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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 7:28 pm 
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If you're looking to get hold of a Cinquecento, there's a few points to consider when buying. Most of them are the run of the mill items that apply to buying any car second hand, some more specific.

Buying safety:

Only go in daylight and decent weather. In the dark or wet it is much harder to spot a car's bad points.
Best not to view a car in the street or a car park. If you're answering a private advertisement, go to the owner's home. Ask if you can pop in to use the loo just to make sure it is their house!
Take a friend with you if you can - often a second pair of eyes might spot something you don't - especially if you've set your heart on it before you've even seen it!
Ask to see the paperwork. Check that the address, reg number and vin number match.

What to look for:

Keys. Older (N reg and before) come with black keys, the car has no immobiliser. Later ones should come with one red and two blue keys. This isn't so much of an issue now if the red key is missing as many places can copy a blue key. The red is only really needed for programming in new Fiat keys. If you only have one blue and lose it, you're in a bit of a pickle - you will either need to order a full set from Fiat which won't be cheap or get an ecu, code box, lock set and keys from a scrap car.

Service history might be very patchy on some of the older cars, few people will keep up main dealer servicing on a car as it gets older. Ideally you would like to see a sheaf of receipts and old MOTs to give some indication of the mileage being about right and care having been taken.
On older cars, condition itself can be far more important - it's possible to service a car precisely following the manufacturer's schedules while completely ignoring any other items that crop up!

Before driving, check:

The oil is between the min and max on the dipstick, also check it isn't thick and black like tar. If it is, it hasn't been changed in ages and hasn't been any good at lubricating for some time. Walk away.
The oil doesn't have a creamy brown deposit on the dipstick or large amounts in the oil filler cap - a sign of head gasket failure. Walk away or bargain the price down depending on how good you are with spanners.

The exhaust doesn't blow blue, black or white smoke out. Ask if you can see a start from cold and watch the back end. If it starts up uneven then settles out, the head gasket might well have failed. Can happen at surprisingly low mileages.

The general condition of the car looks right for the mileage. Interior and exterior wear and tear should be a minimum on genuinely low mileage cars.

Have a look in the boot - around the seams, all around the floor area and underneath at the back. Centos can rust at the back end - despite being galvanised. Use a magnet to check for body filler.

Check the car looks straight - that the panels line up and the paint matches. It's quite normal to have some fairly wide panel gaps - even as much as 5mm or so on Cinquecento, but they should be consistent. Look for obvious signs of accident damage.

Tyres. Fiat fitted a unique size to the Cento Sportings, 165/55r13. They can be fairly expensive to replace - but other size options are available as long as you don't change one corner at a time.

Go for a drive!

On Cinquecento there's no power steering, so it can be a little heavy at parking speeds but should lighten up well once moving.
Progress should be smooth, the clutch should be light and easy to operate. If it's heavy or the gears grind as you change, it might be in need of a new clutch - looking circa £200 at a garage.
Listen for funny noises. Hesitation and misfiring is a bad sign, best walk away or bargain the price down.
Clonks from the rear will probably mean failed rear shock absorbers or suspension arm bushes.
Clonks from the front will probably be failed track rod ends, balljoints, shock absorbers or strut top mounts.
Temperature should run at around the 85-90'c mark. Much lower suggests a failed or fiddled thermostat - could be trying to mask an overheating problem. Up to 100-105'c in stationary traffic on a hot day is normal too, but should quickly fall back to 85-90'c when you're back up to speed. The radiator fans do tend to turn on and off a lot when warm too, this is quite normal!
How does the car feel? Does it drive and stop in a straight line? Does it go round corners happily? They are naturally revvy little cars and should feel quite lively for the engine size, they should also handle remarkably well.
The handbrake. Is it one of the ornamental ones which makes no difference to the speed of travel? It should be able to hold the car easily on a hill, but don't expect to be able to do Russ Swift style driving ballet with it!

Naturally, bargain the price down if there's any faults you feel you can fix yourself - or walk away and see another one if you're less confident. There's loads out there for sale.

You'll quickly fall for the charms of the little things, they're a lot of fun and much more entertaining to drive than the competition!

Please feel free to add to this if there's anything you can think of.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 10:07 pm 
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Drivers seat frames have been known to be a common weak point. The frame can snap about 8 inches down from the top. A broken seat frame will fail MOT and its not safe to drive in that condition, so either replace it or it is possible to repair if you can weld (I have done mine, took about 2 hours total and is stronger than when it left the factory). Anyone needing assistance with this repair, I have written some instructions available to club members. Or anyone in the Peterborough area needing this doing I can help out with the work too.

