Buyer's Guide

Fiat Coupe Buyers Guide

This is the guide from the old forum. It was Hannys excellent work and was invaluable to me when I was seeking a good Coupe.

This guide is intended for use as a base reference source, all potential owners should conduct further checks/inspections for mechanical, electrical, roadworthiness and HPI to confirm actual condition of intended purchase.

Coupe Overview:

The Fiat Coupe, based on the Tipo platform, entered production in 1993. Power came from either a 1995cc 16V (142bhp) or a 1995cc 16V turbo (195bhp) engine (both developed from engines taken from the Lancia range, the latter from the Integrale). In 1996 the 1747cc 16V (130bhp) engine from the Barchetta was transplanted into the Coupe, and then in 1997 both 2 litre units were replaced by the new 5 cylinder 1998cc engines, both with (220bhp) and without (147bhp/154bhp) a turbo.

An all new body was designed in-house by Fiat, although production of the car was given to Pininfarina due to the low volumes. The two door coupe body still allows normal usage of the rear seats and contains many interesting styling touches such as the door handles high in the b-pillar to keep the doors clean, the faired headlights, motorcycle style filling cap, strip of body coloured metal across the dashboard, etc... Maintaining this theme, Fiat introduced a push button starter switch on some later models.

To cope with the performance of the five cylinder turbo engine (220bhp and 310Nm) that variant also comes fitted as standard with a limited slip differential (called Viscodrive) and four pot Brembo brake callipers. In 1998 a 20v turbo Limited Edition/Plus models saw the introduction of a six speed as well as a body kit and various details. In 1999 the six speed box became standard on the turbocharged model. From production all models had ABS (by Bosch) as standard.

Production ceased in 2000.

Models available:

2.0 ltr 4 cylinder 16 valve non turbo
2.0 ltr 4 cylinder 16 valve turbo
2.0 ltr 5 cylinder 20 valve non turbo
2.0 ltr 5 cylinder 20 valve turbo
2.0 ltr 5 cylinder 20 valve turbo Limited Edition (LE)
2.O ltr 5 cylinder 20 valve turbo Plus
2.0 ltr 5 cylinder 20 valve (2000)

Technical Specification:

Driveline transverse engine at front with front wheel drive
Engines 1995cc (84x90mm) 4 cylinder in-line dohc 16V turbo with 195bhp @ 5,500rpm
1747cc (82x82.7mm) 4 cylinder in-line dohc 16V with 130bhp @ 6,300rpm
1995cc (84x90mm) 4 cylinder in-line dohc 16V with 142bhp @ 6,000rpm
1998cc (82x75.65mm) 5 cylinder in-line dohc 20V with 147bhp A revised 1998cc 5 cylinder in-line dohc 20v with 154bhp
1998cc (82x75.65mm) 5 cylinder in-line dohc 20V turbo with 220bhp @ 5,750rpm

Suspension front: MacPherson strut with telescopic dampers and coil springs plus anti-roll bar.
Suspension rear: independent with telescopic dampers and coil springs plus anti-roll bar.
wheelbase: 2540mm.
track (front/rear): 1483mm/1468mm (front: 1491mm on 20V turbo)
Brakes front: discs, ventilated, diameter 284mm (305mm on 20V turbo).
rear: discs, diameter 240mm
handbrake operating on the rear via a cable
Gearbox: 5 or 6 speed manual
Steering: Rack and Pinion with power assistance
Kerb weight original 1995cc 16V: 1250kg
1997 20V turbo: 1310kg ; distribution front/rear : 67.2%/32.8%
1997 1.8 16v: 1180kg

Performance:

 

model   max speed   0-60mph  
2.0 16V124 mph9.5 sec
2.0 16V TURBO   140 mph6.8 sec
2.0 20V132 mph8.9 sec
2.0 20V VIS135 mph8.4 sec
2.0 20V TURBO   155 mph6.5 sec


Colours available:

Fiat Coupe UK colours
Key:
Paint Code - Name as appears on bonnet plate - Common english name

16v/16vTurbo 94-96
Cloth seats
Optional Black leather

168 – Rosso Speed - Speed Red
180 – Rosso Winner met - Dark Red metallic
258 – Giallo Ginestra - Broom Yellow
370 – Verde Chamonix met - Chamonix Green metallic
421 – Blu Blitz mica - Blitz Blue metallic
632 – Black mica - Black metallic
647 – Grigio Steel met - Steel Grey metallic
820 – Black Ink met - Ink Black metallic

