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FIAT Ducato Forever!

Bill Loneskie

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There is something unpleasant about some posts on this forum about Fiat clutch judder.One contributor has as his avatar a hanging noose, another a combat figure with a machine-pistol firing bullets, and another figures as a pouting pavement tart. Many have ludicrous things to say about FIAT, often by non-Fiat owners.

Some comments by these internet thugs about Fiat technicians and Italians generally, among whose ranks we find some of the finest automotive and mechanical engineers, verge on the racist.

FIAT are to be congratulated in producing a platform specially suited to motor-caravans making it the best base vehicle currently available, and the Italian Vehicle Company (IVECO) should receive a medal for their outstanding engines.

Yes there is a problem with reverse judder in certain situations and with certain vehicles. I have had reversing judder since new on my 2.3 Iveco 16 valve twin-cam turbocharged intercooled diesel-engined Chausson Welcome 75 on FIAT’s special camping chassis 35L (Light). So what? Rev the engine, slip the clutch and all will be well. Let’s keep things in perspective. I have now covered 21,000 miles within Scotland, mostly on Scotland’s hill roads and the vehicle has been totally reliable. The assertion that the judder will lead to clutch or transmission failure is complete nonsense - unless you set out deliberately to do damage.

And damage has certainly been done to FIAT, and to the motor caravan community as shown by the number of unregistered FIAT-based motor- caravans languishing on dealers’ forecourts. Undoubtedly neagtive posts on forums like this are the reasons why. And why also Sevel based motor-caravans will be marked down when the time comes to sell. The words rod, stick and back come to mind.

It would appear that whether we like it or not to preserve resale value we are all going to have the low ratio reverse cogs fitted in due course.

And what a difference there are in postings! While Andy Stothert has required two gearboxes in his midi-van in only 16,000 miles, Euroserve’s fully laden load-luggers go on and on - though one did need a clutch at 85,000 miles.

How remarkable it is that there is nothing in the press or in the forum about the fundamental flaw in the Ford Transit when moving off from rest!

The too-high reverse gear ratio on the Ducato should not be allowed to overshadow all its very many good points which testers in various magazines have praised over the past two years. Prospective purchasers should ask themselves whether IH Motorcampers, for example, at the premium end of the motor caravan market would drop the excellent Renault Master in favour of the Fiat Ducato if they thought for a minute there was anyhting really seriously wrong with it ?

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Y'r talking a load of b*****ks.

Firstly can you explain why Fiat have gone to the trouble of modifying the gearboxes on the existing 2.3 models and have no scrapped the 2.3 litre/6 speed vehicle to concenrate on a modified transmision which fits the 2.2 litre engines?

Can you explain why my 2.3litre 6 speed vehicle at a milaege of 2000 sustained damage to the gearbox whilst reversing up a hill?

Can you explain why so many others have damaged their gearboxes or cooked their clutches? Are you saying we all deliberately damaged our vehicles? You seem to be.

Can you explain why Peugeot have stated that the reverse gear ratio is too high on these vehicles and that they will be replacing the existing boxes with one which has lower ratio reverse gear? And that a new 6 gearbox is now in production?

And if you want to talk about experience in driving in steep places I'm y'r man to argue with.

I presume you'd had one too many before you stuck this insulting and patronising drivel on the forum. Or is an early April Fool's attempt.


I think any further replies on here would be giving this more than it deserves.

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Guest JudgeMental

Mmmm.......Great fist post by the way! your heading is ludicrous, and your opinions ill thought out and laughable!


The Ford first gear problem has been covered extensively on here, but unlike the Fiat problem is manageable.......and has faded into insignificance in comparison with the Fiat debacle


A likle bird tells me that you lodged a complaint with Fiat already re your van........What a hypocritical A$$ you are!


Entirely agree with Andy, best to ignore, and let this moronic imbeciles drivel slide of the front page into oblivion...........


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I have some sympathy with Bill. Some of the people who use this forum are well over top and use inappropriate language just as they do about Brownhills, Newark. I have a 2008 Fiat 2.3 Autotrail and the only problem I have is that reverse gear has a high ratio and therefore travels faster backwards than I can cope with but once the clutch is fully engaged there is no judder. The earlier 2.8 Fiat JTD conversly had too low a reverse gear and I have been stuck because it dug in. I suspect it was because of this problem that they used a higher ratio in the new design. In any case I have registered it with FIat in case of any problem so that I am covered in case of any future problems. Does that mean I am also two-faced? Fiat will I am sure remedy any faults but do need time. Incidentally a friend with a Hymer of similar age and the 2.3 engine to mine has exactly the same problem, reverse gear is too high but there is no judder! Why do people on the Forum have to be nasty?
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I agree with you Will and think the attacks on the O/P are totally unjustified and unacceptable. I must say Mr Stothart has gone down in my estimation and his worship the Judge is beyond contempt.

I think it's rather telling that a lot of the people slagging off Fiat do not publish which M/H they have.

There must be many thousands of owners who either overcome the problem or don't think it is a problem because of their driving technique.

