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Old 15-08-2019   #1
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Psychopanda - qu'est-ce que c'est?

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This is our 2004 1.2 Dynamic ('Psychopanda' after her number plate, not the way she's driven!), soon after we bought her in October 2018 at 92k miles, on the way back from Belgium with my girlfriend's otherworldly possessions (plus a bottle or twelve of the local tipple). Getting that lowrider style I've always wanted

It's such a fun and capable little car, I've quickly developed a real soft spot for it as it bounces and leans around the countryside! We got it for my girlfriend to learn to drive and took my Mk1 MX5 off the road. I guess I'm a small car person then

Most of my driving is on country lanes, and it's a hilarious thing to chuck about. I'd read they handled pretty well, but I didn't expect to be grinning quite so much when driving it! Being narrow helps on the lanes, yet I was surprised that it feels light and spacious inside, from the front seats anyway. Also surprised to learn that at 850kg it weighs less than my MX5.

It's taken me a little while to get it how I want it.

First was a new timing belt as, despite FSH, there was no record of it having been done, and I used this to drive the asking price down a bit.

I prefer to do my own servicing and, again despite FSH, the plugs, coolant and transmission fluid looked ancient. The car felt much better after the service, especially the gearchange. I suspect the transmission fluid had been a little low, too. It used to crunch a little changing down to 3rd, but that's gone now.

I found the Panda easy to service with good access, and didn't even need to jack the car up. Only the plugs are a bit fiddly, tucked away deep down at the back of the engine. Taking the throttle body off for cleaning improved access. Oh, and FIAT's coolant hose clips are just mean. My engine oil filter and sump plug were stupidly tight, also the sump was quite rusty, so I smeared the used engine oil over it. It seems I'm not the only one to do this...

I initially thought the door mirrors were hopeless, as I could adjust them to see either half my own car, or all my own car, and trying to move the housing was just flexing the mounting and I was worried about breaking it. But it turns out they had just seized in place, and penetrating fluid and spray grease soon got them free. I have to push mine slightly outwards of their normal position, and I'm not a big bloke.

Then I started finding all sorts of help on this forum! I had the dreaded power steering failure once, when manoeuvring out of a car park, and found the answer to my problems on here. I've cleaned the battery earth connections, and make sure I always let the battery recover from the shock of starting the car before setting off.

I also found out about the common rust spots of coolant return pipe and rear axle, and the mud trap behind the front springs (Thank you Dave McT!).

Whilst I had the car up in the air, clearing out the wheelarches, treating springs, shocks and rear axle for rust, I decided to paint my wheels white.
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I just have an aversion to plastic wheel trims. The Panda's aren't too bad (at least they're not trying hard to look like alloys), but I've always had a soft spot for a painted steel wheel. I think they can look great on the right car, and I just prefer them to alloys on small cheap cars.

I thought the off-white would go well with my shade of blue and would give a subtle 'classic Panda' inspired style. Mine even has a tape deck! How's that for retro credentials? Once I'd done it, though, I couldn't help thinking about a junior rally car look. I'm not into modifying my cars, but I'm not against a bit of subtle personalisation and wanted to make sure my Panda wouldn't be mistaken for granny's shopping trolley. I also really wanted a rear spoiler. The 100HP looks so much better for it. Whilst I like the design of the basic Panda inside and out, the rear styling just seems a little abrupt to me, like it got embarrassed and left the room mid-sentence. So I ordered one direct from Team HEKO. Arrived quickly, easy to fix, I'm very happy with it.
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Whilst treating the rear axle, I noticed the outer skin of the exhaust back box had rusted away, so wire-brushed and painted it black, and thought it looked a bit odd so added a chrome tail pipe tip. I never thought would ever do such a thing, but so many cars have them now that I don't think it looks so daft as I would have thought 10 years or so ago. Finally, I couldn't resist the urge to try the junior rally look with some decals. This is my first Italian car, and I've long wanted an excuse for a Magneti Marelli sticker! I wonder if their ignition will be more reliable than the Lucas & SEV Marchal I grew up with?
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My remote key fob rubbers were in a sorry state, so I replaced the buttons, which had a happy side-effect of curing the boot lid of randomly opening itself! I've no idea why it should, maybe the collapsed boot lid button was interfering with the switch? After this, removing the boot handle and cleaning the switch has improved it massively, and now the boot lid opens almost every time!
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We've used our Panda to go camping by removing the rear seats completely, folding the front seats flat and plonking an air-mattress on top. It was, er, cosy! I did sound the horn with my foot in the middle of night once or twice. But it was comfortable.
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The only other conversion for camping was adding interior lights to the rear, which I did by connecting a dual USB socket to the boot light wires. Of course this only gets power when the boot is open, and even then switches off after a few minutes, so it's not much use for devices, but it does give options for USB lights to be connected to illuminate the boot.
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Coming up to my first year of ownership, there are so many things I like about the car, and only a couple of things I don't: the rear axle seems like it could have been better designed (and built), and the incessantly self-cancelling indicators are daft (and unnecessarily tricky for learner drivers). Minor gripes for such a cheap car to buy and run, though. I find the follow-me-home lights useful, and I like the way the lights turns themselves off when you kill the ignition (instead of staying on and draining the battery or, even worse, beeping at me).

