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Discussion Starter #1
This happened on Friday: tried to start the car, made clicking noises, lights on dashboard on and off, smoke starts coming out from a/c vents, next thing car is on fire, explodes, takes 75 minutes to put the fire out. Total loss, it was a 2013 Brabus with just a little over 15,000 miles. RIP Little Lice.

 

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On Monday I will contact dealer, MB, and will file a complaint with the NHTSA, any other steps?
 

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Your wife had posted the smart car, fire on her Facebook page. I texted her right away to make sure she was okay. You guys were very lucky,
That your wife Lula, one of your kids, or you weren’t in that car. Your wife text me some videos of fire department, putting out the blaze. Turning the car over on its side. Fire under the belly pan. Then some videos of tow truck push the remains, on to the tow truck. What a scary mess.

I never knew that between 2008-2009. There were 27 smarts car, that had the same issue. One injury. Flashing dash board, a popping noise, then bust into flames. I’m glad ours never did that. I let my daughter drive ours. For 3 years, to college, back and forth.

Contact National safety traffic board, and MB. Never know. It could save the life of someone.

Thank God you guys are okay!
 

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I would wager that there was something like arcing inside your SAM unit that escalated into a fire.

It seems these fires are becoming numerous enough to maybe raise an eyebrow. I’d report to the NHTSA. :/

I’m happy you’re okay, that’s what is most important! <3
 

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Sorry...sites that just “dump” data without much research sort of makes my right eye twitch.


You seem quickly dismissive regarding an issue that is potentially quite serious, and has now affected another of our SCoA members.

Here’s an official (non-“dump”) UK recall regarding smart fortwo fires on models built between 2010-14:

http://www.dft.gov.uk/vosa/apps/re...37C8F35DC1D80257D2D002F3BBB&freeText=Blank&tx

Is there a difference in US model 451s that would preclude their being susceptible to the same risk of fire?

I think such reports deserve a long and serious look. To do less would be disrespectful to those who’ve suffered such losses, or may in the future.
 

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Oh, I didn’t say that there isn’t an issue. My car had a still unexplained fire that somehow didn’t consume it. It seems there’s something about the 451 SAM unit that is particularly prone to fire. Then there are those other engine bay fires.

The 450s seem to have SAM corrosion issues, which I wonder if those are the causes of those fires.

In fact I recommended the OP to report the fire to the NHTSA. If enough of the car is left, perhaps the NHTSA can examine it and compare for their ongoing investigation.

My criticism more at the pic dump of fatal crashes down at the bottom, which seem...out of place? I think the fires alone are scary enough without bringing fatal crashes into it.

I’m terrible with articulation, I’ll just redact the whole thing. :( I’m sorry for being insensitive.
 

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My criticism more at the pic dump of fatal crashes down at the bottom, which seem...out of place? I think the fires alone are scary enough without bringing fatal crashes into it.


The small scope of your criticism wasn’t at all clear within the points you made in that prior post.

I agree that non-fire fatalities (although properly disclaimed) at the very end of his site were redundant and meant to embellish his “smart sucks” argument. Likely a product of his ire over his perception of willful wrongdoing by smart/Mercedes-Benz.

Not a reason to be distracted from the fire issue.
 

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MY08 cabrio MY09 cabrio Brabus MY15 ED
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Are tiny Smart Fortwo cars prone to catching fire?

December 20, 2016, from CBS News . . .

U.S. safety regulators are reviewing eight complaints that the engines in tiny Smart Fortwo cars can catch fire. The investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covers about 43,000 of the two-seat cars from the 2008 and 2009 model years.

https://www.cbsnews.com/news/smart-fortwo-car-engines-catch-fire-nhtsa-investigates/

It's been over a year - wonder what their review found?

September 11, 2017, from carbuzz.com - Engine Fires: Yet Another Reason Why Smart Cars Failed In America

But the NHTSA discovered that 19 of the fires happened only since January 2015. What does that mean? As those vehicles age, the likelihood of an engine fire increases.

https://carbuzz.com/news/engine-fires-yet-another-reason-why-smart-cars-failed-in-america

November 25, 2017, from Forbes - Feds Upgrade Investigation Into Fires In Smart fortwo . . .

