Fiat 124 Spider Forum banner

1 - 20 of 58 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
At around 2,000 miles I got a check engine light. The code (DTC P0128) read something like "coolant below operating temperature." I had heard of other instances where the thermostats on the 1.4 in both the 500 and 124 Spider were apparently stuck open. So I called the closest dealership in Tacoma, WA, ordered a replacement thermostat and scheduled an appointment. Yesterday I went in for the service (my first service experience) and we found (bad news) that the thermostat I'd ordered was used in another repair, and (good news) that FCA was recommending a flash update to the ECU. Apparently the technical wizards at FCA are thinking that the problems with this diagnostic are software and not hardware related. The part itself, in fact the entire cooling system external to the engine, is from Mazda. So there may be trouble marrying the ECU to the Mazda gear. But if this is not the case, the tech ordered a thermostat to be kept in reserve for me.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
727 Posts
So it's ok to drive your car in the meantime? Seems someone here stated that they had their check engine light reset (thermostat code) and then drove their car over a thousand miles with no more issues.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
So it's ok to drive your car in the meantime? Seems someone here stated that they had their check engine light reset (thermostat code) and then drove their car over a thousand miles with no more issues.
Ok as long as you take it easy while blue light is on. Yes, I read that post. It could be that the "reset" was a "flash update"'; in both cases it did not involve replacement of the thermostat. We will see how it goes. It has been uncommonly cold up here this year and I've had to drive about 10 miles to get up to operating temperature. I've noticed that the temp gauge kicks up one notch when the blue light expires, then another notch to just below the 210° mark where it settles in. This gauge does not have an analog flow to it, just the three positions below the 210° mark. At least that is how it looks to me. I'm not interested to see what it does past 210°, and whether there are more positions for an overheated system!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
25 Posts
I have had my Abarth for almost two months now...

.....and my engine temp never goes above 210. Usually stays below that. I talked to my studio earlier this week and they said that was normal.

My temp gauge does the same thing as oliverpull......no flow to the to it. Just like the gas gauge. I have not seen the gauge "between marks" if that makes sense.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1 Posts
411 miles on my new Classica manual 6 speed and the CEL light came on. Based on this thread I suspect it's a thermostat issue as well. I have an appointment with the dealer next week so we'll see. I drive the car back and forth to the gym only right now (< 2 miles) and the blue temperature stays on the whole time.

I've only had the car a week and we've had torrential rainfall here so I haven't had the top down or been able to take a twisty spin in the hills. Was looking forward to that over the three day weekend, but I think I'll have to wait until the CEL light issue has been addressed.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
30 Posts
I would be very surprised if the t-stat was a Mazda item. The cooling system in the Miata engine is very likely not configured the same as the Fiat engine. And new Miatas are not having such issues.
Driving with a CEL for low temperature won't cause any immediate harm, but it could affect emissions and long term engine life. The blue thermometer is not a CEL, only an indication the engine is still cold.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter #8
My statement regarding the cooling system components external to the 124 Spider engine coming from Mazda is what I was told by two techs at the Tacoma dealership who had long experience with repairs to the Fiat 500 Abarth, and who were dealing with this cooling problem beginning to appear in the Spider 124. They were certain that some of the hardware parts in the cooling system were from Mazda (unlike the in 500, this engine is located longitudinally, as is the MX-5 engine) , as are many other parts in car. My son has a Scion iA, made by Mazda for Toyota, and there are parts throughout that car interior that I recognize in my Abarth! The fact that Mazda MX-5s are not having cooling issues favors the notion that it is a software problem in Fiat's ECU, not a hardware issue. This does not explain why CEL issues regarding cooling are appearing in the 500. We'll see. As information, with the flash update, my CEL is off. Yesterday with air temps around 38°, I drove 10 minutes for 5 miles before the blue light disappeared and the needle rose to the first position, then another 10 minutes (5 miles) before the gauge needle rose to full operating temperature. No difference from when the CEL was on, which also points to this being a software issue.
 
  • Like
Reactions: SteveWy

·
Banned
Joined
·
425 Posts
My statement regarding the cooling system components external to the 124 Spider engine coming from Mazda is what I was told by two techs at the Tacoma dealership who had long experience with repairs to the Fiat 500 Abarth, and who were dealing with this cooling problem beginning to appear in the Spider 124. They were certain that some of the hardware parts in the cooling system were from Mazda (unlike the in 500, this engine is located longitudinally, as is the MX-5 engine) , as are many other parts in car. My son has a Scion iA, made by Mazda for Toyota, and there are parts throughout that car interior that I recognize in my Abarth! The fact that Mazda MX-5s are not having cooling issues favors the notion that it is a software problem in Fiat's ECU, not a hardware issue. This does not explain why CEL issues regarding cooling are appearing in the 500. We'll see. As information, with the flash update, my CEL is off. Yesterday with air temps around 38°, I drove 10 minutes for 5 miles before the blue light disappeared and the needle rose to the first position, then another 10 minutes (5 miles) before the gauge needle rose to full operating temperature. No difference from when the CEL was on, which also points to this being a software issue.
Just an FYI, one of the YOUTUBE reviewers of the 124 had the same issue within the first 300 miles. While they noted the problem, and his tech suspected thermostat, it was not resolved in the review. Clearly, however, this is something many of us can expect we will be seeing. Again, please keep everyone up to date.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
560 Posts
Just an FYI, one of the YOUTUBE reviewers of the 124 had the same issue within the first 300 miles. While they noted the problem, and his tech suspected thermostat, it was not resolved in the review. Clearly, however, this is something many of us can expect we will be seeing. Again, please keep everyone up to date.
Since the replacement thermostats do fix the problem it doesn't really matter what the cause (hardware or software conflict), as long as Fiat has a part that will solve the issue. Hopefully people can get their parts a lot quicker than I did in September! Thousands of miles later my issue has never reoccurred.
 
