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 The oldest (new) Abarth 500 - status report
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Posted - 06 Feb 2018 :  10:03:41  Show Profile  Visit julian's Homepage  Click to see julian's MSN Messenger address  Reply with Quote
So after 9 years and 64000 miles of relatively painless motoring (ignoring some significant bumps in the road). My trusty Abarth 500 is starting to show some serious wear and tear.

The most significant issue is the front wheel bearings - due to the fact they have been slightly noisy but solid I've put up with it for a while but now they are noticeably rough under braking. I can't tell if it is just the front bearings either - I suspect all four wheel bearings are now past their best...

The alternator is making some really horrible noises too but only when hot.

The buttons on the steering wheel are becoming unresponsive and the leather on the steering wheel is rather tatty.

The last year has seen a few other parts swapped out - the front wishbones had to go middle of last year and the intermediate drive shaft was something of a nightmare (4 CV joints and one shaft later it was fixed). The return re-circulation feed on the induction system split too - the original parts were hard plastic but the more recent versions just rubber so it looks like it survived pretty well...

Looking back through the servicing receipts there have been other problems along the way - the clutch master cylinder completely failed (under warranty), followed by the brake pedal snapping (yes really - due to a faulty casting). The passenger door handle snapped (apparently a common fault on 500's) and the rear hatch handle failed.

The front suspension has been the biggest problem though - it is on its third set of dampers and springs and the upper mounts have been swapped out twice. This appears to be more to do with the shocking state of the roads in my area (and probably everywhere else).

While sorting out the noisy transmission the gearbox was swapped for a low mileage second hand unit but it turned out to be the drive shaft causing the noise so I have a spare box in case of an emergency (and the early A500 boxes are known to be a bit weak so it is worth holding on to).

The only time it has really caught me out though was a fuel leak - pretty much straight out of the fuel pump, due to the fuel line rubbing against the rear suspension. Fortunately it was caught at work while I was employed by a major engineering company working in the oil and has business so we had suitable containment facilities on hand otherwise it would have been a significant incident.

All of this however ignores the shocking number of accidents it has been in.

The first sign of trouble was the rear bumper getting scuffed, it didn't matter where it was parked somehow someone managed to catch it on a regular basis.... the rear bumper has been repainted more times than I care to think about.

Then there was the attempt at pole-vaulting the car - a somewhat careless carpenter was loading left over lengths of wood into his van and let one fall out into the road, just as the car went past with the passenger window open. The resulting fluke accident saw the car bounced into the air, putting a fairly large dent into the roof (and nearly killing the passenger but somehow just leaving a scratch).

Over the years the rear bumper has been hit over and over again but nothing as bad as the next big incident (now almost four years ago) when a bored van driver simply drove into the back of it (presumably while distracted by some hand-held electronic device).

Finally, and quite recently, a road-raging driver decided to perform a dangerous overtake and cut in-front of the car (without any oncoming traffic). While there was space for him, he unfortunately misjudged it and clipped the front off-side corner resulting in his car spinning off the road. It didn't look particularly bad at the time but a new front bumper was needed along with both sets of lights on that side - and a quick refurb of the front wheel as it was scratched.

Which brings us to the wheels - those magnificent, diamond cut faced 17" multi-spoke alloys are great to look at but are really prone to damage from just about everything that isn't a perfectly flat road. I'm in the process of buying a second set (in good cosmetic condition) so that I can get one set (whichever is cheapest) properly refurbished. It is the only part of the car that ever gets really scruffy and visually lets the car down (amazingly in-spite of all the above).

So where to go from here? On Thursday (just four days before its registration anniversary) it is off to an Abarth specialist down in the midlands to get a refresh (and a new MOT)... then on to (hopefully) another 9 years of quality motoring!

2009 Abarth 500
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