This letter is the direct result of a month of disappointment and mild torture rained upon me by no less a car than a Fiat 132 1800 S. As a reader of your excellent magazine, plus its weekly companion, I feel duty bound to inform my fellow readers of the failings I have encountered in this latest offering from Fiat, plus the apathetic after-sales service included in its six month warranty period.
My beige 132 was delivered on May 1st, by the same local dealer who so ably tended my superb 125S over 25,000 faultless miles. The following faults were discovered, three of which have been cured but only one completely. Also included, are those which appeared later on.*
Steering wheel loose (3/4 in. up-down movement);
Horn push rattles;
Steering wheel crooked when wheels straight ahead (15 degrees);
Overall vibration at 45-50 m.p.h.;
Underseal patchy on rear underside;
Difficult starting from cold;
Engine runs on;
Windscreen leaks at lower corners;
Water temp. goes past normal in slow traffic;
*Speedo tick at 45 m.p.h. onwards;
Exhaust rattle at 3,400 r.p.m. onwards;
Radio fade out;
*Seatbelts not locking at reel;
*Paint blemishes (irregular streak) on front offside wing.
I returned on the 2nd and requested that the steering be rectified, I also mentioned the clock failure and was told to rely on my watch as these points are normally left until the first 1,200-mile service. I had to hang around until “after lunch” for the steering to be tightened. It is now loose again and have confirmed this by driving another 132. Fiat say it is to do with the collapsible design! Again I returned as the exhaust rattle was unbearable, that turned out to be nothing more than poor assembly, but I was without transport for half a day. Another full day at the dealers at around 800 miles, saw the radio and clock functioning once more. (When I telephoned to make the appointment and indicated that I would not be signing the Warranty Card I detected “a bit of agro” to say the least. In addition, I was politely informed by the proprietor, that without wishing to be forward, he hoped he didn’t have a finicky customer). The steering wheel was still listing to starboard by 15 degrees, I was told that it was not possible to rectify this fault, as the spline was such that any attempt would only reproduce it in the other direction. A telephone call to Fiat’s let them have the car, they would soon put that right plus any other snags.
Fiat Brentford had the car for three consecutive days and almost brought the steering wheel to its correct position, but nothing else was accomplished, the car was signed for by a tester and passed as fit The 1,200-mile service at the dealers on the following day just about cured the running on. Fiat insist on the five star as the best cure, I never use anything but four star, and neither do the other 132 owners I know of including a garage owner.
I am no quitter, and as proof the 132 was booked in on June 5th at my local dealer for further treatment, as only the exhaust, clock and running on have been cured (the latter only occurs about twice a week). My own timing is pretty neat as the Radiomobile is expiring again and the Britax inertia belts have yet to lock themselves solid, mileage 1,900.
This car has cost my business colleagues, and myself dearly in time lost and great inconvenience, a fact which Fiat chose to ignore. Whilst admitting that none of the faults are difficult to cure, their only constructive comment is a further invitation to return the car to my local dealer (already arranged) and a promise of technical assistance. I can well imagine the consequences had my company supplied defective goods to Fiat prior to invoice, in this case they took my money before handing over the car. Their customers, it seems, are supposed to suffer in silence, well this one doesn’t.
My standards are based on those set by the 125 Special and one cannot be more finicky than that. To borrow a line from Motoring News, “not what we expected”.
P.J. Doyle – Taplow.