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Old 06-01-2015   #1
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engine reliability on new pandas

Hi All,

have just discovered this brilliant forum about fiat pandas! I've just joined the "internet" recently, bit of an old technophobe !

I have had five Pandas over the last twenty years and would never wish for anything better....love them, funky and cool ....

Anyway I am about to buy a new one, going for a test on Saturday 11th. Looking at a Lounge 1.2. I am totally useless at any form of engineering, opening the petrol cap is about the limit of my skills and knowledge.

My previous 1.2 powered Pandas have been brilliant, however a neighbour told me about a BBC programme basically "slating" the engine. I have since watched the programme and also seen the hundreds of comments about this problem online in this forum and others.

I am now totally confused about the situation. Talked to the sales manager and he advised me that all Panda 1.2's are now fitted with an ESC (whatever that is) and the problem has been cured and I have nothing to worry about (well he would say that wouldn't he!)

Dear Fiat lovers please help me with the following queries...I'm scared to proceed, even though I will still have a new Panda eventually.

1. Is the 1.2 "fixed" and now running OK as per the BBC faults?
2. Is the Twin Air also affected by similar running problems?
3. What would you advise I do, buy the 1.2 or to be safe the TA? (assuming the TA is OK)
4. Wait a while until I can definitely establish the position or wait for Fiat to correct whatever is wrong.

All help will be most gratefully received!!!!
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Old 06-01-2015   #2
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Re: engine reliability on new pandas

Hi I have a diesel panda it's fab! I have the 500 with the 1.2 engine that has no probs at all and both are brand new! So from my experience it's all good!
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Old 06-01-2015   #3
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Re: engine reliability on new pandas

I have a TA 500 and the TA engine is brilliant. I've done 21000 miles in 23 months and have loved every trouble free mile. If it was me I would go for the TA, more SPG (Smiles Per Gallon) than any other car I've owned, which includes some considered great cars, with the possible exception of the 1986 Panda 1000CL I also own
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Old 06-01-2015   #4
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Re: engine reliability on new pandas

Its not the engine it was the code they put in to the ecu to lower emissions to comply with eu regs
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Old 06-01-2015   #5
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Re: engine reliability on new pandas

We can debate the issue till were can can red in the face, but the answer is 'test one'! Its what we did. And theres nothing wrong with it. Yes the TA is more powerful but ours is fast enough, refined and combined gives us 50mpg. As well as being a car that puts a smile on your face. Though of course another 16 bhp would come in useful sometimes!
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Old 06-01-2015   #6
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Re: engine reliability on new pandas

If I was buying a 1.2 these days I would insist that before any money changed hands I got an extended test drive, during which a steep hill would be negotiated. If I was happy and it performed as well as the car I would have tested before I ordered, then I would agree to take it, otherwise they could keep it. (Although having had a TA I wouldn't buy a 1.2 now especially as I can see the 4 pot 1.2 being phased out soon.)

Saying that, most of the 1.2's out there are fantastic little engines and are direct descendants of the 999cc engine in my 1986 Panda, which appears to be bullet proof.
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Old 07-01-2015   #7
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Re: engine reliability on new pandas

There's a lot been said and written about the latest 1.2's, some of it is based on truth, but as anyone will tell you, test drive and test drive again!

As far as most can tell it seems from around Feb/March 2014 the 1.2's got a bit of revision to their ECU programming, the noticable part of which is the relation to rpm and the clutch when pulling away.

It seems the ECU will, as with a lot of cars these days, take over the engine speed to prevent a stall when the clutch pedal is raised.
This came in at around the date mentioned, as the cars before that didn't do it.

I gather problems begins when too much user input is applied at this time, so when control of the throttle is passed back to the user, it either bogs or jerks off like Road Runner (or both) due to it suddenly realising the throttle is wide open.

Luckily, I have access to three different 1.2's,
a '54 plate,
a '10 plate
and the Mrs's 14 plate Lounge

I've also driven a couple of others (63's and 14's) in both Panda and 500 and the "problem" isn't too much of a hassle with these later cars once you realise what's going on.

When pulling away lift the clutch and allow the ECU to increase rpm on it's own first without any input of your right foot, then once creeping, apply the throttle gradually and hey presto, you're smoothly away!