. . . and now has reports of 27 engine compartment fires resulting in one smoke-inhalation injury, the extent of which was not noted.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/jensen...tion-into-fires-in-smart-fortwo/#29e990286e47
 

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Okay, this is pretty upsetting. I had planned on keeping my '09 Smart coupe more or less forever. After all, it only has 34,500 on the clock. Over the years, I combed the internet to find the body parts to change my black on black Passion into a Brabus. Also found the springs and front struts to complete the transformation. I bought Brabus wheels, then sold them because of their fragility and got another brand, same size all around from Smart Madness, and loved the difference in handling. I had the panoramic roof replaced last year due to deterioration - the famous sparkly cracks and degradation of the outside surface. I bought new tires last month, and had planned to replace the tailgate and center rear bumper section because they had scars from a careless person who bumped into my car while parking. It had the head replaced at M-B's cost when it burned a valve two years ago.

Now this fire thing. We've finally discarded, donated or sold things stored in our garage so that we can park all our cars inside. Our bedroom is directly above the garage - and I often leave my dog in the car when I do errands (with the windows cracked open and parked in a shady spot if it's warm out). If my dog was trapped in the car, or if it caught fire while parked and burned our house down I can only imagine the grief. At this point I think the time to sell or trade has come. I have defended the faults (or lets call them "differences") of this car to anyone who criticized it ever since I bought it. I've enjoyed it. I think I'm done with the brand. This makes my decision for me.
 

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So sorry to hear about your recent issue. I had the same thing happen to my first smart back in arly 2009. I was driving down the road when it happened. Nothing like hot plastic dripping on your feet when you are trying to get off the road and stop. I was lucky enough to get stopped and extinguish the fire before it melted everything. The car went back to MB in Germany for testing, and they concluded it was a bad solder joint in the SAM that overheated and started the fire. With only 17K and 7 months on the car, smart replaced it with a 2009. The wife took a long time to get back in the new smart (she was with me when the fire happened) I was lucky (?) that it happened before I did any modes on the car but it still was not fun.

Glad you were not hurt or anything else was damaged. Unfortunately cars do catch on fire. My son's Grand Prix (2004) also caught on fire parked on the street with no one near it. Car fires are more common than people think.
 

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An SCoA search for “fire” brings up a body of good data and discussion for ALSRAC and others.

A big concern by investigators is the “aging” effect of smarts, and whether the increasing probability of degradation of parts and systems (plastics, insulation, wiring, etc., etc. Is a significant contributing factor as smart cars age.

One thread rightly stressed the importance for smart owners to file safety-related reports with the NHTSA. Having an older “out of warranty” smart does not absolve smart/MB of its duties to correct design flaws, as was suggested in this same thread!

https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink?sh.../forums/showthread.php?p=1559145&share_type=t

There seems to be an occasional Pollyanna-ish tendency to protect, defend, excuse, forgive smart/MB, even when major safety issues and lives are at risk.

Does severe brand loyalty cause blindness??
 

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Last night when I wrote my little diatribe, I was pretty upset, particularly after reading MB DNA's links, as well following the link that SteveVillatoro provided. In the short term, my Smart car will be parked back in the driveway, far enough away from the garage doors that it can't set fire to the house. We're leaving on a two week cruise in March, and I can't be burdened by the fear that this car will catch fire for the two weeks that I'll be away. I have a history of buying quirky cars, usually very small ones, which I prefer, but this is the first time that I ever owned one that, it turns out, could do great harm while parked (or while motoring along, even worse). I recognize that "could" is the operative word. If I wanted to be safer about it, I guess I could have the SAM unit replaced, but even I realize that spending another $1,000+ on a car that will sell for $6-7,000 if I'm lucky is nuts. If Diamler had just done a recall on these cars that would cover mine, manufactured in October '08 and sold as an '09, I'd be happy. It's a shame, as my car looks new inside and out.

