Huge win for car owners! All TSBs to be made public. The Center for Auto Safety just made the NHTSA (US Government) make public the full text of all TSBs from now on. They are the same organization that has petitioned the NHTSA & filed lawsuits to protect car owners over exploding gas tanks & other major safety issues. Whenever you drive in your car, you are safer thanks in part to a lot of work over the years by this small but very effective consumer advocacy group.

Please take a moment & say thank you by donating $5 or whatever you can to the Center for Auto Safety. Notes: Considering sales numbers and data that monitors complaints-per-make, there appears to be an unusually high number of issues with the 2012 Fiat 500. Perhaps that isn't surprising -- it is the first model year of the car, and those tend to have a higher incidence rate.

Of particular concern is the number of engine and powertrain complaints submitted to NHTSA.


really awful
Crashes / Fires:
1 / 0
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
30,017 miles

About These NHTSA Complaints:

This data is from the NHTSA — the US gov't agency tasked with vehicle safety. Complaints are spread across multiple & redundant categories, & are not organized by problem.

So how do you find out what problems are occurring? For this NHTSA complaint data, the only way is to read through the comments below. Any duplicates or errors? It's not us.

2012 Fiat 500 drivetrain problems

drivetrain problem

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2012 Fiat 500 Owner Comments (Page 4 of 5)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

problem #36

Nov 202015


  • 17,500 miles


Clutch would not disengage, could not shift into gear from neutral, in middle of traffic, had to shut engine off, put in gear, start in gear and drove to safe location[city street] [11/20/2015] [17,500 miles on car]$1400 for clutch replacement

- Napa, CA, USA

problem #35

Dec 022015


  • 43,000 miles
The clutch failed without warning, preventing the car from shifting gears -- from second to third gear in regular, city-street traffic (lyndale ave., in minneapolis, mn). At the moment of failure, I heard/felt a distinct yet light "thump" as I pressed down on the clutch pedal. The car only has 40K miles on it.

- Minneapolis, MN, USA

problem #34

Nov 292015


  • 28,500 miles
I was driving along at about 30 mph and my clutch pedal became very difficult to push in and I could not shift. I was lucky enough to turn into a parking lot where I could not put the car into gear. Once the car was off I could move about the gears but once the car was on the pedal would not go down all the way and I could not get it into gear. There has been zero slipping or grinding of the gears and I have less than 30,000 miles. I am currently awaiting if my warranty will cover this issue. From what I have seen online the pressure plate has been cracked out warped so I plan to fight to have this covered under warranty. To think that a clutch would go out in 2.5 years and under 30,000 miles if crazy but when I spoke with Fiat dealership he made it seem that they see it all the time and customer care at first said they have seen it multiple times....updated 7/19/16

- Oregon City, OR, USA

problem #33

Nov 022015


  • 46,000 miles


The transmission nearly fell apart while meging on the freeway. I now need a new transmission on a car with 46,000 miles on it.

- Asheville, NC, USA

problem #32

Oct 312015


  • 46,000 miles
Clutch failure in traffic after leaving a stop light. No prior warning/signs that the clutch would fail (ie. No slipping). Car started in first just fine, went to shift into second and the clutch would not disengage. The pedal was completely stiff and was unable to be pressed all the way to the floor. I then drifted to the side of the road where I was able to get the car to stop, thankfully I was not going at a higher speed otherwise this problem could have potentially caused a wreck. At this point in time I tried to shift my car into gear (with the car off), but the clutch wouldn't even allow any gears to engage. I had the car towed to my home, and then Fiat had the car towed to the nearest dealer of my choice (I still had to pay for the Fiat towing). I am currently pending a call from the dealership to diagnose + fix my car, which will most likely have to be payed out of pocket. This is most likely a manufacturer defect, as has been stated in numerous other clutch failure reports for this year's make.

- Washington, PA, USA

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problem #31

Jun 302015


  • 30,000 miles
I was driving down a busy thoroughfare at around 30 mph when my clutch suddenly stiffened up and became impossible to engage. I tried in vain to shift out of third gear as I neared a stoplight, but the gear stick wouldn't budge and the car ended up stalling in the middle of the road. I managed after a minute to yank the stick into neutral and coast down a small hill into an empty parking space. In the end, it was a dead clutch after only 30,000 miles. This could have easily caused an accident had it occurred on the freeway or in a busy intersection.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #30

Sep 232015


  • 46,000 miles


While driving the vehicle, and a need to shift occurs, the clutch will lockup, completely frozen, making it impossible no matter how hard you push, to depress the pedal making it impossible to shift gear. This happens every 20,000 miles and each time, dealer service dept says it's a "bent pressure plate". but Fiat classifies this a "wear & tear" item and cannot help. Dealer service wants $2000 each time (though independent repair shops likely would charge less). This has already happened twice and Fiat will not help. Hard to believe that Fiat believes this is normal expected behavior on their vehicles, for owners to have to fork out $2000 every 20,000 miles for new pressure plates. When it happens to you, it can be very dangerous depending where you happen to be at the time. Internet searches for Fiat pressure plate will show a pattern of this issue, and no official response from Fiat.

