Some time ago I experienced what I have since discovered is a common problem with the Fiat Ducato gearbox. It suddenly and without any warning just refused to stay in 5th gear! There are no unusual noises or sensations. When going from 4th to 5th the action seems as normal but when you release the gear lever it jumps back and refuses to hold in position.
Fiat Ducato Gearbox Problems – The Cause
According to forums I have read the gearbox was originally a 4 speed design and the 5th gear was bolted on afterwards. Some say the quality of the metal parts is inferior. The general consensus is that the way to avoid it happening is to keep the gearbox oil slightly overfilled and be careful not to change up to 5th too early. The problem has affected many motorhome owners, sometimes with mileages as low as 60k. Naturally Fiat refuse to accept any liability but it’s clear that the design of this gearbox is really not up to normal use.
Motorhome owners do not drive their vehicles like sports cars and many of us probably change up to 5th gear at relatively modest revs, because it just feels right and perhaps also to get the best fuel consumption. Had I known that the gearbox was such a weak link I would have ensured that I slightly overfilled with oil and kept the revs high before changing up to 5th.
What I plan to do – Looking for mechanic to repair
The forums I’ve looked at seem to indicate that the repair can be carried out without removing the gearbox but prices quoted indicate that this is still far from a cheap job! Since the problem has happened I’ve not really used the motorhome for any long journeys, preferring to stick to the South East of England. You really need 5th gear to make any decent progress in a motorhome like this, sitting at 50mph or lower on a motorway is no fun whatsoever!
I want to get it repaired but would rather use a gearbox specialist or someone who knows about this Fiat gearbox issue and has worked on them before. Since I don’t have 5th gear I’d also ideally like the mechanic to be based in the South East. So I’m asking for help! If you know of someone who can fix this problem for me at a fair price please let me know. If you own a Fiat Ducato based motorhome and you want to avoid the Fiat Ducato gearbox problems I would urge you to keep the revs high before changing up to 5th and make sure your oil level is on maximum or slightly over.
Since writing this article I’ve had the gearbox repaired at a very fair price. You can read about it here: