Four years ago, I bought my Fiat 500, Chicolini.
It's been a great little car. Oh, it had its flaws, but I accepted them because I bought it used, after all. It had the proper inspection stickers on it, so I figured all was well. They couldn't sell a car that wouldn't pass inspection, now would they? Each subsequent year, it passed inspection, sometimes needing minor repairs. But it always passed. (Cue ominous music.)
In 2018, I got my first inkling that maybe, just maybe, the dealership wasn't completely transparent in giving me information about the car.
My normal inspection guys found that one of the fog lights was burnt out. Unfortunately, they were after-market fog lights with high-intensity fancypants bulbs. I had to take it to a Fiat dealership to either (a) have the fog lights returned to factory spec or (b) rip them out altogether. I asked the dealer to re-inspect it.
They fixed the fog lights. They failed the car on inspection.
Apparently, the really cute snowflake wheels that were on the car when I bought it were too big and jutted out beyond the wheel well by a microscopic amount. I mentioned that the car had passed inspection all the previous years and that the car had those wheels when I bought it. The guy said, "I wouldn't have sold it to you." I thought, "Well, fuck you too."
So back to my normal inspection guys, who passed the car because the fog lights were fixed. I made a mental note to always go there for inspection.
We move forward to this year's inspection. I went to my guys, confident that Chicolini would pass this time. (Cue ominous-er music.)
There was a problem with the suspension and springs. Apparently the johnson rod was disconnected from the katzenjammer pin, and one of the hockey pucks was missing. Also, it appeared that the master bracket had been cut off, so my guys couldn't fix it because there was no place to attach the new parts. They suggested that I take Chicolini to a body shop because they could weld a new master bracket so that the johnson rod could hook back up to the katzenjammer pin. The technician showed me a diagram with automotive hieroglyphics that explained - and I use the term loosely - the problem.
So I took the car to a body shop. I gave the diagram to Kevin the Owner. He looked at Chicolini's underside, then he had another guy look at it. They could not figure out exactly what the problem was or how they could fix it, so they suggested that I go to a Fiat dealer.
So I took the car to the Fiat dealer. Not the mean Fiat dealer of the Wide Wheel Discovery, but the nice Fiat dealer named Tony who calls me "dear." (Don't worry, it's okay. I call him "doll" so we're even.) They finally got a correct diagnosis, to wit:
Found that both rear spring mount and bump stop were cut (weld) from frame of vehicle. Was probably done to lower the vehicle before you purchased it and nobody noticed it during state inspection. Parts are not available due to the fact that they are welded to the chassis during the building process.
What to do?
My guy Tony said I could try getting it re-inspected somewhere else and maybe they wouldn't notice it. Then the other Fiat guy (Mike) said maybe I could find a custom car shop and they might be able to fix the problem.
And then I said, "Or I could trade it in."