Let me start by explaining the problem I have been having. Bear with me....ANY help or advice or similar stories would be GREATLY appreciated.
Starting several months ago, I was driving my smart (in automatic mode) on a busy road (flat, no hill), and came to a stop light. when I came to a complete stop, the car shifted itself into Neutral, and the wrench icon began to blink. It would not shift into Drive or Reverse, only into park. I shifted it into manual mode - no change. So, I put the car in park, turned on my blinkers, turned off my engine, and started calling AAA. about 3 minutes into the phone call, I turned the key halfway, just to roll down my window, and noticed that the wrench icon was no longer blinking. So, I turned the engine over, and low and behold, the car shifted into drive just fine, as if nothing had happened.
Thought maybe this was a fluke. FYI, I started to drive the car in manual mode. however, 2 weeks later, same thing happened again (same circumstances - came to a complete stop, shifted itself into neutral, after about 3 minutes of turning the engine off, car started up again and drove as if nothing had happened - no other warning lights). Then, it happened again a week later. THEN.....(and this was truly a one-off situation - this following thing only happened the one time, thank god) I came to a stop at a traffic light, and when I went to go, the car WOULD NOT shift out of first gear in manual OR auto mode. This time, the check engine light also appeared, along with the wrenches. I quickly turned right off of the main road way. When I braked to stop, the brake pedal felt shaky and sluggish but did eventually stop fully, and THE SECOND i was at a complete stop, the car TURNED ITSELF OFF. Again, as with the other issue, I let the car sit, engine off, for about 5 minutes. When I turned the car back on, everything was fine, but check engine light remained. I drove home cautiously, and the next time I turned on the car, the check engine light was off.
Probably 2-3 days after this weird incident, the "usual" incident happened AGAIN, for the fourth time. I finally curbed my car, and didn't drive it for about 2 months, because I didn't feel like having to have it towed 16 miles to tysons (since my wonderful local dealership has closed down :( boo). Of course, in this time period, the battery completely died (they had to replace it with a new one, but that's really neither here nor there.
When I finally had it towed out to Smart of Tysons, they replaced my battery, did a software upgrade on the transmission apparently?, and then ran diagnostics for 2 days in addition to driving it around, trying to recreate my problem. NOTHING. the manager claimed that all of the tests on the clutch and transmission systems were coming back totally clean. So, we all shrugged our shoulders, assumed that the upgrade and/or new battery had fixed the problem, and went on our merry way. The car was fine for 2 weeks (in fact, seemed to really be running even better than before my problems had started), and then BAM. saaaaame problem. I should also mention that when coming to a stop, I noticed that the brake did give a slight, almost imperceptible shudder with this problem as well, but not as violent or noticeable as that random, one-off, engine turning itself off problem.
Had it towed out to Tysons AGAIN yesterday, and just got the call telling me that they dug deeper into the clutch, and found a faulty clutch motor :P quoted $1200 for the new part and the labor. I have about 24K miles on the car, it's a 2009 Passion Coupe fortwo (sorry I didn't mention earlier). Has anyone else had to get a clutch motor replaced so soon on their smart? and does that price seem correct?? AND, most importantly, does that really sound like what the real problem is, given the issues I have been having. I can't find anything anywhere on forums describing a similar problem with other smarts. am I just alone in this and having a completely freak problem with the car?? HELP! so frustrated, and scared that this $1200 "fix" isn;'t really going to fix anything (but I guess that's the worry with any weird car trouble, right? :P) THANK YOU!!
Sorry... can't answer your question but have you emailed other smart friendly garages with the same question just to get an idea on the price and maybe if see Tysons are about right with their suspicions and their price?
Thanks for the input. I actually got tons of response on the smart cars of america forum. Turns out Smart USA dropped the MSRP on the very part I needed (clutch actuator AKA motor) from $975 to $595 (HUGE DROP!! probably because so many people are having to have them replaced apparently :P), effective 4/1/12. I emailed the service manager at tysons this new pricing information (the info came directly from a source at Smart USA). neither he nor the parts manager at Tysons had gotten any word from Smart USA about this pricing change (interesting). BUT, Sam at Tysons ended up honoring the $595 price for me, no questions asked, and said he would worry about sorting it out with Smart USA. So, I ended up pretty pleased. Picked up the car yesterday morning and it seems to be fine (so far...knock on wood). In fact, the car seems to be shifting MUCH smoother in general. I also had a knocking sound whenever the car was idling (so, anytime I was at a stop light, you could hear it, particularly from outside the car). I had noticed this sound after having the car for only about a year, but had been assured by my old dealership that the sound was normal. LO AND BEHOLD, since picking up the car yesterday morning, no more knocking sound :P So, in fact, I'm now kind of annoyed with my OLD (now non-existent) dealership :P
If my problems reoccur, I'll be sure to update!