Fiat Recalls Broken Clutches

Fiat's adorable 500 is one of the most affordable vehicles for Canadians who want to drive in style. Despite being an Italian design sold by an American company, it's built at Fiat Chrysler Automobile's Saltillo, Mexico plant, which, somewhat amusingly, also churns out the big Ram 1500/2500/3500 pickup truck lines.

Fiat is recalling nearly 8,000 examples of its tiny 500 hatchback and convertible with manual transmissions to fix a flaw that could result in broken clutch diaphragm springs.

That spring is what maintains pressure between the two halves of the clutch assembly, the pressure plate and the flywheel. A broken one will either result in the clutch getting stuck in the engaged position so that the driver won’t be able to change gears, or the opposite, so that it will no longer transmit the engine’s power to the wheels. Having experienced the former scenario in rush hour traffic, we can assure you it’s no fun at all.

This recall likely comes at least partly as the result of complaints from Fiat 500 owners: it’s common enough to have made the news, and here’s a discussion about the issue from a Fiat 500 owner’s forum.

Fiat’s solution is to install a clutch pedal travel limiter, suggestion the problem is caused by driver’s with heavy left feet; there’s no suggestion the recall process includes an inspection of the diaphragm for signs of impending failure.

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Chris Chase

Chris Chase

As a child, Chris spent much of his time playing with toy cars in his parents’ basement; when his mother would tell him to go play outside, he made car sounds while riding his bicycle or dug roads for his toys in the flower garden. Now he gets to indulge his obsession playing with real cars that make their own cool noises, and gets paid for it.