Fiat Punto Evo (Type 199: 2009-2012)

Used, grey Fiat Punto Evo on 15 inch OEM wheels

 

Reliability & common problems

This section covers the potential reliability issues that you might have with the Fiat Punto Evo. 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). The new drain pipe can also be fitted to the Punto Evo cars made before the update, which eliminates 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 Punto Evo.

C635 gearbox – difficulty engaging gears

Fiat stopped using the M32 transmission in the Punto family with the introduction of the Punto Evo and replaced it with their own design – the C635. Bye, bye whining bearings. Hello, clunking gear changes.

There have been cases of problems with the 1st and 2nd gear engagement in cars with the C635 manufactured before 2012 or so. From what I’ve gathered, the majority of these issues were seen in Alfa Romeo cars – the Giulietta and the Mito.

The symptoms include grinding or clunking sounds when changing gears. The 1st and 2nd gear may be difficult to engage. The fix to the gear change problem is to replace the 1st and 2nd gear synchronizers, which is a big job and not a nice thing to do out of warranty.

As I see it, the gearboxes that had problems with the synchros had come out like this from the factory or developed the symptoms soon after. Therefore, the odds are that the problematic gearboxes would have been fixed or replaced by now.

If you are planning to buy a car with the C635 transmission, make sure the first and second gear engagement is okay. If it is, you shouldn’t have issues with this transmission. If you are already facing a potential £1,000 bill for replacing the synchronizers, it might be worth trying to change the gearbox oil first.

There are people who managed to improve the first gear engagement significantly by simply changing the transmission oil, and the improvement was big enough that the gearbox repair became unnecessary.

The transmission oils that Fiat and Alfa Romeo owners recommend are Titan Sintofluid FE SAE 75W and Castrol Syntrans Multivehicle 75w-90.

The Punto Evo models that have the C635 transmission are the 1.6 MultiJet and Abarth cars (165 & 180 PS).

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.

Anyway, there is one more reason why you should not buy a car with the Dualogic. In the Punto Evo, the Dualogic was fitted to two engines:

  • 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 & 95 PS), which normally uses the 5-speed C510 gearbox. When fitted with a Dualogic robot, CFC300 in this case, the transmission is different and it’s the 6-speed M20 with its chocolate bearings.

MultiAir malfunction

MultiAir is Fiat’s brand name for their variable valve lift and timing system for the intake valves. It’s actually a relatively simple system given its capabilities. Here’s how it works:

 

There is one key thing that you need to remember: MultiAir uses engine oil pressure to function. Using the wrong type of engine oil or changing the oil too late will cause issues with this system.

In my opinion, Fiat’s 18,000 miles oil change interval is very optimistic. I think that no MultiAir engine should go longer than 10,000 miles or 12 months between oil changes. Alfa Romeo started with the same 18,000 miles interval but reduced it to 9,000 miles after a while. My guess is that too many MultiAir units must have failed early. I believe Fiat kept the original 18,000 miles interval (less for Abarth cars).

As with any new technology, there will be a teething period and some early failures. MultiAir was first released in the Alfa Romeo Mito and the Fiat Punto Evo around the same time. There have been cases of failed MultiAir units replaced under warranty or not long after. Luckily for us, if a particular MultiAir unit was going to die, it probably already did and was replaced.

If you’re in the market for a car equipped with MultiAir, make sure the previous owners maintained a reasonable oil change interval (18k miles is not reasonable) and look out for the symptoms of MultiAir malfunction:

  • Intermittent rough idle, especially after a cold start

  • Rattly engine sound

  • Engine misfire under load

  • “Check engine” light or the stop/start system not working

Apart from regular oil changes and using the correct engine oil, there is one more thing that you should do. There is an oil strainer in the cylinder head that may get clogged, starving the engine top-end from oil. It is not a service item, so it’s common for it to be neglected. In my opinion, it should be replaced or at least cleaned every 30k miles. This little mesh filter can be found in non-MultiAir engines too, but it’s less critical there.

I wouldn’t recommend buying a second-hand Punto Evo with MultiAir because the technology was still new back then and has been improved since. I believe the major updates took place in 2012 and 2013 (part no. history: 55228221 -> 55236341 -> 55249566 -> 55257643). The newer MultiAir engines are likely to be more reliable. 

In my opinion, this technology has a future but like with many innovations in the automotive world, it’s best to wait a couple of years before taking the plunge.

It’s not that the original MultiAir engines were unreliable. Just be aware that the cost of replacing a failed MultiAir unit (it is a module that sits next to the camshaft) is over £1,000. I’m not sure if the slight increase in fuel economy and power is worth the risk when buying a second-hand car.

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

  • Just like other Fiat cars from those years, the Punto Evo can be a fairly reliable car. Tony won’t have to Fix IAgain Tomorrow. This is as long as you know what you are buying, and you are aware of the potential problems.

  • The Punto Evo is a heavily facelifted Grande Punto with a couple updates to the engine, like the MultiAir technology or lower emissions.