- Renton, WA, USA

problem #29

Sep 032015


  • 20,000 miles
Pulled up to a stop light, depressed clutch and shifted to neutral. When light turned green, I depressed the clutch and it locked up and would not engage allowing me to shift into a gear. Mechanic said its a bent pressure plate and the entire clutch assy. Needs replaced for ~$2,000. Obviously bending of the pressure plate is not "normal wear and tear" and its also very rare to have a clutch fail so early (20,000 miles). Unfortunately Fiat is saying this is a normal wear and tear issue and is not covered under warranty. Reading the forums, this seems to be a very common problem with manual shift Fiat and is a terrible safety hazard (think if the clutch locked up at highway speeds preventing someone from shifting out of gear). This part should be recalled and replaced on all manual transmission Fiat and costs fully covered.

- Alexandria, VA, USA

problem #28

May 292015


  • 6,000 miles
The car got stuck with mud under the car. When we go it pulled out and took it to the dealer would have cost us 3000 to have it fixed. That way to much and they told there was problem with the engine now. They wouldn't work a deal on it. When driving home we noticed thry left a plate from under the sterling will and had rip the black peace that wrapes oround it.we to it to a tramission place in town where they fixed the transmissin, the car drive like a mess I just afraid to go lomg distance.

- Kennedale, TX, USA

problem #27

Jul 132015


  • 29,623 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Fiat 500. While driving at 35 mph, the gear shifter failed to shift into third gear. In addition, the contact attempted to shift back to the second gear and the gear shifter failed to shift but remained between the second and the third gear. As a result, the vehicle failed to move forward. The failure recurred on numerous occasions. The vehicle was taken to a dealer who diagnosed that the clutch needed to be replaced. The vehicle was repaired. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 29,623.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #26

Jan 192012


  • 500 miles


Within several weeks after purchase of Fiat 500 we encountered a problem starting the engine. Upon turning the ignition key the engine responded with an electrical motor whine but did not start. After several repeated attempts the engine would start and function normally. Gas mileage has never been as high was represented in sales information. The vehicle has been returned to the dealer multiple times for correction but the dealer has been unable to diagnose the problem. A complaint has been lodged with both the dealer and Fiat usa.

- The Villages, FL, USA

problem #25

Mar 302015


  • 28,000 miles
I was at a busy intersection about to make a left hand turn when I suddenly was unable to depress the clutch completely or shift into gear. It turned out the clutch had completely given out with no warning - no slipping, smell of burning clutch, no check engine light, nothing. I've driven stick my whole life and never run through a clutch in 28,000 miles! nor have I had the experience of a clutch going out without warning - it has always started to slip in advance of needing replaced. The police had to stop traffic and push me to safety as the car would not drive at all. I don't know what I would have done if the police had not come so quickly as I was in an area with a lot of traffic and several people nearly hit me in the short time I was waiting. Due to the out of the blue nature of this clutch failure, I thought it was worth reporting as a safety issue. Had I been on a freeway, the situation could have been much worse.

- Glendale, CA, USA

problem #24

Mar 022015

500 4-cyl

  • 22,819 miles
Purchased 2012 year Fiat 500C on 10/31/2011. As of March 3, 2014 put 22819 miles on car. This is a 5 speed manual transmission model. On March third the clutch gave out. Was told by Fiat this wasn't an warranty item, although the window sticker says 4 year / 50,000 mile warranty. They also say free roadside assistance for 4 years / unlimited miles but since I refused to allow them to take this car 18 miles to a Fiat dealer and only 1.4 miles to my local mechanic I had to pay out of pocket for towing. I paid out of pocket aprox $2,000 including, car rental, towing and a $1,772.45 repair bill. Per the mechanic the clutch disc itself was in excellent condition, but the clutch pressure plate was at fault. From my own personal experience of restoring a few old cars and motorcycles over the years, this is pretty unheard of a clutch pressure plate failing before the actual clutch disc. My take there is some defect with this clutch pressure plate or the overall design of the manual clutch. As of this date, I haven't needed to replace the brake pads on this car so how in the world should it need a new clutch? this is crazy.