20v/20v Turbo 96-08/99
Updated cloth seats
Optional Black or Tan leather(Tan availability body colour dependant)

168 – Rosso Corsa - Speed Red
180 – Rosso Winner met - Dark Red metallic
258 – Giallo Ginestra - Broom Yellow
388 – Verde Scozia met - Scots Green metallic
462 – Blu Sprint - Sprint Blue *Turbo only
466 – Azzurro Portofino met - Portofino Blue metallic
647 – Grigio Steel met - Steel Grey metallic
820 – Black Ink met - Ink Black metallic

20v/20v Turbo 08/99 on inc. Plus
Updated cloth seats with Turbo logo on Turbo cars
Optional black or tan leather(Tan availability body colour dependant) or black leather Recaros.
Black Recaros with red stitching standard on plus only

108 – Light Red met - Speed Red metallic
168 – Rosso Corsa - Racing Red
258 – Giallo Ginestra - Broom Yellow
361 – Verde Energy met - Energy Green metallic
462 – Blu Sprint - Sprint Blue
671 – Grigio Moon met - Moon Grey metallic
810 – Blu Electrico met - Electric Blue metallic
820 – Black Ink met - Ink Black metallic

LE 98-99
Black/Red leather Recaros

168 – Rosso Corsa - Speed Red
601 – Nero met - Black metallic
606 – Grigio Vinci met - Vinci Grey metallic
635 – Grigio Crono met - Crono Grey metallic
647 – Grigio Steel met - Steel Grey metallic

Note:
168 available with 2 suffix codes.
168/A – Rosso Corsa
168/F – Rosso Speed


BUYERS GUIDE:

Intro

I have found that prices can be misleading with regards to purchasing a good condition/well maintained Fiat Coupe, should you buy unwisely then you could pay a considerable amount correcting it. The Fiat Coupe is a true enthusiast car, it needs to be well maintained in order to keep it in premium conditions both mechanically and cosmetically, if left to its own devices and the previous owner has relied on servicing to keep it in good working order then you may find that this car may cost you more than the initial price tag. Currently a number of price guides have put the Coupe value low – main cause is the lack of knowledge on the various models and the cross confusion of one models weak points with another. I would think it wise to use the guides as they suggest –‘ a base guide’ to pricing.

The following information should be of help to identify key areas for attention when looking at purchasing a Fiat Coupe, for more detailed history/advise please post question on the forum in the relevant section.

Key points to check are:

Keys/Alarm:

The Fiat Coupe uses a key code system linked to the ECU, it comes with three keys: Silver – main user key, Blue – Service/Spare key and the all important Red Key which carries the master codes for the ECU code units (except late 95, early 96 16 valves and 16 valve Turbos). The Red master key is used to reprogram any additional keys or any code loss. Fiat used to charge £1000+ for a new set of keys, locks, code box and replacement ECU should you loose your red key, silver or blue keys can be reprogrammed by the red key.

Beware that there has been a few incidents where the red key has been sold with a second hand Coupe only to find out that it is a replacement and does not hold the all important chip.

The Fiat Coupes came with first the scorpion alarm and later the meta alarm, these are controlled with a key fob, to check if the alarm is working lock Coupe with the fob give a couple of minutes to arm then unlock one of the doors with a key – the alarm should go off if operating correctly.

Servicing:

Some people wish to see a full Fiat service history (FFSH), but due to a poor technical awareness of the Fiat Coupe it has been found that it may not mean that the mechanicals are as they should be. Service intervals are every 12000 miles or 1 year, which ever comes first for the 20vt, service intervals on the 16v and 16v turbo are every 9k or 1 year.

There are a growing amount of specialists who are used by the majority of the owners on this forum (see maintenance section) the knowledge and quality of service far exceeds that of ‘other’ service records.

Regular oil + filter change (every 12000 or 1yr)
Type of oil used – (good tip to see if current owner knows is to ask how much oil does the engine use (average is 1 ltr per 1000 miles) and to show you what oil they use)
Cam belt – 72000 miles or 6 years (a few owners have done this at 5 year point) the 16v engines have had a problem previously with cam belts. Fiat cost = £1200, specialist cost = £399 - £700.

