Reliability & common problems
This section covers the potential reliability issues that you might have with the Fiat Panda II. Click on the buttons below to read more about the typical problems that fall outside the scope of routine maintenance.
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. It’s not expensive and easy to replace. It’s just everything else that should worry you – the solenoids, the seals and sensors inside the Dualogic robot.
In my opinion, buying a second-hand Fiat Panda with the Dualogic defeats the purpose of the car, which is to be affordable, simple and low-maintenance.
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 of problems & additional information
The Fiat Panda is simple and cheap to run (if you stay away from the Dualogic transmissions). Some Panda models come with 4-wheel drive. The 4×4 Panda can handle off-road quite well considering it’s a small and inexpensive car. The cuddly Panda can be a versatile animal… I mean car.
The 1.1 and the 1.2 FIRE engines are very simple and reliable units. If you are looking for an economical, low-maintenance car, these are the engines to pick. The 1.4 16v Starjet is more powerful and fairly reliable too. These three engines do not have dual-mass flywheels. Also, the 1.1 and 1.2 8-valve FIRE engines were non-interference designs until 2010.
In 2010, the 1.2 60 PS FIRE engine received variable valve timing (VVT) and increased compression ratio to meet Euro 5 emission standards. As of then, the 1.2L 69 PS FIRE became an interference engine.
All engines in the Fiat Panda, except the 1.3 MultiJet, have timing belts. Don’t forget to replace the timing belt on time.
The 1.3 MultiJet engine in the Fiat Panda also doesn’t have a dual-mass flywheel, unlike most modern diesel engines. I consider this to be a good thing. There is one expensive component less (ca. £200) and the cost of slightly more vibration in the cabin.
Watch out for timing chain stretch in the 1.3 MultiJet engines.Other than that, there are no other major issues with these engines. When this little engine was released, it was able to meet Euro 4 emissions limits without the use of a diesel particulate filter (DPF). The DPF was available as an optional extra with the 70 PS engine.
The 75 PS model introduced later meets the Euro 5 and is fitted with a DPF. The 70 PS variant without a DPF is much better suited for city driving. Click here for an article that might help you decide if a modern diesel engine, like the MultiJet, is the right choice for you.
Fiat Panda II specifications
This section contains Fiat Panda II 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
|1.1||1108 cm³ / 67.6 cu in||54 PS / 40 kW||88 Nm / 65 lbf⋅ft||Until 2010, 8v FIRE engine|
|1.2||1242 cm³ / 75.8 cu in||60 PS / 44 kW||102 Nm / 75 lbf⋅ft||Until 2010, 8v FIRE engine|
|1.2 Euro 5||1242 cm³ / 75.8 cu in||69 PS / 51 kW||102 Nm / 75 lbf⋅ft||From 2010, 8v FIRE engine|
|1.2 Easy Power||1242 cm³ / 75.8 cu in||60 PS / 44 kW||102 Nm / 75 lbf⋅ft||From 2008, Twin-fuel (Petrol + LPG), 8v FIRE engine|
|1.2 Natural Power||1242 cm³ / 75.8 cu in||60 PS / 44 kW (petrol) and 52 PS / 38 kW (CNG)||102 Nm / 75 lbf⋅ft||2006-2010, Twin-fuel (Petrol + CNG), 8v FIRE engine|
|1.4 Natural Power||1368 cm³ / 83.5 cu in||77 PS / 57 kW (petrol) and 69 PS / 51 kW (CNG)||115 Nm / 85 lbf⋅ft||From 2010, Twin-fuel (Petrol + CNG), 8v FIRE engine|
|Panda 100 HP||1368 cm³ / 83.5 cu in||100 PS / 73.5 kW||131 Nm / 97 lbf⋅ft||2006-2010, 16v StarJet engine|
Diesel engines – specs & performance figures
|1.3 Multijet 16v||1248 cm³ / 76.2 cu in||70 PS / 51 kW||145 Nm / 107 lbf⋅ft||2004-2010|
|1.3 Multijet 16v DPF||1248 cm³ / 76.2 cu in||75 PS / 55 kW||145 Nm / 107 lbf⋅ft||From 2006|
Petrol engines – technical details
|Engine||Engine config.||Forced induction||Valve timing||Fuel delivery||DMF||Inlet 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)
|FIRE 8v||Inline-4, 8 valves||No||Timing belt, SOHC||Port injection (EFI)||No||No|
|FIRE 8v Euro 5||Inline-4, 8 valves||No||Timing belt, SOHC, VVT||Port injection (EFI)||No||No|
|1.4 StarJet 16v||Inline-4, 16 valves||No||Timing belt, DOHC, VVT||Port injection (EFI)||No||Port deactivation|
Diesel engines – technical details
|Engine||Engine config.||Forced induction||Valve timing||Injection system||DMF||DPF||Swirl flaps|
|Legend:||DOHC - Double Overhead Camshaft
DPF - Diesel Particulate Filter
DMF - Dual-mass Flywheel (does not apply to auto. transmissions with torque converters)
|1.3 MultiJet 16v||Inline-4, 16 valves||Turbo||Timing chain, DOHC||Common Rail||No||No||No|
|1.3 MultiJet 16v DPF||Inline-4, 16 valves||Turbo||Timing chain, DOHC||Common Rail||No||Yes||No|
Fiat Panda II wheel sizes
Press the button below to see the original equipment manufactuer (OEM) rim & tyres sizes for the Fiat Panda II. These are the original wheel sizes that were fitted by the manufacturer.
|Tyres||Rims||Centre Bore||Bolt Pattern||Comments|
|155/80 R13||5Bx13 ET35||58.1 mm||4x98||2WD Panda|
|165/65 R14||5.5Jx14 ET35||58.1 mm||4x98||2WD Panda|
|165/70 R14||5.5Jx14 ET35||58.1 mm||4x98||4WD Panda|
|185/65 R14||5.5Jx14 ET35||58.1 mm||4x98||Fiat Panda Climbing 4x4|
|185/55 R14||5.5Jx14 ET32||58.1 mm||4x98||Fiat Panda 100 HP, steel rims (winter wheels)|
|175/65 R15||6Jx15H ET24||58.1 mm||4x98||Fiat Panda Cross 4x4|
|195/45 R15||6.5Jx15 ET30||58.1 mm||4x98||Fiat Panda 100 HP, aluminium alloy rims|
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