Definitely bigger on the inside than the outside. It's amazing how much you can get in them, and I regularly chuck my bike in the back. We only intended to keep it for a couple of years, but now I'm not so sure!
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Last edited by rmjbn1; 15-08-2019 at 17:49.
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Old 15-08-2019   #2
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Re: Psychopanda - qu'est-ce que c'est?

One thing I struggled to find was a Panda-specific maintenance checklist. So I've compiled my own over the 10 months I've had her. It's a bit specific to a couple of issues I've had (door mirrors, boot unlocking), but I hope it's of some use to new owners of old Pandas!

FIAT Panda 169 service

Lubricants:
Engine: 10W-40 semi (2.8l)
drain plug 12mm allen key
Transmission: 75W-80 to API GL5 (1.65l)
filler plug 12mm allen key (front of 'box) / drain plug 8mm allen key (rear of 'box)

Checklist:
To avoid power steering failure (often due to weak battery/connections):
avoid excessive steering inputs just after starting engine
park with wheels straight (steering angle sensor can misread straight-ahead position)
Inspect & treat for rust:
rear axle subframe
mud trap behind front springs
coolant return pipe at front of engine
engine sump pan
all brakes
Clear bulkhead scuttle drains
Monitor tyre wear. Wear most common on front insides & rear outsides.

Has this been done?
Clean battery earth connections
Remove & clean MAP sensor on rhs of throttle body
Change coolant (this engine really appreciates good coolant)
Change clutch fluid
Change brake fluid
Change brake hoses (Follow DaveMcT's advice on this)
Lubricate & free up door mirrors
Remove & clean boot handle switch: https://www.fiatforum.com/panda-guid...6=#post2426273
Boot lid unlocking? Replacing remote key fob rubbers solved this for me

Thank you to all the regular contributors who have made this such a supportive & welcoming forum, especially DaveMcT, PuggltAuldJock, portland_bill, jrkitching, varesecrazy, dac69er amongst many others!

Last edited by rmjbn1; 15-08-2019 at 15:19.
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Old 01-12-2019   #3
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Re: Psychopanda - qu'est-ce que c'est?

He hey, I didn't know you had your own Panda thread. I completely missed that. It has been a very good read so far, and I hope you will continue to update it!

The car looks good, and seems to be in very good nick - especially the paint.
I dig the junior rally theme, and it seems we have pretty much the same view on steel wheels. Your white ones suits the car well.

Good to see that you tried it out as a camper. "Cosy" is exactly the right word, and especially if you were two people in there!. Hitting the horn part made me giggle

So on to the questions
Where did you get those key fob bottons? They seem to fit very well. The 2 sets i have ordered on ebay needed a lot of trimming to get to sit just half decent.