Turbo:

Run the car after the test-drive and leave it on tick over for a good 5 / 10 mins to check if the turbo oil seals bleed (can be common you WILL notice blue smoke) The turbo should come in at about 2.5 - 3 thousand rpm and kick.
Even if the engine has been replaced the turbo may not have!

Brakes:

Brembo one piece four pot. The discs have a history of warping with excessive use. So check for brake shudder when braking from 80 down - if the steering wheel shakes get them to replace the disks!

Exhaust:

The chrome end of the standard Fiat tailpipe is only spot welded on so after a few years can tend to drop off - check for corrosion at the join with the silencer. Standard Fiat exhaust (from the Cat Back) is around £140ish fitted. Supersprint Sports exhaust is around £200 (rear box only). Full cat back exhaust is around £300.

Common exhausts used by the forum members:

Miltek
Super Sprint
Peco
A few custom designed systems


Extras:

The early coupes came standard with cloth and with no aircon, most common standard is leather (which comes in either tan or black colour) and aircon. A few have sunroofs and a few other minor extras.

The LE & Plus models came with Recarro as standard, difference between the two are that the LE had red inserts and the Plus were all black with red stitching. These can be purchased from various second hand parts suppliers but are rare – you can expect to pay between £500 -£800 for both the front and rear seats.


Exhaust Manifold:

20vt's have had a history with these, to date there have been three revisions and but there are quite a few out in the market place with them cracked. A few indications can suggest a problem, first is on initial cold start up you can hear a tappet type ticking sound and secondly you can get discolouration of the heat shield – these are based on severity and location of the crack. To replace you could expect to pay anything up to £450 dependant on whom you take it to.

Suspension:

As the Fiat Coupe is heavily weight distributed on the front the wishbones, track rod ends can wear with in 5 years/50000 miles, when faulty you can expect a very lumpy ride. The can be replace with out too much fuss – call specialist for quotes.

Note: This is only intended as a guide and not an explicit reference and no liability is accepted for any inacuracies – the information posted has no relation to the Fiat Coupe Club UK (FCCUK) or this forum. Future buyers should carry out all possible checks before purchase.

Background of the Fiat Coupe:

The Fiat Coupe made its debut on the Brussels car saloon, just before 1994 arrived on the calendar. It a long awaited Fiat addition by the Italian car enthusiasts and many magazines already featured the upcoming Fiat sports car with trepid anticipation. The Fiat Coupe was a brand new car, albeit based on the Tipo platform, like the Lancia Delta. In addition, it also got the Lancia Integrale 2.0 16v engine.

Paolo Cantarella, general director of Fiat, with a pure Italian passion for cars and company management, made Fiat appear in the category where it had left some 15 years before.

Pininfarina took on the test of manufacturing the brand new Fiat, of which it also designed the interior, the two companies managed to combine sleek design, high performance and manufacturing with a good price and reliability.

Nevertheless, Italian electronics although branded 'BOSCH' never really achieved top marks as some Coupe's suffered from minor electrical glitches, which critics based a reputation on, regardless that the general mechanical reliability reached high standards.

The coupes weight distribution and overall weight lent the Coupe towards a Grand Tourer as opposed to a high performance street car. The design resulted in a 65% weight loading on the front wheels but the suspension set up coped quite well and resulted in a very reasonable handling car. Despite this the power plants on offer later proved to produce the fasted front wheel drive car in its time.

Although there is a Pininfarina badge on the car, the factory only actually built the cars in Turin, the interior, and wheels were both designed by the Pininfarina house itself. Even though Pininfarina built the car, it was designed by American Chris Bangle. Chris was once the chief designer for Fiat - and is now working in Germany for BMW and producing some common Fiat Coupe traits on some of his later designs that if looked at in great detail will become evident - goes to illustrate how ahead of its own time the Coupe was.

1995 saw new engines fitted, new colours and a face lifted interior to the Fiat Coupe.
With the 2.0 20v 147bhp and the 2.0 20v Turbo a stunning 220bhp, the Fiat Coupe went on to take the title of the fasted front wheel drive car (in 1995). The 2.0 20v with 5 cylinders with its very smooth power delivery gave a great balance between power and economy... with a nice warble that replicated the distinct Audi 5 cylinder engines.

