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Hi all,
I've been lurking on these forums for quite a while now and have had a lot of success treating various issues on my smart up until this point.
As the title says, my '08 Passion 451 has had a transmission issue which has only become exceedingly apparent until recently - meaning it may have been a progressive failure somewhere. Its just hit 69k miles. The transmission has had the current issue for at least 1k miles.

The issue is when shifting. After a cold start and in manual shift mode, the smart will not shift out of first gear unless the car is at decent speed and the revs are high (i'd say above 4k, i don't have the tach. pods to tell)
In auto shift mode, the car will shift at normal RPMs but then--as the accelerator is depressed--the tranny seems to "slip" out of a low revving second gear and into neutral. When this happens the dash reads 1st gear and the motor is free-revving. I recover from this "slip" into neutral by releasing the accelerator and letting the revs reduce. Then I reapply the gas and will hear the clutch slowly grab/slip until back into a high revving first gear.
To get into second from then, I must push the gas a bit harder and shift. It seems to require a strong inertia to catch second gear.

Once the car has warmed up after about a half mile of driving, it will then shift from first to second at a more reasonable rev (2~3k).
If it has been 50 degrees or more outside, the smart will also show less problematic shifting at cold start.

The smart has had its clutch actuator replaced and subsequently configured at a mercedes dealership.
I have since adjusted it/moved it away from driver side so that the plunger is closer to the clutch plate.
I have also recently replaced the tranny fluid with the correct royal purple fluid -- this helped the smoothness but not the shift issue itself (PS: change your tranny fluid! mine was filthy).

I suspect a worn clutch plate, as I can feel it slipping during certain slow take-offs. Many times the upshifts will be harsh as well.
An OBD code of P0716 for Input / Turbine speed sensor A circuit range/performance is present.

My question is if the problem may be limited to a clutch plate replacement, or if the flywheel has become glazed, or perhaps it is even just an issue of some solenoid inside the tranny housing? I have replaced the transmission speed sensor (the one above the clutch actuator) but the code is persistent. I have also replaced the crankshaft position sensor (which may have nothing to do with the issue).
 

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I'm internet spit-balling here, but I think you have self diagnosed your issue, you are just looking for confirmation. The car is telling you there is an issue. Until you correct that issue, it is going to continue to cause trouble. It does sound to me like a new clutch may be in order. ANY time you replace a clutch, you at a minimum, need to resurface the flywheel. There should be a decent clutch/drivetrain shop near you that can do that. Typically in my area they charge about $40-50 to do the job. You can get a clutch kit from Rock Auto with all of the required clutch parts for under $400.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm internet spit-balling here, but I think you have self diagnosed your issue, you are just looking for confirmation. The car is telling you there is an issue. Until you correct that issue, it is going to continue to cause trouble. It does sound to me like a new clutch may be in order. ANY time you replace a clutch, you at a minimum, need to resurface the flywheel. There should be a decent clutch/drivetrain shop near you that can do that. Typically in my area they charge about $40-50 to do the job. You can get a clutch kit from Rock Auto with all of the required clutch parts for under $400.
Thanks whitenblack, yes it seems i am looking for confirmation. I am prepared to have it serviced for a clutch replacement. I will keep the flywheel resurfacing in mind rather than accepting a flywheel replacement.
 

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Thanks whitenblack, yes it seems i am looking for confirmation. I am prepared to have it serviced for a clutch replacement. I will keep the flywheel resurfacing in mind rather than accepting a flywheel replacement.
Now, you need to keep cost in mind. For example, you can buy a brand new flywheel on Rock Auto for $55. If a resurface is going to cost you $50, might want to consider your options. If you're taking it to a MB dealer, bend over. They will rape you for $1000 to do the job. Best to find an independent willing to do it.
 

