Fiat Grande Punto (Type 199: 2005-2009)

Used, red Fiat Grande Punto Sporting on 17 inch OEM wheels, stylish 3-door hatchback

 

Reliability & common problems

This section covers the potential reliability issues that you might have with the Fiat Grande Punto. Click on the buttons below to read more about the typical problems that fall outside the scope of routine maintenance.

Frozen alternators (RHD cars)

The right-hand drive, petrol cars manufactured before March 2010 come with a windscreen drain pipe designed in a way that allows the water from the windscreen to get to the alternator. As long as the air temperature stays above freezing, you won’t have any issues.

Below 0°C, the water can freeze when the car is standing still and lock the alternator after a rainy day or snowfall. It is rare, but it can happen if the conditions are right.

The driver may be in for a surprise when starting the car in the morning. With the alternator stuck, the starting engine will drag the belt around the pulley making a horrible screeching noise and burning the rubber belt (black smoke may enter the cabin).

Luckily, the fix is simple – the drain pipe was updated in February 2010 (service news number 7002.10), which is when the Punto Evo was already in production. The new drain pipe can be fitted to the Grande Punto models eliminating this potential problem for £20, which is how much a new drain pipe costs.

This issue also affects the Alfa Romeo Mito as it is based on the same platform as the Grande Punto.

M32 & M20 gearbox bearings

Some Fiat Grande Punto models are fitted with the infamous M32 gearbox. A typical problem with this 6-speed transmission is bearing wear. In particular, the 6th gear bearing.

When this bearing starts wearing out, the gearbox becomes noisy when driving in 6th and 5th gear. If not fixed, this problem leads to total gearbox failure (a hole in the gearbox).

The M20 gearbox is almost identical, so it suffers from the same problems.

The M20 & M32 gearboxes are used in so many vehicles and bearing failure is so common in high-mileage vehicles, that I’ve dedicated a full page to the M20 & M32 gearboxes.

Follow the link above to learn more about the symptoms of bearing failure, the solution to the problem and how much it costs to fix a dying M32 gearbox.

 

The M32 or the M20 gearboxes are used in the following Grande Punto models:

  • Abarth 1.4 T-Jet, 155 PS and 180 PS – M32 (the 120 PS model has a 5-speed gearbox)

  • 1.3 MultiJet – M20 (90 PS variant only)

  • 1.6 MultiJet – M32

  • 1.9 MultiJet – M32

Dualogic transmission

The Dualogic transmission is an automated manual transmission, which means that the car has a manual transmission and a Dualogic robotic unit attached to it. The robot does the gear shifting for you, you lazy bastard.

You might have also heard about Alfa Romeo’s Selespeed transmission. Fiat’s Dualogic and Alfa Romeo’s Selespeed are pretty much the same thing.

Let me very briefly explain the basics of this transmission. The Dualogic robot is a complex hydraulic device, made up of solenoid valves, sensors and actuators. It is powered by a little hydraulic pump, and it has its own hydraulic fluid circuit.

The oil is pressurized by the pump and then stored in a hydraulic accumulator. The accumulator has a rubber diaphragm inside and compressed nitrogen gas behind the diaphragm. Therefore, there is compressed gas on one side of the diaphragm and hydraulic fluid on the other.

The diaphragm can deflect to store energy (oil pressure) because nitrogen gas is compressible, while the oil isn’t. This stored energy is then used to do the mechanical work – changing gears and operating the clutch, which is what the actuators do.

Because there is no torque converter, the Dualogic can be as efficient as a manual gearbox. However, it’s not as smooth as a traditional automatic transmission, and in my opinion, not as reliable.

The problem is that it is a relatively advanced piece of machinery and a failure of an individual component, like a £20 sensor or a £5 seal, means that you may have to replace the entire Dualogic unit, which is very expensive.

You may be able to replace an individual part that failed if you can find someone capable of doing it, but it will take some effort and time as there aren’t that many places that can fix Dualogic robots.

I am fairly confident that if you simply go to the dealership with a faulty Dualogic gearbox and the problem is not something obvious or easy to replace like an accumulator or a hydraulic pump, they will try to replace the entire unit for £2,000.

 

My recommendation is to avoid Dualogic transmissions when buying a used car. However, if you are still determined to buy one, here are the symptoms of malfunction:

  • dropping into neutral on its own (this can happen at motorway speeds)

  • jerky gear changes

  • transmission warning messages on the dashboard

  • inability to select gears or missing gears

When the Dualogic transmission stops working, the first thing to check is the accumulator. Over time, the membrane inside can rupture and the accumulator will stop storing pressure. Even if the membrane is still fine and you don’t drive the car much, the nitrogen gas will eventually escape, just like air escapes from a seemingly airtight balloon.

It’s the same story as with the nitrogen spheres used in Citroën’s hydro-pneumatic suspension and Mercedes-Benz’ ABC. Because it could take a decade, the odds are that the membrane will fail before the gas disappears from the sphere.

