Fiat 500 Forum banner

1 - 20 of 34 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I just turned in my second leased 500e (I had a 2013 and a 2017). I live in LA, where there are lots of cars available at pretty low prices as they come off lease, and I'd planned on buying one. But, believe it or not, somehow Fiat's transformation away from the 500 series generally escaped me until just recently. Now I'm really getting cold feet. I'm primarily concerned about maintenance and repair. I drive fairly lightly. My second car had 17,000 miles on the odometer when I turned it in. But if I buy a car, it's going to have to last for at least six years, probably longer. Many southern California dealerships seem to have really scaled back their focus on Fiats, and I'd expect that to continue. I'm wondering whether I'll be able to find a shop in a few years.
I'm also apprehensive about the possibility of a rapidly deteriorating battery. As I understand it, whereas other carmakers often warrant their batteries for replacement if capacity drops below 70%, Fiat offers no such guarantee. I think there's California law that might help to fill that gap, but I'm pretty vague on that, too. If there are other California owners with knowledge on that, I'd appreciate any information.
On a somewhat related note, I have some experience that runs counter to the optimistic mileage accounts I've read here. My 2013 car did seem to hold its range pretty consistently through the three years I had it. I came to ignore the range estimate and just use my experience and the percentage readout. But in the last months of my last lease, the Guess-O-Meter sometimes seemed to take charge. Performance was spotty, with several times, the range topping out at around 60 miles. I hadn't done anything differently than I had on the occasions when I had a normal range of around 84 miles. I pretty much stopped using the air conditioner or heater unless I absolutely had to. I did take the car in for a check and they kept it a couple days -- again, a departure from how Fiat used to do things. The shop didn't come up with an explanation, either.
So I may not buy a 500e after all. But still, they're a lot of fun to drive and they sell cheap here. So I guess I'm hoping somebody can assuage some of these concerns. I'm especially concerned about battery life.
Thanks in advance.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
36 Posts
You've had 2. If those experiences aren't enough to put you at ease nothing anyone here say will. I don't mean that in a bad way. If you don't feel good about it don't buy one as you'll live with stress and anxiety the whole time.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
117 Posts
Personally, I don't worry about whether it'll break or not. I've only seen a very few number of cases where there was a bigger issue than what I personally could fix(motor dead, battery dead, etc).
I own a 2013 with 36000 miles on it. I drive it daily in Utah, which means cold winters, warm summers. At the moment (this mornings drive) the GOM said 68 miles before my drive to work. at work 20 miles later the GOM said 56 miles and 78%.
I figure if and when the car can't make my daily work commute, or makes that commute massively uncomfortable (no heat, no A/C, etc) then I'll buy a wrecked newer low mileage 500e and swap the battery for my tired battery, and re-purpose my tired battery as a solar storage array for the house. I'll do the same thing if my car gets wrecked, IE buy it back and pull the battery for a solar storage array, then buy a newer used 500e.

That said, the car is meant to serve YOU, not you meant to serve the car. If it doesn't fit what you need it for, then don't get it. There are a huge number of vehicle variants out there, one is bound to fit your (reasonable) needs.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
55 Posts
There have been several discussions here about the range meter and how it fluctuates due to driving habits, speed (esp going on the highway), going uphill, whether the AC/heat is on, or even the outside temperature. It's not a steady range estimator, and hate to put it this way- but I guess we got what we paid for? At least you leased it first and saw how bad it was.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
34 Posts
I can only speak for myself but considering salvage value and the low cost of entry to used 500e I’m not too concerned about major failures. Would it suck, yes but more inconvenience than financial catastrophe.

Traditional gasoline cars out of warranty repairs gravitate towards local shops and technicians anyway. Private local EV repair infrastructure is developing and growing rapidly IMO.