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PostPosted: Wed Jul 04, 2007 11:15 pm 
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Location: DERBY-on-Sea Large Stock Of Cento Bitz - CHECK THE SHOP
Drives: Cinquecento MCCXLII Mazda6
One or two more to look out for. These items are based on our parts sales enquiries globally.

Working from front to back;

Radiator fan seizure;
If the car has stood for a length of time or does predominantly motorway miles negating the need for the electric cooling fan for the radiator you may find that the motor has seized. Naturally when it's then needed the little fellah overheats. To check for this, make sure the engine is switched off and preferably cold. Slide your hand under the RH front of the front bumper. You should be able to feel the bottom edge of the fan blade. In healthy form it should spin quite freely. If it won't turn or feels tight, then a replacement will be called for.

Sump Pan Corrosion:
The front face of the FIRE engine sump pans are susceptable to corrosion. Peer under the bumper and have a look. If it looks like the surface of the moon, it'll need a new sump pan before long. They don't suddenly burst a violent leak though, but usually start to 'weep' oil onto the road over time. A definate haggle point.

Engine Mountings Worn;
Try a light 'racing' start in both reverse and forward. Any strange clonks or violent rattles may indicate engine mount failure. These are very fashionable at the moment.

Headlamp adjusters broken:
Carefully peel back the rubber gaiter on back of the headlamp(s). This can be done very quickly and descretely. When the gaiter is free of the headlamp body, with the wiring socket still attached to the bulb, 'gently' try to rock the socket in an up/down motion. If there is an audible clonking where the reflector housed within is loose, then the adjuster has broken and technically the car will need a new headlamp.

Wiper Arm wear:
Particularly the RH. The hinge part of the arm (where you would lift the arm away from the screen) becomes loose allowing excessive lateral movement. Coupled with linkage wear, when travelling at speed the wipers can end up leaving the glass and attempting to clear the screen on the car next to you.

Radiator Corrosion/Leaks
The original Cinquecento rads are copper cored and tend to corrode away over time. Have a look at the inner side (with the torch that you always take when looking at cars) and peer through the bumper slats at the front edge. Greenyblueyfurry stuff is a sign of leakage

Heater hose leaking;
Between the cylinder head and the bulkhead the sportings have a three way hose. Look for signs of leaking at the junction of the three way. The hose is expensive, available only through Fiat and definately worth a haggle.

Heater Matrix
Once the car is running at normal operating temperature a healthy heater matrix will blow out surprisingly hot air on speed three. If it is cold or barely warm, prepare for a fiddly job. A healthy heater matrix will stand in for the cooling radiator under light use in an emergency.

Clutch cable failure;
As Pete mentioned a heavy clutch is a warning of impending expense. It will also virtually gaurantee clutch cable failure. Not something you can really predict, but worth preparing for.

Water Ingress;
There are a number of places water can get in, and once in if not treated promptly will leave you with a smelly car. Press your hands against the carpets in front and rear footwells. Lift the boot mat and check the spare wheel well. If the car smells musty then there is more than likely a problem.

Fuel Smell/Leak
If this is apparant when looking at a car for the first time, then there will probably be a problem with the tank. Cinquecento did suffer with tank leaks although many of them were recalled for a modified replacement. Fuel smells after filling the tank is more common now and usually rectifiable by resealing.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2007 5:03 pm 
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i don't have any technical tips, but i always enjoy keeping an eye on older second hand cars in the local paper and on auto trader.
all my cars have been max £2000.

my tips are just things i bear in mind when buying a car, non tecnical stuff really:

1) spend a few weeks or more looking a auto-trder ad the local paper to weigh up the prices compared with age ad mileage.

2) look at the way the advert is written, in my opinion you want to believe the person selling it loves the car and doesn't want to part with it. if it says things such as: first to see will buy or no time wasters be a bit wary.

3) look at the general conditon of consumables such as exhaust and tyres. if a tyre is bold an the say "i have been meaning to change that" don't believe them. someone who looks after their car wouldn't do that.

4) make sure the interior of the car matches the miles the car has done and the price wanted. you would expect an interior on a car which has done 60,000 miles to be less worn than one which has done 120,000.
again, smeone who cares for their car would keep the interior in reasonable condition.

5) as said already, take someone with you, just to keep your feet on the ground so you dream of yourself behind the wheel when in fact the car is a wreck.