Alsrac and jimvw57, I'm so sorry that this happened to you, as well as the myriad others that were listed on the link that Steve provided.

jimvw57, It's true that other cars also experience fires. I remember seeing more than a few air-cooled VW Beetles that had burned on the side of the road over the years. My own brother watched as his twenty year old Audi hatchback burned to the ground on the side of one of Houston's busiest freeways some years ago. Reading all the accounts on Steve's link makes me increasingly angry that Diamler has failed to recall earlier cars, and that they seem to care so little about Smart owners. I have always had great service (at a price, admittedly) from Mercedes/Smart of San Francisco, but I can only wonder how much longer they will service our cars, now that ICE cars have been dropped. I do think that one reason they treat Smart owners well, is that they recognize that we may trade up to a Mercedes. I would consider that, if my step-son's shop didn't have a fairly constant traffic in German car owners coming in for service and repairs that are simply unheard of in their scope and frequency among Japanese brands. We hear all about German engineering as though it was the greatest thing ever, but cost and longevity-wise, they just can't match the freedom from worry of Toyotas, for example. I get that many Japanese cars feel more like appliances. I get that most huge leaps forward in technology in cars come out of Germany, but it doesn't seem to become less expensive to maintain until Japanese car makers get their hands on it and make it reliable. On the other hand, German cars are so nice and fun to drive, at least when they're under 4-5 years old. Then, in my experience, is when they suddenly need a new radiator, water pump and thermostat (and a few more odds and ends) at 45,000 miles. I really hated when I read in the BMW Roundel magazine that this is normal, to be expected service on a car with only 45,000 miles. Read that while I was waiting for service at an independent shop that charged about a third of factory service. That was on a 5-series, as well as my Z3.
 

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The owner of the site told me to to go [expletive] myself, among other things that would likely get someone perma-banned here. I probably deserve that for getting distracted from the issue like I did...

Anyway, in my research into the 450, I've also seemingly run into possible causes of smart fires. It seems fires originating from the front end seem to have a common point of origin, the SAM.

450s are somewhat known to get corrosion on the boards of the SAM unit. Usually, this causes stuff like turn indicators that turn on by themselves, faulty lights, and cabrio roofs that open and close on their own. It doesn't sound unreasonable to me that said corrosion may contribute to increased resistance on solders, therefore heat, therefore fire.

451s don't seem to suffer from SAM corrosion, however I'm beginning to wonder if the solders on a 451's SAM are good enough to survive year after year of changing environments without weakening and experiencing the same end-result.

Aside from this, there does appear to be another type of smart fire as well and that's fire originating from the engine bay. That's the fire my car and a few others here had too. I don't have any informed guesses as to the cause, though it does appear that the engine bay insulation eventually becomes an accelerant. And now for the sake of not further miffing everyone, this is where I bow out of this thread.
 

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An SCoA search for “fire” brings up a body of good data and discussion for ALSRAC and others.

A big concern by investigators is the “aging” effect of smarts, and whether the increasing probability of degradation of parts and systems (plastics, insulation, wiring, etc., etc. Is a significant contributing factor as smart cars age.

One thread rightly stressed the importance for smart owners to file safety-related reports with the NHTSA. Having an older “out of warranty” smart does not absolve smart/MB of its duties to correct design flaws, as was suggested in this same thread!

https://r.tapatalk.com/shareLink?sh.../forums/showthread.php?p=1559145&share_type=t

There seems to be an occasional Pollyanna-ish tendency to protect, defend, excuse, forgive smart/MB, even when major safety issues and lives are at risk.

Does severe brand loyalty cause blindness??
Ya Think.
 

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When I was younger, I worked at a couple car dealership. One was a Pontiac. We had a Trans Am, blow up in the body shop, for no reason. It turned out.
The cause of the explosion, was the battery. Car fires, in the smart cars are so rare. The fire was so rapid too. The instrument panel acted crazy a loud pop noise. I bet the battery was the cause of the fire.



 

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Smart for two car fires aren't rare. Not when you look over the one that made the news or have been reported.

Harold Worwetz still maintains his website to warn others and document smarts that catch on fire:
Beware Smart Car Bursts Into Flames Dangerous Death Trap
Plus
U.S. safety regulators are reviewing eight complaints that the engines in tiny Smart Fortwo cars can catch fire. The investigation by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration covers about 43,000 of the two-seat cars from the 2008 and 2009 model years.
How many unreported, unphotographed fires have there been?
As far as the battery is concerned it is held down in the passengers foot well.
The popping noise and hot driping plastic falling on drivers feet and legs was from under the dash.
Sorry to disagree. I think the "Sam" computer / fuse box is the cause of most of the fires starting under the dash as the below link suggest. Not the battery.
And the fires starting in the engine compartment, well how is that battery related?.
To be continued...
 
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