The Turbo engine provided an extremely high mid range power band that really surprise a lot of other cars costing over double the cost of the Fiat Coupe. With an acceleration of just over 6 seconds for the 0-100km/h (0-62 miles/h) even today there are very few cars that beat the price-performance ratio.

Later Models/Editions:

Limited Edition (LE) Coupe 20 valve Turbo

1998 – Fiat decided to offer slight improvements on pervious design, albeit cosmetic, this was primarily down to market research and feedback from current and past Fiat Coupe owners alike. As a result the Limited Edition (LE) was born in July 1998.
Fiat launched the LE with the view of a Limited collectors Edition encompassing the trait of Italian flair. Each one would feature a plaque with a number on. Some 200 cars got it to the British market at first, later stories about a 100 more got through, but no-one actually knows how many were made.

Car number one was rumoured to have been owned by Michael Schumacher for three months, how ever I have not been able to find any solid evidence.

The Limited Edition Coupe exterior was enhanced cosmetically by body coloured side skirts and front spoiler extensions. Internally saw various parts getting a titanium look - side mirrors, rear light armature, fuel filler cap, wheels and dashboard strip. Front grille and headlight mountings also get a titanium colour.
The brake calipers colour changed from silver to red and front brake discs were changed from solid disc to cross-drilled in the attempt to reduce heat buildup under heavy braking.
In an attempt to offer the exclusive super car feel Fiat added a red starter button.

The entire interior also received a make over with the addition of leather Recarro front seat with red insets, the doors, steering wheel, handbrake, gear lever and even the seat belts received a red colour coding in parts as did the 20V Turbo logo on the B-pillar..

The speedometer got updated with a reading up to 175MPH (280km/h r) also the foot peddles got changed to Sparco provide better grip through rubber 'dots' and a larger surface.

Fiat even had a look under the bonnet and fitted a strut brace providing better turn-in and more tighter cornering characteristics. To finish the Italian ‘red’ flair – the rocker cover is power coated in red.
So the LE was released, as mentioned above the LE provided their owners with a lot of cosmetic differences and a few mechanical/electrical improvements that did not add anything to the performance of the standard 20v Turbo except for the 6 speed gear box which provided better cruise economy in addition to slightly improvement handling and looks.

20 Valve non Turbo upgrade

Fiat researched the non turbo 20 valve engine and their engineers squeezed an extra 7 bhp out of the engine, meaning an increased the top speed to 135 miles per hour as opposed to 132 miles per hour and 8.4 seconds instead of 8.9 – 0 to 60mph time. They also did a few electrical changes by way of electronic signal replacement for the throttle cable providing better throttle feel and response.

20 Valve Turbo Plus

Fiat decided to produce another ‘special edition’ which they call the Plus, it was a near in looks as the LE but with out the Italian colour traits – or a toned down version. It received the same LE body kit, 6 speed gearbox, red strut brace and cylinder head, a new look front grille, new 8-spoke wheels and a variety of other things: red stitched trim, Recaro seats, light silver meter backgrounds, satin gloss starter button, a net and hooks in the boot. A few other mechanical and technical improvements have also been developed and installed, but again as with the LE there is no real performance gain in terms of engine out put bhp.

The final 20v’s

In 2000 Fiat took the decision to cease production of the Fiat Coupe after almost 7 successful years. It was a shame that Fiat did not produce an ultimate edition for the final departure how ever what they did do that made good budget sense was to utilise many parts left over from the previous models.

Options and prices

• Air Con - £1151
• Leather - £1151
• Met Paint - £241
• Sunroof - £478

Colours/Paint Codes/Trims
16v/16vTurbo 94-96
Cloth seats
Optional Black leather

168 – Rosso Speed - Speed Red
180 – Rosso Winner met - Dark Red metallic
258 – Giallo Ginestra - Broom Yellow
370 – Verde Chamonix met - Chamonix Green metallic
421 – Blu Blitz mica - Blitz Blue metallic
632 – Black mica - Black metallic
647 – Grigio Steel met - Steel Grey metallic
820 – Black Ink met - Ink Black metallic

20v/20v Turbo 96-08/99
Updated cloth seats
Optional Black or Tan leather(Tan availability body colour dependant)

