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Old 15-05-2008   #16
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Re: Panda 4x4 NIGHTMARE, RIP OFF, Don't buy it!

Obviously this is Fiat forum and I suspect that the majority of posters are sympathetic to the brand and in some cases have a vested interest in that they work for a Fiat dealer.

Trying to look at things dispassionately it would seem that Fiat have a very long way to go in terms of their handling of customers. The '3 year warranty' is a PR disaster - there seems to be lack of clarity and some confusion about what is and isn't covered during the third year. Either Fiat UK should take on the warranty themselves and make it 'comprehensive' or abandon it completely. The 'dealer backed' third year is a mess. Added to this we have dealers making 'diagnostic' charges for investigating obvious faults that are covered under warranty. My guess is that Fiat UK are very very strict about paying dealers for warranty work (probably because of the poor quality of the product and consequent high number of claims received) and so the dealers try to 'hedge their bets' by charging customers.

Certainly my own experience (after owning a string of Japanese cars) is that Fiat are in their own world - its no wonder that they consistently come low down in customer satisfaction surveys. Their attitude to customers is stuck in the 1970's - they won't get away with it for long in the 21st century. The Japanese brands (Nissan, Suzuki, Subaru) basically jumped on any little problem and couldn't do enough for me. The two local Fiat dealers I have used seem to view me as a nuisance and any report of a fault is met with bemusement!

My Panda MJ has now had front shocks replaced, several tracking fixes (charged for), gearbox rebuild, diesel injection system repair work and several other lesser repairs. It is probably the most troublesome car I have owned (I have been driving for over 30 years and have owned a lot of cars in that time).
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Old 15-05-2008   #17
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Re: Panda 4x4 NIGHTMARE, RIP OFF, Don't buy it!

Quote Originally Posted by 306maxi View Post
He didn't say the gearboxes in Suzuki's ALL break. He said there are problems. Some companies have problems with components. Either in a batch or in the design of the component.
Yes, I can read. However I wouldn't be surprised if the design of the gearbox in the SX4 is not very similar to that in the Swift - probably designed by the same team of people and using the same component suppliers. I was merely enquiring the veracity of the statement and whether he could supply a link etc. - what exactly is alleged to go wrong?
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Old 15-05-2008   #18
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Re: Panda 4x4 NIGHTMARE, RIP OFF, Don't buy it!

Steph, unless you've had experience of 4x4 vehicles in the past, could I suggest you might be happier avoiding them. Although they will get up that snowy hill or across that muddy field that stop other cars in their tracks, they can actually be harder to drive in certain snowy or icy conditions than a front wheel drive car with thinnish tyres. In addition, their abiliity to get moving more easily in slippy conditions can lead to complacency over the fact that they cannot stop any easier. Not patronising you, just sharing my own experience and a mistake that I can still make having driven 4x4's for almost 15 years.
In addition, they are more mechanically and in some cases electronically complicated and so may prove less reliable. I have owned 3 4x4's now and have had various tyre wear issues with them all and the extra weight and drive to all wheels wears the tyres more quickly. They are all heavier than their 2wd counterparts and so use more fuel. They are all more expensive to buy and suffer heavier depreciation.
I buy 4x4's from a weird "would be explorer" mentality. I chose the new Panda 4x4 because I always wanted the original but family size dictated that at that time I needed something bigger.
If you can find a dealer you trust and I know that there will be very little choice up there, try a front wheel drive Panda. My daughter has a 2 year old 1.1 Active that has clocked up 27,000 miles, plenty of life still in brakes and tyres, not a single warranty claim.
Or, how about the Honda Jazz. We've had one from new since 2003 that has done 43,000 miles, rarely does less than 44mpg, had one simple fault repaired free outside warranty as it was a known problem and will certainly give 10 years and 100,000 miles trouble free motoring.
Happy motoring, Chris.
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Old 15-05-2008   #19
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Re: Panda 4x4 NIGHTMARE, RIP OFF, Don't buy it!

Hi Chris!

Thanks for your comments! I indeed haven't had a lot of experince with 4x4 - the Panda was the first one and the only reason for buying it was my job - and that's why I went for another one again now. I need to be able to drive around on gravely construction site tracks, snowy uncleared tracks and roads, land rover and forestry tracks and many of the construction sites have H&S regulations with a 4x4 only policy... If it wasn't for that I probably would go for something none 4x4... On the other hand, roads up north here can be really nasty in winter and to see others around you sliding left right and centre but not having any problems myself was a good point about the Panda - it did give me that extra bit of comfort and security. But I knew full well that it still was a Panda and I would have never tried any proper off-roading...

I did love the little Panda for the first year and a bit but a combination of things going wrong and this dealer from hell just got me to a point where I did not want anything to do with them...

How wise the decision was only time will tell!

Cheers

Steph
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Old 15-05-2008   #20
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Re: Panda 4x4 NIGHTMARE, RIP OFF, Don't buy it!