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It's not that hard to replace the clutch on one of these if you've done it before, but it is quite different than anything else I've worked on. I would think all-in on parts and labor you should expect somwhere in the realm of $1200+ if you can find a shop experienced with the Smart. No idea what the dealership would charge.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
It's not that hard to replace the clutch on one of these if you've done it before, but it is quite different than anything else I've worked on. I would think all-in on parts and labor you should expect somwhere in the realm of $1200+ if you can find a shop experienced with the Smart. No idea what the dealership would charge.
Thanks gtdump, I was expecting to fork out about that much change. I've watched a video of a DIY'er take to it over a 5 video series (
), but he didn't seem to even know what he was doing -- this video put me off from attempting it myself.

I do intend to look for a third party shop as the closest smart-benz service center is not that close at all. Luckily I'm in NYC so there should be a place with a STAR machine willing to go at it.
 

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Thanks gtdump, I was expecting to fork out about that much change. I've watched a video of a DIY'er take to it over a 5 video series (
), but he didn't seem to even know what he was doing -- this video put me off from attempting it myself.

I do intend to look for a third party shop as the closest smart-benz service center is not that close at all. Luckily I'm in NYC so there should be a place with a STAR machine willing to go at it.
I've seen that and I think they're making it harder than it needs to be. MB sells "record release bolts" 450 589 00 62 00 (engine lowering bolts) which make a lot of service on the Smart a whole lot easier. Remove the rear valance, pop in the 4 release bolts then on the driver's side wheel well there are 2 lines for the wheel sensors that are retained with a plastic 10mm nut, remove the nut and you can raise the body about 8-10" off the subframe allowing easy access to most of the engine and trans. If you want to go a bit farther, follow those two lines about 6 inches further in and they unclip. Disconnect the harness from the TCU under the driver's seat, disconnect the harness from the ECU in the pass-side rear quarter panel, disconnect 3 coolant lines, then remove the A/C pump, disconnect the ground cables, brake lines.... The entire subassembly can then be rolled out and you can work on it super easy. It makes more work as now you have to refill and burp the cooling system, but it's a lot nicer when you can just pluck the engine and trans out rather than try to align everything in 3" of working space with it all still installed. I wish all of my cars had been engineered like this to be honest, it makes working so much easier even without fully separating them.
When I installed the new clutch I 3D printed an alignment pin which worked fine, but with patience one could probably do it without one (I would recommend making or buying one).

It took me a bit the first time through to separate the subassembly, but these days it's maybe 15 minutes to have the two separated with all the lines still attached, which saves a lot of time and frustration.

Here's a shot with the the subassembly lowered, but everything still connected.
65747


And here it is fully removed. It adds about an extra hour or two to get there, but I'm willing to bet it saves at least as many compared to trying to replace it with it still under the car.
65746



Now all that said and done, I readily understand why someone might prefer to take it to a shop and have them do it, especially if they don't have a garage or the necessary tools.
 

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I've seen that and I think they're making it harder than it needs to be. MB sells "record release bolts" 450 589 00 62 00 (engine lowering bolts) which make a lot of service on the Smart a whole lot easier. Remove the rear valance, pop in the 4 release bolts then on the driver's side wheel well there are 2 lines for the wheel sensors that are retained with a plastic 10mm nut, remove the nut and you can raise the body about 8-10" off the subframe allowing easy access to most of the engine and trans. If you want to go a bit farther, follow those two lines about 6 inches further in and they unclip. Disconnect the harness from the TCU under the driver's seat, disconnect the harness from the ECU in the pass-side rear quarter panel, disconnect 3 coolant lines, then remove the A/C pump, disconnect the ground cables, brake lines.... The entire subassembly can then be rolled out and you can work on it super easy. It makes more work as now you have to refill and burp the cooling system, but it's a lot nicer when you can just pluck the engine and trans out rather than try to align everything in 3" of working space with it all still installed. I wish all of my cars had been engineered like this to be honest, it makes working so much easier even without fully separating them.
When I installed the new clutch I 3D printed an alignment pin which worked fine, but with patience one could probably do it without one (I would recommend making or buying one).

It took me a bit the first time through to separate the subassembly, but these days it's maybe 15 minutes to have the two separated with all the lines still attached, which saves a lot of time and frustration.

