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Old 01-05-2012   #1
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Air Conditioning Condenser Fault

I just took my 500 in for its 4th anniversary MOT - it failed – Problems with the boot wiring meant that it would not open. Surprisingly I was informed by Stoneacre Peterborough that the a/c condenser was rusty and as a result the a/c was greatly reduced.

The cost of fitting a new one was to be £315. I gather that it is complex to replace the condenser as it is behind the front grill.

However, is it usual for this to fail so soon? I seldom use the a/c apart from a couple of months in the summer, and to demist the windows in the winter as recommended by the manual. Has anyone else had the same problem? Though it was out of warranty I called Fiat Customer Care and they refused to help. I listed all the problems, including a recent power steering failure, faulty door handle, failed control unt, and all I kept getting fromt the "executive" was “I understand” and that out of warranty there was nothing they could do. He became quite annoyed when I suggested that perhaps he didn't "understand" or in fact care. As a car owner he reminded me that I "had to take responsibility for its maintenance"! Which incidentally I do as it has a full service history.

The time limit for seeking a legal remedy for the sale of faulty goods is 5 years in England and Wales (6 in Scotland). Does the rusty/faulty condenser unit sound like fair wear and tear, or is it an inherent fault and therefore not fit for purpose? I work at a firm of solicitors, so any more people who are experiencing the same problem please feel free to contact me. The more evidence I can gather the better.
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Last edited by krossi; 01-05-2012 at 15:00.
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Old 01-05-2012   #2
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Re: Air Conditioning Condenser Fault

Quote Originally Posted by krossi View Post
I just took my 500 in for its 4th anniversary MOT - it failed – Problems with the boot wiring meant that it would not open. Surprisingly I was informed by Stoneacre Peterborough that the a/c condenser was rusty and as a result the a/c was greatly reduced.

The cost of fitting a new one was to be £315. I gather that it is complex to replace the condenser as it is behind the front grill.

However, is it usual for this to fail so soon? I seldom use the a/c apart from a couple of months in the summer, and to demist the windows in the winter as recommended by the manual. Has anyone else had the same problem? Though it was out of warranty I called Fiat Customer Care and they refused to help. I listed all the problems, including a recent power steering failure, faulty door handle, failed control unt, and all I kept getting fromt the "executive" was “I understand” and that out of warranty there was nothing they could do. He became quite annoyed when I suggested that perhaps he didn't "understand" or in fact care. As a car owner he reminded me that I "had to take responsibility for its maintenance"! Which incidentally I do as it has a full service history.

The time limit for seeking a legal remedy for the sale of faulty goods is 5 years in England and Wales (6 in Scotland). Does the rusty/faulty condenser unit sound like fair wear and tear, or is it an inherent fault and therefore not fit for purpose? I work at a firm of solicitors, so any more people who are experiencing the same problem please feel free to contact me. The more evidence I can gather the better.
I very much doubt the condenser is rusty, I suspect it's probably been damaged by stones hitting it as it's fairly exposed where it is. I would imagine it's aluminium anyway so it's not going to rust.

I've taken a picture of the condenser on my car with 35 and a half thousand miles on it and as you can see it's been damaged by a fair few stones and there are some rows which are almost completely missing. Might be an idea to fit any replacement with some mesh over the front so as to minimise damage from flying stones.
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Old 01-05-2012   #3
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Re: Air Conditioning Condenser Fault

Quote Originally Posted by krossi View Post
The time limit for seeking a legal remedy for the sale of faulty goods is 5 years in England and Wales (6 in Scotland). Does the rusty/faulty condenser unit sound like fair wear and tear, or is it an inherent fault and therefore not fit for purpose? I work at a firm of solicitors, so any more people who are experiencing the same problem please feel free to contact me. The more evidence I can gather the better.
A bit of confusion here I think.

The "limitation period" is in fact 6 years in England for contractual disputes (generally speaking). Hopwever, what this means is that once a party breaches a contract, you have 6 years within which to sue. It does NOT mean that goods have to last 6 years.