  • Like
Reactions: oliverpull

·
Registered
Joined
·
25 Posts
dumb question

Should the needle/gauge for the temp and the fuel have an analog flow to it? Or should it "tick" from mark to mark? I just sent a message to my studio to see what they say.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter #12
It seems to me like ticking from mark to mark is their normal way of operating. I haven't discovered errors. I just expected an analog flow like the speedo and tach.
 
  • Like
Reactions: AmishPoint

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter #13
With less than 200 miles since the flash update for thermostat issues, my CEL is back on. I was out tonight in 34° outdoor temps, and it was 25 minutes and 18 miles before the engine reached operating temperature (the mark just below 210°). During that time the CEL came back on. My other vehicles will heat up to operating temp in one third this time, and they are diesels with thicker iron blocks.

Apparently, the software update did not fix things, and it points to this being a problem with the thermostat itself, as K Poling has pointed out. I have one on order in case of this; I hope it comes in soon and is not used to fix someone else's Fiat, as the last was!
 

·
Vendor
Joined
·
3,334 Posts
Guys, it's not likely to be the thermostat, and it's not something that needs to be fixed by a reflash.

If you get this code, I suggest clearing it, and you probably won't ever see it again. If you do see it again, then it's either an actual thermostat problem or possibly a bad throttle.

It's very unlikely on a new 124 that it's an actual problem with the thermostat. I know this is going to sound strange, but hear me out. For some reason, and I don't know why, a specific problem with throttle learning can cause thermostat related codes with this ECU. Naturally, a typical tech's knee jerk reaction is to replace the thermostat. The tech does that, then resets the code, then no more problems. However that's because resetting the code gave the ECU more time to finish the throttle learning, not because there was actually anything wrong with the thermostat.

Reflashing works for the same reason, it simply clears all the codes. As far as I know every software version has this issue. I think it's actually something that got mixed up in translation to the US OBD2 code system. The code numbering just isn't right in this case.

Greg
 

·
Vendor
Joined
·
3,334 Posts
Oh, and just to clarify, the way you can tell if it's an actual thermostat issue is by checking the temperature. If it's really not warming up, then the thermostat is stuck closed.

Greg
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
560 Posts
Greg, I think you're off on this. After my light was initially reset I thought perhaps the same as you and when the part had arrived was ready to tell the service tech not to worry about it. However, Fiat had specifically instructed them and other dealers to do the replacement and the replaced part is not identical. The instructions noted that they were aware of the problem and had arranged for additional parts to be sent to their depot. So, if the manufacturer says to replace the part, I think they know it's the part. (At least it's only a thermostat. With my Solstice it was the LSD, which GM instructed techs to replace if they started making noise. ) it's free so I think it prudent to do so.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
165 Posts
Discussion Starter #18
Naturally, a typical tech's knee jerk reaction is to replace the thermostat. The tech does that, then resets the code, then no more problems. However that's because resetting the code gave the ECU more time to finish the throttle learning, not because there was actually anything wrong with the thermostat.
Greg
Greg, your alternative diagnosis may apply to some, but in my case a flash update and clearing of code was done first without a thermostat replacement. Then the error code returned after 150 miles. And during that time warm-up to operating temperature was taking up to thirty minutes. I'd say my thermostat is stuck open.
 
  • Like
Reactions: jconli1

·
Vendor
Joined
·
3,334 Posts
Greg, your alternative diagnosis may apply to some, but in my case a flash update and clearing of code was done first without a thermostat replacement. Then the error code returned after 150 miles. And during that time warm-up to operating temperature was taking up to thirty minutes. I'd say my thermostat is stuck open.
Absolutely, if the car is taking too long to warm up, then the thermostat is not opening.

Greg
 

·
Vendor
Joined
·
3,334 Posts
Greg, I think you're off on this. After my light was initially reset I thought perhaps the same as you and when the part had arrived was ready to tell the service tech not to worry about it. However, Fiat had specifically instructed them and other dealers to do the replacement and the replaced part is not identical. The instructions noted that they were aware of the problem and had arranged for additional parts to be sent to their depot. So, if the manufacturer says to replace the part, I think they know it's the part.
My post relates specifically to cases where the actual temperature is normal and resetting the CEL makes it go away and stay away.

Greg
 
1 - 20 of 58 Posts
Top