I must confess that I don't yet have one of these M/H's but am in the process of buying a 2.3 6 speed which drove as normal when I test drove it. So I have not been intimidated by the scare stories.

I think it's time that the owners of the 2.3 6 speed M/H's that don't currently have a problem came out of the closet and identified themselves, so that we can get some balance to this debate.

To that end I am going to start a new thread with this in mind. Let's be realistic about this. If it is only a few M/H's and it get's overblown, then it's going to adversly affect both new vehicle sales and more importantly, residual values.

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Bill I have on occasion been accused of defending Fiat, something I do not feel I have ever done, just tried to be objective about it all. Your post however is somewhat 'over the top', Andy puts things in his usual soothing manner but I agree with him, surely this post is just a 'windup' and best ignored.
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Those who report problems, generally, appear to report genuine problems.  It seems to me the height of arrogance, not to mention rudeness, to belittle their reported problems because one has not, one's self, experienced the same problem.

It is true that some seem motivated by spite when they post and, no doubt feeling they have been ill-served, wish to inflict a little commercial retribution on the source of their discontent.  Not noble, probably not very wise, but human for all that.

Some seem at least the partial cause of their own misfortune, and depict an aggressive and abusive nature, that seem bound to antagonise if they complain directly of poor service in the same vein.  Again, not very clever.

Some poor souls seem hardly capable of getting their points across at all, struggling to form sentences, spell, punctuate, or communicate in writing in almost any way.

Nevertheless, and notwithstanding the personal shortcomings of a few of them, the underlying causes of their complaints remain just as genuine as those blessed with greater generosity of spirit, eloquence, education, or intelligence, do they not?

That, surely, is the point.  Very expensive vehicles that break down, or break, soon after purchase are bound to cause great concern to their owners.  Fiat at first handled their aggrieved customers, who are spread right across Europe - even into the land of the skilled automobile engineer beloved of Bill - in the most appallingly inept manner.  Had they been more understanding from the outset, conceded the problem, and undertaken to repair or replace the affected vehicles as soon as a solution could be found, whether in or out of warranty, there would have been far less, and far less critical, comment.  The PR disaster that is the Fiat Ducato gearbox is of their own making, in both senses.  Ask about almost any other aspect of the current SEVEL vans, and there is almost universal admiration.

That other vehicles do not figure among the complaints is not the consequence of some perverted desire on the part of Fiat owners to emulate Samson, and pull the temple down on their own heads, it is because the other vehicles do not share a fault of comparable magnitude and their owners, consequently, do not complain.

This is not some conspiracy against Fiat, or Italians, it is people complaining that a particular Fiat vehicle has a serious flaw that renders its use unsatisfactory to those who complain. 

In response, Fiat's initial (though now much improved) adoption of the John Cleese school of complaint management proved rather less funny for owners than watching Faulty Towers.  This provocation begat the storm.  I had thought that might have been reasonably clear, and simple enough to understand.

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In the initial stages of purchasing my first and new motorhome hence my absolute dedication to this site since I was informed of its existence on Friday last.

I appreciate the informed comments and request the following information,viz:-

1. do all Fiat engined motorhomes suffer "reverse judder";

2. if so is it manageable or will it eventually destroy or severly damage the gearbox;

3.does the manufacturer of this gearbox admit liability;

4. if the gearbox is the problem why has production of the 130 engine ceased;

5. I note that in a previous submission referral is made to a problem with the Ford gearbox . Will somebody be kind enough to expand upon this as I am now considering cancelling my Auto Trail Apache in favour of a Ford based motorhome?

I am a "first timer" so please don't hesitate to over-indulge in narrative and or detail. Tyou and good morning.

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>>>>Can you explain why Peugeot have stated that the reverse gear ratio is too high on these vehicles and that they will be replacing the existing boxes with one which has lower ratio reverse gear? And that a new 6 gearbox is now in production a quote by Andy stothert<<<<



I own a Peugeot and have many letters from Peugeot, the recent says Peugeot do not have a fix for the 2.2L 5 speed box.


And I do not know anyone who has had any try to fix this box the only help peugeot will try and even they say it might not work is an ECU software download.

All the Explorer group both Compass and Elldis use the 5 speed all across their range in the 100,115,120,140,145 and 180 plus a few other manufacturers so there must be 1000's of Peugeots with 5 speed boxes who have NO Help from Peugeot.

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Hi Frank

Welcome and yes I wish I had known about this site before I purchased my X250 although the info was not wide spread in June 2007.

In answer to your questions


1 It effects all X250's to a lesser or greater extent( the heavier the vehicle the worse the problem) the 2.3 6 speed being the worse and the most popular but beware of all.If you must go down the X250 route make sure your purchase has had the FIAT mods to gearbox clutch etc and ask to see tha paper work.

2 Manageable I think not sooner or later you will find yourself in a situation where the reverse gear is just to high and will have to resort to slipping the clutch.The jury is out on how effective the mods are mine seems better but its not perfect

3 Fiat are now carrying out mods to vehicles where the owner has registered a problem but I think it's true to say they have not admitted liability they maintain its only a tiny number that have the problem?

