Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Pearland TX
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So the two morals of this sad story are...
1. Never buy a car that you can't get serviced IN ALL CATEGORIES, not just oil changes and ring jobs. Cutting a new key set may not seem like service, but it is, particularly if you lose the one that you have. That smart doesn't support the 450 is unfortunate, but it is an established fact, has been that way for years now, and it isn't going to change any time soon. Buyer beware, and all of that...
(Along these lines, I have seen a considerable number of cars offered for sale (of all types, but primarily Toyota, Scion and smart, since that's where my interests lie) that only offer ONE key. If you buy one of these, you are automatically inheriting a problem, and unless you address it first, you are putting yourself in (financial) harm's way.)
2. Make sure that you always have a working key (or key/remote combination) put aside in a safe place IN ADDITION TO THE ONES YOU USE ON A DAY TO DAY BASIS. Seeing all of the "security information" about the immobilizer prompted me from purchase to put extra keys into the original purchase. We used the car until they arrived from the old country, but we always had one of the two keys put up in the key box at home until the extra units arrived.
I've been through lost keys for modern cars in the past, and I thank my lucky star that I had the sense to follow this policy. There's no question that it costs a bit of money, but when your wife loses her set of keys (about $400.00 all in, remotes and sensor keys included), you will feel a lot better knowing that you still have that set stashed away in the box on the wall.
(When we travel, we each have a key/remote for the vehicle, with a third set stashed in the luggage (this is usually our "garage key", kept by the garage in the house for convenience), and at least one in the "master key set" in the box on the wall. Even if we are both mugged and lose our keys, we have a backup set so as to not be immobilized. And, if things get to the point that the luggage is looted, we still have that master back home to recreate the whole setup again.)
I know it's not right, and that it's overkill - who wants to steal a smart, after all? But, put those emotions aside if you want to own a car (greymarket or not) that comes with the problem pre-installed. Like it or not, you have to deal with it, and the best way is to prepare ahead of the potential problem.
I looked at the 450 smart when it was first being hawked in the Saint Louis area, but the lack of a support network was what put me off of it at that time. What we have now is minimal, but at least it's still there (or, still there for those of us fortunate enough to live near a service location). Your local mechanic may be capable of doing an oil change or a reluctor ring change, but when it comes to stuff like these wacky keys, it's a different thing entirely.