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italophile
01-20-2012, 01:57 PM
I know a lot of people have raved about the manual transmissions in their 500s, but mine is extremely stiff and lumpy, like stirring a pot of rocks with an oar. I mentioned it at the first service but basically got blown off (they said they were all like that because of the way the linkage was designed or some such thing). I don't really buy it because the demonstrator I drove wasn't this way, and if it had been, I wouldn't have bought one - it's that bad. The poor shift feel is doing a good job of spoiling a car that I otherwise like very much. Is anyone else having this problem? I remember one of the first video reviews of the 500 advising people to choose the automatic because of the obstinate shifter in their test car, but otherwise it seems like I'm the Lone Ranger.

I'm a long way from a studio and won't be due for service for a while, so I was wondering what I could try in the meantime. I've switched the transmission oil to Red Line synthetic in a few of my older cars with good results - is there any reason not to use it in a 500? Has anyone changed the oil in their transaxle yet, and is there anything special to know about the job? Are the drain and filler plugs readily accessible?

PFVA63
01-20-2012, 04:54 PM
I'm sorry that I can't directly answer your question, but on a previous car I owned (a Mazda) I was experiencing an issue but every time I took it in my dealer wasn't able to replicate it and thus couldn't/didn't do anything about it. As such, I eventually ebded up calling another local dealership's service dept (which had a different owner), and explained to them in detail the issue, and how the other dealership was not able to address it.

The second dealership was happy to take a look at my car and, perhaps in part because they wanted to make a good impression on the hopes of getting me as a new regular customer, they researched the issue I was describing more fully and was able to find a solution that helped.

As such, if there is another dealership in your area, it might be worthwhile to contact them about your problems as well, just to see if they can help out where the other dealership seem to be falling down.

Just some thoughts

Pat

Prima 109
01-21-2012, 05:58 AM
I know a lot of people have raved about the manual transmissions in their 500s, but mine is extremely stiff and lumpy, like stirring a pot of rocks with an oar. I mentioned it at the first service but basically got blown off (they said they were all like that because of the way the linkage was designed or some such thing). I don't really buy it because the demonstrator I drove wasn't this way, and if it had been, I wouldn't have bought one - it's that bad. The poor shift feel is doing a good job of spoiling a car that I otherwise like very much. Is anyone else having this problem? I remember one of the first video reviews of the 500 advising people to choose the automatic because of the obstinate shifter in their test car, but otherwise it seems like I'm the Lone Ranger.

I'm a long way from a studio and won't be due for service for a while, so I was wondering what I could try in the meantime. I've switched the transmission oil to Red Line synthetic in a few of my older cars with good results - is there any reason not to use it in a 500? Has anyone changed the oil in their transaxle yet, and is there anything special to know about the job? Are the drain and filler plugs readily accessible?

That dosen't sound normal at all. Mine's not like that. I agree with PFVA63 and would try to contact another dealer. BTW, the dealer I deal with just replaced a transaxle in a 500 because the customer lost 5th gear. The tech said he believes that the shift linkage was out of alignment and the customer continued to drive it like that. He's not possitive, but that was his opinion.

msjulie33
01-21-2012, 01:11 PM
For sure something is wrong - if the dealer "can't figure it out", time to get to get the regional rep involved; mine is quiet, smooth and a lots of fun too.

italophile
01-21-2012, 05:05 PM
I don't think the first dealer even looked at it. I'd be happy to try another but they're all about 250 miles away (including the one I bought it from/did the first service) in places I don't have a lot of other reasons to go to. Plus, a lot of dealers resent doing warranty repairs or free service on cars they didn't sell. And it's not like the car is un-drivable, it's just unpleasant. I almost wish it would fail catastrophically because at least then they can't dispute the problem.

Maybe someone can diagnose the situation if I describe it in more detail. When you shift a good transmission, you feel a little detent in neutral and a well-cushioned, barely-there sense of positive engagement when you get to the next gear. With my car, going through neutral feels pretty normal but it's like you have to push the lever through a barrier right before you engage gear. It requires quite a bit of force sometimes and it almost feels like it's snapping into place. At first I thought it might be a question of break-in or my technique, but I have over 5,000 miles on the car now and nothing I've tried helps with any consistency. It doesn't seem to matter if the transmission is fully warm or stone cold, whether I shift fast or slow, up or down, pause in neutral, double clutch, heel-and-toe, or whatever. Sometimes double-clutching while stopped seems to help it go into 1st or reverse more easily, but otherwise technique doesn't seem to have much to do with it. Every once in a while it decides to be in a good mood and gives me a string of about 10 smooth shifts, but this seems to be happening less and less lately. Oh, and about every 10th shift from 1st to 2nd grinds regardless of how slowly I shift.

I don't feel like my expectations are unreasonable. I've experienced a lot of old, worn-out transmissions and only one was consistently worse. In case anyone is wondering, it was my grandparents' 1976 Ford F150 farm truck, which was almost 25 years old the first time I drove it. My grandfather was tighter than two coats of paint, so there's a very good chance that the only oil in that transmission was whatever was left of what came in it from the factory.

Fiat500USA
01-21-2012, 05:14 PM
I don't think the first dealer even looked at it. I'd be happy to try another but they're all about 250 miles away (including the one I bought it from/did the first service) in places I don't have a lot of other reasons to go to. Plus, a lot of dealers resent doing warranty repairs or free service on cars they didn't sell. And it's not like the car is un-drivable, it's just unpleasant. I almost wish it would fail catastrophically because at least then they can't dispute the problem.

