’t work to get more than 8 months out of these tires, I will be ready to get rid of the car even though I do love it in every other way. My questions: Have any other Fiat 500 owners experienced this (what I feel is rapid) tire wear? Does 5,000 miles between rotations seem appropriate? Any other advice to get more out of my tires? I bought the car for the gas mileage, which is great, but tire replacement and rotation is eating into any gas savings I get!

How many miles on the car at each tire change?

Do you know what the treadwear rating was on the tires? My car originally came from the factory with Continentals (were replaced by the time I got the car) and looking at, everyone hated them and complained about rapid wear. Pirellis are also known to use a softer rubber compound that gives great grip but wears fast. (at least some of their tires, maybe not all)

If you have to replace the tires again, out of your own pocket, I would go on and look at user reviews for tires that will fit your car. You can even find reviews specific to your car for the tires you’re looking at. Then look for the best price you can find, either with them or a local vendor. I’m kind of partial to Michelins myself. They are great on my 300C and the best set of tires I’ve had on any car.

Try taking it to a good independent tire/alignment shop and have the alignment looked at. I’ve had experiences with dealer service departments that were completely clueless with tire problems, like the one that left my dad’s tires at 15 PSI three times.

And the curse of the Fiat returns! This isn’t surprising to those of us old enough to remember Fiat’s last adventure in the US market. Far too many Fiat owners were victims of that “adventure.” The posters here have valid suggestions, check the treadwear rating of your tires and rotate regularly.

I see that the dealer replaced your rear axle AND gave you a new set of tires. I also see that you’ve had a wheel bearing replaced already… likely before 100,000 miles? You may want to trade this puppy in before the really expensive stuff starts.

The Continentals that came on my Toyota Matrix were, putting it politely, crap.
They quickly wore down on the inside edge even though alignment was well within spec.
At 15k I had them flipped over on the rims to move the inside edge to the outside edge.
From there they wore evenly, but were near the wear bars and noisy at 25k miles.
I replaced them with Yokohamas and at 21k miles they are less than 1/2 worn, evenly.

I am empathetic with the OP, but we are dealing with a relative lack of information.

For instance, how often does she check her tire pressure?
If the answer is…“never”…or…".the dealership is supposed to do that for me"…then we probably have at least a partial answer to the problem. Translation=all tires lose some pressure as time goes on, and failure to maintain adequate tire pressure at all times leads to greatly increased tread wear.

Also…were the original tires ever rotated?
If not, there is another probable cause of rapid/uneven tire wear.

Was the wheel alignment ever checked?
If not, then that is the most likely cause of rapid or uneven tread wear.

What type of wear patterns did you observe on the tire treads?
In other words…were they evenly worn across the width of the tread, or were they more worn in the center, or were they more worn at the edges, or did they have a “wavy” wear pattern?

What were/are the numerical tread wear ratings on the original tires and the replacement tires?
This info can be found on the sidewall of the tire, and–in most cases–original equipment tires are rated very poorly as to tread wear.

I think that the best overall advice given so far is what doubleclutch recommended:
“Try taking it to a good independent tire/alignment shop and have the alignment looked at. I’ve had experiences with dealer service departments that were completely clueless with tire problems”

Can the OP please respond with answers to the questions that I posed above?

You say you bought this car for gas mileage, but if you also bought it for it;s spirited handling and drive it like a sports sedan the tire wear is understandable. If ,however, you drive it like an economy car, the tire life is pretty bad.

I’m guilty of not checking tire pressure regularly (although for a while the “low tire” warning came on several times so they did get checked then) but thanks for the finger wag, I will now put that on my list of things to do regularly. As I mentioned, I put around 2000 miles a month on the car, so the first problem at 10 months would be 20,000 miles. Can’t remember if the original set was ever rotated, will have to check my receipts. I have a great local mechanic I work with, I only went to the dealer for a couple faulty parts replacements (arm rest, e.g.) and because a new Fiat dealer opened up closer to me than where I bought the car and I wanted to hang in the “studio” for a while. The dealer has been very helpful and good to work with. I believe the tires were more worn in the center, referred to as “chopped.” Interesting that some said he/she rotated center-worn tires and they evened out–the dealer rotated this last worn set and took it for a drive and it was so unpleasant (noisy I assume) that they rotated them back before they gave it back to me. The car is currently at 58,000 miles. Right rear bearings replaced at around 48,000 miles when I took it to the dealer before the warranty expired. Left bearing needed replacement a few thousand miles later. Don’t know if bearings are one of those “replace one side, replace the other at the same time” kinds of things.
Hope that answers some questions. thanks for the feedback. I’ve heard all the “Fix It Again Tony” comments but I do love this car. It now has its own credit card…

Oldtimer11, explain your comment “bought it for spirited handling but drive it like a sedan” and how that would relate to tire wear. I ask because often when I mention this problem to people, I am accused of driving aggressively. Which brings me to another question I have had–does using or not using the “sport” mode have any impact on tire wear? My 90-mile r/t commute to work involves about half nice winding roads…

20,000 miles is typical for performance tires, especially factory tires. Nothing wrong with 20k. And you’re near 60k miles now, so you’re about right to need your 3rd set, the extra set is due to mechanical problems, lack of rotation, and underinflation. Fix all that, put on a set of Michelins that have good tire wear ratings and you might get 30k, 40k, possibly more.