168 – Rosso Corsa - Speed Red
180 – Rosso Winner met - Dark Red metallic
258 – Giallo Ginestra - Broom Yellow
388 – Verde Scozia met - Scots Green metallic
462 – Blu Sprint - Sprint Blue *Turbo only
466 – Azzurro Portofino met - Portofino Blue metallic
647 – Grigio Steel met - Steel Grey metallic
820 – Black Ink met - Ink Black metallic

20v/20v Turbo 08/99 on inc. Plus
Updated cloth seats with Turbo logo on Turbo cars
Optional black or tan leather(Tan availability body colour dependant) or black leather Recaros.
Black Recaros with red stitching standard on plus only

108 – Light Red met - Speed Red metallic
168 – Rosso Corsa - Racing Red
258 – Giallo Ginestra - Broom Yellow
361 – Verde Energy met - Energy Green metallic
462 – Blu Sprint - Sprint Blue
671 – Grigio Moon met - Moon Grey metallic
810 – Blu Electrico met - Electric Blue metallic
820 – Black Ink met - Ink Black metallic

LE 98-99
Black/Red leather Recaros

168 – Rosso Corsa - Speed Red
601 – Nero met - Black metallic
606 – Grigio Vinci met - Vinci Grey metallic
635 – Grigio Crono met - Crono Grey metallic
647 – Grigio Steel met - Steel Grey metallic

Note:
168 available with 2 suffix codes.
168/A – Rosso Corsa
168/F – Rosso Speed
What to look for when buying second hand
The following information should be used only as a guide specific to the Fiat Coupes, normal buyers guides should also be used in conjunction such as mileage checks, HPI, accidents and history etc. As with most cars these days a little home work goes a long way to help protect your purchase and hopefully provide you with an enjoyable purchase.

Key factors with purchasing a Fiat Coupe are as follows:

• Servicing – this is probably one of the biggest problems with the Fiat Coupes, the maintenance should be kept up to date and done by a reputable specialists, unfortunately the Fiat Dealer network has not been the best sources for the Fiat Coupe.
• Pervious history – mileage is not really an issue as long as the maintenance has been done correctly but there are a growing number of Coupes with owners that are oblivious to some of the traits such as checking oil levels regularly, pushing it hard when cold and not allowing the turbo to cool down before you switch off.
• Condition – as a personal view I look at the wheels, I make sure that I don’t curb wheels and I ensure that I use good tyres and know what sort of oil is best for the engine, if the current owner does not know then there is a high probability that he does not really care.
• Budget – you need to set a budget and don’t purchase on impulse, what may seem to be an unbelievable value but it may bite you back in the rear end when it comes to your first service and you find out that the money you saved now gets paid out to get your new Coupe as it should be.
• Intended use – despite the performance that the Coupe offers, it is a real user friendly car that offers a very flexible vehicle, it can handle high mileages as long as the maintenance has been carried out correctly. The Fiat Coupe is primarily a Grand Tourer not a rally bred car or a track car – although any car can be modified, its just a case of budget.
Keys
There should be three keys, a red, dark blue and a silver key. The red key is important (see below), how ever its not the end of the world if its not with the car but I would suggest you get a bit of money knocked off to be able to get it sorted should you need to.
RED KEY - The Coupe comes with an immobiliser, the Fiat CODE system requires a red key (except late 95, early 96 16 valves and 16 valve Turbo’s) to re-programme any further keys you may need or to re-programme the existing ones.. for whatever reason. Every coupe you buy should have a "red" key with the set. Without it you may find yourself with a car that is difficult to pass on, and even use. For a complete new lock set and new red key you are looking at £1000 if purchased from Fiat.

Serviceing

The CAM BELT – now this is the one item that loads of magazines/reporters/others really get wrong, here are some facts that should put any miss conceptions aside:
• Cost – by a know Fiat Specialists – approx £400 to £500 which includes, Cam belt, water pump, idle tensioner, all aux belts.
• Engine does not have to be removed to replace the cam belt.
• 20v cam belts don’t have to be changed until 72,000 miles or 6 years which ever sooner, although many including myself prefer the 60,000 or 5 years.
• Its the 16v variants that have had pervious problems around the mid 30,000 miles with their cam belts but to change a 16v cambelt is relatively simple and cost a fraction than the 20v’s.
• Average full service which by the book should be either every 12,000 miles or 1 year which ever is sooner should cost you approx £200 by a specialist.
Turbo
Run the car after the test-drive and leave it on tick over for a good 5 / 10 mins to check if the turbo oil seals bleed (can be common you WILL notice blue smoke) The turbo should come in at about 2.5 - 3 thousand rpm and kick.
Even if the engine has been replaced the turbo may not have.