Lastly... How do you insert pictures in your thread. They look to be attachments, but when I attach photos they are all moved to the buttom of the post. I us the gallery myself, and insert medium pictures, and have tried to insert thumbnails as well. When I do that they link to the gallery, and not a pop up photo viewer like yours.
Hope you can help
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Last edited by testacorsa; 01-12-2019 at 16:48.
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Old 06-12-2019   #4
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Re: Psychopanda - qu'est-ce que c'est?

Hi, and thanks for your comments! I'm happy with my white wheels too, although the finish isn't great - might need doing again in a year or two.

I plan to update this profile once I've got round to a few jobs on the rear axle. I want to drop it down to get the spring pans wire brushed and painted, add shims on the hubs (I've been messing about with rear tracking) and try to stop a squeaking rear brake.

My replacement key fob buttons came from Hong Kong via eBay, and the boot button isn't great. I made a bit of a mess of mine hacking it about to fit. Luckily the door buttons were just fine.

The casing on my fob is scratched so I now have an eBay special silicone cover which, er, also isn't a very good fit. Or should that be a very good fiat. The buttons work fine, though.
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I managed to insert pictures like this by accident - I was trying to do something else! Here's how:
Firstly, add pictures as attachments as normal.
Close the pop-up window.
Then click on the Attachments icon again, and you'll see a list of your attached images.
Click on an individual attachment, or 'Insert All' to insert them where the cursor is in your text box.
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Hope this helps!

Last edited by rmjbn1; 06-12-2019 at 14:01.
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Old 08-12-2019   #5
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Re: Psychopanda - qu'est-ce que c'est?

Hey

Should you ever need hubcaps for you wheels, these are the ones I use, and they almost fit out of the box. https://www.outmotoring.com/winter-tire-hub-cap.html
I got mine used ofcourse. They are stainless, but often look rusty, because rusty bolts "contaminate them".

Rear tracking sounds interesting! Looking forward to that!

Thanks for the ebay link. I gow the exact ones, and had to hack the trunk key up as well. I think I will take my chances on a komplete fob next time, and see how that goes.

And thanks a lot for a clear guide to insert pictures in the best way (to my eyes). That should come in handy.

Have a nice sunday.
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Old 08-12-2019   #6
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Re: Psychopanda - qu'est-ce que c'est?

Quote Originally Posted by testacorsa View Post
They are stainless, but often look rusty, because rusty bolts "contaminate them".
Carbon steel in contact with stainless will corrode very quickly - galvanic corrosion. Its the same reason that steel rusts quickly under failed chrome plate.

The best fix would be plastic covers on the wheel bolt heads.

Black - https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l1313&_nkw=184068171 939&_sacat=0

Chrome - https://www.ebay.co.uk/sch/i.html?_from=R40&_trksid=m570.l1313&_nkw=392419323 830&_sacat=0
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Re: Psychopanda - qu'est-ce que c'est?

I finally got round to dropping my rear axle today, a job I've been meaning to do for a few months now but, well, it's been a long old winter

I had three jobs I wanted to do down there:
  • Properly clean and rust-treat the spring pans
  • Check rear brakes (1 was an MOT advisory for slight binding)
  • Continue messing about with shim washers to try and correct rear mis-alignment
I was amazed how easy it was to drop the axle and remove the springs
Thank you @varesecrazy for the excellent guide to doing this, and to @DaveMcT for the advice on using a breaker bar then a drill to run out the lower shocker bolts. The thread is quite long on them.
I soaked them in penetrating fluid a couple of days prior and they both ran out really easily.

I used a range of wire brush attachments on an angle grinder and drill.
And here are my spring pans after wire brushing. Not too bad for 16 years I reckon.
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I had previously treated them 'in-situ' about a year ago by washing then dousing in GT85, old engine oil then finally thinned chainsaw oil.
The main trouble area on mine was the metal to metal spring/pan interface. I also uncovered some 'new' drain holes whilst cleaning, so this is a job well worth doing

I used Fertan to treat the rust. I've had a 1litre bottle for a few years now and it seems to give good results - I haven't had rust come back through after painting over.
Only issue is it recommends 48hours before washing off then painting. It also claims 12months protection without painting, so I've put everything back together unpainted for now.
The Fertan turns all rusty metal black which shows up on the spring pans and brake drums in the rest of the pictures.