As written, it's not unusual in modern cars, my Xtype did this back in 2004, it detected the clutch being raised, so the throttle bypass opened to increase the rpm to prevent a stall.

Myself, I've the 4x4 Twinair and it suffers not from this problem, but it does have it's own issues that take a bit of getting used to.

It takes a bit of time to get the best out of it and you have to go against your natural feelings when your ear starts telling you it's time to change down!

It's easy to enjoy the feel, noise and power delivery and as everyone with one knows, this really ruins the mpg.

But it does like being flogged in higher gears and will happliy chug along when your senses think it's time to change down.

Torque is delivered very low down in the rev range and fairly evenly all the way through, so it will putput along at 1900 rpm delivering the same sort of torque as it does at 5000 rpm, you think it's struggling, shuddering and vibrating a little too much but it isn't really, it is natually viby due to it only having two cylinders.

It really is a lot of fun and makes some great noises driven both ways, but you must remember it's not a 4 cylinder engine and will feel and work differently and as such, won't be to everyone's taste.
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Old 07-01-2015   #8
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Re: engine reliability on new pandas

Goudrons, that's spot on re the Twinair. Years since I have driven a FIRE engine so I can't bring anything to the party there but what you describe is exactly my experience so far of the Twinair in the Cross, especially the bit about curbing your natural inclination to change down.

It's a fascinating little engine and I have rapidly grown rather fond of it, in fact it has joined a certain Busso designed V6 in my top 3 motors.
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Old 07-01-2015   #9
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Re: engine reliability on new pandas

There's an epic thread on the Fiat 500 1.2 throttle issues here:-

https://www.fiatforum.com/500/339820...report-84.html

There are a few similar posts regarding the Panda but suspect the 500 is more documented due to volume of sales.

Echoing what others have said, there isn't anything intrinsically wrong with the mechanicals of the 1.2 engine. Fiat seem to have dropped the ball with revisions to the ECU late 2013/early 2014, possibly through software or component issues. More importantly, Fiat have spectacularly mismanaged customer relations thereafter.

The difficulty as a potential customer is that not all recent 1.2 engines are affected by the throttle response issue. A test drive is a must, preferably in your intended purchase car, and would definitely try a few steep hill starts. Having driven other 1.2 Pandas you will have an idea of how the engine should perform although personally I find that the 69HP 1.2 isn't as torquey at low revs as the older 60HP ones.

Similar to Scout's comments above: if you can only get a test drive in a demonstrator, I would recommend that any purchase you make is conditional on your car performing as the demonstrator car did.
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Old 07-01-2015   #10
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Re: engine reliability on new pandas

Just a further update to the last post - if you take a look at the latest posts on that epic 500 thread, someone has had a software update for their 1.2 500 today and it is now pulling away much better. So hopefully some light at the end of the tunnel.

That aside, it still is a great engine. Dinosaur it may be, but in today's economic climate it still makes a lot of sense - cheap to run and insure, good fuel economy, decent performance if you are willing to let it rev (good fun!), and very reliable too.

As others have said though, you've had good experience of the 1.2 and if you did manage to end up with a new dud then it would become apparent straight away.

I'd have a good chat to your dealer and see what they say.
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Old 07-01-2015   #11
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Re: engine reliability on new pandas

Its 69 BHP in a modern crash resistant body. I imagine my old 127 1050 would murder it, but that's not the point, it is what it is. As for the revs I increasing stuff, its what every ecu controlled engine has done since year dot. Ohh I'm stalling please stop me... So.... want it, drive it, like it, get it! ( But the TA is still a nagging option if u have the funds)
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Old 07-01-2015   #12
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Re: engine reliability on new pandas

Super Uwe indeed there does seem to be a working fix which is great news.

Quote Originally Posted by ExBluebird View Post
As for the revs I increasing stuff, its what every ecu controlled engine has done since year dot. Ohh I'm stalling please stop me....
But that's not the issue with the affected 1.2's is it?
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Old 07-01-2015   #13
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Re: engine reliability on new pandas

I called into the Fiat showroom today on a whim and totally unplanned.

