Watchdog: Panda owner loses cool over new heater costs

Reader was shocked when Fiat dealer quoted almost £2,000 to replace faulty heater

The vagaries of British weather dictate that cars need a decent air conditioning and heating system, as you never know when you’ll be sat in traffic in the heat or warming your hands after de-icing the windscreen.

So when the heating on Fiona Roberts’ 2009 Fiat Panda gave up, she was understandably concerned. What’s more, she was quoted almost £2,000 for parts and labour – not what she expected on a six-year-old car. The exorbitant bill was because the whole heater box needed to be replaced, as the plastic ‘door’ that either lets heat through or shuts it out had broken off.

Fiona, from Nailsea in Somerset, bought the Panda new and had it serviced at different Fiat dealerships. She told our sister magazine, Auto Express, it was her “pride and joy”. She said: “I really feel that a car should last a bit longer before bits start to break off. I’d hoped the Panda would last me a few more years, when I might trade it in for a Fiat 500 – but if the heating lasts only six years, I’ll have to look elsewhere. I feel totally helpless in this matter. Fiat doesn’t seem to care about me.”

Auto Express’ quick search online found the heater problem wasn’t uncommon, although Fiona said she’d been told Fiat had never seen the issue before. The magazine contacted the Italian manufacturer, because although the Panda was several years out of warranty, the part was not a wear-and-tear item. They felt that Fiona should be entitled to some contribution – especially given her brand loyalty.

A Fiat spokesman said: “Customer services have looked at the case, and even though the car is now three years out of warranty, in light of Fiona’s loyalty, as a one-off it has offered to supply the part at a discounted price of £359.24 plus VAT, thereby saving the customer more than £1,000. The customer would need to meet the cost of labour, but it should still represent around a 60 per cent reduction in the overall cost of the repair.”

Fiona was delighted she’d be able to keep her beloved Panda. She told Auto Express: “I’m so grateful for your help, and know I wouldn’t have achieved anything without it. I love my car, and it would have been a pity to lose it because of this.”

Recommended

New 2023 Fiat Panda SUV one of several cheap EVs planned
2023 fiat panda render
Fiat
21 Jan 2022

New 2023 Fiat Panda SUV one of several cheap EVs planned

Fiat launches new RED versions of Panda and Tipo
Fiat Panda RED
Fiat
11 Jan 2022

Fiat launches new RED versions of Panda and Tipo

Classic cars to buy in 2021
Classic cars to buy - header image
Car buying
17 Nov 2021

Classic cars to buy in 2021

Fiat Ulysse name revived with new all-electric model
Fiat Ulysse
Fiat
27 Oct 2021

Fiat Ulysse name revived with new all-electric model

Most Popular

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
17 Jan 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

UK road tax 2022: VED tax rates and bands explained
2021 Road Tax explained
Car tax
20 Jan 2022

UK road tax 2022: VED tax rates and bands explained

Top 10 best economical 4x4s, SUVs and crossovers 2022
Peugeot 3008 SUV front cornering
Best cars
6 Jan 2022

Top 10 best economical 4x4s, SUVs and crossovers 2022

Tips & advice

View All
Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide
Car dashboard symbols and meanings
Tips and advice
10 Aug 2021

Car dashboard warning lights: the complete guide

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide
Electric car charging station
Tips and advice
5 Nov 2021

Electric car charging stations: a complete guide

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?
PCP vs HP
Car buying
21 Jan 2022

PCP vs HP – which type of car finance is right for you?

Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Average speed cameras: how do they work?
Tips and advice
23 Jul 2021

Average speed cameras: how do they work?

Best cars

View All
Top 10 best car interiors 2022
Peugeot 208 hatchback
Best cars
25 Jun 2021

Top 10 best car interiors 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022
Ioniq 5
Best cars
19 Jan 2022

Top 10 best electric cars 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022
Toyota Prius front 3/4 cornering
Best cars
17 Jan 2022

Top 10 best cheap-to-run cars 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022
Audi RS 3 driving - front view
Hot hatches
21 Jan 2022

The UK's top 10 fastest hot hatchbacks 2022