Quote Originally Posted by Panda57 View Post
Yes, I can read. However I wouldn't be surprised if the design of the gearbox in the SX4 is not very similar to that in the Swift - probably designed by the same team of people and using the same component suppliers. I was merely enquiring the veracity of the statement and whether he could supply a link etc. - what exactly is alleged to go wrong?
Most of this stuff doesn't get reported. In the automotive media if you print negative stuff about a brand you'll find in the future it'll be harder to get a car to test drive and so on......
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Old 15-05-2008   #21
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Re: Panda 4x4 NIGHTMARE, RIP OFF, Don't buy it!

How about the Suzuki Jimny. Not much cop on road, not much room inside but very cheap these days, unbreakable in the worst off-road situations and totally reliable. Still has a chassis so grounding out and big knocks to the underside are easily sustained. If I had your job with its demands and only needed a small car that would be my choice.
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Old 15-05-2008   #22
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Re: Panda 4x4 NIGHTMARE, RIP OFF, Don't buy it!

Quote Originally Posted by Panda57 View Post
Would you be able to provide a link or some other reference to back up that comment? I had a Swift for two years which was great - lovely gearbox. My Panda MJ gearbox has had to have a rebuild at 20k however
Depends.

Do you have access to Suzuki technical bulletins? It's all in there.
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Old 15-05-2008   #23
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Re: Panda 4x4 NIGHTMARE, RIP OFF, Don't buy it!

Quote Originally Posted by The Beast View Post
Depends.

Do you have access to Suzuki technical bulletins? It's all in there.
No, l don't have access. What goes wrong with them then?
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Old 15-05-2008   #24
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Re: Panda 4x4 NIGHTMARE, RIP OFF, Don't buy it!

To StephinScotland

If you have to have a smallish 4x4 car then consider a non-turbo Subaru (Impreza or Forester). They would be a lot heavier on the petrol than your Panda, although the later one (2005-on) are more powerful and economical.

We had a non-turbo Impreza and put 150k on it. Absolutely fantastic car, the wife and I loved it to bits. Just totally solid and reliable. Would have liked the turbo model, but couldn't afford the insurance and 22mpg economy, more's the pity!
In all of that mileage we only had to replace two driveshaft rubber gaiters. Everything else was just service items (timing belts, filters, brake pads and discs) and the trim and chassis stood up to the hard use very well. You could get a decent secondhand one for the price of you Panda. Running costs (mainly fuel) could be high if you cover a high mileage though. If you're a low miles driver then this would be much less of an issue. Subaru dealer servicing can be expensive, but you'll find a local garage can service a non-turbo version quite inexpensively.
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Old 15-05-2008   #25
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Re: Panda 4x4 NIGHTMARE, RIP OFF, Don't buy it!

The insurance on the turbo model (UK 2000 or WRX) isn't that bad really - at 22 with 1 year's NCB I paid 1200 - and ours averaged 27mpg being abused and a shade above 30mpg driving a bit more economically. Servicing was quite frequent at 7.5k miles but I think the newer ones are slightly bettwer at 10k miles. I'd guess tax is going to be the real killer these days.

Completely agree on the solid and reliable though - the only problem with ours was a dead battery in year 5 and being so addictive to drive that we put on a hell of a lot more miles than we'd planned to!

Our neighbour had a Forester turbo and that was a very competent car with plenty of stealth value.

Chris
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Old 15-05-2008   #26
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Re: Panda 4x4 NIGHTMARE, RIP OFF, Don't buy it!

Quote Originally Posted by Panda57 View Post
No, l don't have access. What goes wrong with them then?
They become difficult to put into certain gears. I think it's a syncro problem but am no tech.
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Old 16-05-2008   #27
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Re: Panda 4x4 NIGHTMARE, RIP OFF, Don't buy it!

Quote Originally Posted by Panda57 View Post
To StephinScotland

If you have to have a smallish 4x4 car then consider a non-turbo Subaru (Impreza or Forester). They would be a lot heavier on the petrol than your Panda, although the later one (2005-on) are more powerful and economical.

We had a non-turbo Impreza and put 150k on it. Absolutely fantastic car, the wife and I loved it to bits. Just totally solid and reliable. Would have liked the turbo model, but couldn't afford the insurance and 22mpg economy, more's the pity!
In all of that mileage we only had to replace two driveshaft rubber gaiters. Everything else was just service items (timing belts, filters, brake pads and discs) and the trim and chassis stood up to the hard use very well. You could get a decent secondhand one for the price of you Panda. Running costs (mainly fuel) could be high if you cover a high mileage though. If you're a low miles driver then this would be much less of an issue. Subaru dealer servicing can be expensive, but you'll find a local garage can service a non-turbo version quite inexpensively.
Don't quite get how people get such bad economy out of Subaru's. I could get almost 40mpg out of my girlfriends L reg Legacy Turbo and they's renowned for being thirsty. Of course my drive to work was about 20 miles each way and I only needed to brake a couple of times as it's mostly dual carriageway and fast a road. But the engine has nearly 200k miles on it and they were never very good on fuel in the first place. I'd think an NA one would be a lot more fuel efficient if like me you can be nice and gentle with the throttle.

Enquired about services today for it at a proper Subaru garage and it's 180 for a light service, 280 for a medium and ~450 for a timing belt. So not totally unreasonable I think.

Personally if it were me and ground clearance wasn't an issue I'd go for an Impreza. I'm not really a fan of Subaru's but they are reliable.
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