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FIAT 500 (2007-2015)


Fiat 500 (2007-2015)Cashing in on a spate of retro-styled vehicles, Fiat scored an immediate hit with the 500. Launched as a two-door hatchback and a cabrio, the
vehicle sold more than 1.5 million units during it’s seven year run and paved the way for the re-introduction to the North American market.

Curiously, the 500 was far more successful than the second-generation Ford Ka, with which it shared a platform – despite the fact that the Ford had a more comfortable suspension set up.

Engines include a naturally-aspirated 1.2 petrol, a more perky 1.3 and 1.4 petrol as well as a Multijet common-rail diesel unit. From 2010 onwards a Twinair version was also available. These two-cylinder engines are more similar in concept to the 1950s car, although the engineering could not be more different.

Just to confuse things, a special edition called ‘By Diesel’ was launched available in 1.2 and 1.4 petrol only!

WHEELS

Such is the way that these cars are configured when they were ordered there is a confusing array of wheel size combinations available for the same car. Briefly, you could order the car with 14,15 or 16” wheels. Fiatforum.com says that tyres should always be H-rated.

SUSPENSION UPGRADES

Anyone buying a Fiat 500 will have to get used to a choppy ride, particularly on pre-2010 models (there were a few changes made to the set-up in later cars). The fiatforum.com says that this harshness is due in part to the engine, with the 1.4 being the harshest and the 1.3 being the smoothest. Oddly, forum members indicate that the ride comfort can actually be improved with the fitment of Bilstein B14 sports dampers, although lowering a car is not usually associated with increased comfort.

Other members report that Koni FSD dampers can also be used as an aftermarket upgrade to the suspension. TecAlliance suggests that fitting a special plastic cover to the coil spring upper winding will sort this out.

MORE SUSPENSION ISSUES

Motaquip points out that upper shock absorber bushes are known to fail prematurely, causing knocking and vibration to occur within rear suspension components.

First Line note the odd fact that models fitted with Xenon headlights have a unique left hand suspension arm that differs from the standard left hand arm by having threaded mounting points for the headlight adjustment.

ROTATING ELECTRICS

1.2 and 1.4 petrol models have a known issue with the drive belt becoming loose say Autoelectro. This can be caused due to either incorrect tensioning of the drive belt or the belt has become stretched. This fault can result in belt slippage and the alternator to charge incorrectly. The firm also say that the 1.3 JTD/Multijet models with stop start have a known issue where the start-stop system fails to automatically re-start the engine. This fault is caused by a fault with the vehicles engine control module.

LUBRICATION

On all petrol models a smell of engine burning oil indicates the crankcase breather pipe down the back of the engine hair line splitting, causing fumes to enter the heating system according to the RMI.

The RMI also point out that if the engine oil pressure warning illuminates intermittently then there is an ECU issue that can be fixed with a software flash (unless of course there really is an issue with oil pressure drop, in which case the remedy is likely to be substantially more expensive).

Petronas say that care is needed when choosing the correct oil grade: 85hp Twinair requires a synthetic 5w-40 meeting ACEA C3, but the otherwise identical 65hp needs a synth 0w-30 meeting ACEA C2.

Comma Oil remind us that Fiat specify a two-year change interval for a reason: The system is hard worked and will degrade over time.

RECALLS

Surprisingly, there have been no fewer than ten DVSA recalls on this range. These include fuel leaking from the manifold and a risk of rear brake lock up. Worryingly (and we think uniquely) there was a risk of the wrong airbag deploying on certain models. The Arbarth had a recall relating to a risk of failing lights. Check that any model passing through your care has had these done.

BRAKES

Brake calipers are known to suffer with significant corrosion of sliding components resulting in diminished levels of return force for brake pads. This leads to vibration and noise resulting from the consequential brake drag say Motaquip.

GEARBOX

Some owners have reported excessive gear whine, which seems to be caused by oil starvation. Gearbox oil top-ups are occasionally needed – but level checks can sometimes get missed in services. Petronas recommend a synthetic-based 75w85 lube and the capacity is 1.65 litres.