I asked Reg (salesman) if I could take out a Panda 1.2 and try some hill starts as I was concerned about the problems we are are all aware of. "Yes" he replied, "no problem, I'm just finishing this Panda sale with this couple, grab yourself a coffee, I'll be about 15 minutes".

Got my coffee and started mooching around. Approached by another salesman in the next door showroom. "Can I help you sir"? he asked. "Just waiting for a road test with Reg thanks, I replied"

We then started chatting and I asked him about the 1.2 possible problems and did he have a Panda with a twin I could also test. "No Pandas with TA twin in stock but you could have a run out in the 500 demonstrator, same engine".

Great I thought. He jumped in the 500 with me and off we went, within 200 metres I had made the decision, not only did I want the TA twin but I also wanted the 500!

Never having been in a 500 before I was amazed how much space there actually is. Looks tiny from the outside, the quality of the cabin is superb and I found myself just wanting to take it home there and then.

The engine sounds brilliant, like one of my old motorbikes from the 60's, some may hate it, some may like it, i LOVE it!

We had a twenty minute run around including a fast carriageway and some steep hills, wow, what a brilliant little car. I never stopped grinning for the entire 20minutes.

When I got back Reg had disappeared with his buyers on a test so I sat down and studied the options in the 500 catalogue.

When he eventually returned he was in a very happy mood having completed a deal.

"Ok, he said, lets get down to sorting out your new Panda".

"Don't bother Reg I said, i'll sign up now for a 500 TA Lounge in that off white colour".

"Blimey, he replied, it"s way over your Panda budget that we discussed".

"Yes, I know" I replied, but if you don't tell my missus...I won't!

The cabin of the 500, a nice place to be....can"t wait!

Thanks to everybody who took the time to reply to post what a brilliant set of enthusiasts. Really appreciate your comments and effort.

Hope I can play my wee part in future. Will post a picture of my new 500 when I am able to.
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Old 08-01-2015   #14
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Re: engine reliability on new pandas

It took 200 yards for me to decide on the TwinAir engine in the 500!

I can understand your feelings.
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Old 08-01-2015   #15
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Re: engine reliability on new pandas

Quote Originally Posted by highlander52 View Post
I called into the Fiat showroom today on a whim and totally unplanned.

I asked Reg (salesman) if I could take out a Panda 1.2 and try some hill starts as I was concerned about the problems we are are all aware of. "Yes" he replied, "no problem, I'm just finishing this Panda sale with this couple, grab yourself a coffee, I'll be about 15 minutes".

Got my coffee and started mooching around. Approached by another salesman in the next door showroom. "Can I help you sir"? he asked. "Just waiting for a road test with Reg thanks, I replied"

We then started chatting and I asked him about the 1.2 possible problems and did he have a Panda with a twin I could also test. "No Pandas with TA twin in stock but you could have a run out in the 500 demonstrator, same engine".

Great I thought. He jumped in the 500 with me and off we went, within 200 metres I had made the decision, not only did I want the TA twin but I also wanted the 500!

Never having been in a 500 before I was amazed how much space there actually is. Looks tiny from the outside, the quality of the cabin is superb and I found myself just wanting to take it home there and then.

The engine sounds brilliant, like one of my old motorbikes from the 60's, some may hate it, some may like it, i LOVE it!

We had a twenty minute run around including a fast carriageway and some steep hills, wow, what a brilliant little car. I never stopped grinning for the entire 20minutes.

When I got back Reg had disappeared with his buyers on a test so I sat down and studied the options in the 500 catalogue.

When he eventually returned he was in a very happy mood having completed a deal.

"Ok, he said, lets get down to sorting out your new Panda".

"Don't bother Reg I said, i'll sign up now for a 500 TA Lounge in that off white colour".

"Blimey, he replied, it"s way over your Panda budget that we discussed".

"Yes, I know" I replied, but if you don't tell my missus...I won't!

The cabin of the 500, a nice place to be....can"t wait!

Thanks to everybody who took the time to reply to post what a brilliant set of enthusiasts. Really appreciate your comments and effort.

Hope I can play my wee part in future. Will post a picture of my new 500 when I am able to.
Yes, the TA does that. I find its more a Marmite engine (you either love it or hate it, no middle ground) and I knew I wanted one within seconds of getting behind the wheel. Welcome to the growing group of TA lovers.
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