Tyres

The Fiat Coupe is a performance car, would advise against budget tyres – typically used and proven are Toyo Proxis T1-S or the later T1-R, Goodyear Eagle GSD2 and GSD3, the original tyres fitted by Fiat were Pirelli P Zeros.

Exhaust tailpipes

The chrome end of the tailpipe is only spot welded on so after a few years can tend to drop off - check for corrosion at the join with the silencer.. Standard Fiat exhaust (from the Cat Back) is around £140ish fitted.

Oil consumption

The Fiat manual states that oil consumption can be up to 1 ltr per 1000 km’s – not far off what the Audi TT does, how ever there are a few that have been known not to use oil. This is a good check on the current owner, ask what oil he uses and ask him to show you how he does it – it should be check by the following way:

• Car should be parked on flat level ground
• Oil temp should be at normal running temperature
• Switch off engine and leave for approx 10 mins
• Pull out oil dip stick and wipe, re-insert and turn slowly around
• Pull out dip stick and observe the bottom of the dip stick where you will find a flattened hashed area
• Oil should be on the hashed area, from the bottom of the hashed area to the top of the hatch is approx 1 ltr of oil.

Steering

The 20VT does come with the same rack as the GTV so its nice and responsive - full lock is 2.2 turns. Suspension clunks could mean new wishbones, track rod ends or antiroll bar drop links. Due to the 65% weight being on the front it is not uncommon for these to wear as early as 40,000 miles.
Wishbones -check for clunks on hard accelerating and braking (can be common) - Wandering steering could be a result of either of these failing.
Wheel bearings
As with most cars standard checks, humming etc

Exhaust Manifold

Early 20vt's used to have a problem with these cracking. How ever there has been three variants and the latter being quite reliable. Common signs/indications is loud tappet clicking on cold start for those with small cracks, but when it gets hot the manifold material expands and closes the gap. Exhaust smell in the car when in motion or if your leaning over the front of the car with the bonnet up, visible scorch marks on the manifold heat shield that starts to rust with age.

Fuel economy

The government claimed 37.2 extra urban, 19.6 urban and 28 combined. - I would say not far wrong. More like 25 combined I would say. Due to the 20VT engine and efficient turbo, some claim that it is more economical than the 16vt.

Transmission

Basically fine, notch gearboxes are rare. Check clutch slip though as this can be an expensive job on a 20VT, if you can time it right it makes it more economical to replace the clutch when the cambelt gets done.

Interior

Quite common for the seats to show wear on the bottom bolsters – especially on the leather and most prominent with the Recarro seats, this can be treated with Liquid Leather

Headlamps

Check for signs of the top layer pealing – this cannot be fixed although some have just high power washed the top protective layer off. Also the light that is emitted can be limited due to the design but many have upgraded the light system with HID’s and I found these to be excellent.

Mirrors

The mirrors are electrically adjustable & heated. They heat up when the rear screen de-mister is switched on. Check this works, the mirrors are difficult to take apart & new ones are very expensive.

Alarm

Check that the alarm/central locking is working, some owners have experience problems with the standard alarm. Again can be used to bargain with - an aftermarket Cat-1 alarm is around £250 upwards. A good way to check if the alarm is functioning properly is to lock the car with the alarm remote central locking key fob wait a few minutes for the system to arm then unlock one of the doors with the key – this should set the alarm off.

Saved from Google Cache on how to check for a genuine red key. I couldn't see it anywhere on the new forum.

Apparently "fake" red keys are often just the blue key in a red key casing. To check if a red key is genuine, put the red key in the ignition and turn the ignition on - the CODE light should illuminate, then go out. Leave the key in the ignition, then turn the ignition off then on again. If the CODE light remains lit, the red key is genuine.
_________________________


Two things.

