SAFETY ISSUE? Want RECALL? FILE NHTSA REPORT AS A CATALYST FOR RECALLs - Smart Car Forums
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-18-2017, 12:35 PM Thread Starter
 
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SAFETY ISSUE? Want RECALL? FILE NHTSA REPORT AS A CATALYST FOR RECALLs

If you won't fill-out a NTHSA form, hope of any recall is just wishful thinking. I love this forum. Love my 2 Smarts when they're occasionally trouble-free. My 2008 Pure had a seat-belt problem a couple years ago, seat-belt buckle would not seat & latch. Visually obvious. The Florida Smart dealership insisted that a $300 diagnostic must be performed prior to any consideration of the problem & remedy. Many here said the safety issue should be addressed under manufacturers safety warranty (though well beyond the 2 yr warranty). I raised HECK by escalating it beyond the dealer to MB. Eventually got the diagnostic fee waived & labor waived if I'd pay for the part. I reluctantly agreed (limited other options) as my granddaughter was driving it at college. Complaining here alone has no affect on Smart/MB. Only complaints registered with NHTSA will accumulate enough weight & attention to affect a recall. It takes 10 minutes, & if every complainer took the time to complain where it has the best likelihood of benefit, we could actually have a chance for a recall. YES, we are not a large numbers of complaints, but as a PERCENTAGE OF OWNERS AFFECTED, WE ARE LARGE. I own TWO 2008 ForTwos (Pure & Cabrio), 100% (both) have had unreliable transmission behavior getting into or out of gear (I have to pay for a firmware update to fix the behavior?), 100% have seat-belt failure, 100% have had seats that stopped adjusting forward/rearward travel. Now one leaks fuel out from a hole in the plastic pan, which many of you have already experienced. Don't yet know if it's a G&K modified gas tank fitting crack failure, or fitting sealant failure that I sometimes read about here. What years were affected by G&K fuel tank modifications? Or maybe it's a fuel pump failure? Or something in the emissions system? On face value, gas leaking on pavement should at least be an emissions concern, right? Is there 10 years warranty on emissions components? If we all had deep pockets, it might be different. Instead, I will have to pull the pan & have a look. Wish I didn't have to, wish the dealer would invite me in for a complimentary look, wish I'd won the lottery, too. If I wanted to bail out & sell it NOW, I wonder if I could even think of doing so (with clear disclosure) in good conscience? This fire hazard safety issue crosses the threshold into really unhappy ownership.

If every owner of a 2008 ForTwo with a fuel leak, transmission failure, or defective seat-belt filed a NHTSA complaint, someone would notice that 10-50% of a population of model-specific owners have a serious safety issue & it could be the basis for the recall. THEN the dealer would invite me in to look at my fuel leak. *****ING in the right ear has the best chance for help with a truly manufacturer-responsible safety defect. Let's help ourselves. Add your experience with ForTwo safety-related defects to the NHTSA database today. I do. The NHTSA is not a dead horse, it has teeth, but we must do our part to turn it loose. I hope you'll do so.
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-18-2017, 01:15 PM
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I'm sincerely sorry you've had so many issues. I come from the same boat with my 2012 451. However, one big issue in reporting to the NHTSA hopeful for a recall are that the car(s) in question are almost 10 years old now. These issues aren't the same as say, a Takata airbag exploding shrapnel into one's face.

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My 2008 Pure had a seat-belt problem a couple years ago, seat-belt buckle would not seat & latch. Visually obvious. The Florida Smart dealership insisted that a $300 diagnostic must be performed prior to any consideration of the problem & remedy.
That's normal, they have to figure out why that seatbelt wasn't working. Even if you had the now standard 4yr/50k warranty it would still have been out of warranty.

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Now one leaks fuel out from a hole in the plastic pan, which many of you have already experienced. Don't yet know if it's a G&K modified gas tank fitting crack failure, or fitting sealant failure that I sometimes read about here. What years were affected by G&K fuel tank modifications? Or maybe it's a fuel pump failure? Or something in the emissions system? On face value, gas leaking on pavement should at least be an emissions concern, right? Is there 10 years warranty on emissions components?
G&K conversions are first generation 450s (<2008) so that shouldn't apply to your 451s. US Mercedes-Benz dealerships do not service these vehicles.

I haven't heard of fuel leaks being common in 451s. Many of the early "fuel leak" issues with 2008s were simply people overfilling their tanks and killing the charcoal canister.

And no, emissions equipment are just that. Leaks that develop over time don't count as emissions equipment...Otherwise you'd be able to get the dealer on the hook any time a car springs an oil leak or a coolant leak.