Here's a shot with the the subassembly lowered, but everything still connected.
View attachment 65747

And here it is fully removed. It adds about an extra hour or two to get there, but I'm willing to bet it saves at least as many compared to trying to replace it with it still under the car.
View attachment 65746


Now all that said and done, I readily understand why someone might prefer to take it to a shop and have them do it, especially if they don't have a garage or the necessary tools.
Great pics! Thanks for sharing! How long did it take to remove? What do the release bolts do?
 

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Great pics! Thanks for sharing! How long did it take to remove? What do the release bolts do?
I worked on it very slowly, about 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week or so and as such it took a while, but I wasn't in a hurry. There's a thread here on it. If one were motivated and had studied the process, I think it would be entirely doable in a weekend and in a single day if one did it repeatedly. For a first time though, I'd budget a week or so; I spent a fair amount of time reading the service manuals and forum posts.

As for the release bolts, there are 4 bolts that hold the subassembly in place. The record release bolts/lowering bolts are longer and replace those, allowing the body to be raised about 8" off the subassembly without having to disconnect anything. Raise it slowly, checking for anything that might snag. The wheel sensor lines need to have the retainer disconnected, but that is it to buy some space. In designing the car to be a small package, there are a lot of parts that are very hard to get at, but the lowering bolts make it really easy to access most of the engine and transmission. You can get by without buying the official bolts, specs are here on the forum to fabricate your own. The two in back are longer than the two in front, so some people have reported slotting the back bolts into the front holes to allow for a limited separation without needing any additional parts; though I prefer the stabillity of having all 4 bolts. Once they're separated, I place bits of cribbing in between the body and subframe in case something gives as I don't like risking my limbs to crushing.

The next time I separate one (likely soon) I'll try to remember to take before and after images. 8" may not sound like much, but it's enough to get in there and do the job pleasantly (it's not a euphemism!)
 

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I worked on it very slowly, about 30 minutes a day, 3 days a week or so and as such it took a while, but I wasn't in a hurry. There's a thread here on it. If one were motivated and had studied the process, I think it would be entirely doable in a weekend and in a single day if one did it repeatedly. For a first time though, I'd budget a week or so; I spent a fair amount of time reading the service manuals and forum posts.

As for the release bolts, there are 4 bolts that hold the subassembly in place. The record release bolts/lowering bolts are longer and replace those, allowing the body to be raised about 8" off the subassembly without having to disconnect anything. Raise it slowly, checking for anything that might snag. The wheel sensor lines need to have the retainer disconnected, but that is it to buy some space. In designing the car to be a small package, there are a lot of parts that are very hard to get at, but the lowering bolts make it really easy to access most of the engine and transmission. You can get by without buying the official bolts, specs are here on the forum to fabricate your own. The two in back are longer than the two in front, so some people have reported slotting the back bolts into the front holes to allow for a limited separation without needing any additional parts; though I prefer the stabillity of having all 4 bolts. Once they're separated, I place bits of cribbing in between the body and subframe in case something gives as I don't like risking my limbs to crushing.

The next time I separate one (likely soon) I'll try to remember to take before and after images. 8" may not sound like much, but it's enough to get in there and do the job pleasantly (it's not a euphemism!)
Thank you for the additional info. Hoping I don't need it anytime soon, but glad to know there is a solution.
 

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Thank you for the additional info. Hoping I don't need it anytime soon, but glad to know there is a solution.
Those bolts make a bunch of difficult jobs much easier. Anyone who works on their own Smart should have a set IMO. I worked on it before buying a set and it makes an enormous difference. I was informed about the bolts, I just balked at spending $70 on 4 bolts and thought I knew better. Worth every penny in blood, sweat, and cussing saved.
 

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2009 451 Rally Red, Pennzoil Platinum Euro 5W-40, Wix XP 51356, 185/55R15 tires, 44 psl
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Make sure when you order a clutch kit, you try and get a Luk. Sachs is OK, and the others are decent...

I would also consider lightening the flywheel by 10 to 20%
A professional machine shop can do this, but it has to be balanced.
 
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