6) ask to see the log book to check that the car is what they sa it is such as a Cinquecento sporting. check aount of previous owners and be wary if it hs had loads like 10 owners. also as for any recipts and mot's where you can check the mileage.

7) i also prefer adverts which have a land line/ home phone number, so you are more sure the person lives where the say.


some people might not find these useful, but i always bear these things in mind.

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PostPosted: Thu May 14, 2009 6:05 pm 
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Balidey wrote:
Drivers seat frames have been known to be a common weak point. The frame can snap about 8 inches down from the top. A broken seat frame will fail MOT and its not safe to drive in that condition, so either replace it or it is possible to repair if you can weld (I have done mine, took about 2 hours total and is stronger than when it left the factory). Anyone needing assistance with this repair, I have written some instructions available to club members. Or anyone in the Peterborough area needing this doing I can help out with the work too.



Mine passed its MOT even tho the floor had come away where one of the bolt holes are.. :lol:

Saturday mornings are the best time to get an MOT done 8)

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PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 12:06 pm 
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Drives: Cinquecento Abarth 1242
Dont know if it has already been said but make sure you check things like the jacking points and the sills for damage due to not being properly jacked up. Also have a good feel around the back of the car where the chassis rail and the boot floor join and also where the rear panel joins the inner wheel arch as big holes or bodged repairs are common faults, basically just check for rust in general because after all the newest of Cinquecento's are now 11 years old.

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 Post subject: Re: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 12:11 pm 
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tenpastnine wrote:
Balidey wrote:
Drivers seat frames have been known to be a common weak point. The frame can snap about 8 inches down from the top. A broken seat frame will fail MOT and its not safe to drive in that condition, so either replace it or it is possible to repair if you can weld (I have done mine, took about 2 hours total and is stronger than when it left the factory). Anyone needing assistance with this repair, I have written some instructions available to club members. Or anyone in the Peterborough area needing this doing I can help out with the work too.



Mine passed its MOT even tho the floor had come away where one of the bolt holes are.. :lol:

Saturday mornings are the best time to get an MOT done 8)


i would rather a tester fail a car that pass it with weaknesses

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 Post subject: Re: Re:
PostPosted: Tue Oct 27, 2009 2:19 pm 
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Ill second that one, wouldnt like to drive the one i have at the moment thats for sure.

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PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 1:37 am 
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Mine is a n reg but I have a red key which makes no difference when you press the spongy bit on it and a black key not blue for some reason .


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PostPosted: Wed Jan 13, 2010 7:39 am 
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Can I ask about the spongy bit - any pics?

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PostPosted: Tue Apr 20, 2010 12:03 am 
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Just a quick addition - When buying look for corrosion/paint bubbling around the rear seat mounting plate which the bolts for the rear seat belt buckle and seats thread into. Although the mounting plate which is welded onto the outside of the metal skin can remain solid, the surrounding metal around it can fail somewhat. This is probably to water getting in past the bosy sealant and sitting between the plate and the metal skin. Will be an obvious MOT failure as seatbelt anchorage situated here, never mind 30cm or whatever the requirement is.

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PostPosted: Sun Apr 25, 2010 10:17 pm 
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Found this in the scrap yard, some one obviously had cut the rear quarter out. A good illustration of where the rot sets in.
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Attachment:
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20042010229.jpg [ 527.94 KiB | Viewed 5824 times ]

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PostPosted: Fri Apr 27, 2012 6:17 pm 
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Drives: fiat Cinquecento
if i may humbly add to this guide? check front trolly jack points, rear trailing arms and subframe for excess carosion,rear brake back plates( mine where paper thin with rust at the bottoms £20+ each off fiat), behind rear seats where belt mounting is, mot fail. also failing breather pipe off rocker cover 899cc models any way,mine fell apart but i cut it down a little and is fine for now. last but not least fuel filler pipe from neck to tank. mine split at the tank allowing only about 5 litres of fuel to be added at a time! part no longer available either. i got one from a siecento and fitted it to my Cinquecento filler neck pipe,,,not fun! hope this helps someone.


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PostPosted: Sat May 12, 2012 10:47 pm 
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Drives: Cinquecento 899 sx
also id like to add to the rust part if you can chck behind the plastic covers on rear arches as n mine it had rotted away behind there which is what took me and my uncle ages to weld today :head: the rear inner sill was completely gone aswell as the rear inner arch at the back of the bumper argghh well no more rust on mine now :lol:

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