STEERING

Knocking sounds that occur under steering loads can be attributed to the upper steering shaft fork incorrectly fixed/staked in place according to Motaquip. In extreme cases the fork can become separated from the shaft causing complete loss of steering function.

The presence of steering column noises is often caused by an insufficient quantity of thread locking agent being applied to the upper shaft fixing-bolt during assembly. In extreme cases this may result in a complete loss of steering control.

Premature failure of power steering motor can be diagnosed by instances of reduced levels of power steering response when performing slow manoeuvres such as parking or reversing. The solution for this would be to replace the power steering motor.

TRIM

Due to the number of options when new, you are unlikely to ever see two 500 interiors exactly the same. Some reports suggest that Blue&Me wireless connection can be troublesome, though the root of this problem is often down to the user’s phone. You can read the trim code on the VIN plate, although it may often be easier to source some trim parts second hand. Eagle-eyed readers may spot that the VIN starts with the Polish letter code SU through to SZ. This is because the 500 is built in Tychy, Poland in a factory used at various times to produce the Polski Fiat 126p, Cinquecento and Sceicento – the 500s immediate predecessors.

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ROLLS-ROYCE SILVER SPIRIT (1980-1999)


The Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit is the latest car to get the once over on our ramp

Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit

Originally launched in 1980 as the successor of the Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow II and the Silver Wraith II, this range of vehicles would be the flagship vehicles for Rolls-Royce and Bentleys. The Silver Spirit came in four marks over its 20 years in production with the series spawning the Rolls-Royce Silver Spur and Silver Dawn, as well as the Bentley Mulsanne and Eight, before being succeeded by the Silver Seraph.

The Silver Spirit was fitted with Rolls-Royce’s 6.75-litre V8 engine with either a three or four-speed automatic gearbox, depending on the age of the vehicle. Throughout the various marks new complex technology was added to each Silver Spirit, with gas-charged shock absorbers fitted on the Mark I, while automatic ride control was introduced from the Mark II onwards.

PASSIVE AUTOMATICS

The RMI says that issues with the automatic transmission is related to problems with the selection control unit. The gear position is electronic controlled by a transmission control position sensor transmitted by a wire. Higher mileage versions of the Rolls-Royce are the most likely to suffer from this issue.

SO SOLID RIDE

Rolls-Royce and Bentley parts specialist Flying Spares says that when the rear springs on the Silver Spirit lose their pressure, the suspension goes solid leading to a harsh and bumpy ride. The fix is by replacing the rear gas springs, and garages will need to fit the spheres, run the car and check the mineral oil, after which the Silver Spirit will jack itself up and self-bleed.

ABSORBING THE SHOCKS

The RMI says that the Rolls-Royce is prone to the electronic suspension ride control system or one or more of the suspension units failing, which is noticeable by noisy suspension. FPS adds that the heavy nature of the Silver Spirit and soft ride plays havoc with the suspension and shock absorbers. It says tell-tale signs include a soft bouncy ride, and that electronic ride control on early 1990 versions didn’t alleviate the problem.

BLOWING OUT ON FULL LOCK 

Forum RollsRoyceForums.com says that the Silver Spirit has a ‘notorious’ history of problems with its steering rack, which is prone to premature failure, so much so that owners are advised to avoid going to full lock position even if there is no sign of tyre rubbing or clunking. It says that these racks when at full lock are known to suffer from the pressure maxing out and blowing the seals.

NOT AN OTTER ONE

Flying Spares warns that Rolls-Royce Silver Spirits that fail their emission tests due to overheating, will be linked to the black otter switches, which affects the functioning of the fans, clock, windowns, interior lighting and central locking. It suggests trying the otter reset switches located in the glove box.

RUNNING OUT OF BRAKES

The brakes on the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit are prone to common problems. FPS says that it is common to get marks on the brake discs where the pad is in contact while the car is left standing for long periods. Eventually these marks will lead to brake judder, and it will lead to a four-to-six hour replacement job, with the rear brakes requring a specialist Rolls-Royce hub tool. The RMI says if the brake judder persists after the discs are replaced, this could be down to the soft suspension bushes exaggerating any minor disc runout.

