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Fiat 500C 2013 No cold start, then rough idle

My 2013 Fiat 500C with 33k miles has gotten to a point where every morning the cart tries to start but dies, Thereafter the car will start and be fine for the day. The next morning same thing. So I took it to a Fiat dealer. They indicated nothing was wrong with car. They waited a day and they had the same no cold start but on second attempt starts and runs fine. They chose to change the spark plugs claiming Fiat recommends a change every 30k miles and the plugs were fouled. They also changed an O2 sensor and o-ring. They claimed success. We arrived on the weekend to collect the car (we live 90 miles from the Fiat dealer). Not only did the Fiat not cold start but on the second try the car would barely run seemingly only 2-3 plugs were firing. We left the car in disgust after paying $400 for the alleged repair. The next day (Monday) they started the car and agreed it was now worse off than when we left the car with them. They also claim there is nothing wrong with the car based on their sensor information but do agree something is causing the plugs to foul severely. It seems the mechanics can only fix what a diagnostic tells them as opposed to understanding how the engine works and fixing the problem. We are now waiting on a special diagnostic tool from Fiat to “see into the engine/” (They have had the car now 2 weeks.) What should I do? Obviously the plugs were not the problem…What financial settlement should be agreed upon? What do I do if the dealer gives up? Are Fiat 500C;s generally worn out after 4 years and 33k miles? Help!!!

Tighten the engine ground…that might fix it. This seems to be a common problem with these cars according to The Fiat 500 forum.

Not sure what you mean by that statement. The vehicle is four years old and most likely out of warranty. All they have to do is stand behind their work and try to fix the problem. In the meantime call repair shops close to you and ask if they think they can possibly fix it if the dealer gives up.

What I am saying is that the plugs were not the problem. They had no diagnostic information and chose to change the plugs and hoped it was a fix. As it was not a fix, perhaps I should have my old plugs put back in? Why should one pay for a items unrelated to the problem?

Because that’s the way the system usually works.


No, you shouldn’t.
Why should you pay? Because in trying to solve a problem, it’s often prudent to get the basics up to date. Often that fixes the problem, sometimes it doesn’t.

My personal first-check would be fuel related. It’s possible that your fuel line is losing pressure… and even fuel, while sitting overnight.

If you get the car back uncorrected, on the next cold start try turning the key to ON but not to START a few times for a few seconds each before turning the key to START. If that eliminates the symptom, that’d mean that the pump has refilled and pressurized the fuel line before trying to start the engine… confirming my suggestion as the cause. If that happens, you can get it fixed or simply build that extra step into your morning protocol.

Or, you could ask the shop not to try to start it tomorrow and you yourself stop by and try it. If it works, they might even appreciate your input.

Well, in my opinion, if they have not provided you with a free loaner car, then they should be paying for the cheapest rental car that is available, so that you don’t have to incur extra expense just to be able to get around while they try to figure out exactly what is wrong with your car. Other than a free loaner or payment for a rental car, I can’t envision any other type of “financial settlement”.

The dealership guys clearly aren’t adhering to the concept of “verify the repair” . . . if they had, they would have known their procedures did NOT fix the problem

In fact, it sounds like they didn’t even perform a proper diagnosis in the first place. Instead of diagnosing, they rolled the dice

Either they get their best guy on it . . . and who knows just how good he is . . . or maybe you should get the car properly diagnosed and repaired elsewhere. I’m envisioning an independent shop with middle-aged guys who work on all makes and are keen on retaining their good reputation as the “go to guys”

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Who knows what standards Fiat used when they were trolling for dealerships a few years ago?
I think back to the standards (ha!) that Datsun used when they first entered the US marketplace in the '60s, and I can tell you from personal experience that almost anyone who was willing to pay for a franchise got one.

The Datsun dealership nearest to us–which had previously been a “buy here, pay here” used car lot with the worst reputation in town–was somehow able to obtain–and retain–their Datsun franchise despite having NO service department other than an elderly man who washed the cars prior to delivery.

After my brother’s first wife decided to buy a Datsun SPL-311 from that dealership, we found out that their “service department” was a Gulf gas station a couple of blocks away. And, the guy who owned the Gulf station had never been trained on diagnosing and repairing Datsuns! Your car would be returned to you w/o the needed repairs being made, and when you complained to the two Mafioso brothers who ran the Datsun dealership, they made it very clear that it was not in your best interests to ever return to them for service.

