In answer to Mr. F. H. Stapley's letter in the August issue about foreign car reliability, my experiences with a Fiat 127 may be of interest, especially as they confirm complaints about Fiats in a letter from Mr P. J. Doyle about his 132 model.
I purchased my 127 in March 1972 as a replacement for my excellent 850 saloon which was 100% reliable over 35,000 enjoyable miles. The following faults were discovered or have developed during its life to date.
Delivered with choke and throttle linkage maladjusted (corrected myself).
1,503 miles. Discovered one tyre fitted with tube trapped between rim and tyre bead, checked all other tyres and found two more fitted in the same manner. (Tyres refitted.)
2,750 miles. Windscreen shattered, main distributors unable to supply replacement from stock, local Triplex stockist managed to locate and fit one for me. (Car off the road for one week.)
6,950 miles. Radiator leaking, contacted main distributor who said it was Fiat's policy to repair not replace radiators. (Result car off the road while it was repaired).
7,140 miles. Radiator leaking again, contacted distributors again and requested a new radiator, they still insisted that it must be repaired again, not replaced. I therefore wrote to Fiat's for their opinion, waited 2 weeks for a reply which only referred me back to the distributors. (Result car again off the road while it was repaired.)
10,000 miles. Weak synchromesh on 2nd gear, car now out of warranty. Contacted distributors yet again for their comments who implied that this problem was known and would they replace 2nd gear parts provided Fiat's were agreeable. After a wait of about 2 weeks Fiat's agreed to replace faulty parts. Order placed with distributors' stores as parts not in stock.
12,000 miles. Parts finally arrive, after 3 weeks' wait, and duly fitted. 2nd gear synchromesh now O.K. Service also carried out, oil change and new filter fitted which seems to have cured bearing rattle from engine when starting up from cold, apparently caused by oil filter draining back into sump. Front brake pads checked for wear, still serviceable being 4-5 mm thick (min. thickness allowed from wear being 1.5 mm) but discs were found to be worn down to below their minimum thickness as stated in Fiat's specification. Main distributors when asked for their opinion agreed that this situation was not very satisfactory but could only suggest that I write to Fiat's myself. After checking the price of replacement pads and discs, quoted as £16.65 including VAT., I wrote to Fiat's for their comments or suggestions on this highly unsatisfactory state of affairs on the 21.7.73 and so far am still waiting for a reply.
12,264 miles. Clutch action sticky, checked cable and found it to be well worn and binding up at cable stop on transmission casing. None in stock, one ordered.
12,400 miles. New cable fitted, clutch action still slightly sticky.
I can only add that although I enjoy driving my 127 and like its good, if somewhat noisy, performance and good roadholding, I shall think twice before buying another Fiat or recommending one to my friends. Especially in view of Fiat's apparent lack of interest in owners' problems and their miserly 6 months' warranty period. Disappointed Fiat 127 owner,
Rochester. J. W. BOURNES.