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Hello all,
I'm not a Fiat 500 owner but recently rented a late-model, manual transmission diesel 500L in Italy, where I had an odd problem. I consider the problem potentially dangerous and decided to post a description in case it occurs elsewhere.

I drove the car for two days covering several hundred kilometers with no problems.

On my third day with the car we were in a small town in heavy, stop and go traffic for well over an hour when the battery failure light came on and the power steering began to fail. With serious effort I managed to steer but it was getting worse so I pulled into a gas station. I called the rental company, discussed my options and decided to have the car towed as it could not be driven. I shut it off and then, on a whim, re-started it. The battery failure light went out and the car worked fine; the battery was in fine shape. We continued on but, still in heavy traffic, the problem recurred three more times and the problem cleared each time by shutting down and restarting.

To save my vacation I decided to replace the car which took a drive of 45 KM to the nearest rental car facility, at decent road speeds and with no further occurrences. The replacement car is a virtually identical 500L and I have had no problems, but I have not been driving in slow, stop and go traffic again.

My theory is that driving at slow, stop and go speeds for almost two hours on a warm day caused something to overheat or otherwise fail, leading to the sudden loss of electric power. There were no other problem indications or lights. As such it is an intermittent and likely infrequent problem that will only be resolved if reported a few times.

My concern is that this problem might happen to someone who cannot steer the car without power steering, potentially causing an accident. And my suspicion is that, with electric power out, the air bags would not deploy, increasing occupant risks if an accident occurred.

FYI

RCharles
 
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