- Fairfax, CA, USA

problem #23

Feb 152015


  • 59,000 miles
Last night, while pulling onto the highway, my clutch locked up. My clutch has never shown any sign of wear/tear (no grinding, no slipping, no burning, etc.) and out of nowhere, it clamped shut. Thankfully, there was not much traffic and I pulled over without the hazard of hitting/being hit by another car. I got the car towed to Fiat of orange park, and had to wait until they opened today to get a call from them. I was so confused by what could have caused my clutch to do that, last night I searched online and found Fiat-owner forums of other people describing the exact same incident happening to them (one guy was in atlanta traffic and almost crashed, another guy was in nyc about to cross the manhattan bridge and almost got into a wreck). They all had, like myself, Fiat's with low mileage. Some had 22K miles, some 28kmiles, some 50K, some 60K; hence adding to the bizarre nature of this incident. All incidents resulted in bent pressure plates as well as miscellaneous damage to clutch parts. Fiat of orange park called me today and told me that the damage is my fault, as a result of wear/tear. Despite me explaining to them that this has been an issue with other Fiat-owners, they continued to say that I am responsible for the damage. Despite all of the evidence pointing towards a mechanical malfunction, they said I am responsible for repairing the clutch. This seems to be a manufacturer defect and I would like to report this in hope that there might be action taken by you, NHTSA, to help the victims of this defect from 1) potential hazard as a result of future incidents 2) paying the large amount for repairing the damage. Thank you for your consideration.

- Fleming Island, FL, USA

problem #22

Jul 102012

500 4-cyl

  • 12,000 miles
Driving at city speeds ~20mph at only 12K miles, clutch pedal suddenly became stiff, and was unable to shift gears. Had to have car towed to dealership where I was informed by the dealership that the clutch had fused to the flywheel (I do not trust that this was an accurate, complete diagnosis). About 2 years later (end of 07/2014) and only around 35K miles, was driving on the interstate 2 hours away from home ( at ~65mph), and when I exited to get gas, the pedal once more became instantly stiff out of nowhere and was nearly unable to get the car off the road. Had to have the car towed from dealer to dealer until it was in my home city. The dealer then again told me that the clutch and flywheel had gone out.

- New Orleans, LA, USA

problem #21

Jan 112015

500 4-cyl

  • 61,200 miles
Failed pressure plate with 2012 Fiat 500. Design flaw/materials issue. Fiat is not standing behind their product, no manual transmission should have to be replaced at 61,000 miles.

- Visalia, CA, USA

problem #20

Jan 112015

500 4-cyl

  • 61,200 miles
While driving to the store, I turned into the store parking lot, I pressed the clutch to shift the car down into a lower gear, and I could not shift. The car kept rolling and I lost power steering and the vehicle died. Upon trouble shooting, the problem was a failed pressure plate not allowing the clutch to engage.

- Visalia, CA, USA

problem #19

Jun 042012

500 4-cyl

  • 11,000 miles
My car had problems shifting gears and the high coolant temperature light went on. The warning said stop and turn car off immediately. I pulled into my driveway and had the car towed to stateline Fiat where I purchased the car. They topped off the coolant and said the car was ready to be picked up. I got in the car and it started to shake when I turned the ignition. They said it was a loose cap and tightened it. I drove back home and within 3 months the same thing happened again. The car was towed to a new local Fiat. Over the past 2 and a half years, I have had to pull off on the side of the road multiple times and have the car towed. No one can seem to find the exact issue with the car, but they keep telling me it is fixed. The bottom line is I do not feel safe driving this car. I feel my safety and the safety of other drivers is in jeopardy when this vehicle is on the road.

- Lexington, SC, USA

problem #18

Jan 052015


  • 53,000 miles
Car diagnosed with transmission cooler failure. Warmed car up in the morning for 5 minutes(cold morning, low below zero). Noticed after getting in the car that it was still cold inside. On the way to work after 8 miles or so and the heater still blowing cold air, the high temperature/turn of engine warning message appeared and the digital temp gauge was at max. Stopped car and had it towed to Fiat dealer for service. They diagnosed it as a transmission cooler failure. Thinking is that the engine coolant froze, damaging the transmission cooler and causing it to mix trans fluid and engine coolant. There were no warning signs this was about to happen, car acted normal previous day of driving. This happened 3000 miles past the warranty expiring.

- Carpentersville, IL, USA

problem #17

Sep 262012

500 4-cyl

  • 200 miles
Anytime sport mode is engaged, car does not decrease in speed properly. Even with brake applied, the car lunges forward as I'm trying to slow down. When driving using sport mode, I have to stay very far away from other vehicles in case of sudden braking because the vehicle will not slow down properly. My husband drove my car in sport mode not knowing that it lunged forward when braking and wound up an inch away from someone's bumper after attempting to slow down from a speed of about 20mph. This is extremely unsafe for the driver and other's around.

- Burleson, TX, USA

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