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Shortly after purchasing my smart I experienced harsh shifting:
http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f25/driving-car-hard-results-poor-shifting-42146/

At the time, the smart center updated the software and sent me on my way, and then closed shortly after. So I lived with the problem until 2 years ago when I took it to MB and they said the clutch actuator was broken, the plastic shaft was indeed broken and offset. They installed the new one and did the programming. I was able to get the car to hard shift just a few days after the install. Again I feel that it is a problem I can live with, so I do. Now, 2 years later I decided to tackle the problem again as it seems to be getting worse. I purchased a used actuator, installed it and took it to MB for programming. The service tech was the same guy that worked on my car 2 years ago and he has been working on smarts since 2009 on the east coast. I was very comfortable with him working on the car.

They adjusted the actuator and did the programming. When they took it for a test drive it started shifting hard for the tech. They came and got me and took me to the car. They showed me the adjustment made on the actuator location and then told me they were going to do the adjustment again and programming again to see if they can get it to shift smoothly. I waited and they came back after a couple of hours and told me that no matter what they do it shifts hard. They even re-flashed the TCU software each time the tried to fix it.

So he looked in the database they have for the smarts and he said there were 2 cases which were just like mine that ended up having the clutch replaced, and that fixed it.

After 4 years of ownership I was glad to here that I needed a clutch because I had exhausted every other possible cause of my hard shifting.
MB will do it for $1700. I'm seriously considering tackling it myself. I have my AllData subscription and plenty of info off the net. The hardest part looks to be, finding a 17mm socket/wrench to fit behind the flywheel. Some guy made a tool with some stock and a socket welded together. Whatever it takes, right?

If anybody has dropped the gearbox on the 451 in their garage I would love to here from you.
 

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It could be a GREAT DIY with lots of pics :wink:
Hey Chief, I never got to thank you directly for the dielectric grease on the connector comment I found in a thread somewhere. It worked wonders for solving just one of the problems I encountered on the journey so far. I will be updating the thread as I go.
 

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Hey Chief, I never got to thank you directly for the dielectric grease on the connector comment I found in a thread somewhere. It worked wonders for solving just one of the problems I encountered on the journey so far. I will be updating the thread as I go.
That's what it's all about .... sharing and learning :D
 

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Just did mine actually. Turbo'd smart here, and I'm definitely hard on the thing, winding it out every now and then. 73k miles, probably 30k~ with the abs/creep/tcs turned off. 20k on 8-10psi and no signs of failing engine compression/stress. Trans holds up well too!

Swapping the clutch was easy and straight forward as clutches go, but very time consuming for all that it is. 6 hours with a lift and trans jack, with some time in there spent cleaning up some rust in spots on the frame, and having to remove a turbo assembly instead of a factory airbox.

Only took 2 photos. Trans out, and the old clutch before I removed it.

http://i.imgur.com/ZDn47TI.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/00DphIu.jpg

covered in dust!

You'll need an E18 socket for the trans mount up top, and some other various E sockets for smaller hardware, as well as a regular socket set, probably a breaker bar/impact gun, and a torque wrench for torque specs on the flywheel bolts if you plan on replacing that(I'm turning my old one into a clock.)

http://i.imgur.com/YqqSZIr.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/RreFlgz.jpg

Quick summary of steps required. disconnect battery, remove airbox/turbo, pull exhaust(recommend buying replacement gasket for muffler), drain/save trans fluid, remove rear shock bolts/use mini bottle jack to spread lower suspension downward/loosen hubs, remove axles, remove starter(some sneaky bolts behind it), remove clutch actuator(mark location or see below), support trans and engine, remove top trans mount, remove bolts to engine, and slide off and lower. Make note of the pictures where the thread holes are so you can see where the bolts are a bit more easily. Also either find/fabricate/buy something to center your clutch disc for reassembly, if you make one, mock it up on the old clutch still installed.

Trans I'd guess weighs in around 70-90lbs or so? I could lift it by myself and actually during reassembly I lifted it myself without the trans jack to make it easier to line it up with the clutch plate, but again, this was up on a lift.

Actuator reinstallation: service info says slide the actuator in until it touches the fork, and then push inward 3 more gradation lines in order to be at the factory starting location. I did this and it shifted very jerky. I moved it back outward a few times after numerous test drives, in which my final setting resulted in only 1 line after touching the fork.

*edit* oh and by the way, total cost for entire clutch assembly was only $90, yes, $90, thanks to ebay. Bought a used clutch with only 5k on it, looked brand new when I got it and the flywheel was flat and true. Definitely beats $1700... even if it took you a few days at home, it's not as hard of a job as it sounds.

Picture of the donor clutch http://i.imgur.com/PA3LPe0.jpg
 

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I will agree with the above. Shouldn't be any harder than any FWD vehicle.

One note though: Make sure you have the flywheel surfaced! A clutch isn't worth a darn on a worn or warped flywheel. If you go the used route, I would still recommend having it surfaced by a local clutch/drivetrain shop. A new disc & pressure plate will run you about $350 last I checked.
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Great rundown mhornfeck! I appreciate it. I think the hardest part is going to be working in my garage with only jack-stands and floor jacks but one must persevere to achieve their goals.
 

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Great rundown mhornfeck! I appreciate it. I think the hardest part is going to be working in my garage with only jack-stands and floor jacks but one must persevere to achieve their goals.
That's how I've done every clutch replacement. I've done FWD and RWD vehicles. While there are differences, it's all pretty much the same.

