Fiat Recalls 500L Over Knee Airbags Deployment Issues

Fiat 500L US Version 1 photo
Photo: Fiat
Everybody loves the Fiat 500 city car, but its L, L Trekking and L Living mini MPV derivates haven't really cut the mustard since they were introduced. We're not necessarily referring to the looks, features, price or sales volume, but many Fiat 500L owners complained about various defective bits and bobs.
On July 21st, our reader Julie Carithers told us that she's been dumped twice by her car due to transmission problems. "It is a very dangerous situation to be left in. Transmission one minute then nothing the next. I am very disappointed in the car and the company that should be standing by it's product." But there's more! Only yesterday, a reader told us that he has "recently gotten a 500L Trekking automatic and we are going to take it back." Why you might ask?

"While driving on the freeway in traffic, the car shut off leaving us in a dangerous situation. Also, we have to drive up a big grade on the freeway and often have to drive around three lanes of semi-trucks. The clutch has overheated during this situation. We own a 500 and are very happy with it and expected a lot more from the 500L. It was such a hassle getting the car. We went to three dealerships, contacted the head of Fiat USA, which helped us some, but it has wasted so much time and to get a car that does not work has turned us off to the brand."

We like Italian cars. We love their passionate styling and their… Italian way of doing things. But mulling the quirky 500 into such a disaster of a car hasn't paid off for Fiat. It's not OK to stick the 500 nameplate to every new model you come up with, you know. Moreover, the 500L has been crash tested by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety recently and guess what - the driver door and the A-pillar were damaged like they were made out of play dough.

Other serious problems occurred during the small overlap crash test and this is why the IIHS gave an overall safety rating of "Poor" to the Fiat 500L subcompact. Priced from $19,195, this Eurobox is more expensive than the Subaru Impreza, which is definitely more reliable and was rated "Good" by the IIHS, winning the Top Safety Pick award.

In more recent news, the Chrysler Group has announced that 29,500 Fiat 500L vehicles are subjected to a safety recall campaign. After routine testing, engineers have found out that the supplemental restraint - designed to protect a driver's knees - may not deploy properly if the driver hasn't fastened his seat belt.

Fortunately, the company isn't aware of any related injuries or accidents. 25,500 500Ls from the 2014 and 2015 model years are located in the U.S., while Canada's got 4,000 vehicles. Affected owners will be advised when they may schedule service, which will be performed at no cost to them.

However, we advise you to take the matter into your own hands and hasten the process by contacting your local dealer or Chrysler Group's Customer Information Center at 1-800-853-1403.
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About the author: Mircea Panait
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After a 1:43 scale model of a Ferrari 250 GTO sparked Mircea's interest for cars when he was a kid, an early internship at Top Gear sealed his career path. He's most interested in muscle cars and American trucks, but he takes a passing interest in quirky kei cars as well.
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