May 21, 2009
It's no surprise to anyone out there who's been following along with Edmunds' long-term Smart Fortwo Passion that we're not thrilled with the transmission. And by "we're not thrilled with" I mean "we avoid the smart at all costs because of."
Well, it seems we're not the only ones. Recently Smart has issued a transmission and engine software upgrade (Campaign C0209002) for '08 model year cars to make the car slightly less useless. 2009 MY Smarts already have it.
Along with the trans/engine reprogram, our Smart also needed a new VIN label, a new owner's manual, and it required open campaign C0209007--shifter lubrication so we don't need to have ours towed away.
The service was performed at Beverly Hills Mercedes and took about 3 hours.
May 04, 2009
Today we're peeking into the wheelwells of our Smart Fortwo Passion Coupe. This ought to be good.
Because this is an unconventional machine, we're changing things up by starting with the rear suspension, where all of the magic fails to happen.
November 17, 2008
Long-Term Blogophiles will recall that I've had some trouble with non-auto-off headlights. This morning I had an inconvenient case of deja vu. I hit the remote unlock button on the Smart's key...nothing. After popping the plastic cover off the door lock and manually unlocking the door, I confirmed that I'd left the lights on overnight -- and the battery was as dead as Marvin of Pulp Fiction fame.
What I needed was a trusty Magrath, and sure enough, he rolled up in the GT-R a few minutes later, jumper cables in hand.
"Huh," he mused aloud. "I wonder where the battery is in this thing."
That turned out to be a good question. First we opened the hatch and checked the engine bay. No dice. Then we tried the front hood compartment thing. The washer fluid's in there, but no battery. Time to RTFM, a task that fell to Magrath while I snapped pictures and passers-by gawked at the sight of the GT-R, bonnet propped open, parked next to the Smart with its dangling hood.
So where's the battery? Why, in the passenger-side footwell, of course.
November 06, 2008
Smart of Beverly Hills couldn't schedule an appointment until next Wednesday. That is, except for one 7:00am appointment on Friday morning that would see our car returned "no earlier than 4pm". Forget that.
I made a quick call to the smart center of Universal City--closer to my house anyways-- and they could take me the same day. Funny how a change of only a few miles translates to vastly different realities...this dealership, as opposed to the ones here in Santa Monica, is selling smarts at MSRP.
The dealership is under construction and I drove by twice. When I finally got there the smart was whisked away almost immediately with a promised return time of 1-hour. I was waiting on this one so I really hoped they 'd stick to that. 45-minutes later I got the call that the service was complete and I could pick up the car.
The damage was $210.93 for an oil change and routine checks. This proves once again that the smart is in only an economy car in build quality. I want to like this car but it's getting harder every day.
Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 10,759 miles
November 03, 2008
We've got a new one to add to the list of complaints about the Smart's brake pedal: it squeaks. Over the weekend, not only was I reminded of how much effort it requires to keep the Smart stopped while waiting at a light (I've just resorted these days to putting it in park), but it now emits a sound similar to that of a distressed rodent -- or a doggie squeeze toy.
Hopefully they'll take care of that when we finally take it in for service (we're T-minus 600 miles now, btw). Otherwise, I'm unleashing a can of WD-40 on that sucka.
Laura Burstein, Automotive Editor @ 10,557 miles
October 30, 2008
One convenience feature in our 2008 Smart Fortwo is an oil service reminder. But like the rest of the car, the reminder is tiny and easy to miss. It's an itty-bitty wrench that flashes for about 15 seconds at start-up. If you're busy with something else like buckling your seatbelt, you'll miss it.
That is why we're now at "-500" -- meaning we should have changed the oil 500 miles ago. The "-500" also only appears during the 15-second window; thereafter, you see the normal odometer display.
If you're wondering, we do take foolish pride in our lack of punctuality. However, at this point, it seems like the Smart's maintenance wrench should be staying on all the time to give the owner a necessary kick in the butt. But it doesn't.
A service appointment is being scheduled. We'll let you know how it goes.
Erin Riches, Edmunds Senior Editor @ 10,520 miles
August 21, 2008
I realized this morning that the novelty (or more likely, my own lack of knowledge) of the Smart's rear-mounted 996cc three-cylinder engine was keeping me from checking the oil. So this morning, I went around the back of the car and ripped up the carpet, determined to engage in this gratifyingly simple act of basic car maintenance.
First order of business was to unscrew the metal panel over the engine compartment (shown above). There's only one screw, and there's a handy plastic tab on it, so no screwdriver needed.
May 29, 2008
Spared from certain death by the Tridium Safety Cell, Associate Editor Josh Sadlier was able to explain pre-posthumously his experience of sitting inside of a smart fortwo passion being struck by a careless SUV . Part II of our smart story had us paying $25 to get numerical data that backed up what our eyes had been telling us; the damage to the smart was more than cosmetic. At the very least there was an alignment issue caused by a bent control arm.
In this installment we begin on the phones... No smart dealer in the western part of the United States was able to take on such a project at this time. They didn't have tools, they didn't have training, they didn't have parts. Running low on ideas and high on frustration, we gave Beverly Coachcraft a ring. They do the bulk of the body work for Beverly Hills Mercedes-Benz and said bring it over, they'd be glad to give us an estimate.
Still very new to the States, the smart got the immediate attention of everyone in the complex. They walked past Maybachs (2), AMGs (at least 6), and an SLR to get a peek at the babiest of Benz products. One in particular stopped to chat with us, too. He wanted to know if it was fast. We shook our heads no. At least fun? A shoulder shrug in lieu of an answer got our point across. His final question, "Is it at least easy to live with?" required a verbal answer, "Not if you're trying to fix it" I said.
We spent the next half-hour or so there peeking at some banged up exotics (including a Flying Spur who's owner, "Ozzy", wanted it back asap) while the staff there exhausted all of their resources to get parts. No such luck. Unpainted body panels could possibly be shipped over from Germany but nobody could tell if they were the same as their US counterparts or if they had the correct paint codes. Or if the $700 made any sense in relation to what the parts should cost us.
They finally conceded that there was nothing they could do shy of taking a few photos for the insurance companies and said our best bet was the leave the car with Mercedes of Beverly Hills, an authorized smart dealer. They could handle all of the parts and repairs best.
And so we drove to Beverly Hills and left the car with only one instruction: Call us when you hear anything.
Mike Magrath, Vehicle Testing Assistant @ 2,465 miles
May 19, 2008
We drove the Smart Fortwo back to our garage folowing the crash. Turns out we couldn't just crawl underneath it to diagnose the damage as hoped. We dusted off our backs, went to the local tire shop and put it on a lift. We were in for a surprise.