But for new EV cars there’s more and more choices than ever and that’s a GREAT thing too.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter #6
I just turned in my second leased 500e (I had a 2013 and a 2017). I live in LA, where there are lots of cars available at pretty low prices as they come off lease, and I'd planned on buying one. But, believe it or not, somehow Fiat's transformation away from the 500 series generally escaped me until just recently. Now I'm really getting cold feet. I'm primarily concerned about maintenance and repair. I drive fairly lightly. My second car had 17,000 miles on the odometer when I turned it in. But if I buy a car, it's going to have to last for at least six years, probably longer. Many southern California dealerships seem to have really scaled back their focus on Fiats, and I'd expect that to continue. I'm wondering whether I'll be able to find a shop in a few years.
I'm also apprehensive about the possibility of a rapidly deteriorating battery. As I understand it, whereas other carmakers often warrant their batteries for replacement if capacity drops below 70%, Fiat offers no such guarantee. I think there's California law that might help to fill that gap, but I'm pretty vague on that, too. If there are other California owners with knowledge on that, I'd appreciate any information.
On a somewhat related note, I have some experience that runs counter to the optimistic mileage accounts I've read here. My 2013 car did seem to hold its range pretty consistently through the three years I had it. I came to ignore the range estimate and just use my experience and the percentage readout. But in the last months of my last lease, the Guess-O-Meter sometimes seemed to take charge. Performance was spotty, with several times, the range topping out at around 60 miles. I hadn't done anything differently than I had on the occasions when I had a normal range of around 84 miles. I pretty much stopped using the air conditioner or heater unless I absolutely had to. I did take the car in for a check and they kept it a couple days -- again, a departure from how Fiat used to do things. The shop didn't come up with an explanation, either.
So I may not buy a 500e after all. But still, they're a lot of fun to drive and they sell cheap here. So I guess I'm hoping somebody can assuage some of these concerns. I'm especially concerned about battery life.
Thanks in advance.
Thank you to everyone for your thoughtful replies. If I can press a little:
- I’m wondering about the Bausch/Fiat solution for temperature modulation. I did go on the Leaf forum (ugh) and didn’t even bother to ask any questions because I found warning after warning about persistent, indecipherable but fairly rapid battery degradation, especially in places with hot summers like Utah. Then I went on the eGolf site and found references to “passive” temperature control. I’m trying to find stuff here and elsewhere on Fiat’s system, but not getting much I understand. Any clarification on that would be helpful. Also, I’ve continued to think about my own car’s recent erratic performance. The last two summers have been very hot and the last two winters cold by CA standards, w. temperatures dropping to near freezing a few times. I’d expect the car to be able to take that. But still, something did seem to have happened to the battery. It wasn’t just the GOM. It was a sudden, sharp drop in performance under identical driving conditions.Right before I returned the car, I drove it to its limit (down to about 2%) to challenge the GOM. Two things happened. Sure enough, my range for that charge cycle was something like 54 miles. Second, there was a brief period where the car didn’t want to recharge after that test. I was getting error lights — outer dashboard meter lights flashing — and no charge. I backed down our steep driveway and back up and tried again. This time the charge and range appeared to be restored for a couple cycles.
My hunch is that the battery may in fact have been impaired. I did typically, on both cars, regularly drive to about 8% before recharging, and then pretty regularly bypassed the timer and let the automatic shut-off end charging for me. I don’t guess I’d do it that way if I were to get a third car. But if anybody has any thoughts on any of this, and especially info on temperature modulation, that would be great
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
55 Posts
The EPA range for this vehicle is only 84 miles. Extreme cold weather could reduce that range all the way down to 50 miles.
  1. How fast are you driving on the highway?
  2. How far is your round-trip commute?
  3. Do you charge at work?
  4. Are you charging to 100% at home?
Etc. A lot of this is range-anxiety related and I often point-out that this isn't the car for everyone.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,112 Posts
...Leaf...battery degradation... eGolf ... “passive” temperature control. I’m trying to find stuff here and elsewhere on Fiat’s system, but not getting much I understand.
Please let me know if this isn't what you were asking about, or if it doesn't clarify TMS (Themal Management System) which is mainly to keep the battery cool, but often also to keep it warm enough when it gets really cold:

High heat is a primary factor of battery aging. Leaf & eGolf batteries have basically no TMS. You could say that's the main reason the Leaf has such poor battery life, especially in hot areas, although there are other factors such as battery chemistry. For example eGolf doesn't seem to have the same issue.

500e has a liquid-cooled battery TMS. Very much like a gas car, it has antifreeze coolant, a water pump, radiator, & electric fan. That is the "passive" liquid cooling system & can only lower batt temp to slightly above ambient, at best. 500e also has an "active" cooling system which uses the A/C to chill the coolant below ambient, if needed when it's very hot out, or when the batt gets too warm even with the passive system running full-speed (pump & fan).