After treating the pans I set about attacking rust on the springs, shock absorbers and brake drums.
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I was hoping it was just the rust on the drums causing the binding - the culprit was hard to rotate by hand, sticking on every rotation.

Both drums were a pig to get off due to the lip of rust formed on the inside of the drum. It took a lot of 'ittin'wi't'hammer and prizing to get them off.

I was worried about cracking a drum or damaging the shoe linings - they were a little bit scored by dragging the rusty drum over them, but luckily still attached and a fair bit of meat on them.

No leaks under the wheel cylinder boots, so I just wire-brushed all rusty areas on the drums with the angle grinder, brushed Fertan on and reassembled.
Binding seems to have gone, so fingers crossed...
Rear brake parts are cheap enough, but shoes and cylinders look a right faff to replace.
I still struggle to fathom how the manufacture and especially assembly of drum brakes is cheaper than discs on new cars...

So, on to the rear alignment... I've been inappropriately fiddling with my Panda's rear end to try to correct excessive wear on the left rear tyre outside edge.
This I suspect was caused by too much toe-in on the left rear.
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There was evidence in the file that it had been doing this on the same corner for some time before I got the car, so it wasn't just this tyre at fault.
There were tyre condition reports all showing the same wear pattern and a few bills for one new tyre at MOT time... I wonder if this had anything to do with them getting rid of my car...?

My car's steering was also pulling slightly to the left, but it seems most Pandas do this anyway.

I'd previously added some 1mm washers to the front two bolts on the left rear hub, and ended up with this:
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So I'd obviously pushed the left rear too far into toe-out territory.
Four wheel alignment also revealed too much toe-in on the right rear. The 169 Panda is (according to this read-out) supposed to have +1.5mm toe-in each side, so overall +3.0mm and of course zero thrust angle. I wonder if any of them do?

In the 7 months since, the tyre hasn't obviously been wearing out in the same fashion as before.
The pull to the left has also completely gone.
In fact, if left to run straight, she will now very gradually veer off to the right!

Which clearly isn't how it's supposed to be, so I thought I'd try and bring both sides closer to where they should be. I need to adjust the left rear by 2.7mm and the right rear by 1.6mm.
I sourced some shim washers, removed 0.3mm from the left rear hub and added 0.1mm to the right.

Now my rear axle is sporting 0.7mm shims (1x0.5mm, 2x0.1mm) on the left, 0.1mm on the right.
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I'm going to continue to monitor tyre wear and see how she feels on fast straight roads for a while now, then I may get alignment checked again.
As others have pointed out, laser wheel alignment isn't necessarily that accurate.
And anyway, I'm only looking to get rear alignment in the right sort of area so that she runs true and stops scrubbing off tyres.

It's a strange feeling knowing that a car of mine isn't merrily rusting away somewhere. Rather a good feeling too
Now just waiting for some warmer weather to paint all the previously rusty bits

Last edited by rmjbn1; 2 Weeks Ago at 00:42.
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #8
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Re: Psychopanda - qu'est-ce que c'est?

I fitted two washer shaped 1mm gasket pieces behind the top and front bolt of the left rear back plate as my tyre was wearing on the inside shoulder I also fitting new lower wishbones (mot advisory), torqueing the bolts when the measurement was correct iaw Haynes. I then had the alignment check done when I had all 4 tyres replaced.

Mine was spot on all readings, the garage staff were very surprised, stating that they'd never seen a Panda alignment all green, I was well chuffed.
Tyre wear is now very even across all 4 wheels.
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Re: Psychopanda - qu'est-ce que c'est?

Quote Originally Posted by 09 johno View Post
the garage staff were very surprised, stating that they'd never seen a Panda alignment all green, I was well chuffed.
Haha I bet they were Cheers Johno, good to know it can be done! And congratulations on having maybe the straightest Panda out there

I found small adjustments at the hub translated into dramatic effects at the wheel rim and tryre surface as the washers effectively act as fulcrum.

