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post #21 of 22 (permalink) Old 09-27-2018, 12:27 PM
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Originally Posted by Richnjohn View Post
Not to be a Smart *** but people keep correcting me by saying "you mean DCT" when I refer to the transmission as an automatic. There is no clutch pedal and you just put it in D and go, how is that not an automatic transmission regardless of the internal technology?
What's important is the distinction in the discussion. The lines get blurred too much for the casual reader when you refer to a DCT automatic and torque converter based automatic transmission as essentially the same. They provide the same function which is to move forward and backward, however they do so in a different manner.

The standardized definition for "automatic transmission" has long ago defaulted to a torque converter based design, primarily because those transmissions have been in the overwhelming majority of automobiles. And that's not an understatement. Practically every "automatic transmission" car with the exception of a few models, have been the same design.

The first smart offering had an self-shifting single clutch manual, and the latest gas versions came with a self-shifting dual clutch manual which provides faster shifting and performance benefits. But it at its core is essentially the same design as a true manual transmission, at least based on the default definition within the current era of automobiles.

It's important to keep the distinctions in all discussions for those casual readers who are unaware of them. That way instead of panicking when they drive their smart when it feels "different" (from what they're used to), they can instead learn how to practice a driving technique that is more suitable for a single-clutch self-shifting manual, or dual-clutch self-shifting manual... (automatic!).
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post #22 of 22 (permalink) Old 08-13-2019, 10:22 AM
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I asked a question in another thread regarding applying a bungee cord to the steering wheel while flat towing a Smart 453. The replies were all addressing the transmission, not the steering. This was all before I had the modifications needed for flat towing, because I hoped to have an answer before towing. Since no answer came, I decided to try without the bungee, as the wheelbase was redesigned for the 453.
The transmission issue is confusing, so I think another way to clarify it is this: If you have a clutch pedal, you have a manual transmission; if there is no clutch pedal, you have the automatic. The electric Smart and the Smart with a manual transmission cannot be flat towed; the automatic transmission can be flat towed if you follow the factory instructions. I followed the instructions, but I had to convince my shop to install a battery disconnect without a charging circuit (I won).
The factory instructions have you putting the shifter in the manual lane, pulling it rearward for several seconds until you see "6" in the gear indicator on the computer display. When the "6" came up, I heard a click from the engine compartment. It is important to have the ignition on, but the engine must not be running. Once you get the "6", release the shifter and turn the ignition off, but leave the key in the ignition. This keeps the steering from locking. If you want the car locked, you would have to use a second key and manually lock the doors, because after you turn the ignition off, you have to disconnect the battery. You couldn't use the remote to lock it because the battery is not connected. Get a second key (about $200) if you want to make sure no one runs beside you to break into your car while you tow it.
I pointed one of my rearview cameras at the windshield so I could have a clear view of what the steering wheel was doing. The car followed me without incident for 121 miles. No wobble.
I followed the instructions for taking the car out of flat tow mode, and the car drove perfectly - except the check engine light was on. The next day, I took it to the Smart Center at the Gainesville, Fl, Mercedes dealer. They checked the car for me and found nothing but a defective battery, which they replaced.
In summary, to flat tow the 453, I did not need the bungee cord; I followed the factory procedure to put the car in flat tow mode, and then take it out again at the destination. The tow went perfect, and the Smart Center check the car after the tow and found no damage.
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