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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I'm a little perplexed (though that may not be too much of a surprise as i don't know a lot about cars). :)

I have a 2013 Fiat 500 with only 28K miles on it, and it wouldn't start. The engine would start to turn and kind of stick for a bit, but would not 'catch'.. so i had a local shop take a look, and here's what they came back with:

"Observe timing belt still turning the cam. Check compression on cylinder number 1 there is 25 psi. Suspect catastrophic engine damage. Will need further teardown to determine the cause."

The timing belt looks fine, we haven't noticed any oil leaks or smoke coming from the car, and there doesn't appear to be anything obvious physically, but the shop can't get the engine to run due to the low PSI in cylinder 1. Other cylinder compression was fine, i was told.

I'm probably going to have it towed to a Fiat dealership and pay them more to diagnose it, but i just have a few questions if anybody has answers:
  • Is this common? - I'm a bit dumbfounded that a car that's only 6 years old would have this kind of issue, especially with such low mileage. From what i can tell, my wife has taken it in for routine oil changes, and basic maintenance, hasn't abused it or let it sit, etc...
  • The Fiat only had a 4 year warranty, so i'm not likely to see any relief there, but I was curious if there is any chance a dealer or Mopar might discount or cover some of the cost of this repair given the age/mileage.
  • Assuming the worst - is there consensus on whether it would be better to get a rebuilt engine, have a shop rebuild this engine, or try to get a low-mileage salvage one? I know the answer may be "it depends" but i'm curious from a long-term perspective if there is a clear winner for any of those options.
Thank you for any insight!
 

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The timing belt may still be intact but skipped a few teeth.
 

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Welcome to Allpar. It maybe a problem with the valves (head). MultiAir may be stuck open? Hopefully the pistons (block) is OK.
Get the diagnosis and estimate first.
It never hurts to ask for help with warranty on young vehicles. The worst they can say is no.
 

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One helpful trick on the compression test is to try it again wet.
To do this, ca cap full of oil is poured into the cylinder with low compression.
If compression rises, the issue is the rings.
If compression does not rise, it's likely the valves.
 
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In addition to a normal compression test, a cylinder leak down test should be performed, that will help localize where the compression is being lost. 25 psi is not quite zero, so that could be a valve not closing all the way, sticking due to corrosion or carbon build up. I know from working on marine engines, its not so uncommon that after a long period of non use, one or more valves sticks partly open and the engine will run rough till the valve loosens up. I am not familiar with the FIAT multi air system though so I can't really say more than that....
 
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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
For anyone who's interested, my local car shop said it would be $6400 for a new (rebuilt) engine, with a slew of other parts to be replaced included in that.

Had it towed to my Fiat dealership ($150 for the tow) and asked them to diagnose it. A few days later I got a text saying my repair was finished and I should click on a link to pay the bill. I was initially worried (I didn't authorize any repairs!!) but when I opened the link it was a bill for $52.

I called them up and they said the cause of the low compression was "extremely low oil level"!! Putting aside the question as to why there wasn't any visual notification (that I saw anyway) to indicate low oil level... So they just did an oil change. I'm very happy with this outcome. Figured I'd post here in case it helps someone in the future.

Thanks again everybody!
 

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Some engines have an interlock that will prevent the engine from starting if the oil pressure is low to protect it from damage. Glad to hear it worked out.
 

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The MultiAir system uses oil to hydraulically control the valves. Usually you hear of a 2.4 engine stalling due to low oil. This is the first I’ve heard it on this engine.
 

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Honestly this is not the first time I have heard about oil consumption issues with the Fiats. You may want to consider a trade but I really hate the thought of someone unknowingly buying the car with those type of issues.
 
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