I started with a standard zinc M10 washer 1.3mm thick and could immediately see it was too much from the front of the rear wheel pointing outwards.

I swapped these for 1.0mm shims which I've been running for 7 months, and which gave me the above alignment readings. My DIY readings at home suggested that:
1mm shim at hub = 10mm of movement at tyre surface (approx).

My rear camber seems almost spot-on and front wheel alignment was corrected at the time, so with any luck mine will also be in the green next time
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Re: Psychopanda - qu'est-ce que c'est?

which is why I used gasket material.
as it is the fixings are torqued up, the gasket crushes down to about 0.5-0.7mm
so your shims should be spot on.
It would make life easier if the fixings were in the same plain though!

fingers crossed for your next alignment check.
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Re: Psychopanda - qu'est-ce que c'est?

Great idea. Gasket material accounts for the angle introduced by the spacer. You can check with feeler gauges if the depth is needed.

I need to look at mine as the car pulls left even though the garage tracking says all is good.
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Re: Psychopanda - qu'est-ce que c'est?

Gasket material is indeed a great idea. I wish I'd thought of that! Where were you 09 johno when I was agonising over this last year?

I managed to source some 0.1mm M10 shim washers with a larger O/D of 22mm, then my 0.5mm shim is 16mm O/D, so I figured the 'step' up to the shim on the front hub bolts wouldn't be quite as dramatic.

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If this doesn't give the desired result, I think I'll swap them for gasket material too.

The hub mounting nuts can apparently strip their threads very easily as the exposed threads are usually damaged and filthy.

I wire-brushed and soaked them in penetrating oil and took it very gently taking them off. A few tightened up on the thread so I backed up, cleaned, lubricated and eased them off.

Reassembled with copaslip and second removal was much easier
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Re: Psychopanda - qu'est-ce que c'est?

Your axle is A LOT less rusty than either of my Pandas. Mrs Dave's 2007 Panda now has a 2015 Fiat 500 axle which was as new for 150. It came complete with brakes, shocks and hand brake cables. I got the 500 springs thrown in by the breakers. It handles and rides much better than the Panda axle but must have the 500 springs and it wont work on a 100HP.

Mine was not so bad but still pretty cruddy. I had the axle grit blasted and zinc metal sprayed. It's a protection overkill but at 80 plus the hassle of taking the axle it seemed daft not to.

My hub spindle retaining studs were pretty rusty. Lots of WD40 softened the crud but the nuts jammed after a few turns. It took considerable time to wind the nuts back & forth and eventually off. A better option would have been a suitable thread cleaning die-nut but mine were too rusty to measure the threads.
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Last edited by DaveMcT; 1 Week Ago at 18:10.
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Re: Psychopanda - qu'est-ce que c'est?

Cheers Dave, yes I was pleasantly surprised at the state of my axle. The South-East of England is good for some things after all then

I really enjoyed your thread on swapping the axle for a post-2012 500 axle with ARB and softer springs.

I keep umming-and-ahhing about getting one, and when the time comes to change spings or shocks I definitely will and just swap the lot.

Looks like we've (well, I have) decided to keep our Panda long-term so I'm very tempted to get a recent 500 axle anyway for the improved ride and handling.

Was it @jrkitching suggested the manufacturing tolerances seem to be improved on these later axles, so the hub mounting faces are more parallel and they don't have 'our' characteristic wonky left spring pan?

Also, are post-2012 Panda and Ford Ka the same, or does it need to be a 500? Just so I know when I start rummaging around breakers' yards

Last edited by rmjbn1; 1 Week Ago at 20:57.
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Re: Psychopanda - qu'est-ce que c'est?

Meanwhile, in other news...

Spring's here! And here are my springs (and pans) enjoying the warm(ish) weather with a new lick o paint...

Red oxide primer...
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This view shows the construction of the spring pans quite well, just in case anyone's interested, with some newly-discovered drain holes...
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Painted and awaiting assembly...
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Back together again
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Likes The Panda Nut, jrkitching liked this post

Last edited by rmjbn1; 1 Week Ago at 21:05.
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