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:
2 / 1
Injuries / Deaths:
0 / 0
Average Mileage:
16,659 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 electrical problems

electrical problem

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2012 Fiat 500 Owner Comments

problem #20

Feb 112016


  • 58,249 miles


"takata recall" mechanical defect has been detected. My car was on the highway when suddenly it randomly began stating to "check transmission see handbook." I took it to a Fiat dealership in which I immediately advised them of the diagnosis code P0741 had been provided to them at drop off before any work was performed - tony (the service advisor) said that was not helpful could mean anything. (diagnosis means: Torque converter clutch circuit performance or stuck off) I was advised numbers lies and was told I needed a new transmission. Turns out there is a fault in the wiring of the system and computer which is now causing car to not stay in gear. I want to raise all awareness to this issue. Especially since the purchase of this car (only 58K in mileage) I have had to personally replace the following: Number of radiator repairs: 2 sunroof: 1 transmission: Faulty mechanical error total tune ups: 2 brake installments: 3 I was not made aware of any prior issues before purchase all issues have occurred due to manufacture negligence! no accidents have occurred. Please assist me in any way possible.

- Bear, DE, USA

problem #19

Jun 012012


  • 38,400 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Fiat 500. While driving at various speeds, several unknown warning lights illuminated before the vehicle stalled. The contact stated that with multiple attempts, the vehicle was able to restart. The failure recurred intermittently. In addition, when parked, the vehicle was not able to start and the key could not be removed from the ignition switch. The vehicle was towed to a dealer where it was diagnosed that the vehicle's system had to be reprogrammed. The vehicle was serviced, but the remedy failed. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 38,400.

- Redwood, CA, USA

problem #18

Jul 242015


  • 70,000 miles
The contact owns a 2012 Fiat 500. While driving approximately 65 mph, the vehicle suddenly stalled. The vehicle was towed to the dealer who diagnosed that the power steering module failed. The vehicle was not repaired. The failure occurred on multiple occasions. The manufacturer was notified of the failure. The failure mileage was 70,000.

- Montgomery, TX, USA

problem #17

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 #16

Apr 102015


  • 25,000 miles
Was driving on the freeway and the car lost power. All lights on indicator dash went off. No steering ability and little/no control of vehicle. Failure resulted in a crash. No airbags deployed even though there was side impact to both sides and front end impact. The car was totaled.

- Henrico, VA, USA

problem #15

Sep 262012


  • 200 miles
After a week of driving the car, I noticed the time on the clock was 10 minutes fast. I reset the clock and three days later, it was 2 minutes fast again. I repeatedly adjusted the clock every week for about 18 months. After 8 months, I decided to let it continue to run fast to see if it would continue. About a month ago, it got to the point that I had to go ahead and reset it because I never really knew what time T was without checking my phone. At that point, the clock had not been reset for 6 months and was 50 minutes fast. Very inconvenient for the driver and causes a distraction just to check my phone to make sure I'm not late to work or an appointment.

- Burleson, TX, USA

problem #14

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 #13

Jul 012012

500 4-cyl

  • 500 miles
I was driving on the highway when the vehicle shut off and dropped speed quickly, was advised by the dealer that it was an electrical shortage to the battery as the car was brand new. Took the vehicle back in for repair, and it has happened three more times since that over the past two years. Two of those times were also on the highway. The most recent was last month (September 13, 2014) while making a U-turn at a light in front of moving traffic the car completely shut off right after my turn. Luckily, I was able to coast to the side and the car behind me saw me in time to stop.

- Orlando, FL, USA

problem #12

Sep 122012


  • miles
This occurred about 6 times already. When making a left or right turn the vehicle shuts off and coasts until you stop to shut it off and turn back on. The battery and oil pressure lights come on during the coasting. Came very close to being hit twice due to this problem, but the dealer say they haven't heard anything like this before.

- Fort Meade, FL, USA

problem #11

Jun 122014


  • 49,837 miles
Pulling away from a stop light under light acceleration, multiple warning lights came on including "ESC disabled" and multiple light warnings for the gearbox, the steering, electronic throttle control, general malfunction light, ESC off light, and ESC malfunction light, and lost power steering, almost causing an accident while trying to get the car off the road. The car was shut off and restarted immediately with no change. After letting the car sit for a half-hour, the car was restarted and steering was restored and no warning light were on. The vehicle was driven home and parked until it was towed to the dealership. They drove the car over 50 miles and were unable to repeat the incident or identify the problem so they released the unrepaired vehicle to the owner.

- Central Point, OR, USA

problem #10

Oct 152012

500 4-cyl

  • 6,520 miles


Periodically the starter will not engage. It does a whine as though the starter on the vehicle is a starter that is going out. I took it back to butler Fiat in indianapolis, in on April 1st, as the problem became worse and worse. They replaced the starter under warranty but it started doing the same thing less than two weeks after replacement. Something was mentioned at the time about faulty bolt or a part in the starter causing a malfunction. If anyone has ever had a starter go out in a car it is the same sound when the rotary does not engage and you have to make a second attempt to start the car. My vehicle still has less than 13,000 miles on it and I need the problem fixed.

- Indianapolis, IN, USA

problem #9

Nov 012010


  • 25,000 miles
After dealer replaced faulty rear main seal in July/August 2013, rear wiper blade would activate with controls in off position, causing me to have to move front windshield wiper control arm up and down, and then rear wiper blades would stop. Also the car starter would intermittently make a electrical noise after turning the key and the car wouldn't start, then I had to turn key two to three times to start car. After two months with above, in cold weather below 35 degrees the stereo, cd player, blueme systems won't work! it only starts to work after the car and surrounding environment reaches 40-45 degrees. Called into dealer and have appointment for checking all and repair/replace components not working properly and safely.

