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Old 01-08-2018   #1
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Exclamation My Breakdown Experience

I had my top-spec 2011 Punto 1.2 Evo Start/Stop for 2 years and never did it fail me - until the day before I was going to bet my brand new car! I drove to the cinema, parked and then the car turned off by itself and unlocked the doors, put the interior lights on and came up with the following messages:

Fuel cut-off unavailable
Check power steering - see handbook
Start/Stop unavailable
Immobiliser warning light
Engine warning light



I was mortified. I called AA, RAC, Greenflag but none could honestly say what was wrong. I was towed home by an independent company setting me back £70 but at least I was home. I had 3 mechanics come out the next day to have a look and none could find what was wrong. I had my dash ripped out in the hope of trying to find a fuel cut-off switch as advised by Dunstable Fiat but no one could find it.

It had been jacked up but nothing obvious seemed wrong. All fuses/relays were fine, no fuel leak, battery was disconnected for 24 hours and it didn't work.

I thought to myself - "well this is it" - I either had to scrap it, sell it for spares or repairs or take out a second mortgage and send it to Fiat to fix. But after ringing an auto-electician as a last resort, he said "I think I know the problem, I'll be round in the morning".

At only £40 an hour it seemed pretty admirable. After doing diagnostics and only the cluster showing up he was practically upside-down under the bonnet looking for the problem and after an hour he knocked on my door and said he'd found the source of the problem. A single wire. He couldn't trace it as far as he needed to while it was on my drive so he had it towed to his workshop last Monday lunchtime and had fixed it by that evening. This wire was right under the gearstick next to the central computer and was a clean cut. He had no idea how it happened and neither do I - but this little brown wire caused all those warning messages/lights, cut off the engine and managed to make the car forget it had an engine. The wire had broken due to vibrations in the car - that's all.

A final diagnostics was done and AT LAST I heard the engine turn over! Absolute relief! It cost me £350 to fix in total - including parts, towing etc. Fiat had quoted me £200 just for a diagnostic check and started going on about how it probably needed an ECU which would set me back a hefty £1,500.

My advice would be, even though calling Fiat seems like the easy thing to do, source an independent auto-electrician for problems with diagnostics as those who work at Fiat are primarily service techs and would probably just stick a new computer in it and give you the bill instead of investigating it. PLUS when I spoke to Fiat they said they'd never even heard of a fuel cut-off switch (which wouldn't have fixed it anyway).

All this hassle over one single wire but I'm so glad it wasn't anything more expensive.

I thought I'd share my story in case there's anyone else having the same problem with their car. I've been told its more common on the newer models due to the more advanced tech specs in comparison to pre-2009 models.
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Old 01-08-2018   #2
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Re: My Breakdown Experience

Quote Originally Posted by ellielou98 View Post
the car turned off by itself and unlocked the doors, put the interior lights on and came up with the following messages:

Fuel cut-off unavailable
Check power steering - see handbook
Start/Stop unavailable
Immobiliser warning light
Engine warning light
All of the above are what happens if the fuel cutoff switch has been activated.

Early cars had a mechanical inertia switch with a reset button on it. For later cars, the switch is built into the car's body Computer and is reset by carrying out the following procedure:

Turn the ignition key to MAR.
Activate the right-hand indicator.
Deactivate the right-hand indicator.
Activate the left-hand indicator.
Deactivate the left-hand indicator.
Activate the right-hand indicator.
Deactivate the right-hand indicator.
Activate the left-hand indicator.
Deactivate the left-hand indicator.
Turn the ignition key to STOP.

Would hate to "burst your bubble", but perhaps the auto electrician charged you £350 to press a button, or move the indicator switch up and down a few times.
.
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Old 01-08-2018   #3
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Angry Re: My Breakdown Experience

If it was the cut off switch then why would a wire be broken which is nothing to do with the fuel cut off? I'm confident I haven't been ripped off as I have seen pictures and videos which the mechanic took and it is in such an awkward place in the car, you have to take a lot of instruments off.


I have since learnt that because of the battery in my car and the technology which it is fitted with it is possible that the fuel cut off switch isn't a switch at all but an electrical fault which needs to be reprogrammed. This wasn't surprising to hear since a lot of modern cars have outgrown this outdated way of resetting the fuel cut off, as I was told by a master technician at Fiat.


I have tried everything on the forum - indicator sequence, looking for the switch in all places possible, bump starting, push starting etc... It was a wire and a wire alone which caused this, not the fuel cut off.
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Old 01-08-2018   #4
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Re: My Breakdown Experience

Back when I worked in the trade, I basically did exactly this, fixing electrical faults that other people could not trace.

Sometimes it was very much trial and error, but you needed a lot of understanding of how the car is put together and made.

Computers in cars (despite the ‘more to go wrong’ mantra that people like to chant) actually don’t often go wrong and it’s usually a simple wire or an earn point or similar causing the problem, people spend a fortune chasing their tail and eventually they give up, then a dealer buys the car cheap gets the auto sparky in and the car is fixed in no time.

Back in the 1990s Mercedes changed their wiring to a biodegradable type of insulation, the problem was the wires started biodegrading in the cars, leading to cars needing a total wiring loom change.

I think fiat may have done something similar, not maybe to the same extent, but the amount of modern fiats with electrical problems caused by wires cracking and breaking when old fiats never had this problem suggests something is inherently wrong with the wiring in current fiats.
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