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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi All,

I wonder if anyone has had a similar issue. About a month ago I started hearing a subtle "droning" noise coming from what seemed to be the front driver or passenger side of the vehicle (always difficult to pinpoint). Based on past experience I would have bet the farm it was a bad wheel bearing on the driver side front. As it became louder I took it to my mechanic and they "confirmed" with me the same diagnosis.

Regrettably, after replacing the bearing, this did not resolve the problem and they recommended taking to the dealer for further diagnosis and felt that the noise, after replacing the bearing, seemed to be coming from towards the front center instead.

Mind you, the car has 26K miles on it. After taking to the dealer they confirmed my biggest fear, and that is that the "transmission" is bad, and quoted me $8.5K for the replacement.

Needless to say, not an option, so I jump on eBay, salvage sites, etc, to do some research.

My primary reason for jumping on the forum is that, upon looking things up, for some reason, while 2013 & 2014 models show as the transmission being available as its own part number, for 2015+, it is only available as a complete "motor assembly" (the motor and the transmission as one unit), and thus, much more expensive to replace.

I can't imagine that the transmission changed on the vehicle at all, but the Fiat dealer is telling me the part number I am referencing (2013 - 2014 transmission, Part # 68086262AF) does not match up for my VIN and thus cannot be used.

I can find the transmission used / salvage online for easily under $750, but am apprehensive to take the risk based on the parts diagram and availability per model year. I'm hoping someone on here may have some knowledge and/or experience regarding this.

Thanks.
 

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as far as I understand it, the only things that changed from 2013-2019 were aesthetic and legal compliance (rearview camera, etc) Mechanically they should be the same.

if it's a bearing noise, you may be able to crack the gear reduction open and replace bad parts (bearing) at probably a LOT cheaper than even the $750 of a used unknown condition unit.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
as far as I understand it, the only things that changed from 2013-2019 were aesthetic and legal compliance (rearview camera, etc) Mechanically they should be the same.

if it's a bearing noise, you may be able to crack the gear reduction open and replace bad parts (bearing) at probably a LOT cheaper than even the $750 of a used unknown condition unit.
Thanks for the reply. Yes, problem seems, is that this is made available as a "self-contained" unit and finding parts "within", I've found, is virtually impossible.
 

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There's also shops that specialize in rebuilding/repairing damaged transmissions. I have no idea what the transmission is like in the 500e but id just keep doing some google to find more info.. I doubt you're the first person to have this issue.

Another thing to keep an eye on is Craigslist/Kijiji cars that are sold as parts cars from an accident, where you might be able to buy a used transmission for cheap, if you can find a compatible year.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 · (Edited)
There's also shops that specialize in rebuilding/repairing damaged transmissions. I have no idea what the transmission is like in the 500e but id just keep doing some google to find more info.. I doubt you're the first person to have this issue.

Another thing to keep an eye on is Craigslist/Kijiji cars that are sold as parts cars from an accident, where you might be able to buy a used transmission for cheap, if you can find a compatible year.
Thanks. Interestingly enough, I first searched the various 500 forums first hoping to find another thread, but have so far hit a dead end. I can't imagine that I'm the first (at least from a post perspective) to have this issue. It is definitely not your "typical" transmission compared to and ICE equivalent (single gear for transmitting power from the electric most to the axles / wheels). If buying a "compete" unit I just hate to have to pay 2x the cost on a used one to purchase the motor assembly (with transmission) versus the transmission alone (where I can get an new OEM one off eBay for about $1K, for a 2013 - 2014). I haven't had the chance to do so yet (car is still at the dealer), but I'd like to get under the car and see if I can find a part number on the transmission alone on my 2015 to see if it is the same.
 

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When I took my other vehicle to a transmission shop, and asked about the noise, they told me to just ignore it, as that model was naturally noisy.

From what I understand, the 500e has just a reduction gear, which hardly would qualify as a "transmission".

So maybe just driving it and keeping an ear on what is happening is also an option?

Otherwise, if you think to take it apart, you might as well look into what is inside. If it's a bearing, you can just replace and forget it (based on the size of the bearing rather than proprietary part number). What would a specialized transmission shop say about it?
 