Don’t worry about the accumulator, though, because it’s easy to replace. It’s just everything else that should worry you – the solenoids, the seals and sensors inside the Dualogic robotic unit.

 

The Dualogic was fitted to two engines in the Grande Punto:

  • The 1.4 8v Fire, which uses the 5-speed C514 gearbox. This car has the CFC328 Dualogic robot.

  • The 1.3 MultiJet (90 PS only), which uses the 6-speed M20 gearbox. This car has the CFC300 Dualogic robot. The Dualogic and the M20 gearbox = double trouble.

1.3 MultiJet – timing chain wear

The camshaft in this engine is driven by a single row timing chain not much bigger than a bicycle chain. In my opinion, it’s not a very robust design and it is an area to watch.

Generally, when a timing chain is used, the intention is for it to last the “lifetime” of the engine (very roughly 200k miles). Therefore, there is no replacement interval specified for the timing chain. As I see it, trying to reach 200k miles on the original chain and tensioner is very risky.

If the chain wears and elongates (stretches), or the tensioner stops working properly, the typical symptom that develops is a chain rattle that lasts for a couple seconds after a cold start. In severe cases, the chain noise may remain for longer after the engine has started. The “Check Engine” light may appear too.

Here’s what timing chain noise sounds like:

 

Any chain stretch symptoms should not be ignored in this engine, regardless of the mileage. If the timing chain jumps some teeth, you will be looking at valvetrain damage. You may choose to replace the timing chain preemptively like you would with a timing belt, or you can wait until symptoms develop.

In my opinion, engines that have done more than 100k miles will probably qualify for a full timing chain service (new timing chain, guides, tensioner and gears).

If you are looking to get one of these cars, make sure there is no chain rattle after starting the engine. This needs to be a cold start when the car has stood still for a couple hours (ideally overnight). If the chain rattle is persistent, it means the chain or the tensioner is on its last leg.

Summary or problems & additional information

  • Just like other Fiat cars from those years, the Grande Punto can be a fairly reliable car. Tony won’t have to Fix It Again Tomorrow. This is as long as you know what you are buying, and you are aware of the potential problems. You should be after reading this article!

  • The 1.4 T-Jet is the proof that engine downsizing can give good results (sometimes). This is one of the best engine choices in the GP. Decent gearbox too.

  • While the earlier 8-valve FIRE engines used in Fiat cars were non-interference designs, the newer, higher compression units in the Grande Punto are interference engines. Therefore, don’t forget to replace the timing belt.

  • All engines in the Fiat Grande Punto, except the 1.3 MultiJet, have timing belts. Learn more about cambelts and interference engines.

  • The 1.2 and the 1.4 FIRE engines are simple and reliable units. The FIRE engine family has been powering Fiat cars since 1985. The 1.4 16v Starjet is a bit more powerful and fairly reliable too. These three engines do not have dual-mass flywheels.

  • While the Fiat engines are good, some of them are paired with the General Motors M32 or M20 transmissions. Inspect the car you are planning to buy for any gearbox noises and gear lever movement. If you find a problem, you should knock £600 off the price. If you find a car with a gearbox in good condition, I recommend replacing the transmission oil when you get it (replace every 30k miles). This will increase the lifespan of the transmission bearings.

  • As for the Dualogic transmission, I don’t recommend buying a used car fitted with one. It’s not something you want to own outside of warranty.

  • Click here for an article that might help you decide if a modern diesel engine, like the MultiJet, is the right choice for you. The MultiJet engines in the GP were able to meet Euro 4 emissions limits without the use of a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) and I believe the DPF was an optional extra in most markets. Therefore, a diesel Grande Punto may or may not have a DPF, although the odds are that it hasn’t.

  • The 1.9 8v MultiJet engine doesn’t have any major flaws. Just get one without a Diesel Particulate Filter (DPF) and watch out for worn out bearings in the M32 gearbox. Ideally, try to find one that had the bearings recently replaced at a reputable workshop or knock the car price down by £600 if you find any problems.

  • If you are into engine tuning, the 1.9 MultiJet is a great candidate. You should be able to get it to 170 PS with just a software update. This applies to both the 120 PS and the 130 PS models as they are identical except for the engine programming. Just make sure that your clutch and gearbox are in good shape before cranking up the power. A 170 PS Grande Punto is a proper hot hatch (I know because I’ve had one).

  • The 75 PS MultiJet engine is paired with the 5-speed C510 gearbox that doesn’t have a dual-mass flywheel, while the 90 PS version with the 6-speed M20 transmission does. I suggest looking for the 75 PS model as it will be cheaper to maintain in the long run (better gearbox, no dual-mass flywheel, simpler turbocharger). Watch out for timing chain stretch in the 1.3 MultiJet engines.

