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Discussion Starter #1
Firstly, I love my smart. I'm in year 8 of ownership and GASHOG was one of the first smart cars delivered in the US. It has been a great car for me.

I've had to address the following items which I view to be relatively minor, and acceptable maintenance but still are common problems in many smarts and not getting hosed for repair bills on these things might help the next guy:

Battery: I am an Optima Battery enthusiast; I've never replaced an Optima - ever. They are the last battery you'll buy. The OEM battery has a vent tube but oddly, the vent tube did not go out to atmosphere as would normally be the case in a battery in a passenger compartment. The threat of not venting it outside is that hydrogen can build up in the footwell battery compartment and you'll find cautionary statements from most battery manufacturers about venting. I've had an unvented Optima battery in my smart car for 5 years. Love it. Works great every time. Remember also on my car, the original battery was not vented to atmosphere anyway so I saw no change and no threat.

Reluctor rings: These are very common failures and they are a ring gear applied to the inner hub of the CV joint driveshaft at the rear wheels and used by an electronic sensor to measure wheel rotation speed and determine if one wheel is rotating at a speed different than the others requiring the ABS needs to engage. I've replaced the reluctor rings on both driver and passenger sides and it takes an hour or two if you have tools and a little mechanical knowledge. Heat them to slip on the new ones and use a screw driver to break off the cracked ones at the crack point. They rust out and then crack opening the tooth distance and send a false signal to the computer so you get an ABS engage as you come to a stop. Annoying problem but if you DIY, it's under $20/side to fix in your driveway: at the dealer, they're going to charge $700 +/- PER SIDE because they replace the entire driveshaft assembly and don't mess with replacing only the ring. Buy the replacement rings from England.

Flex pipe at muffler fails: This is a pain in the butt and disappointing. There is a weak point where the exhaust flex pipe (woven steel) enters the left top of the muffler at the back of the car and that will rot out from road salt/corrosion/water. When that happens, the muffler is supported only by the two pins on the end which makes it like a hinge and the muffler can spin away opening an exhaust leak at the junction of the flex pipe and muffler. You can hear the distinctive "phut-phut-phut" of an exhaust leak as your first indicator, then if you look at the muffler and exhaust pipe, usually the exhaust pipe will be up against and can even melt the lower black plastic body panel (it did on mine) where the short pipe comes out of the muffler aiming down. The muffler twisted a little and let the pipe touch the body panel and it melted it in a little half round cutout that actually looks like a stock exhaust cutout. You can search these forums but OEM exhaust system parts for these cars are obscenely expensive. A dealer will charge upwards of $1k to replace to the entire system for this one problem. A muffler shop can weld a new pipe in for $200 or less. A few hours of shop time work screwing around with removal, repair, and installation again. $1k for new - $200 for repair and a 3rd option with all the aftermarket exhaust systems being added is finding a take-off exhaust for $200 or so; you decide which works for you.

Heater fan motor squeals and/or stops working: There are two areas of common failure in the heater blower; one is the brushes will gum up with debris and stop contacting the commutator and stops working completely, the other is that the fan will intermittently squeal. The fan squeal can be repaired with only a few drops of oil and 10 minutes of time knowing how to attack the problem. The motor is easily removed and oiled and reinstalled with no tools necessary to remove it, and only a torx bit to remove the plastic housing to get at the bearings that cause the squeal. If it's not working at all, then you pull the brushes out and clean them and reinstall. Great instructions for both of these repairs are found on these forums.

Rear window frame has trapped water sloshing/draining when opened: Another very common problem and easily remedied by drilling a 3/16" hole in the bottom of the window hatch frame on each side. Frame is composite so you don't have to worry about rust or paint. Quick hole and the problem is solved and I believe smart now drills all the coupe window frames at the factory to eliminate this problem.

I hope these "discoveries" I've found in my smart help other owners manage these problems in theirs if they arise. I love my smart car and would buy another one tomorrow if this one was knocked out. I initially bought it is a novelty car and the mileage was secondary in '07 when I bought it. Now there are many cars for the same money that get the same or better mileage, but there are no cars out there today that are like a smart car. It continues to be totally unique and that is a great feature in this world where so much all looks the same.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Evilution - Smart Car Encyclopaedia Guess it depends on who you believe. I believe my own experience and the fact that google produced 330k results on the term "reluctor ring failure". It is a common problem and I didn't say it was unique to smart cars, but it is more than a few as you allude according to the two dealers in this area and this SCOA and the Evilution website. Also, please give a little understanding as I was not not attempting to be the first with breaking news here so please accept my apologies if this post did not meet your standard. I was simply trying to share my experience after 7 yrs of ownership of the same car.

Brake components, and all parts of them, are consumable parts that require replacement at varying levels through the ownership timeline. Sometimes it's little stuff, and sometimes it's big stuff. A $10 reluctor ring is small stuff to me, and putting in a new $400 drive axle assembly at a dealer cost of $700 to fix a $10 broken ring problem is not small stuff.

I'm just sayin...
 

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... I believe my own experience and the fact that google produced 330k results on the term "reluctor ring failure". It is a common problem and I didn't say it was unique to smart cars, ...
Just so you know, the 330K result number includes a high percentage of spam and other garbage in Google's search results. Do you ever look at page 134 for your result? >:D

Otherwise, good observations. :nerd:
 

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DrKillerBee
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There is plenty of information in your post to make it well worth reading and I appreciate the effort. With so many smarts being resold nowadays there are plenty of new owners that haven't seen many of the threads concerning these issues so your post will certainly help them.
I don't like any bad surprises and knowing about these issues and being able to address them as they happen without panic is a good thing.
 
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