CLUNKING BUSHINGS

FPS adds that clunks heard at the front of Rolls-Royces and Bentleys are linked to front shock bushings and compliance mounts. It adds that the job will take all-day and will require a special Rolls-Royce tool.

WHINGING DIFFS

Flying Spares advises that Rolls-Royces and Bentleys built between 1988 and 1992 are prone to a whining noise being generated from the differentials. It adds that these sounds can affect any vehicle in this production period regardless of mileage covered, and could mean either replacing the differential or requesting the owner puts up with it.

FUEL GAUGE BLOCKAGES

Flying Spares says that if the fuel gauge fails, the way to access and replace the fuel tank sender is via the boot facing panel, which is a drop down screw or plastic clip depending on the age of
the vehicle.

PUMPING UP THE VIBE

RollsRoyceForums.com says that a whine from behind the rear tyre is linked to the fuel pump, and when jacked up it will become apparent quickly whether the pump is vibrating.

BLOCK WEAKNESS

FPS advises technicians to be wary of the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit’s pressure regulation systems, referred to BRAKE 1 and BRAKE 2, both with their own sensors. On start up the lights should go out after 30 seconds and if they don’t the fault could be linked to a weak accumulator valve block.

UNEARTHING THE ISSUE

Flying Spares says that earthing problems with cars built between 1988 and 1993 are common. The issue relates to the earthing strap between the driver’s side rear engine mount and the chassis leg. The remedy is simple, and involves cleaning the contacts, or alternatively adding a second strap to the nearside engine mount.

ALARM SYSTEMS

RollsRoyceForum.com says that owners complaining about their fob not unlocking their car, therefore having to use the key to unlock it. However, with the car self-locking itself unlocking the car again means the alarm goes off. This problem is linked to the battery leaking onto the alarm’s ECU PCB, which is known to cause the problem. This fault can affect the Silver Spirit and the Bentley Arnage.

ENGINE ANXIETIES

Cambiare warns that the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirits are prone to hard starting and misfires under load due to a faulty ignition coil. While FPS adds that roughness on idle even with the air conditioning and accessories are turned off, and the car is fully warmed up, could be linked to clogged injectors or other engine management related issues.

Next month we’ll be looking at the Fiat 500, so wherever you work in the aftermarket and have some insight to share, we would be delighted to hear
from you.

To get your advice included contact hemal.mistry@haymarket.com

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PORSCHE BOXSTER (1996-2012) GETS THE ONCE OVER


Porsche BoxsterThe Porsche Boxster is the latest car to get the once over on our ramp.

Originally launched in 1996 the 986 was styled on the 550 Spyder, before in 2005, the model was replaced by the 987 in 2005 and was in production until 2012. The second generation Boxster took the roadster concept and improved it both cosmetically and mechanically. It eventually became the basis on which the much-coveted Cayman was then spawned.

The Boxster was fitted with water-cooled engines – codenamed M96. This rear-wheel drive car was fitted with a range of engines throughout the 986’s and 987’s 16-year lifespan, with Porsche producing 2.5-, 2.7-, 2.9-, 3.2- and 3.4-litre petrol engines, with varying power outputs.

These Boxsters were fitted with a five- or six-speed manual or a PDK automatic and a complex folding roof, which will provide some extra challenges.

Reluctant Airbag

Forum 986forum.com says that the early Boxsters were known for their seatbelt buckles not being grounded properly and causing the airbag warning light to activate. Most have been replaced, but the problem is said to be a reoccuring one.

Smoking Boxer

iwantaporsche.net says that it is natural for the Boxster to produce a puff of smoke on start up, if the car has been sitting around for a few days or more. This is due to oil accumulating on the piston rings due to the construction of the boxer engine. As a result it advises technicians to tell customers to keep an eye on their oil level between services.

Flooding The Hood

Autofarm says that electric roofs on the Boxster are complex and very expensive to repair. So it advises to clear drain holes regularly, otherwise the excess water will run down the rear bulkhead and flood the electrics. This can cause minor operating niggles with the roof, windows and the central locking or cause more permanent damage to the ECUs which are located under the driver’s seat.