500e also has an electric heater in the antifreeze system, for when it gets really cold out.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter #9
The EPA range for this vehicle is only 84 miles. Extreme cold weather could reduce that range all the way down to 50 miles.
  1. How fast are you driving on the highway?
  2. How far is your round-trip commute?
  3. Do you charge at work?
  4. Are you charging to 100% at home?
Etc. A lot of this is range-anxiety related and I often point-out that this isn't the car for everyone.
Thanks. I’m familiar with the limitations of the 500e. What I’m describing here is a departure in performance from my experience over six and a half years and two leased cars, and requesting any information people might have that could explain my recent and anomalous experience with suddenly impaired range. I suspect that that may have to do either with my really draining the battery much more on one occasion than I had ordinarily done, with my habit of charging at home with the supplied charger to 100%, or both. I think temperature may be a factor as well, which is why I’m asking about temperature regulation.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,112 Posts
You mentioned nearly freezing temperatures, which can lower the range even without HVAC.

Someone else on this forum experienced APPARENT range loss, watching the % gauge drop rapidly while stopped at a light. It returned to normal after rebooting the car's computer with a 12V disconnect, & also disconnecting the humidity sensor. The reboot may have simply re-calibrated the % gauge. Except when fully charged, my % gauge always reads lower than the OBD, which always indicates that the State Of Charge sensor needs me to take the batt to zero in order to re-calibrate it.

The humidity sensor shouldn't have been an issue with you, after nearly 6 years without issues, but you never know. Requiring a reboot after nearly 3 years seems reasonable, since all my other electronic devices require it more often than that. I only had to reboot my 500e once, after it was "infected" by my oldest local charger (which hasn't caused any problems since).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter #11
Th
You mentioned nearly freezing temperatures, which can lower the range even without HVAC.

Someone else on this forum experienced APPARENT range loss, watching the % gauge drop rapidly while stopped at a light. It returned to normal after rebooting the car's computer with a 12V disconnect, & also disconnecting the humidity sensor. The reboot may have simply re-calibrated the % gauge. Except when fully charged, my % gauge always reads lower than the OBD, which always indicates that the State Of Charge sensor needs me to take the batt to zero in order to re-calibrate it.

The humidity sensor shouldn't have been an issue with you, after nearly 6 years without issues, but you never know. Requiring a reboot after nearly 3 years seems reasonable, since all my other electronic devices require it more often than that. I only had to reboot my 500e once, after it was "infected" by my oldest local charger (which hasn't caused any problems since).
Thanks. This is helpful. One thing, though -- my range loss was real on that occasion. Like I said, I learned after about a month in 2013 not to pay any attention to the estimated range and to rely on experience and the percentage readout. But you are touching on one of my main reasons for having cold feet at the moment. I don't expect any equipment to never need a restart/adjustment, etc. But my strength and inclination simply isn't in this area. If I were to buy a third car, my main concern would be trouble in getting it serviced. The place where I leased my last one is now a Maserati dealership, with fiat sort of an afterthought. I'm familiar with the argument that, "well, Saab owners can still get service," for instance. But a Saab has a lot more in common with a Chevy than a 500e does, and I'd have doubts that a guy who was accustomed to working on eGolfs would be willing to take on Fiats. Maybe I'm belaboring this concern, but it's a real one. Thoughts?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
Please let me know if this isn't what you were asking about, or if it doesn't clarify TMS (Themal Management System) which is mainly to keep the battery cool, but often also to keep it warm enough when it gets really cold:

High heat is a primary factor of battery aging. Leaf & eGolf batteries have basically no TMS. You could say that's the main reason the Leaf has such poor battery life, especially in hot areas, although there are other factors such as battery chemistry. For example eGolf doesn't seem to have the same issue.

500e has a liquid-cooled battery TMS. Very much like a gas car, it has antifreeze coolant, a water pump, radiator, & electric fan. That is the "passive" liquid cooling system & can only lower batt temp to slightly above ambient, at best. 500e also has an "active" cooling system which uses the A/C to chill the coolant below ambient, if needed when it's very hot out, or when the batt gets too warm even with the passive system running full-speed (pump & fan).