  • With the launch of the Punto Evo, the M32 gearbox is no more (with the exception of the 1.3 MJ Dualogic). In my opinion, Fiat’s C635 is an improvement over GM’s M32. Just make sure all the gear changes are good and there is no noise coming from the transmission. If all the boxes are ticked, you shouldn’t have issues with this transmission.

  • The C635 gearbox was paired with the 1.6 MultiJet and the 1.4 T-Jet in the Abarth cars (165 and 180 PS). The 135 PS T-Jet has a 5-speed gearbox, which is fine.

  • 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.

  • The 1.2 and the 1.4 FIRE engines are very simple and reliable units. The FIRE engine family has been powering Fiat cars since 1985. These two engines do not have dual-mass flywheels. If you are looking for an economical, low-maintenance car, these are the engines to pick.

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

  • I don’t recommend buying a second-hand Punto Evo with the MultiAir unless you can find a car that had the MultiAir unit replaced after 2012 with an updated one.

  • Click here for an article that might help you decide if a modern diesel engine, like the MultiJet, is the right choice for you. Most of the diesel engines in the Punto Evo have a diesel particulate filter (DPF). However, you may be able to find a 2009 or 2010 car without one – the 75 PS and 90 PS variant didn’t necessarily have one before 2011. The cars without a DPF are Euro 4 rated while the ones with a DPF are Euro 5 rated.

  • Watch out for timing chain stretch in the 1.3 MultiJet engines. As for the gearboxes, all manual cars with the 1.3 MultiJet engine come with a 5-speed C510 transmission. You shouldn’t have any problems with the C510. No dual-mass flywheel is another bonus (unless you get a car with the Dualogic transmission).

 

Fiat Punto Evo specifications

This section contains Fiat Punto Evo 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⋅ftUntil 2010, 8v FIRE engine
1.21242 cm³ / 75.8 cu in69 PS / 51 kW102 Nm / 75 lbf⋅ftFrom 2010, 8v FIRE engine, Euro 5
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⋅ftTwin-fuel (Petrol + CNG), 8v FIRE engine
1.4 LPG1368 cm³ / 83.5 cu in77 PS / 57 kW115 Nm / 85 lbf⋅ftTwin-fuel (Petrol + LPG), 8v FIRE engine
1.4 MultiAir 16v1368 cm³ / 83.5 cu in105 PS / 77 kW130 Nm / 96 lbf⋅ftVariable valve lift & timing
1.4 Turbo MultiAir 16v1368 cm³ / 83.5 cu in135 PS / 99 kW206 Nm / 152 lbf⋅ftVariable valve lift & timing
Abarth Punto Evo1368 cm³ / 83.5 cu in163 PS / 120 kW250 Nm / 184 lbf⋅ftVariable valve lift & timing
Abarth Punto Evo SS1368 cm³ / 83.5 cu in180 PS / 132 kW270 Nm / 199 lbf⋅ftVariable valve lift & timing

Diesel engines – specs & performance figures

ModelDisplacementPowerTorqueComments
1.3 MultiJet 16v 751248 cm³ / 76.2 cu in75 PS / 55 kW190 Nm / 140 lbf⋅ft
1.3 MultiJet 16v 901248 cm³ / 76.2 cu in90 PS / 66 kW200 Nm / 147 lbf⋅ft2009-2010
1.3 MultiJet 16v 951248 cm³ / 76.2 cu in95 PS / 70 kW200 Nm / 147 lbf⋅ft
1.6 MultiJet 16v1598 cm³ / 97.5 cu in120 PS / 88 kW320 Nm / 236 lbf⋅ft

Petrol engines – technical details

EngineEngine config.Forced inductionValve timingFuel deliveryDMFInlet flaps
Legend:SOHC - Single Overhead Camshaft
VVT - Variable Valve Timing
VVL - Variable Valve Lift
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 valvesNaturally aspiratedTiming belt, SOHC, VVT: 1.4 8v & 1.2 8v Euro 5Port injection (EFI)NoNo
1.4 MultiAir 16vInline-4, 16 valvesNaturally aspiratedTiming belt, SOHC, VVT & VVLPort injection (EFI)NoNo
1.4 MultiAir Turbo 16vInline-4, 16 valvesTurbochargedTiming belt, SOHC, VVT & VVLPort injection (EFI)YesNo

Diesel engines – technical details

EngineEngine config.Forced inductionValve timingInjection systemDMFDPFSwirl 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 75Inline-4, 16 valvesTurboTiming chain, DOHCCommon RailNoYes (optional until 2010)No
1.3 MultiJet 16v 90Inline-4, 16 valvesTurboTiming chain, DOHCCommon RailNoOptionalNo
1.3 MultiJet 16v 95Inline-4, 16 valvesTurboTiming chain, DOHCCommon RailNoYesNo
1.6 Multijet 16vInline-4, 16 valvesTurboTiming belt, DOHCCommon RailYesYesFixed flaps

 

Fiat Punto Evo wheel sizes

Press the button below to see the original equipment manufactuer (OEM) rim & tyres sizes for the Fiat Punto Evo. 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 Punto Evo
215/40 R187.5Jx18 ET3956.6mm4x100Abarth Punto Evo SS

 

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