Your claim here would be to say that the goods were not of satisfactory quality or fit for purpose because they broke etc after four years. Would you win? I very much doubt it, but you might.
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Old 01-05-2012   #4
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Re: Air Conditioning Condenser Fault

Thanks for that clarification Robin - I got them mixed round, you're right it's 6 for England and Wales, and 5 for Scotland. I am in Wills and Probate so a bit out of my depth here, but ready to learn. I also realse that I will need to prove that any fault existed at the time of purchase. Certainly 306maxis picture shows that the unit has been placed in a very vulnerable place indeed, where it could easily be damaged by stones etc.
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Old 01-05-2012   #5
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Re: Air Conditioning Condenser Fault

According to ebay at least, the part you are looking for is in the region of £100:

http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/FIAT-500-1...#ht_1506wt_905

So your £315 looks like it's made up of quite a bit of labour charges.

I have absolutely no idea how long it takes to fit and replace one, but that particular rate you quoted looks to be a labour charge of something like 3 hours if you include VAT?

I would have a word with them and ask them to give a breakdown of the cost; prob worth finding out how much they are charging you for the part.

PS not sure the above part is a genuine Fiat part though...but hope it helps anyway.
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Old 01-05-2012   #6
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Re: Air Conditioning Condenser Fault

Quote Originally Posted by krossi View Post
Thanks for that clarification Robin - I got them mixed round, you're right it's 6 for England and Wales, and 5 for Scotland. I am in Wills and Probate so a bit out of my depth here, but ready to learn. I also realse that I will need to prove that any fault existed at the time of purchase. Certainly 306maxis picture shows that the unit has been placed in a very vulnerable place indeed, where it could easily be damaged by stones etc.
It's where air conditioning condensers tend to go. Think of somewhere else on the front of the 500 where the condenser could go and still have airflow over it. Sadly there isn't anywhere else.....

You're onto a loser with this one, save your breath, buy a new or good condition second hand condenser and fit some mesh over it to protect it.
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Old 01-05-2012   #7
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Re: Air Conditioning Condenser Fault

This thread reminds me of some recent discussions on the spec of a 500 that would last 'the test of time'. Another + for the Pop (without S/S !).
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Old 01-05-2012   #8
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Re: Air Conditioning Condenser Fault

Why dont you check with an indie that has experience with fiats? Perhaps they can source the parts for you and add more reasonable labor?
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Old 01-05-2012   #9
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Re: Air Conditioning Condenser Fault

A few years ago I had a Mazda MX5 which I bought from a Mazda dealer with Mazda used car warranty when it was 4 years old. I'd had it less than a year when the A/C failed. The garage told me an aluminium pipe had corroded through, and pipes and hoses were outside the warranty. They quoted me £600 to fix it! I took it to an indy A/C specialist who was very helpful, and showed me after re-gassing with dye that the condenser was also corroded. They reckoned they could fix it for a few hundred quid, but then found the parts were only available from Mazda and it would be £900 including labour! I declined, and they did not charge for their investigations. I p/x'd the car soon after. Conclusions: aluminium A/C components can corrode; £300-odd is quite reasonable; I'll not be buying another Mazda!
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Old 01-05-2012   #10
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Re: Air Conditioning Condenser Fault

Stoneacre's report says a/c condensor deteriorated, cooling efficiency will be reduced cost to replace £304.68.
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Old 02-05-2012   #11
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Re: Air Conditioning Condenser Fault

Quote Originally Posted by TrevC View Post
A few years ago I had a Mazda MX5 which I bought from a Mazda dealer with Mazda used car warranty when it was 4 years old. I'd had it less than a year when the A/C failed. The garage told me an aluminium pipe had corroded through, and pipes and hoses were outside the warranty. They quoted me £600 to fix it! I took it to an indy A/C specialist who was very helpful, and showed me after re-gassing with dye that the condenser was also corroded. They reckoned they could fix it for a few hundred quid, but then found the parts were only available from Mazda and it would be £900 including labour! I declined, and they did not charge for their investigations. I p/x'd the car soon after. Conclusions: aluminium A/C components can corrode; £300-odd is quite reasonable; I'll not be buying another Mazda!
I had an import MX5 (Eunos) and the A/C stank so it was never used.
Have noticed some independents advertising a Premium service which involves 're-gassing' the A/C so that is was better (extra £50 including better oil ). If the OP can get away with £100 on the part and 2 hours charge with an independent that's cheap.
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Old 02-05-2012   #12
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Re: Air Conditioning Condenser Fault