Maybe someone can diagnose the situation if I describe it in more detail. When you shift a good transmission, you feel a little detent in neutral and a well-cushioned, barely-there sense of positive engagement when you get to the next gear. With my car, going through neutral feels pretty normal but it's like you have to push the lever through a barrier right before you engage gear. It requires quite a bit of force sometimes and it almost feels like it's snapping into place. At first I thought it might be a question of break-in or my technique, but I have over 5,000 miles on the car now and nothing I've tried helps with any consistency. It doesn't seem to matter if the transmission is fully warm or stone cold, whether I shift fast or slow, up or down, pause in neutral, double clutch, heel-and-toe, or whatever. Sometimes double-clutching while stopped seems to help it go into 1st or reverse more easily, but otherwise technique doesn't seem to have much to do with it. Every once in a while it decides to be in a good mood and gives me a string of about 10 smooth shifts, but this seems to be happening less and less lately. Oh, and about every 10th shift from 1st to 2nd grinds regardless of how slowly I shift.

I don't feel like my expectations are unreasonable. I've experienced a lot of old, worn-out transmissions and only one was consistently worse. In case anyone is wondering, it was my grandparents' 1976 Ford F150 farm truck, which was almost 25 years old the first time I drove it. My grandfather was tighter than two coats of paint, so there's a very good chance that the only oil in that transmission was whatever was left of what came in it from the factory.

Does it make a difference if you fully depress the clutch to the floor?

SeaDawg
01-21-2012, 06:47 PM
I don't think the first dealer even looked at it. I'd be happy to try another but they're all about 250 miles away (including the one I bought it from/did the first service) in places I don't have a lot of other reasons to go to. Plus, a lot of dealers resent doing warranty repairs or free service on cars they didn't sell. And it's not like the car is un-drivable, it's just unpleasant. I almost wish it would fail catastrophically because at least then they can't dispute the problem.

Maybe someone can diagnose the situation if I describe it in more detail. When you shift a good transmission, you feel a little detent in neutral and a well-cushioned, barely-there sense of positive engagement when you get to the next gear. With my car, going through neutral feels pretty normal but it's like you have to push the lever through a barrier right before you engage gear. It requires quite a bit of force sometimes and it almost feels like it's snapping into place. At first I thought it might be a question of break-in or my technique, but I have over 5,000 miles on the car now and nothing I've tried helps with any consistency. It doesn't seem to matter if the transmission is fully warm or stone cold, whether I shift fast or slow, up or down, pause in neutral, double clutch, heel-and-toe, or whatever. Sometimes double-clutching while stopped seems to help it go into 1st or reverse more easily, but otherwise technique doesn't seem to have much to do with it. Every once in a while it decides to be in a good mood and gives me a string of about 10 smooth shifts, but this seems to be happening less and less lately. Oh, and about every 10th shift from 1st to 2nd grinds regardless of how slowly I shift.

I don't feel like my expectations are unreasonable. I've experienced a lot of old, worn-out transmissions and only one was consistently worse. In case anyone is wondering, it was my grandparents' 1976 Ford F150 farm truck, which was almost 25 years old the first time I drove it. My grandfather was tighter than two coats of paint, so there's a very good chance that the only oil in that transmission was whatever was left of what came in it from the factory.

Please don't take this wrong, but I think you should try and get past the perception you have of the Fiat Service network. I bought my car from Sunset Fiat of Sarasota. I get it serviced by Fields Fiat of Orlando. They are extremely professional and have never given me any reason to doubt that they like servicing my car which I didn't buy from them.

Having said that, I DO feel you have a valid complaint and you SHOULD bring it to a Service Department's attention. It sounds like it could be getting worse. I guess if you want to wait till it fails, then it's your call, but I personally would get it to a dealer sooner rather than later.

Fiat500USA
01-21-2012, 08:10 PM
Please don't take this wrong, but I think you should try and get past the perception you have of the Fiat Service network. I bought my car from Sunset Fiat of Sarasota. I get it serviced by Fields Fiat of Orlando. They are extremely professional and have never given me any reason to doubt that they like servicing my car which I didn't buy from them...


I agree, at least in the Fiat's case. Because dealers are spread so far apart AND they opened at different times, I think Fiat dealers are more receptive.

In my experience, I don't think dealers resent working on cars bought somewhere else, but they do give priority to their own customers.

italophile
01-21-2012, 11:47 PM
I agree, at least in the Fiat's case. Because dealers are spread so far apart AND they opened at different times, I think Fiat dealers are more receptive.

In my experience, I don't think dealers resent working on cars bought somewhere else, but they do give priority to their own customers.

I suppose so. I only chose the dealer I did because they opened six months earlier and I was eager to get my car. Aside from that, it's a wash. The city I bought it from has a more ethical reputation; the other is fractionally closer and I go there more often. Either way, the real problem with taking it to any dealer is the distance. It's four hours drive each way, and I'd like some assurance that they're going to do something before I invest that kind of time. I was really hoping someone else was having the same problem so I could cite precedent.

I do push the clutch all the way to the floor. In fact, it seems to fully disengage about halfway down and I would like to introduce a little more free play to get the engagement point a little lower. I've even tried to stop short of the floor to see if that would make a difference in the shifting (it doesn't).

Prima 109
01-22-2012, 01:48 AM
Please don't take this wrong, but I think you should try and get past the perception you have of the Fiat Service network. I bought my car from Sunset Fiat of Sarasota. I get it serviced by Fields Fiat of Orlando. They are extremely professional and have never given me any reason to doubt that they like servicing my car which I didn't buy from them.

Having said that, I DO feel you have a valid complaint and you SHOULD bring it to a Service Department's attention. It sounds like it could be getting worse. I guess if you want to wait till it fails, then it's your call, but I personally would get it to a dealer sooner rather than later.

I agree with SeaDawg. I bought my Prima from Bob and Chuck Eddy's in Austintown, Ohio. It now gets serviced at #1 Cochran's in Monroeville, PA where they are only 20 min away. They have been great!