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If every owner of a 2008 ForTwo with a fuel leak, transmission failure, or defective seat-belt filed a NHTSA complaint, someone would notice that 10-50% of a population of model-specific owners have a serious safety issue & it could be the basis for the recall. THEN the dealer would invite me in to look at my fuel leak.
It is a nearly 10 year old car, a European car at that. Things are going to break. 2008 transmissions were fixed with better clutch plates that for the most part should have been replaced under warranty by now (and by 2010 that issue was pretty much dead and gone). The seatbelt can probably be argued for a recall but I doubt there are enough cars to justify it...especially considering age and mileage.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-18-2017, 01:24 PM Thread Starter
 
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Still, there are an awful lot of fires associated with Smart cars. There must be a basis, for some, like a fuel leak. I'd like to see some leverage put on Smart/MB to minimize the apparent fire risks. I think NHTSA is the right place to influence that leverage.
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-18-2017, 01:33 PM
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Those fires are currently being investigated in a federal probe.

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The agency said 19 of the fires happened since January of 2015, a sign that the problem is becoming more frequent as the vehicles age.
Now that is concerning, though again, it's important to know that it's 19 out of 43,000.

Federal probe finds 27 engine fires in tiny Smart cars - ABC News
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-18-2017, 07:39 PM Thread Starter
 
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This evening I contacted Smart USA, MB USA, the NHTSA & my local Smart dealership by email, offering each an opportunity to examine my pre-fire, gasoline-leaking 2008 Pure to further the general understanding of why the '08-09 is fire-prone. It's no surprise that "NHTSA said in documents that Mercedes investigated only two of the fires but could not find a cause". In a box of plastics, little survives a good fire. It’s self-evident that gasoline liquid or vapor moving rearward towards the exhaust manifold while in forward motion represents a significant fire hazard. I very much hope one (or more) will take the initiative to examine mine soon. It's sat unused about 4 months as I'm afraid to drive it. Recharged the battery & fired it up only to try to chase the leak at idle. I imagine letting it idle long enough would set it off eventually, I don't plan to find out. If started, I'll move it immediately out of the driveway to the street, a safe distance from the house. There's a handy fire hydrant in my front parkway. Will sit on it a little longer in hopes maybe at least the NHTSA has a genuine interest in a ready-to-burn candidate. Will post any response activity if & when. Wish me luck.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-18-2017, 07:51 PM Thread Starter
 
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I might mention, for the right price, any of those parties may let it idle at a location of their choice & let it self-destruct, in real-time. Load it full of sensors, get multi-angle video cameras recording, & light the fuse (just turn it on & let it idle). Autopsy it pre & post-fire. That should put the issue to bed, I'd think. I'm rooting for Smart USA or MB to do the right thing, but I'm guilty of a lot of wishful thinking. Failing that, I have to hope NHTSA is ept (is that the opposite of inept?). Manufacturers or government doing the right thing? Call me a wishful thinker....

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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-18-2017, 08:16 PM
 
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Originally Posted by den458 View Post
NHTSA is ept

"apt"

In Canada many complaints had to be made to Transport Canada to force smart Canada to deal with the failures of door latches in the 450. The replacement unit by all accounts is worse than the original.

If a 2008 is not worth having the fuel leak repaired, remove all nonessentials and drive it till it burns to the ground.
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-19-2017, 04:50 AM
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My 2012 caught on fire due to hemorrhaging oil. I think the source of ignition was the cat. It's nice and hot with some air circulating around it. The fire smothered itself out after cooking the engine and its internals. Yet, the car prevails today!

2008s also have an issue where a coolant hose rubs a frame rail.

In all though, convincing smart USA to do anything is a waste of time. If you do get through to them, they'll either make it worse or they'll find a way to make it a "feature", not a defect.

If you look in the 453 section on this site, you'll find a several page long thread about us 453 owners angry/confused that the fuel tanks appear smaller than advertised or just broken.

Two years of failures on behalf of smart USA (some people having their tank replaced several times, only making the issues worse) later and suddenly smart USA concludes that the tank is that small by design.

Then not long later they killed the petrol smart anyway, thus also effectively killing interest in actually fixing the fuel tanks.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-19-2017, 05:40 AM
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Not uncommon in auto manufacturers. My Dad had one of the infamous Ford LTD wagons that would jump out of park and into reverse occasionally. We found out when he put it in park and opened the door to retrieve a time slip at a parking facility and it jumped in to reverse jamming the door against the attendant booth. Ford's recall got him a Mylar sticker on the dash saying to set the parking brake when putting the car in park. Not much of a fix....
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 09-19-2017, 07:53 AM
 
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My 2008 seatbelt, failed too. Drivers side. Wouldn't latch. It was covered under warranty 7 year 70,000 mile safety restraint, though smart.
Was really surprise, they fixed it free. Smart at the time, offered a a crappy 2 year warranty. The car was about 5 years old, at that time.
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