REAR bearings at 48K?? Wow that is really early. The rear of this car is very light, those bearings aren’t working very hard. Budget for another pair at 90K.

20K from performance tires is not that terrible but rotation every oil change will help a lot. There are alternative tires that will provide better life at the cost of handling. If you aren’t attacking the mountain twistys every weekend, you’ll never know the difference.

As others have said, the Continental tires that come on some new cars are mediocre at best and downright crappy at worst. Go to and find some better tires. Others have suggested Michelin and Yokohama. Read user reviews and survey results. Then buy a set of highly rated tires…not what some tire salesman wants to sell you.

Did the new axle come with new wheel bearings or did they reuse your originals? If they reused the originals, I bet they were bad because of the faulty axle.

‘explain your comment “bought it for spirited handling but drive it like a sedan” and how that would relate to tire wear.’

If you have a “spirited” driving style, that would definitely increase tire wear, especially on the outer edges of the tread. In the old days, some folks used to say that if your tires were wearing evenly, that meant that you weren’t cornering hard enough. ;-))

No, driving in “sport mode” does not have anything to do with tire wear, but driving on a lot of curvy roads does–especially if the tires were underinflated as a result of lax attention to inflation pressure. However, if the tires were more worn in the center, that would seem to indicate tires that were overinflated! (A lot of the information being provided seems to be at least somewhat contradictory!) If the tread had a “chopped” wear pattern, that could indicate tires that are not balanced properly, or it could indicate excessive wear of front end components. On a car with relatively low odometer mileage, I think that tire imbalance is more likely.

And, finally, texases has provided some very good advice.
Buy a set of Michelins with high tread wear ratings, rotate them on a consistent basis, check your tire pressure at least once a month, and do a visual check of the treads every time that you check the tire pressure. If you observe uneven tread wear, have a 4-wheel alignment done promptly. That type of regimen should give you MUCH better tire longevity.

Thanks everyone, we’ll see how it goes!

Do you live in a location that has a lot of pot holes? And does your car seem to veer towards them? When I lived in Colorado esp in the winter there were huge pot holes and I managed to seem to hit every single one. There was one time I stopped to survey the damage after hitting a pothole and found 30 hubcaps off to the side of the road. At least I wasn’t the only one!

Anyway, I’m thinking you need to be more pro-active about monitoring the tire wear. If any uneven wear starts to appear – often it would be due to hitting a pothole, causing something in the suspension to bend or become displaced – then take your Fiat to the alignment shop asap and get it fixed. While it may increase your alignment and suspension expenses, it should lower your tire expenses. Hopefully on the net your wallet will benefit.

Also, consult with Consumer Reports – their tire report and ratings – on which are the best tires for your car.

Some lightweight front wheel drive cars are prone to tire cupping in the rear tires. Performing tire rotations as per the maintenance schedule should prevent wear patterns from developing.

I question if your old tires were worn to minimum tread depth or were no longer usable do to severe cupping?

Cupped tires are noisy and the noise is sometimes misdiagnosed as failing wheel bearings. It appears that when the wheel bearing and rear axle were replaced so were the tires. I suspect they were tring to correct a noise and ultimately had to replace the tires.

Yes on the cupping. They replaced the tires, took it for a test and the noise was still present thus the bearing replacement.
And yes, sadly, on the potholes. In fact, I was a little bummed when I realized I had just gotten four new tires and a front end alignment right at the start of pothole/frost heave season. I try to avoid them but sometimes it’s a toss up between a pothole or a head-on collision so I choose the pothole…
And, yes, serious tire monitoring and more frequent rotation underway. I’ve had to quit my job to pay more attention to my car.

Checking tire pressure while good habit is the way of the dodo now with TMPS. I have the high tech car for 2007(MDX) which the majority of it has trickled to a Civic now . The TMPS that includes individual tire pressures for each tire in a multi purpose display.


My wife commuting about 1500 miles/month same state manages about 50k+ out of performance tires (W-rated) rated for 40k-50k. She drives between 15MPH to 80MPH on highway with it daily. She corners spiritly with car in full boost when kids are absent. Tire models include factory RE92a’s, Nokian WR G2, and Conti ExtremeContact DWS. Interestingly the alignment has been checked 3 times at tire replacement and never been adjusted and we have 165,000 miles!

Something is arry with OP’s car but maybe dealer corrected.