4.The 130 engine is first class nothing bad to report in fact it's one of the best about. I think it was a question of them not being able marry the 130 engine to a suitable gearbox that has forced them down the Ford route.

5 Can't help on this but I an sure others will.


Good luck with your purchase


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I wasn't going to reply to the posting as I viewed it as a madman's rantings. However I am incensed by the accusations you have made and those of your accolites!

When you have just paid nearly £60000 for your 'dream' vehicle only to find after less than 100 miles the clutch cooks and judders is very ditressing.In fact I was admitted to hospital with a stroke which is put down to stress, some of which I attribute to this situation.

FIAT have not been totally honest with people. The chassis is a good one for motor home conversions,and convertors have tooled up to work with it,however it's Achilles heel is the drivetrain.

If you disagree with the comments which have been made by previous posters regarding their problems,keep them to yourself or be more polite and be considerate to their feelings.

Attitudes and postings like yours can turn this site into one that already has a reputation for nutters or are you just a Troll?

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I have just dropped my van of this morning for the transmission modifications, which includes a new clutch and a lower reverse gear. Fiat are not carrying out the modification because they are bored, they are carrying out the modifications beacause they are a problem.


Last year I aborted 3 holidays, the van has been back to Fiat 4 times last year for the same problem, we have only done 2000 miles from new, my misses is frightened to use the motorhome.



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Bills words do seem to me more like a madman's rant than a well thought out journalistic comment and as he has written some quite good articles in MMM I am more than a little surprised?


I can only surmise that he is more worried about the resale value of his own van than the greater good of everyone else's?


I am more inclined to accept Andy's viewpoint and given the publicity he has given his own vehicle's faults I shudder to think what that has done to it's value.


You are a brave man Andy and deserve our thanks not our castigation.


Speaking personally I don't have one of these wretched vans - but I might have done but for this forum?


However I have driven a couple and I too find reverse gear dangerously high as I would never reverse any vehicle with so many blind spots and such delicate bodywork at anything like the speed that a fully engaged clutch generates - even less so uphill and round a bend.


So come on Bill, please desist from personal attacks and give your postings much more credibility.


Maybe they don't all judder - but can you afford to take that chance?


So I still won't buy one!

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J9withdogs - 2009-03-30 1:01 PM


...and I'm waiting for Donna Miller to notice her description:


"another figures as a pouting pavement tart" :$ *-) :D


Oh dear - I thought he meant you Janine?


Not that I think of you as a tart - pouting maybe - but definitely NOT a tart!


But as he appears to be a Scot - many of whom are not known for their sense of humour - I suppose we could make allowances?

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J9withdogs - 2009-03-30 1:06 PM


He'd better not mean me :D >:-(


.....................................and if he did????????????????????????



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Frank McAuley - 2009-03-30 9:37 AM


5. I note that in a previous submission referral is made to a problem with the Ford gearbox . Will somebody be kind enough to expand upon this as I am now considering cancelling my Auto Trail Apache in favour of a Ford based motorhome?


Hi Frank.


I confess to being a confirmed Ford fan, but at the time I placed my order (Autumn 07) there were some mutterings about new Transits stalling while moving off, so when I took my test drive I went out of my way to check this, and didn't find a problem (and I'm not famous for being gentle with my vehicles).

In fact I test drove three in all, to decide which engine option I wanted, and none of them gave me a problem. I settled for a 2.2 litre with a "mere" 110bps, so if there was going to be a transmission problem, it would surely have been more likely on this relatively low-powered variant.

But I've now done 17000 miles in "Roxie," and the only time I've stalled when moving off was when I wasn't concentrating and tried to do it in third!!

Of course I can only speak for myself, but I'd have no hesitation in sticking with Ford if I was changing again (which I'm, not!). So if you've got the opportunity to change direction Frank, I'd say go for a Tranny!



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I don't doubt there is judder issue for 1 second. Full stop. Period.


But, to to borrow a phrase from Brian, how different we all are.


12 months ago I asked a colleague, (with some serious trepidation), about her van and whether it juddered, she said she wasn't aware of it. I explained the situation and as she doesn't drive the van, would ask her husband. No concerns at all was the eventual reply.


Fast forward to now, and they've just bought another new van. No hesitation whatsoever about judder/residual values/clutch cooking etc.


My point? Even if they've got lucky twice and had no judder, the issue doesn't seem to have made any impact at all on them.






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Hi Frank'

I must admit I started looking for a new motorhome before any knowledge of the troubles, I personally did not like the look of Fiats new front.


I found a Laika X595C on a 2.2 130 Ford base. The only problem I have had with the transmission was on first picking up, I found it different and found it needed a little more acceleration on move off. I soon got used to this, and have had no problems since, either in forward or backwards, or any hills in Scotland. I was used to a Fiat 2.8, and Renault 2.5 prior to the Ford and I think their 1st gear was a little lower, hence the different style of initial start off.


I am now quite happy with the van in all respects.



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