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Based on the original diagnosis of a wheel bearing, it sounds like it is likely a bearing in the transmission that is going bad. Since it is getting louder, it will likely continue to get worse. Wouldn't hurt to take it to a transmission specialist to see what they say. I would think replacing a bearing would be something they could do relatively easy.
 

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Bearings are usually pretty easy to find replacements for. most bearings are common sizes because the economy of scale (people will buy cheaper bearings, even if they're slightly bigger than needed, so manufacturers sell common bearings cheaper because they make so many of them)

Were it mine, i'd pull the assembly, open it, measure the bearings, and then search common bearing manufacturer catalogs (***, timpken, etc) for bearings with the same dimensions/type. and buy one that's "overboard" by way of rated speed and forces.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 · (Edited)
Thanks all. I put both sides up on jack stands last weekend (wish I had a lift), and had the wife give it "gas", after the wheel bearing replacement, and, as mentioned above, it definitely still sounds exactly like a bad wheel bearing, so it would make sense that a "similar" issue exists within then "transmission". Not really something to just ignore, as it has gotten progressively worse and anything over 25 MPH sounds like I have open headers, lol (at least from the inside of the car).

What sucks is, same amount of personal or shop labor to try and get to the point to see if I can find a bearing to replace, get the bearing and install versus having a used transmission on hand for $500 (cost / effort at this point). Good news is, after the initial panic, I think I have plenty of options versus parting it out as it relates to the dealer quote.
 

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If you do happen to buy and install said replacement, PLEASE either take your bad one apart and measure it/picture it for info here (i've not seen one apart yet) OR, if you're close enough to me (utah) i'd be glad to come get it, and do the dissasembly and measuring for everyone else here. I'm fairly certain we can't expect FCA to help us maintain these cars, so we have to help eachother, especially with things like this.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
If you do happen to buy and install said replacement, PLEASE either take your bad one apart and measure it/picture it for info here (i've not seen one apart yet) OR, if you're close enough to me (utah) i'd be glad to come get it, and do the dissasembly and measuring for everyone else here. I'm fairly certain we can't expect FCA to help us maintain these cars, so we have to help eachother, especially with things like this.
I will definitely keep this thread updated as I progress. If I am able to determine and replace a bearing only I will let everyone know what I find, or, if I end up swapping out the transmission, will dissect in the name of science.
 

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Thanks in advance for keeping us updated. Mechanical sounds can "telegraph" a LOT, so you already thoroughly checked the other wheel bearing, & both CV joints, right?
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Thanks in advance for keeping us updated. Mechanical sounds can "telegraph" a LOT, so you already thoroughly checked the other wheel bearing, & both CV joints, right?
Indeed. Yes, pretty confident on source of droning. Passenger bearing passes all "play" tests, noise tests, as well as the old "feel / hear" any vibration via the coil spring.

No clunking or clicking or even vibration typically associated with an axle (definitely a droning sound of a bearing "somewhere"). While I'm certainly not willing to take things at face value from the dealer diagnosis, I feel pretty confident at this point, between my, my mechanic, and the dealer diagnosis that this is the issue (famous last words).

Honestly, I'd love to be wrong...!
 

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Ok, thanks for confirming. Since your own mechanic was already wrong about the one wheel bearing, & a CRASH caused the ONLY other 500e tranny failure I can recall reading about, I'll just throw this out there as another noise source check:

VERY securely chock both rear wheels & one front, jack the other front wheel off the ground, double-check all the chocks, floor the BRAKE pedal, shift to D, very carefully lift your foot off the brake & if you still hear the sound, repeat on the other side.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Ok, thanks for confirming. Since your own mechanic was already wrong about the one wheel bearing, & a CRASH caused the ONLY other 500e tranny failure I can recall reading about, I'll just throw this out there as another noise source check:

VERY securely chock both rear wheels & one front, jack the other front wheel off the ground, double-check all the chocks, floor the BRAKE pedal, shift to D, very carefully lift your foot off the brake & if you still hear the sound, repeat on the other side.
As you probably read above, I did put both fronts up on jack stands (at the same time), with the parking brake on to lock the rears in place (this was prior to the driver side wheel bearing being replaced), to try and isolate things. I like the idea (though it does make me nervous), to only have the front left or front right off the ground to try and further isolate to a particular side. The chock on the opposite front wheel on the ground is enough to keep it in place / from trying to move forward, while the raised wheel still spins? I haven't tried this approach before.

