SEAT Ibiza III (2002–2009)

What's good

Four star 2003 NCAP crash test rating; two star pedestrian safety rating.

What to watch out for

Least reliable small car in 2009 Warranty Direct statistics with 48% incidence of faults, average repair cost of faults £204.09. More at But new figures from SEAT show instances of manufacturer warranty claims for cars built between 2006 and 2009 have plunged by a massive 35% in the UK, while the number of warranty claims relating to the Ibiza – SEAT’s biggest-selling model both here and around the world – have tumbled by 38%.

Reports of creaking front suspension.

Plastic timing belt pulleys of 1.4 and 1.6 16v engines now failing regularly, though fortunately the belts are rarely flung off when this happens. Need to change belt, tensioners and pulleys every 4 years.

Reports of repeated trouble with the EGR valves of 1.2 3-cylinder engines.

Timing chains of 3-cylinder chain-cam petrol engines are snapping, possibly because they need cleaner oil than VAG anticipated with its service regime, or possibly because the wrong oil has been used.

Timing chain tensioner problems on 2002-2003 1.2s, usually caused by not changing the oil and filter often enough. Cured on later engines by a more substantial tensioner.

Lumpy running of early 1.2 Ibizas can be due to timing chain stretching and jumping a tooth. Unexplained problems with fuel systems of 1.2 petrol models that seem to overfuel sporadically for no apparent reason might be due to stretched timing chains.

Ignition coils of 02 build that had not previously failed were starting to fail by 2007.

In 2007, electrical problems reported on 2002 cars, including electric windows jammed shut, unable to open drivers door from inside, worn out door lock barrel won't open car from outside, faulty remote key for immobilser, brake lights jammed on at night, loss of power under acceleration:epc throttle fault warning light intermittently on (due to EGR valve problem).

EGR valve failure on 1.2 3-cylinder engine increasingly common.

6-6-2011: Failure of instrument clusters reported, together with shortage of replacement parts.

16-7-2013: Problems with cooling fan motors not operating on the 1.8T engine can be caused by excess moisture building under the fuse box on the battery, causing it to short due to corrosion. Reader advice is to replace fuse box and spray liberally with WD40. The diagnostics will not pick this up since no sensors are involved.

28-12-2015: Rusted front wheelarches reported on 2007 SEAT Ibiza 1.2 Reference Sport by 3rd owner. Should be covered by 12 year no rust-through warranty if car has not previously been crashed.

26-1-2016: SEAT agreed to pay 50% of cost of replacing rusted front wheelarches on 2007 SEAT Ibiza 1.2 Reference Sport.

6-2-2016: Window winding cables snapped inside the doors of a 2002 SEAT Ibiza, within days of the same thing happening to another reader in a later VW Polo.


13-12-2002: TSB/recall to replace crankshaft oil seals on new 1.2 3-cylinder engines.

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