500e also has an electric heater in the antifreeze system, for when it gets really cold out.
This is really helpful. Yes, you're talking about the kinds of issues I'm trying to learn about. This is more than a little off-thread, but may well be useful to others in a boat like mine: do you have any more information on eGolf battery degradation/reliability issues? I have to say, it shook me when I saw the "passive" mention on the eGolf forum. And yet people don't seem to be complaining about degradation there. Leaf drivers are still furious about their batteries, apparently, even after all these years.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,112 Posts
My point was the % gauge can be wrong, so you can't really base range loss on it, especially if you haven't done a reboot &/or taken it to zero by cranking HVAC by a charger.

My other point was that if you can use a crescent wrench, you can reboot the computer of a 500e or any gas car, which very often fixes electronic glitches like you might have had.

As for "Chevy", Volts & Bolts have liquid-cooled HV batteries like ours. Nearly everything on a 500e except the motor & HV batt is pretty standard for any gas car: Tires/wheels, brakes, shocks, CV joints, lights, wipers, radiator, fan, hoses,

Someone here mentioned Bosch auto service centers, but I never saw confirmation so maybe we should ask about that.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,112 Posts
Not really "off thread" because it's the HV batt you initially expressed concern about, & you're considering 500e purchase, presumably vs other EVs

"After all these years" more & more TMS-less Leaf owners will have degraded batteries, & even replacement batteries degrading, so it's not surprising to keep hearing about it. I believe they're adding liquid cooling to the 2021 model year.

About all I know about eGolf is the battery is air-cooled, but possibly a more heat-resistant chemistry than Leaf, because when my friend was considering purchasing her eGolf post-lease, we couldn't find any range loss reports with details such as increasing driving speed, which happened to one of my 500e friends once she got over her anxiety about arriving home with "only" 5% (she hit zero in the driveway a few times later!).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,112 Posts
Per the subject line, just like a Saab, all the scheduled maintenance can be performed by any half-decent mechanic, except there's much less of said maintenance. It's just inspections of the standard suspension, steering, brakes & cooling systems, cabin filter replacement, & eventually antifreeze replacement.

Yes, there are 2 cooling systems. 1 for the battery & 1 for the motor. Yes, the electric pumps make them very slightly different from a gas car, but inspection is the same (check hoses, leaks, levels) as is anti-freeze replacement (flush & fill).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
Wow. I was asking questions like this on the evdl.org listserv and somebody suggest I try this forum. I was skeptical because when I joined six years ago, there wasn't much here but boosterism, but I'm glad I checked in. This is more substantive, and more reassuring, than I expected. I'm no mechanic, but I bet these are questions lots of 500e users have.
Just to be clear, I haven't worried too much about the cognate stuff, brakes, suspension, etc. It's the Fiat pullout after years of disparaging the 500e, and the question of where I might find myself if my main computer freaked out or battery started dying, that has worried me.
My wife wants me to move to a bigger car. I don't have the crash-worthiness concerns she does.
Just two more questions at the moment:
As I understand the warranty, it's basically 4 years from date of manufacture (initial sale?) on most of the body components and 8 years/100K on the battery, but the battery has to fail completely. There's not the 30% degradation coverage some other makers purportedly offer. (Purportedly, if a battery drops to below 70% within a warranty period, they replace the battery. Purportedly. Nissan folks question that.) Fiat, and curiously Tesla, say nothing about such a guarantee at all. Dunno what to think of that. Any thoughts welcomed.
Another remaining question I have is, if I do plunge for another 500e, should I worry about cars being older than 3? Supposedly, a younger car would give me up to a year to get neglected repairs taken care of. But I do expect that eventually I'll have to pay for something mechanical. And I can save money up front by buying a slightly older car. I don't think it would make any sense to pay for an extended warranty. But I'd welcome suggestions.
Another: For the life of me, I can't figure out California law on this stuff. My understanding is that California does afford additional protections on battery degradation, and even for buyers of used EVs. You'd think any pinhead would understand that the long term acceptance of EVs is more important than the protections offered early adopters, but that doesn't mean it's found its way into law. Anybody know?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter #17
Wow. I was asking questions like this on the evdl.org listserv and somebody suggest I try this forum. I was skeptical because when I joined six years ago, there wasn't much here but boosterism, but I'm glad I checked in. This is more substantive, and more reassuring, than I expected. I'm no mechanic, but I bet these are questions lots of 500e users have.
Just to be clear, I haven't worried too much about the cognate stuff, brakes, suspension, etc. It's the Fiat pullout after years of disparaging the 500e, and the question of where I might find myself if my main computer freaked out or battery started dying, that has worried me.
My wife wants me to move to a bigger car. I don't have the crash-worthiness concerns she does.
Just two more questions at the moment:
As I understand the warranty, it's basically 4 years on most of the body components and 8 years/100K on the battery, but the battery has to fail completely. There's not the 30% degradation coverage some other makers purportedly offer. (Purportedly, if a battery drops to below 70% within a warranty period, they replace the battery. Purportedly. Nissan folks question that.) Fiat, and curiously Tesla, say nothing about such a guarantee at all. Dunno what to think of that. Any thoughts welcomed.
Another remaining question I have is, if I do plunge for another 500e, should I worry about cars being older than 3? Supposedly, a younger car would give me up to a year to get neglected repairs taken care of. But I do expect that eventually I'll have to pay for something mechanical. And I can save money up front by buying a slightly older car.
Another: For the life of me, I can't figure out California law on this stuff. My understanding is that California does afford additional protections on battery degradation, and even for buyers of used EVs. You'd think any pinhead would understand that the long term acceptance of EVs is more important than the protections offered early adopters, but that doesn't mean it's found its way into law. Anybody know?
So, I didn't say so as explicitly as I might have, but thank you. This stuff is important.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,112 Posts
No problem. I'm happy to try & help, but sorry I haven't bothered finding anything about your final paragraph because:

