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#1 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 04:29 PM
 
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Repeated Engine Failure

Hi Everyone! I'm NEW here.

I purchased my '10 smart fortwo from the Smart Center in Tampa, Florida on 10/09/2010. Ever since then it has been plagued with so many engine issues that it has spent a little more than 2 months of the 3 that I've owned it at the Mercedes service center!

The night I drove it home after buying it, as I was pulling into my neighborhood the car started to hesitate and shake, then the check engine light came on. I called the Smart center that minute and they towed it back for repairs and gave me a VERY VERY nice 2011 Mercedes C300 as a loaner....sweet!

After a few days the Assistant Service Manager called me to tell me that one of the fuel injectors failed and they would replace all 3 just to be safe, but the part had to come from Europe so that repair took 2.5 weeks!

A little more background info for you guys....I test drove my smart for 2 days prior to signing on the dotted line. When I had it out I noticed the Carfax report was in the 'trunk.' I immediately became alarmed because it showed the previous owner, who only had it for 9 months had taken it in for repair 1-2 times a month!!! One of the last repairs was for the entire engine being replaced at 5k miles!!! Naturally before I signed I told the Sales Manager I was extremely concerned about the car's repair history. He then told me the former owner towed it improperly and they drove all over the country with the car in the wrong mode, burning out the engine. He said that even though its not covered under warranty, that after alot of hassling smart agreed to cover it under warranty. The car is still covered under warranty so while I was concerned about it, I didn't worry too much cause at least I wouldn't foot the bill. I now realize that was a HUGE mistake!!!!!! NEVER buy a car that's been in for service for more than oil changes and had its engine replaced at 5k miles!

After I got my car back, I drove it for 3 days when on my way to work after slowing down from 55mph to 40mph for traffic conjestion the check engine light came back on and the car started running really rough. After about 5 seconds the light went from flashing to solid, so I knew it wasn't a catastrophic failure and that I could limp it to work.
I got to work and called the Asst Service Manager at Mercedes. He told me that sometimes when driving in harsh conditions the car senses it and shuts down a cylinder to prevent major damage, that if I cycle the key on and off the issue would go away. He was right....as soon as I got back into the car the light was gone! So I drove it lunch, half way there it did the same thing after applying throttle between 40 mph to 45mph, in high gear/low rpm while approaching the next shift down.
I called the Service Mgr again and he said to let him know if it did it while I went home, which it did. So the next day they came and towed my car on a Thursday, but no loaner this time.
Since it arrived into the shop without the check engine light on they couldn't diagnose it properly, all they had was the stored code for misfire in cylinder 3. By Saturday it still hadn't come back on so I drove up there (1 hour away) and picked it up.
A week went by before the light came back on....same scenario, at low rpms between 40 and 50 mph. I called them back and they came and dropped off a loaner car, another NICE 2011 Mercedes C300. They took my smart in and after a week and a half they couldn't get anything more than the SAME stored code.
I was beyond frustrated at this point, and the Sales Manager at Smart (who has since left) said he was going to be purchasing a similar smart to mine and swap it out.
Clearly it has bigger issues that wasn't disclosed to me....laundered Lemon Car? Unfortunately and sadly, that is perfectly legal in Florida. I waited and checked daily for new cars to come available and they never had more than 3 at a time, either older and higher miles or newer and stripped down (mine is fully loaded.)
The week of Thanksgiving, (Tuesday) I decided to just try to get what they had on the lot and pay the difference for the newer one. To my absolute shock, the General Manager was only willing to give me TRADE-IN value for my car!!!!!! He pitched it to me that with a 5% reduction in the interest rate it would make up for the financial difference. I wanted to think about it so I took it home for a test drive while they worked out the loan info. After 3 days, not surprisingly they told me they couldn't get me the lower rate they quoted me that it was only going to be 1.5% less. Talk about bait and switch! I said NO and took my smart home the Saturday of Thanksgiving.
After 2 days, the car did it again and same exact scenario! I started taking pictures of it this time, as I started to call it the ghost light. Because the service center was so far away I didn't want to go through the hassle again....so I waited another week and through 4 more check engine lights before I finally took it back up there. Amazingly as I drove it into the service lane the check engine light came on! GREAT! WONDERFUL! This will solve everything, they can finally run a scan on it while the light was on and get answers? WRONG! I did get a 2008 Mercedes C350 as a loaner.....the only good part of this is getting to drive a Mercedes for the price of a smart car!

After 2 weeks the Asst Service Mgr told me that they ran all kinds of tests and the car never coded anything more than the original misfire on cylinder 3. All the sensors were tested individually, all the major components the same....and all came back normal readings!

So the Asst Service Manager contacted smart corp and submitted the issue for them to review. After about a week of meetings, discussions, conference calls and dozens of fruitless tests they were all just as clueless and puzzled.
One of the smart corp techs suggested LAST Thursday that it might be a bad valve in the cylinder head so that's where we are at right now (yes, it is a new engine with virtually no miles so why the bad valve.) The kicker is that they just took it a part today to start the measurements on the valves.....ALMOST A WEEK LATER!

Thank GOD I have a loaner....for ONE MONTH now and no end in sight. Now my trade in value is shot since its been in service almost as long as I've owned it.

ANY IDEAS OUT THERE ON WHAT THE REAL ISSUE IS OR COULD BE????!!!!

I sooooo wish I could lemon law it....clearly that's what the previous owner should have done and Mercedes should have taken the high road and crushed it.

Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated!

THANKS!
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#2 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 05:07 PM
 
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Sounds like the problem is incompetence to me.
My "local" smart dealer is that way. They have a tech (only one) that can do simple things. If its a little complicated, forget it.
Wow, parts are still being sourced from Europe and not stocked in North America somewhere? This is turning into a complete joke.

Good luck.
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#3 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 05:40 PM
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to the forum aka the Asylum.

I'm sorry to hear you bought a problem car and that the dealer is stumped as to what is wrong. Makes you wonder about their mechanics. I hope a satisfactory resolution is found soon. You may need to try and contact Smart USA yourself.
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#4 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 05:49 PM
 
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Thanks...I've called once, emailed once and sent a certified letter to corporate. At a complete loss what I should do? Why won't smart just admit there's something major and gut-n-replace everything or just swap it?
It isn't cheap for them I'm sure....these rentals add up to a lot of money.
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#5 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 06:19 PM
 
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Hmmm... what occurs to me is that the bad injector could have caused some other damage. That happened to at least one other person. If you have a bad injector, you've got 2 cylinders running rich and one running lean. The lean one runs hot. That can cause all kinds of major problems, but the most likely one is burned exhaust valves. That's what I'd have them check ASAP.
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#6 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 07:04 PM
 
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~A simple differential Leak down test on each cylinder would tell if its Exhaust valve, Intake valve, Piston rings, or Head gasket... No need to tear it apart until this test is done...
~I bet they don't even know how to do this~Airplane mechanics do this all day long. They can't sign off a annual inspection unless its been done. Its the LAW... I wish I had all the money them inspections cost me...<:-((

Last edited by Brabus007; 01-04-2012 at 07:09 PM.
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#7 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 07:21 PM
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Leak down tests are awesome and easy.
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#8 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 07:27 PM
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...to follow up the secret agent post...
...now even the smallest of shops have a borescope..

jetfuel...let's take a look...
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#9 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 07:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jetfuel View Post
...to follow up the secret agent post...
...now even the smallest of shops have a borescope..

jetfuel...let's take a look...
Harbor Freight has something that will work for $90.
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#10 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 07:36 PM
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140 at CostCo...video screen...3 cards...and all the computer cables..

Jetfuel...yeah...high tech...
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