- Idaho Falls, ID, USA

problem #8

Jul 252013

500 4-cyl

  • 3,500 miles
Air bag lights are not showing on the instrument cluster the airbags are not working!

- Gainesville, GA, USA

problem #7

Oct 182013

500 4-cyl

  • 45,000 miles
Reported electrical burning smell thru ventilation system. Dealership denied electrical burning but found gas puncture in plastic gas tank, says smell is from burning gas. (owner disagrees) however with no other suspension or body damage found except the gas tank puncture there is great concern that this is a serious dangerous design flaw. That the tank can be punctured so easily without the knowledge of driver of any event.

- Sardis, MS, USA

problem #6

Jun 102013

500 4-cyl

  • 4,000 miles
I own a 2012 Fiat pop that I purchased new about a year ago. One thing that did not go away and was ever present at any time was the limp mode for the engine over the last few days. Recycling did not work to correct problem and gauges were out. The indicator light on panel showed in limp mode when it worked. Gauges kept going on and off sometimes for short periods and other times for longer periods. On 6/10/13 my vehicle caught fire in the dashboard. I was traveling back from the store in limp mode hoping it would go out but never did.I parked the car in front of my development pool and went to visit my employee there. Within about 5 minutes or so she said that my lights were flashing. I checked and went to the vehicle. It was engulfed with smoke and a nasty electrical smell. Fire department came. I was told that I had to wait for the fire inspector to come and examine my vehicle. He came. Began tearing my dashboard apart to find the cause or source of the fire. It was determined by his knowledge and experience that the body control unit had failed and caused the fire. Vehicle is totaled. The vehicle has only about 4000 miles on it. Earlier that day before the incident I had called the local Fiat dealer. Explained the problem of the gauges not working, and limp mode, I asked if it was safe to drive and he said yes. At this point I made an appointment to have the vehicle looked at hopefully that day. Only opening was next day at 2pm. I have filed an insurance claim and the vehicle has been towed away.

- Whitsett, NC, USA

problem #5

Sep 142012

500 4-cyl

  • 1,000 miles
The key fob button is not recessed. This means the ignition key often opens into my pocket just from normal body movement. It stabs my thigh. This is a vehicle safety problem because it happens when I am driving my other vehicle and can be extremely distracting.

- Spokane, WA, USA

problem #4

Dec 252011

500 4-cyl

  • 200 miles
Body seams left open/unwelded during manufacturing causing water leaks and electrical problems affecting brakes, lighting, restraint systems, power door locks, windows, mirrors, ABS, esp, hill start assist, etc. Open/unwelded areas also weren't painted during manufacturing. Improper repairs performed. "sealant" applied to close seams that should have been welded. Purchased 12/22/2011. Found interior wet on 12/25/2011. Returned to dealer on 01/02/2012. Spent 21 days in the shop. Problem was found to be, "numerous open body seams measuring over 10 inches long that were left open and unwelded and unpainted during manufacturing." Car was returned to me "repaired" on 1/23/2012. I immediately began experiencing numerous electrical problems. Then, noticed that the car was leaking, again, and even worse, on 1/30/2012. Car was never repaired/improperly repaired. Interior very wet. Electrical problems getting worse. Problems with brakes and 'hill start assist'. Fiat will not return my calls. I've sent letters asking that the car be replaced. The car is unsafe to drive.

- Knoxville, TN, USA

problem #3

Jan 112012


  • 250 miles
Really cold morning, upon starting, the TPMS reported the left front tire low on pressure. And tire light stayed on. I had all 4 tires checked and filled to specs, Continental tires, but the tire light stayed on for the next day and a half, wherein I drove about 65 miles, and turned the car on/off numerous times. (at work, store, overnight, etc.) the tire place that I took the car too to have the air checked, was unable to determine how to reset the TPMS. There was nothing out about this car yet. (fyi, you can use a Chrysler reset unit) the tire light finally went out the next day on it's own on the way home from work. Went to the Fiat dealership a few days later to find out how to reset the TPMS if/when it happens again. The service manager checked it out. Let air out until the light came on, then filled it to the correct pressure, then drove it about 50 feet, and the TPMS light reset itself. So, the system appears to operating properly now after what I had observed. Will watch to see if it becomes a problem.

- Oklahoma City, OK, USA

problem #2

Dec 302011

500 4-cyl

  • 320 miles
I'd pulled over in a parking lot to take a phone call (bluetooth reception was static-Y), and was sitting with my foot resting on the brake pedal. I felt a kick under my foot, turned the engine off and removed my foot from the brake as I completed the call. When I started the car and pulled to the edge of the lot's exit, I of course stepped on the brake to stop and check for traffic, but the brake pedal was stuck and I rolled into the street. I hope I used the handbrake to stop the car, although I really don't remember. I did reverse back into the parking lot, using the slight slope of the driveway to ensure I could stop once out of the street. The car was towed to the dealer. It's probably unrelated, but the voice recognition system was working sporadically that same morning.

- Los Gatos, CA, USA

problem #1

Oct 252011

500 4-cyl

  • 4,500 miles
Car was stalling and shutting off. Had my daughter in the car. Couldn't start the car after 3 attempts. Then after waiting a good 3 minutes started the car and revved the engine at 4000 RPM and everything seemed back to normal. Dealer hasn't been able to duplicate.

- Glendale, CA, USA

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