FIAT 500s are everywhere, aren’t they? There’s even one on our drive.
Ours, a black, 14-plate, 1.2 petrol has been in the family for a couple of years, giving regular, economical and largely trouble-free service.
But as any regular Watchdog viewer will know, this car has been causing many owners bother with a reluctance to pull away on hills.
Our car was proving no different, needing lots of throttle and lots of clutch slip to pull away from rest.
To save a fortune in replacement clutch plates I did the only sensible thing by contacting the cleverest people I know in all matters fuelling – Superchips in Buckingham.
Having driven it myself the problem was clearly fuel-related. Your right foot would ask for more fuel and the computer controlling such demands was clearly having none of it.
This 2014 model, with its fly-by-wire throttle pedal and Magneti Marelli ECU, is EU6 emissions compliant. What’s an ECU? It stands for Electronic Control Unit – a computer that measures everything on the car using a mass of sensors to feed the information back.
It uses all this information to deliver the correct fuel and air ratios, ignition advance etc. Nowadays, steering inputs and other autonomous tricks such as self-parking, adaptive cruise and similar are all controlled by this “brain”.
In other words, levels of computing power that are way beyond my home mechanic skill-set.
The Superchips team – well-versed in such software trickery – downloaded the data from our car’s ECU and, using over 30 years of amassed experience, studied the binary codes for typical issues.
This takes a very special kind of person. Looking for patterns in a solid block of numbers, to me, is akin to hacking into Russian Bitcoin harvesting networks.
But there it was, for those clever enough to see it…the problem. The key issue was lurking in the throttle pedal map. And not just in one place.
For some reason, Fiat has coded in a series of torque request limits. It’s precisely what you can feel when driving the car.
You ask for gas and don’t get what you ask for, making the car feel sluggish pulling away. Maybe it was to make it “easier” to drive? These torque requests were duly coded out and the shape of the 3-D throttle pedal map tweaked.
How? Witchcraft, I think. Some further diagnostic time on Superchips’ rolling road for fine-tuning has resulted in not only massively improved throttle response but also. Brinkwire presents summary news.