There is a link to check that previous MOT's are correct and should go some to prove if a car really is "Low Mileage"

http://www.motinfo.gov.uk/internet/jsp/ECSID-Internet-Status-Request.jsp

Second is that in the LE section (and I totally understand the freudian slip when thinking about an LE)

"1998 – Fiat decided to offer slight improvements on pervious design"

I am not sure I like that smile

FIAT COUPE BUYERS CHECK LIST

INTRODUCTION

This is a list I put together when buying my first coop and added to substantially when looking for my second. I posted it ages ago but just realised it had gone crazy

It is based on a 20V Turbo but minus the turbo points should work for the 20V NA too. For Plus and LE models check against the buyers guide that they are true and not just dressed 20VTs

It is not an exhaustive list but will always sort out the good from bad cars and help you identify is you have to spend money on the car you are looking at. As with all purchase if it does not feel right then walk away. There are still plenty of good examples around so no real need to compromise too much.

Most of the points are also valid for the 16v models, please feel free to add any points.


CHECK LIST

Before you start:

Read and digest the excellent buyers guide available on this forum. This will give you all the details for model types and equipment standards. It will also provide valuable info on service intervals etc. This guide is a compliment to that and to be used as a tick list.

Is it trade of private add. Beware of viewing cars in lay-bys and pub car parks unless you know the seller.

Best place to source a car is the Cars for sale/wanted on this very forum. Autotrader is also very good, I bought mine on eBay BUT only do this if you have a chance to view and test drive the car first, before you bid. Walk away if they will not let you.

If you can get the Number plate you can also check the DVLA records to see it is what it is. However this is only a check to see if the car has been written off and is not up to date. Before committing to buy do an HPI check at the very least.

Arranging to view:

You need to see the car in daylight so do not commit until you have done this. It is the only way to spot re-sprays and other bodywork blemishes.

Seeing the Car:

My advice is NOT to take your wad of cash with you. It is all too easy to fall for the car and buy it without really thinking the minus points through. At least wait overnight and sleep on it.

Also take an impartial friend, a mechanic would be ideal, or ask on the Forum for help when viewing a car, many members (including myself) are more than willing to help out.

Now you are with the car: here is the checklist I used:-

Exterior:

Paint condition and matching – The paint code is on the front underside of the bonnet and on a silver sticker (if this is missing it may indicate new bonnet has been fitted so look for signs of crash damage.
Rear bumper near exhaust – this can melt if the exhaust is incorrectly fitted or the chrome tail pipe protector has fallen off.
Stone chip damage, especially bonnet and front bumper. There will be some but on some cars the bumper seems particularly prone.

Dents:

Dents on doors and most panels can be removed by a specialist but the bonnet cannot and is difficult to fill so factor in a new bonnet if it is badly damaged (£400)
Alloy wheels condition – the wheel nuts will be rusty, except for the locking one. Whilst checking this do ensure that the owner has the key for theses and that it works!
Tyres, look for tread and brand. Budget may mean someone who does not care for the car. They should match on each axle
Fuel filler cap. This will likely have tarnished and the lacquer bubbling. A simple DIY job to remedy.
Front wheel arch liners. Check these are firmly in place
Front under tray. Check in place and not damaged
Front headlights. Check condition of lenses as the plastic coating can start to peel. Not cheap to replace.
Front fog lights. Check for damage to glass

Rust:

Generally the Coupe is very good in this department as the body was galvanised. However there are some areas to check:-
Rear lights
Under bonnet scuttle panel
Sills (rare but stone chip protection may have worn away so leaving this area vulnerable)
Exhaust tailpipe. This rust and the chrome surround falls off.

Interior:

Check condition of all electrics.
Electric windows should go down on one touch. Only the drivers side goes up on one touch.
Electric mirrors (these are also heated).
Headlight adjuster
All dash bulbs and centre console bulbs (they should all light up with the car lights)
Air con and re-circ switch.
To check air con you will need to turn it on and then look under the bonnet and see of the centre of the compressor wheel is spinning (don’t assume the light working means anything!).
Check seats move forward and back and access to rear
Check grab handles in the rear as these can break
Is there a rear ashtray – probably missing!
Check the door central locking button works
Check alarm sensors by sitting in the car and then arming the alarm then flap your hands after 30secs.
How are seats? Check leather ones for cracking and damage
Check rear quarter panels as these are easily damaged when being removed.

