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:
27,740 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 5 of 6)

« Read the previous 20 complaints

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

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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

problem #16

Oct 242012

500 4-cyl

  • 200 miles
Since I purchased my 2012 Fiat 500 sport in September of 2012 I have had this issue. Occasionally (about 4 times a week), the car fails to start. When turning the key in the ignition, the car makes a noise as if it is going to start but winds down and loses power. I turn the key back, wait about 5 seconds and the car will normally start. This happens all year around. I contacted the holt Fiat of fort worth where the car was purchased and took it in to be looked at. They could not replicate the issue. It is very random but happens very often.

- Burleson, TX, USA

problem #15

Dec 022014

500 4-cyl

  • 56,000 miles
While exiting the freeway, I noticed that the clutch felt different in that there was suddenly a lot of resistance near the floor when depressing the clutch pedal. Car would not go into 1st gear at the light. Finally struggled it into 2nd and went. The clutch does not fully disengage. After searching online forums, I found that this is a recurrent problem with the vehicle, and it is most likely a pressure plate failure, since the clutch does not slip once it's in gear, but the clutch also does not fully disengage with the pedal pressed all the way down, even though previously, the clutch disengaged at half pedal height. I was able to baby the car home, and proceeded to bleed the hydraulic cylinders and observe clutch pedal action. When the clutch pedal is depressed, the actuator moves all the way on the transmission, so it is not a pedal failure. It is most definitely the pressure plate, which is obviously defective.

- Anderson, IN, USA

problem #14

Nov 122014

500 4-cyl

  • 54,000 miles
I was driving down a street by a school doing 20 mph. Went to down shift and the clutch locked up. I could not push it to the floor. Since I could not push the clutch down I could not shift gears. I have driven a clutch for over 30 years and never had to replace a clutch. There was no warning with this. Just happened with no previous slipping or any indication something was going bad with the clutch.

- Columbia, MO, USA

problem #13

Nov 072014

500 4-cyl

  • 34,500 miles
Vehicle sustained a catastrophic clutch failure while being driven at approx 25 mph resulting in an inoperable vehicle. Additionally, the vehicle could not be shifted out of 4th gear as clutch could not be engaged. Vehicle had to be turned off and emergency brake used to guide vehicle off of road. Vehicle towed to dealer. Manufacture replaced pressure plate and clutch. Vehicle displayed no signs of worn clutch prior to incident.

- Washington, DC, USA

problem #12

May 082014

500 4-cyl

  • 49,800 miles
The oil pressure sensor warning light would randomly go on and off. The vehicle was taken to the dealership three times to repair the problem. On the third time, the dealership said that it was due to a damaged short block and that it would need to be replaced. This was in October 2014 and the mileage was 52,500 so my car was no longer under warranty. The dealer quoted approximately $5000 for the repair. Shouldn't the warranty cover the repair because the problem began at 49,800 miles? the Fiat dealership does not agree.

- West Hollywood, CA, USA

problem #11

Aug 042012

500 4-cyl

  • 3,000 miles
Shortly after purchasing my vehicle I began to have issues with a soft clutch or a stuck clutch. Usually while driving at freeway speeds and attempting to downshift or come to a stop the clutch pedal will lose all pressure and either become stuck to the floor or not operate normally. Upon stopping and pumping the clutch some pressure will return and the clutch will operate abnormally for a shot time before returning to normal feel. Usually the clutch will get stuck to the floor and I will be unable to pull the car out of gear while driving 50+ mph. The fluid level in the master cylinder has never fallen below normal and 2 separate dealerships have checked it multiple times and said there was no fault to be found but I experience this problem on either a monthly, weekly or even daily basis during the worst episodes. The car is currently at about 25,000 miles now and the problem remains a constant annoyance that leaves me feeling unsafe in operating the vehicle at times because I do not know when or how bad the problem will be.

- Los Angeles, CA, USA

problem #10

Jul 252014


  • 24,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Fiat 500. The contact stated that the clutch failed. The vehicle was taken to an independent mechanic where the technician diagnosed that the clutch was burned and needed to be replaced. The vehicle was not repaired. The manufacturer was made aware of the failure. The failure mileage was 24,000. The VIN was unavailable.

- Woodland Hills , CA, USA

problem #9

Apr 282014

500 4-cyl

  • 27,000 miles
Driving home during rush hour traffic, came to a stop at a red light. Clutch failed, could not engage any gear. Was able to get vehicle out of traffic and towed to service station. Fiat claiming that it is a worn clutch after 27,000 miles. Will only support clutch for first 12,000 miles. It's good my children were not in the car or this would have been a seriously dangerous situation.

- Littleton, CO, USA

problem #8

Jul 292013

500 4-cyl

  • 13,250 miles
The vehicle "pops" out of 5th gear at highway speeds of 60mph or higher. The tachometer goes into the red and the car slows down in traffic or on a hill until placed into gear again.

- N Las Vegas, NV, USA

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