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Discussion Starter #1
And death I do mean... this little twitch is gone once I figure this out.
Here's the deal: Drove my 2008 smart for2 Cabrio around today running some errands... here to there and all over. All normal and happy... parked it in the driveway put it in park and shut it down as normal. (Now, I'm trying to remember ... I may have bumped the left paddle about the time I turned it off, maybe, not sure)
... anyway. Went out later, couple of three hours, and it's got the 3 bars of death. Won't start, gear shift lever works and goes through the gears with no result. Tried the 'learn' process, not sure if I got that right... didn't work. Disconnected the battery for a few... reconnect and brake, key on, run through the gears (you can hear it working with each gear at least)... key off. Back on to start and no go, 3 bars, dead car.

So tell me this, wtf does the 3 bars mean as I've come across multiple causes and solutions. Not helpful...

Any ideas and solutions are appreciated ... thanks in advance folks!
 

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I also have a 2008 cabrio which showed the 3 bars of death, at least 3 or 4 times so far. I have turned on the key put the car in neutral and rolled the car backwards a few feet, then quickly put the car back in the park position just before the car comes to a complete stop, turned the car off then on again and the bars went away and car started. It appears to have something to do with parking on a small incline and possibly not being fully into the park position at shut down. Not sure if it works on other smarts, but it has worked on my car so far.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Darn!!! No, didn't work... had high hopes. But thanks for the input. I fear this is going to be a tow to the dealer and a new shifter most likely.
 

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I doubt there is anything physically wrong with the shifter, likely just needs updated software for the TCM.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Will do... we've had some minor issues with the shifter here and there. And to be certain if may not be that. But, we've had the 'it won't go into reverse' (generally you can turn it off and then it'll be fine, often you need to do that multiple times) ... the 'stuck in park' deal (pull up on the console and there's a yellow lever hiding under there, pull up if I recall and it'll come out of park and generally all is good then) ... and it's done the 3 bars before (Chased my tail on this one quite a lot. Some say it's a brake lights short or bad bulb, others that the clutch activator needs adjustment or the battery is in need of replacement)

... I'll tell you this, I really like these cars but if you have to put a little yellow lever under the console to release the shifter when it gets stuck! I mean planning for the eventuality that it's going to screw up...! Come on!

Anyway, I will keep you posted on the results... bad thing is this. Dealer/proper service is 400 miles away in Seattle so that's out. Do have the jokers I bought it from who sold me a 'bumper to bumper warranty on it (5 years, still in effect) BUT I found out 6 months ago that it doesn't cover software. I have some choice words for a few folks there... wouldn't you like to be a mouse on the wall. Do have another local option but that may not be viable really as nobody knows how to work on these things, regardless of what they say. :)

So, will try some more things in the 'morrow but then it's a call to the tow company. Nite all...!
 

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I don't think you will find software updates covered by aftermarket bumper-to-bumper warranties. Perhaps we are expecting too much.
 

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if you have to put a little yellow lever under the console to release the shifter when it gets stuck! I mean planning for the eventuality that it's going to screw up...! Come on!
QUOTE]

All cars with an automatic type transmission have a defeat for the park lock.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I don't think you will find software updates covered by aftermarket bumper-to-bumper warranties. Perhaps we are expecting too much.
Yup, discovering that... wouldn't be so bad except the guy that sold us on it repeated the whole 'bumper to bumper' thing SO much! And insisted that anything, absolutely anything between the bumpers! ANYTHING! ... um, wrong. :)

if you have to put a little yellow lever under the console to release the shifter when it gets stuck! I mean planning for the eventuality that it's going to screw up...! Come on!
All cars with an automatic type transmission have a defeat for the park lock.


While I'm sure that's true, let's wait until you have the 'issue' and come away with a cramped, bloody finger from trying to manipulate that little lever and see how you feel.
 

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My software is up to date and my car is driven enough that I do not have battery related issues.

Also I would never buy a car(new or used) that can not be worked on by a local mechanic or have a dealer nearby.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
My software is up to date and my car is driven enough that I do not have battery related issues.

Also I would never buy a car(new or used) that can not be worked on by a local mechanic or have a dealer nearby.
You sound absolutely wonderful... thank you so much for your valuable input here, it's truly a joy.
 

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So tell me this, wtf does the 3 bars mean as I've come across multiple causes and solutions. Not helpful...

Any ideas and solutions are appreciated ... thanks in advance folks!
You have come across multiple causes because there are multiple causes. Anything that prevents the car from recognizing the gear commanded by the shifter, engaging the gear selected or operating the clutch and recognizing its position can cause the ---. That includes low battery voltage or poor connections. People keep posting about software updates but there can be more to it than that, obviously.