From what I've now learned about our Fiat's Samsung SDI battery cells*, BMS/TMS & charging/discharging, I expect them to still have 90% capacity after over 100k city miles, but you mentioned only driving 17k mi in 3 years, & only owning a used 500e for 6 years, which is only 64k total (lease maximum of 30k, plus your annual average).

As for main computer failure, I believe auto manufacturers are legally required to supply replacement parts for at least 10 years, which is an argument for getting a later model year. HOWEVER, it seems Fiat made no changes over the years, so it's possible that in 2029 I could buy a new computer for my 2013. I guess you could check if the part numbers are the same. Barring that, you (or a mechanic) could probably replace it with a functioning one from a wreck.

Your wife should look at Fiat 500 crash test results. It got a top safety rating when my 2013 500e came out. It has lots of airbags (the fronts multi-stage), active self-tensioning restraints & headrests, & is one of the first cars to physically add the front wheels to the crumple zone.

*Laboratory cycle-life test results I saw showed 80% capacity after 3,200 cycles. From that you can ball-park your own range loss after x00,000 miles, using your own mi/kWh from trip gauge readings. The exact math is a bit complex, since over time the capacity at 100% gradually drops. Note that major aging factors besides high heat are: high & low State Of Charge (SOC), & high current. The lab test was rather harsh, from 100% to 20% at 1C drain (about 24kW in 500e), 0.5C charge (about 12kW), & 77 Farenheit. In order to treat a 500e that harshly you'd have to drive about 70mph nonstop all the way down to 20%, & recharge with the DC fast charge kit (coming soon from QC Power). Even then, you can't actually charge a Fiat batt to the relatively harsh 100% because it shuts off at only 4.1V, which basically doubles battery life.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
15 Posts
Discussion Starter #19 (Edited)
Thanks again. Let's hope other people see this thread and profit by it. I'm sure I'm not the only person facing these kinds of decisions.
PS: I think my wife will be more comfortable if I figure out a way to get my 80lb dog into the back seat instead of a crate in the folded-down back. Right now, he freaks out if he can see anything while we're driving, so I've opted for the crate. But it's not great. The back seat would be better.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,112 Posts
It was pretty easy to train my friend's 120-Lb German Shepard to get in the back seat on the driver's side (for driveway & parking lot, NOT recommend for street parking) because I don't want to have to walk around every time. He takes it like stairs, first stepping onto the floor & then stepping onto the seat.
 
1 - 20 of 34 Posts
Top