Rotating Rules

Rotating electrics remanufacturer Autoelectro advises technicians to be wary when replacing these parts on the Boxster. It explains that the 1999-2004 986 version uses a variation of starter motors for its manual and automatic, and 2.5-, 2.7- and 3.2-litre Boxsters. Although the units look similar the differences lie with the power output, with the manual starter motors rated at 1.1kW, while the automatics use 1.7kW or 1.8kW units.

While it adds that Boxsters made in 2006 came with two alternator variants. One operates on a warning light system, while the other was ECU-controlled. In both instances fitting the wrong type of rotating electric will cause the new unit to prematurely fail.

Watertight Block

Independent Porsche specialist Autofarm says that the early versions of the 2.5-litre Boxster suffered from a porous block. It adds that many have been rectified under warranty, but there may still be some out there.

Slipping Sleeves

986forum.com says that Boxsters built between mid-98 through to early-99 suffered slipped sleeves in the engine causing total failure. Again most vehicles built between these date ranges would of had their engine replaced under warranty, but there may be some still out there.

Bearing Blowout

Autofarm says that the a more serious problem that affects the water-cooled M96 engine found in the first generation Boxster is with its intermediate shaft bearing prematurely failing. It adds that there are no tell-tale signs of failure, but you may spot traces of oil in the bellhousing or metal flakes in the oil filter.

Forum 986forum.com says that this problem is indiscrimanate, with some engines over 100,000 miles still working with its original bearing. It adds that there may be a grinding noise prior to failure of the bearing, but in some cases it can happen unexpectedly.

Autofarm warns that failure of the bearing can be catastrophic, leaving many a Boxster facing the breaker’s yard. However, if the failure happens at low speed, then the valves are likely to be bent, leaving the Boxster’s engine repairable.

Depressing Breakage

986forums.com adds that the Boxster is also prone to a D-shape piece fracturing off when the sleeve slips in the cylinder. This damage is thought to be caused by not allowing the Porsche to warm up thoroughly before moving off.

Breaking The Seal

986forums.com mentions that the Boxster is susceptible to rear main seal failure, through the means of dripping oil. The problem is said to originate from the poorly designed seals on the crankshaft and supporting structure. The issue is said to affect manual Boxsters more than its automatic variants.

Mounting Problems

The rubber in the engine mounts on the Porsche Boxster are known to deterioate says 986forums.com The symptoms include hearing a clunk when changing gear or struggling to move the lever.

Worn Down By Suspense

The RMI says that the Porsche Boxster suffers from a couple of common suspension problems, such as worn suspension bushes, which can lead to excessive wear of the Porsche’s tyres. While it adds that the front suspension springs are known to break after being put on wheel free lift.

A Tear In My Porsche’s Boots

Both Porsche forums 986forum.com and iwantaporsche.net say that the CV boots on the Boxster are known to breakdown and fail on the six-speed versions. The boots are well known to rip frequently allowing dirt and water to penetrate the bearings, and causing it to prematurely fail. It advises to check the CV boots regularly on these Boxsters, although five-speed manuals and automatics don’t seem to be affected quite as much.

Battery Lockup

Forum 986forum.com says that the Boxster’s battery is locked in the trunk at the front, and warns that access can be tricky if the battery is flat. There is often not enough voltage to power the motor that releases the catch to get access to the battery. There are ways to jump the battery and releasing the boot mechanically.

Fuel System Japeries

The 3.2 litre engine in the Porsche Boxster 987S can suffer from catalytic converter problems, signified by a fault code being stored for catalyst efficiency below threshold say Forté. The firm produces a range of additives than can help clear the problems.

Serviced The Fluids?

Comma says that most 986 and 987 Boxsters will use 5W40 engine oil to lubricate its range of powerplants. It adds that with the Porsche’s service interval every 18,500 miles, it is advisable to mention to motorists to regularly check their vehicle’s oil to protect sensitive components and a good opportunity to sell top-up packs as well.

Next month we’ll be looking at the Rolls-Royce Silver Spirit, so wherever you work in the aftermarket if you have insight to share, we would be delighted to hear from you.

To get your advice included contact daniel.moore@haymarket.com

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