  • The Grande Punto still doesn’t look outdated. In my opinion, the Great Dot is the best looking car in the Punto family so far, including the facelifted cars that followed.

 

Fiat Grande Punto specifications

This section contains Fiat Grande Punto specifications. You will also find technical information regarding the engines used in these cars. Press the buttons below to display the specs and engine technical details.

Petrol engines – specs & performance figures

ModelDisplacementPowerTorqueComments
1.21242 cm³ / 75.8 cu in65 PS / 48 kW102 Nm / 75 lbf⋅ft8v FIRE engine
1.41368 cm³ / 83.5 cu in77 PS / 57 kW115 Nm / 85 lbf⋅ft8v FIRE engine
1.4 Natural Power1368 cm³ / 83.5 cu in77 PS / 57 kW (petrol) and 69 PS / 51 kW (CNG)115 Nm / 85 lbf⋅ftFrom 2008, Twin-fuel (Petrol + CNG), 8v FIRE engine
1.4 LPG1368 cm³ / 83.5 cu in77 PS / 57 kW115 Nm / 85 lbf⋅ft2009 only, Twin-fuel (Petrol + LPG), 8v FIRE engine
1.4 16v1368 cm³ / 83.5 cu in95 PS / 70 kW125 Nm / 92 lbf⋅ftFrom 2006, 16v StarJet engine
1.4 T-Jet 16v1368 cm³ / 83.5 cu in120 PS / 88 kW206 Nm / 152 lbf⋅ftFrom 2007
Abarth Grande Punto1368 cm³ / 83.5 cu in155 PS / 114 kW230 Nm / 170 lbf⋅ft1.4 T-Jet 16v engine
Abarth Grande Punto SS1368 cm³ / 83.5 cu in180 PS / 132 kW270 Nm / 199 lbf⋅ft1.4 T-Jet 16v engine

Diesel engines – specs & performance figures

ModelDisplacementPowerTorqueComments
1.3 MultiJet 16v1248 cm³ / 76.2 cu in75 PS / 55 kW190 Nm / 140 lbf⋅ft
1.3 MultiJet 16v1248 cm³ / 76.2 cu in90 PS / 66 kW200 Nm / 147 lbf⋅ft
1.6 MultiJet1598 cm³ / 97.5 cu in120 PS / 88 kW320 Nm / 236 lbf⋅ftFrom 2008
1.9 MultiJet 8V1910 cm³ / 116.6 cu in120 PS / 88 kW280 Nm / 206 lbf⋅ftUntil 2008
1.9 MultiJet 8V Sport1910 cm³ / 116.6 cu in130 PS / 96 kW280 Nm / 206 lbf⋅ftUntil 2008

Petrol engines – technical details

EngineEngine config.Forced inductionValve timingFuel deliveryDMFInlet flaps
Legend:SOHC - Single Overhead Camshaft
DOHC - Double Overhead Camshaft
VVT - Variable Valve Timing
EFI - Electronic Fuel Injection
DMF - Dual-mass Flywheel (does not apply to auto. transmissions with torque converters)
1.2 & 1.4 Fire 8vInline-4, 8 valvesNoTiming belt, SOHC, 1.4 8v has VVTPort injection (EFI)NoNo
1.4 StarJet 16vInline-4, 16 valvesNoTiming belt, DOHC, VVTPort injection (EFI)NoPort Deactivation
1.4 T-Jet 16vInline-4, 16 valvesTurboTiming belt, DOHCPort injection (EFI)YesNo

Diesel engines – technical details

EngineEngine config.Forced inductionValve timingInjection systemDMFDPFSwirl flaps
Legend:SOHC - Single Overhead Camshaft
DOHC - Double Overhead Camshaft
DPF - Diesel Particulate Filter
DMF - Dual-mass Flywheel (does not apply to auto. transmissions with torque converters)
1.3 MultiJet 16vInline-4, 16 valvesTurboTiming chain, DOHCCommon Rail75 PS - No, 90 PS - YesSome enginesNo
1.6 Multijet 16v Inline-4, 16 valvesTurboTiming belt, DOHCCommon RailYesSome enginesFixed flaps
1.9 MultiJet 8vInline-4, 8 valvesTurboTiming belt, SOHCCommon RailYesSome enginesNo

 

Fiat Grande Punto wheel sizes

Press the button below to see the original equipment manufactuer (OEM) rim & tyres sizes for the Fiat Grande Punto. These are the original wheel sizes that were fitted by the manufacturer.

TyresRimsCentre BoreBolt PatternComments
175/65 R15 or 185/65 R156Jx15 ET4356.6mm4x100
195/55 R166Jx16 ET4556.6mm4x100
205/45 R176.5Jx17 ET4656.6mm4x100
215/45 R177Jx17 ET3956.6mm4x100Abarth Grande Punto
215/40 R187.5Jx18 ET3956.6mm4x100Abarth Grande Punto SS

 

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