Fiat Comfortmatic Auto Gearbox Problem
I looking for some advice from anyone who has encountered a similar problem or anyone who has rejected a vehicle as 'not fit for purpose' under the Sale of Goods and Services Act.
I have a Fiat Ducato based motorhome, bought new September 2009, with 3lt engine and Comfortmatic gearbox. My problem started in January 2011 when taking the vehicle for its monthly off-season run. When I started the engine I got a warning bleep, a message stating 'Check Transmission' and the gearbox warning light was illuminated. I switched off and checked the fluid levels and an signs of leakage, etc. When there was nothing obviously amiss, a re-started the engine to find that all warnings had disappeared. I just assumed that the fluid had taken a while to get around the gearbox due to very cold weather at that time and the (relatively) long period of inactivity.
A few weeks went by then the warnings returned. This time I took it the 2 miles to my local Fiat Service Garage, noting that the message cleared after about 1/4 mile. They 'plugged it in', noted the message recorded on the system, checked the gearbox functions and declared all was well. They suggested that it was a blip in the system or maybe the 'delayed lubrication' theory I'd thought when it first did this.
The warning came on a few more times, something like 3 or 4 times per 10 engine starts, but always disappeared during the first mile. It only appeared when starting up, never while the engine had been running with no message on start up.
Things changed towards the end of March 2011 when the warning didn't disappear after the first mile. It was still on after 5 miles when I got a further warning telling me to reduce gear changes followed by the computer system 'taking over' and refusing to change gear. It stayed in 3rd gear and my attempt to change gear manually was greeted with more warning bleeps and a message stating that this operation was not allowed. After stopping and trying (unsuccessfully) to use Camper Assist (not a good idea on a mobile) and the emergency roadside phones (out of order - ever get the feeling it's not your day?) I decided to limp on to find a phone box. To my surprise, on starting the engine the warnings had all disappeared and we drove the 45 miles home without a problem.
To cut the story short, Fiat have now spent the past 14 months trying to sort this out. I have had a number of replacement parts fitted - 4 relays, 3 pumps (a 4th on order as we speak), an accumulator, an unknown part (arrived from Fiat out of the blue) and a new ECU, plus a variety of new 'downloads/upgrades to the computer system' from Fiat. I have had a Fiat technician sent to spend a day with the vehicle and couldn't resole the problem (he was the one wo ordered the unknown part and replacement ECU). Nothing has changed and the warning still appears, now 4 or 5 times per 10 engine starts. I now have great concerns about travelling any long distances in case I can't get home (total mileage to date 2,800 miles!) and, of course, the vehicle has no value as I couldn't possibly sell it or trade it in with these warnings coming up.
Has anyone experience anything similar, preferably now resolved? If not, any advice on taking legal action would be much appreciated.
Thanks for your patience.