Without an accurate system scan all else is just diagnostic dart throwing. If you get no results I would suggest call some local shops that specialize in Mercedes service and see if they can or will look at it. Look for a shop with a lot of clean Mercedes in the parking lot, not tired old junk. Definately not a shop that works on anything that rolls in the door. The shops that advertise they work on anything are just saying they are equally inept at everything.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
You have come across multiple causes because there are multiple causes. Anything that prevents the car from recognizing the gear commanded by the shifter, engaging the gear selected or operating the clutch and recognizing its position can cause the ---. That includes low battery voltage or poor connections. People keep posting about software updates but there can be more to it than that, obviously.

Without an accurate system scan all else is just diagnostic dart throwing. If you get no results I would suggest call some local shops that specialize in Mercedes service and see if they can or will look at it. Look for a shop with a lot of clean Mercedes in the parking lot, not tired old junk. Definately not a shop that works on anything that rolls in the door. The shops that advertise they work on anything are just saying they are equally inept at everything.
yup, I hear ya... have a pretty good Hyundai/Suzuki dealership in town here. They've got it now, will hope for some news by day's end. And will cross fingers on what, if anything, the extended warranty covers.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Bunch of gloomy jamokes around here ain't ya...!? As the Benz boys refuse to do anything other than an oil change on the smart cars around here what would you have me do? Rhetorically speaking of course.
 

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Some of us have gotten a little edgy about these beloved cars. I'm sorry you are having trouble. Huron Lad has quite a bit of experience with these from the beginning up in Canada. He tells it short and to the point. Rusted wrench has quite the background as a trusty MB mechanic who owns a smart. FYI.
Your smart has been asking for the software update for some time now, that cures the not going into reverse issue. It can only be done at a smart center with a Mercedes Star computer. Kia, Hyundai dealer won't have a clue about that one. You might as well get it to a smart center and have the update done and then go from there. That is probably at the heart of the matter, and the battery going out on it is just a double whammy. There's probably not much else wrong with it, but the Star system should encourage it to give up any other secrets.
Good luck.
Rich
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Have no doubt there's plenty of experience out there, much more than I have for sure. But I'm a bit of the short and to the point myself, a bit of the French Acadia in me.

And to update the issue at hand... the dealer that has it is well aware, as I've informed them, that they are a bit out of their league on this deal. As most in Spokane are... they're working with a VW dealer/repair group, they have a computer that can read the codes, so they say, soooooooo.... hoping that we can at least get it running. We'll see. Once running it'll be an immediate trip to Seattle and the smart dealer over on that side of the state.

Comments much appreciated BB Benz... and all.
 

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Have no doubt there's plenty of experience out there, much more than I have for sure. But I'm a bit of the short and to the point myself, a bit of the French Acadia in me.

And to update the issue at hand... the dealer that has it is well aware, as I've informed them, that they are a bit out of their league on this deal. As most in Spokane are... they're working with a VW dealer/repair group, they have a computer that can read the codes, so they say, soooooooo.... hoping that we can at least get it running. We'll see. Once running it'll be an immediate trip to Seattle and the smart dealer over on that side of the state.

Comments much appreciated BB Benz... and all.
If they have an aftermarket scan tool that has good European vehicle coverage they should at least be able to get codes from the car. The question will be whether they can get live data from the systems to see what the car wants to do and whether it can do what it wants. That is sometimes more important than just reading the fault codes.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
I hear ya... they, the Hallmark Suzuki guys, cried uncle this morning... :) BUT, they have some guys they work with out my way more, oddly enough we could have coasted it down the hill right to them.
Anyway, having it towed again to them... Outfit called Euro-Pro Auto. Talking to them was helpful... they have worked on another smart quite often so they know they can read the codes at least and have some familiarity with the vehicle. Not sure on the live data feeds and whatnot but sure will find out!
Fingers crossed that we'll have a good place on this side of the state that has a clue with the little beasts. Seattle trip still needed quickly for that software update too...
 

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Discussion Starter #20
And the diagnosis IS! Bad shifter module and the battery is less than ideal. It's still working, mostly... but won't hold a full charge. And it looks to be the original battery so 2008-2014, yeah... I can believe it's old and tired.

(Side note, just watched that little itty bitty girl do the American Ninja course... he!! yeah)!

So far I'm pretty happy with the Euro-Pro Automotive folks... they'll have to clear things with the warranty folks and get parts in from Seattle so we'll see how it all plays out. So I'll keep you all posted, thanks!
 
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