Datsun/Nissan allowed those sleazebags to retain their franchise for at least 25 years. Perhaps Fiat has similarly low/non-existent standards for their franchisees.

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Good grief . . . !

“buy here, pay here” used car lots have a reputation for being among the most blood-thirsty and sleaziest of the bunch

I’m almost cringing thinking of the treatment the customers of this Datsun “dealership” received

Amazing that Datsun allowed them to hang onto the franchise for that long . . . did they sell lots of vehicles? I imagine because of their employees’ attitudes, the dealership guys didn’t spend much time on warranty repairs, which would be viewed as a good thing, from the corporate perspective.

I agree. They sell cars to people that they can’t afford, and then when the buyer defaults the seller immediately repos the car and puts it back up for sale… to someone else that can’t afford it. Ultimately, someone buys it who can afford it, but by then they’ve sold it two or three times… never reimbursing a dime.

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I agree with everything you said, but another thing sets them apart . . .

Their prices are WAY out of line with other places, that is when they even bother to list a price, and the cars are old, worn out and have high mileage

Even though their name may not be a dead give away . . . some of the names sound harmless enough . . . their prices, or lack thereof, might alert somebody that it’s best to shop elsewhere

In my opinion, these businesses serve to enrichen the owners, while exploiting people who are in a bad way, and haven’t done their homework. The business model is a gold mine, but at the expense of many people along the way

it’s amazing that a car that should be worth very little, due to its age and condition, could be so lucrative for a business

I feel that a lot of their customers WOULD shop elsewhere, if they’d done their homework and known what they were about to agree to. I suppose desperation can lead to poor decisions

If there is a niche, somebody will fill it

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I wholeheartedly agree, but I’d reword that to “if there’s a possibility of screwing the unwary, some crook will exploit it”.


I was trying to be diplomatic . . . because as of this moment, I believe there’s nothing illegal about the buy here pay here business model . . . but you were very blunt and accurate

But just because something is legal doesn’t necessarily mean it’s particularly moral.

I guess the lesson is “do your homework” and “read everything before signing”

I’m sure more than a few customers have been pressured to “Just sign here. Everything will be fine”

Thank you for your contribution. We did try the fuel idea earlier, but no help.

I don’t know if they sold a lot of vehicles, but apparently they sold enough to stay in business and apparently Datsun/Nissan ignored the huge number of complaints about that franchise.

I recall that the uncle of a friend of mine bought a car there, and–like everyone else–had a totally negative experience when returning for warranty-related repairs. After one of the shiny-suited brothers who owned the place convinced him to never return, he quipped, “You know, you should replace the letter ‘P’ that fell off of your sign”.

The name of the dealership was “Rick’s”.


It sounds like the dealership guys should have been wearing shark skin suits

They were really terrible human beings, but that was not the last of their breed in that same city.
Fast forward to the '90s, and there was a Honda dealership in the same city that used to remove OEM batteries, spark plugs, and tires from new cars, and substitute cheap junk that they bought from the Pep Boys store across the road. Then, they would sell the purloined parts in their parts department.

They were finally put out of business by the NJ Attorney General’s Office.

@VDCdriver. I can’t imagine switching the parts in the new Hondas for cheap parts from Pep Boys would generate a lot of profit for the dealer. Most people don’t buy tires and batteries from the dealer. The batteries might go flat from.aging. I would think it would cost more in labor to.change the spark plugs than the profit gained

This reminds me of.a pizza the town where I attended college. The prices on were set at strange amounts and my friend figured out that he did this to collect an extra penny on each sale. When my friend and.I went to pay our checks,.my friend pointed out that he didn’t owe the extra penny. The proprietor ordered us to leave.immediately. We did just that and when we got outside we.realized that we hadn’t paid.for our meal. I often wondered how long at penny gouging it took the proprietor to make up the loss on our free meals.

Well, it wasn’t my business plan, and I don’t think that the guys (another pair of brothers) were exactly rocket scientists. :smirk:

All it took (after who knows how many years) for their scam to be exposed was one very observant indy mechanic who spotted the non-OEM parts on a nearly-new Accord that he was servicing. That led to a lengthy AG investigation, and that led–eventually–to so many fines being imposed on those guys that they opted to sell their businesses (they had several dealerships) before they lost everything.