If I'm on the same page, if I only hear the droning on one wheel but not the other, when they are individually raised, it would seemingly confirm it is coming from the wheel bearing, but if I still hear the noise on both sides when checking each wheel individually, would more than likely confirm the transmission.

I pick the car up from the dealer tomorrow morning and will try this as soon as I can.

Thanks for the tips.
 

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Another thing you could try is the screwdriver trick, as a stethoscope, place screwdriver on part you think is making noise, place ear on handle of screwdriver. it transmits the noise much better to your ear.

OR you can buy a real mechanics stethoscope at harbor freight pretty cheap.
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Another thing you could try is the screwdriver trick, as a stethoscope, place screwdriver on part you think is making noise, place ear on handle of screwdriver. it transmits the noise much better to your ear.

OR you can buy a real mechanics stethoscope at harbor freight pretty cheap.
It's crazy how challenging sounds like this can be to identify. The stethoscope method is what was used to originally identify the problem as the front left wheel bearing 😱.

Just picked the car up and figured I'd record a quick clip at highway speeds where you can somewhat make out the droning, especially upon acceleration:

 

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does it change in pitch or amplitude when you swerve side to side? right turns vs left turns?

Normally wheel bearings will change pitch or volume when doing this (varying load to the wheel with the bad bearing makes it quieter/noisy)

I've had brand new parts be bad, and it seems like this is happening more and more frequently as time goes on.
Another way to test this is. Remove the axles from the transmission, (unbolt at transmission hub) wire them out of the way, then put the vehicle in gear and see if it makes the noise still. if so you know for a fact that it's "upstream" of the axles and must be either in the transmission, or the motor that's causing the noise.
 

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Reading this with great interest, I will warn of lifting one wheel off of the ground and then putting power to the motor. The problem is the power unit has a differential, meaning that the power is transmitted to the wheel with the most resistance, the wheel that is on the ground.
As I have read the FIAT along with almost all EV's has a gear reduction system and not a true transmission as in ICE vehicles. Question: is the power unit filled with oil? The gear reduction system should have only an input (main shaft) and the output shaft with the differential gear set(layshaft), this the shaft that will send power to the wheels. The layshaft spins at a much-reduced speed as opposed to the main shaft. The main has large support (outboard bearing) bearing. I would suspect the outboard bearing is the problem, due to the high-speed input. That being said I would not be surprised if the bearing housing, for the main bearing may be damaged.
Due to the size of the bearing, I would suspect, debris in the bearing race and/or the lack of oil is causing the noise.

I will follow this thread until the end. Good Luck
Cynical
 

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Yes, be very careful in D after lifting one wheel, with the car pointed up any slope, with space ahead clear of things like especially humans, just in case, & like I said before, chock all 3 other wheels, at least with a chunk of 2x4 or a brick or something.

Actually a standard non-limited-slip diff like an eFiat puts the torque to the wheel with LEAST resistance. That's why if you have one wheel on ice & one on dry pavement the ice wheel will spin & the car doesn't move. Also why the inside wheel spins when cornering puts more weight on the outside wheel, giving it more traction.

Iron's idea of disconnecting tranny output is better, but of course more work, although at that point you're maybe a third of the way to removing the tranny, ready to install a used one yourself, or, since it's already "broken" may as well dismantle it to check inside for a failed standard $10 bearing you could replace.

I lifted one wheel on my stickshift 240Z (before installing a Torsen diff), putting it in 1st gear with the engine slowly idling to spin one wheel. I even did it once with both wheels elevated & with leather work gloves was able to VERY carefully stop one wheel at a time. ;)
 
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