My car's aircon stopped working at the start of the year & whilst in for its service, the garage said the pipes from the condensor have had it & it'd be circa £600 to fix. Annoying because i do use the aircon as soon as the sun comes out, but on an 8 year old car worth £2000 its hard to justify £600 on something like aircon.

As has been mentioned, aircon condensors are routinely placed just by the radiator, but as i said in another thread, on my Parents 500 it does look more vulnerable than on many cars. Not really paid a great deal of attention to a/c condensors but on our 500 the pipes from the condensor run just behind the grill and the whole thing seems mounted very far forward. On my Stilo it's by the radiator aswell but you can't clearly see the pipes & even the condensor looks slightly more hidden than on the 500. It certainly stood out to me when we got the 500 home which i assume means that because i don't normally pay attention to something like a/c condensors, it's obvious.

I suspect there'll be a few people having a/c parts replaced once the 500's endure a couple more winters - the condensors can probably take it as 306Maxi's pic shows, but pipes seem to be the usual failure points on cars i've owned & on our 500 at least, one or two pipes look right in the firing line of road salt, spray & stones. At least the TwinAir doesn't have a backbox to go rusty, thank God
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Old 12-07-2012   #13
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Re: Air Conditioning Condenser Fault

I have the 1.4 Lounge 2010 with limited lifetime warranty, but living here in United Arab Emirates i have the car for almost 2 years now. I didnt have a problem with the HVAC system until the early months of the summer and went through alot with our mental dealership. They changed the interior switch console about two times. HVAC wasnt fixed. They then said the breather pipes and some gas would solve the problem, which didnt. I went ballistic on them, they had the car for the whole weekend where they changed the whole compressor. Am afraid the problem hasnt been solved upto now. With my sister driving the car to and from her work place, she went mental on the car, i really love the car but the air conditioning problem has made her change her mind about the 500 and now she wants to replace the car with a VW.

The problem with the conditioning was that when its cold enough the compressor stops then doesnt restart again. i believe its called the actuator or compressor valve. rendering the AC useless until it restarts again.

My question is has anyone had this problem with their 500, should i go back to the dealership or should i just let her change the car.
Keeping in mind that the country were living in, summer temps can reach to 50 degrees Celsius.

Please advice me...
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Old 12-07-2012   #14
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Re: Air Conditioning Condenser Fault

Interesting - I have a Panda 100HP with climate control (standard fitting) - it's done 39,000 miles in just under four years with the aircon on all the time. I'll have a look for the a/c condenser later to see how vulnerable it is.
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Old 12-07-2012   #15
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Re: Air Conditioning Condenser Fault

Quote Originally Posted by mazenimad View Post
I have the 1.4 Lounge 2010 with limited lifetime warranty, but living here in United Arab Emirates i have the car for almost 2 years now. I didnt have a problem with the HVAC system until the early months of the summer and went through alot with our mental dealership. They changed the interior switch console about two times. HVAC wasnt fixed. They then said the breather pipes and some gas would solve the problem, which didnt. I went ballistic on them, they had the car for the whole weekend where they changed the whole compressor. Am afraid the problem hasnt been solved upto now. With my sister driving the car to and from her work place, she went mental on the car, i really love the car but the air conditioning problem has made her change her mind about the 500 and now she wants to replace the car with a VW.

The problem with the conditioning was that when its cold enough the compressor stops then doesnt restart again. i believe its called the actuator or compressor valve. rendering the AC useless until it restarts again.

My question is has anyone had this problem with their 500, should i go back to the dealership or should i just let her change the car.
Keeping in mind that the country were living in, summer temps can reach to 50 degrees Celsius.

Please advice me...
You've not actually explained what the problem is.....
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