In boot:

Is space save spare there? Has it been excessively used?
Check for tool kit.
Look for evidence of rear collision damage under the rear carpet and in the spare wheel tray
Does boot light work
Is there a CD changer

Under bonnet:

Does the car have Aircon – plenty about with switches but no Aircon!
Is the engine bay clean – or in fact too clean!
Check oil levels of engine. This should be done on level ground with warm car having been off for 10mins
Check level of gearbox oil
Check level and condition of coolant
Check Brake fluid (also acts as clutch fluid)
Are the original stickers still about – evidence of front end shunt.

Mechanicals:

Start the car and leave to idle for 10 mins – now check the exhaust for signs of blue smoke _ classic turbo problem symptom (500-600 inc fitting).
The exhaust manifolds are very prone to cracking and are in one of three states:-
About to crack – but you can’t tell when
Cracked – will make ticking noise on start up but will seal as engine warms
Badly cracked. Bad noise and replacement required (About £400)
Check brake disks. The front one do wear and this can be checked by the amount of lip they have in the outer edge.
Check the rear disks for corrosion and pitting
Other check if you have a jack with you:-
Play in rear suspension arm and wheel bearings
Play in front suspension components such as wishbones and track rod arms.

Go for a test drive:

Check braking from 70mp to zero relatively hard. If there are up rated grooved disks fitted there may be some “propeller” noise, which is normal. And vibration or shaking though is likely to be warped disks. Not cheap. The coupe brakes can squeal when warm, a feature!
Check lock to lock steering. If it clonks this could be wishbones, top mounts or steering rack
Does the car pull under braking or acceleration. Again signs of worn suspension components
Boost – Car should pull well form 2500rpms through to 6000
Check all gear for noise and winning – 3rd gear seems to make the most noise in the cars I have had
Check for clutch slippage. This is best done with the car warm and on a dual carriageway. Boot the accelerator when car is at 50mph and in 4th gear. If engine revs rise quickly and then drop back the clutch is on its way out – expensive 400 to 500
The coupe does rattle and squeak but these can be remedied with time and patience
The ride is firm but not harsh and cruising should be relaxed

Paperwork:

Check all receipts and bills carefully
Check when the cam belt was done and if auxiliary belts were changed too.
Check regular servicing and oil changes
Ask the owner if the car uses oil and what oil he tops up with. Bare minimum should be semi synthetic but a good synthetic is better
Check mileage against MOTs (worry if these have not been kept)
Is the car tax still valid , if not factor this into your budget.
When is the next MOT
How many previous owners and ask why seller is selling.

Keys:

One Red (a must, was replaced by code card on late cars) one blue and one very nice silver one.
Check they all work and will start the car
There should be 2 alarm fobs
Are there any receipts of service work undertaken?

Service intervals etc:

20VT service interval is 12,000 or 12 months. Check the book for stamps. Fiat dealers are a mixed bunch and any evidence of a good independent doing the servicing is a very good sign. Check against the recommended garages list or ask on the forum.

It is preferable to have the oil changed at least every 6,ooo miles too.

The Cam belt should be changed before 60,000 miles or every five years whichever is soonest. It is important all the other auxiliary belts are changed at the same time as these can break and interfere with the cam belt.
The coupe is an interference engine and cam belt failure will cause significant and maybe irreparable damage to an engine.

Check the buyers guide for advice therein.

Miscellaneous:

Does the owner like the car and does he seem an honest type?
Is it well cleaned, inc door shuts, and are there mats protecting the carpets?
Do you like the colour of the car – yes I am serious as over time this will annoy so don’t just choose because the car is the best example you have seen so far.
Don’t rush into buying a coop. You can always buy a £50 banger until the right car
turns up.

Only view car in Daylight - it can be a good idea to view the car at night under street neon light; especially Red cars as even expert re-sprays on part of car can show as different shades, and stand out like a sore thumb at night


Credits

Most of this information has been gleaned from various bits of advice left on the forum by others too numerous to mention. All I did was to pull it together for my own use but thought it may be of use to others when viewing a car. Amendments and additions are welcome.

- John (Bockers) -

 
 
 
 
Fiat Coupe Club UK


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