Good luck doing yours!:)
 

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All done. Pretty sure it was the pressure plate, specifically the diaphragm spring. I believe it went bad, or was bad to begin with. I bought the car with 12k on it and it did it then, probably why it was traded in. I'll throw the video up once I edit it.
 

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I'm going to be swapping my entire trans and TCU, along with the whole clutch assembly. Would love to see more info, and does anyone know if swapping the matched TCU from the donor trans will maintain the settings for the clutch wear and thus avoid MB programming?
 

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my abs/esp/creep went out a few years ago, i figure it will extend the clutch life a bit, i just hit 60,000 miles on my 2008, i'm pretty much a hyper-miler so maybe i can get 100,000 miles out of the clutch :)
 

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I wouldn't worry too much about the clutch going out anytime soon; my 2009 smart has 210,000 miles on it and the clutch exhibits no signs of imminent failure.


As for the creep issue: I initially thought that the creep would contribute to premature clutch plate failure, however that has not proven to be the case. I did have to replace the clutch actuator at 209,000 miles. When I removed the actuator to investigate the cause of failure, I found a broken small plastic "keeper". The keeper holds the inboard end of the actuating rod in place in the associated bellcrank socket.


I also found a severe lack of lubrication which may have contributed to the failure. I opened the replacement actuator and found that it had even less lubricating grease. I liberally coated every part that I could access with white lithium grease.


I have seen posts about actuator preventive maintenance that includes flushing out old grease (if there is any) with brake cleaning fluid, but after seeing the point of failure in my original actuator, I would not recommend it.


Brake fluid cleaner will attack any plastic that it comes in contact with and will make it brittle. The broken keeper in my actuator has tiny tabs to keep it in place; if one of the tabs had not broken off, then my actuator would still be working. It's a shame that a part that couldn't cost 10 cents (retail) is not an available repair part, as it's failure will cost you over $700 (smart center price) to replace an otherwise fully functioning actuator.


That being said, wipe out any old grease without using a solvent, liberally coat all parts ensuring that you also put grease in the cover where the end of the bellcrank shaft rests in a molded recess for it. Don't forget the little keeper I mentioned earlier; make sure that it gets more than it's share of lube. I believe that if mine would have been lubricated from the factory (no evidence that it had even a smidgen) that it would still be working today....
 

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Interesting, my car will exhibit this behavior if I have to really drive it hard. 5K rpm or so.

From then on it will shift from 1 to 2 hard and take off from a stop very abruptly. When I get to my destination I perform a simple transmission reset and it goes back to normal driving.
 

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Interesting, my car will exhibit this behavior if I have to really drive it hard. 5K rpm or so.

From then on it will shift from 1 to 2 hard and take off from a stop very abruptly. When I get to my destination I perform a simple transmission reset and it goes back to normal driving.
That went away when I did the clutch. It was a bad pressure plate, or the flywheel. It happened since day one. Now with the new clutch, it's solid!
 

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kill the "creep"

what i think happened is one or both of the "reluctor rings" on the rear axles cracked due to corrosion, making the ABS/ESP freak out and quit after driving less than a block.

you might want to remove one of these rings from an axle or remove fuse #11 (i'm pretty sure it's fuse 11). i've been driving over 3 years without ABS/ESP, especially helpful in snow, the ESP kills the smart in a few inches of snow. fuse 11 may kill the creep as well, not sure.

pulling the fuse would be a good experiment and is reversible in a minute if you don't like it. >:D
 

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I wouldn't worry too much about the clutch going out anytime soon; my 2009 smart has 210,000 miles on it and the clutch exhibits no signs of imminent failure.


As for the creep issue: I initially thought that the creep would contribute to premature clutch plate failure, however that has not proven to be the case. I did have to replace the clutch actuator at 209,000 miles. When I removed the actuator to investigate the cause of failure, I found a broken small plastic "keeper". The keeper holds the inboard end of the actuating rod in place in the associated bellcrank socket.


I also found a severe lack of lubrication which may have contributed to the failure. I opened the replacement actuator and found that it had even less lubricating grease. I liberally coated every part that I could access with white lithium grease.


I have seen posts about actuator preventive maintenance that includes flushing out old grease (if there is any) with brake cleaning fluid, but after seeing the point of failure in my original actuator, I would not recommend it.


Brake fluid cleaner will attack any plastic that it comes in contact with and will make it brittle. The broken keeper in my actuator has tiny tabs to keep it in place; if one of the tabs had not broken off, then my actuator would still be working. It's a shame that a part that couldn't cost 10 cents (retail) is not an available repair part, as it's failure will cost you over $700 (smart center price) to replace an otherwise fully functioning actuator.


That being said, wipe out any old grease without using a solvent, liberally coat all parts ensuring that you also put grease in the cover where the end of the bellcrank shaft rests in a molded recess for it. Don't forget the little keeper I mentioned earlier; make sure that it gets more than it's share of lube. I believe that if mine would have been lubricated from the factory (no evidence that it had even a smidgen) that it would still be working today....
Exactly! I used brake cleaner on my actuator at 51K miles and the plastic receiver broke within 5k miles after.

I'm just now replacing my actuator after rigging it with JB Weld for the last 2 years or so :D -> Thread: http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f183/help-clutch-actuator-plastic-socket-broken-55801/
 
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