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Hello All, I have a newly acquired 2014 Brabus coupe that has a strange steering issue. I have already searched the forums and google and cant come up with any solutions or problems similar. I hoping one of you can help. Car is stock and has 23k miles. the problem is When you are traveling say 55mph or faster in a straight line if you need to make a minor left or right adjustment the steering wheel almost acts as if its locked in straight and it takes more than normal force to get it to turn the wheel left or right. Almost like it has a center lock on the steering and I'm having to overcome that. This is our 4th smart, all have had way more miles than this, but this is our first low mileage and brabus model. Is this normal and just needs to wear in? Just curious. Thanks
 

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After eliminating mechanical issues, I would check the alignment. This can be indicative of a car with a lot of toe-in up front. Excessive toe-in makes a car want to stay rolling straight ahead and the effects are greater the faster you go. Excess toe-in can make it seem to take a lot of effort to get the car off of straight ahead, then the effort needed dies away, resulting in too much steering input. That's a pretty classic symptom, but of course, make sure any mechanical issues are tracked down and fixed first.
 

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Sounds like you have power steering, right? I noticed the same thing on my son's former 2015 passion coupe. (he has a 2107 now). The "phenomenon" seemed to really start at about 40 mph. I tend to think smart purposely did that bit of resistance to counter act the twitchy feeling that smarts without power steering have. I have an '09 w/o power steering and it's a handful at times , especially in the wind. In our cases, NO it is NOT alignment issues. Both of the cars were aligned at a shop that ONLY deals with high end Euro cars.
 

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In our cases, NO it is NOT alignment issues. Both of the cars were aligned at a shop that ONLY deals with high end Euro cars.
Doesn't matter which shop it was aligned at if factory specifications were used. Factory specifications call for **significant** toe in, 36 minutes or 0.60 degrees or just under 1/4" toe-in at each front wheel. If they set it to that, you can experience problems caused by that setting no matter how accurately it was set.

It's like going to a high end shop and saying "Set my tire pressures to 50 PSI". Sure, they'll nail the 50 PSI exactly, but it will still won't work well.
 

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The steering between the BRABUS and non-BRABUS models should not feel much different. If the wheel feels like it is locking up, there may be a mechanical issue with the suspension, but also don't rule out the possibility of the electric power steering unit malfunctioning. A visit to your closest smart dealer is my suggestion.
 

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I think I read somewhere maybe here, that the rubber boot where the steering shaft exits the body can dry out and cause an issue similar to this. Some white grease to relube the rubber was needed. I am not sure though, might be worth a check.If not follow mr smart la's advice about the PS unit.
 

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Doesn't matter which shop it was aligned at if factory specifications were used. Factory specifications call for **significant** toe in, 36 minutes or 0.60 degrees or just under 1/4" toe-in at each front wheel. If they set it to that, you can experience problems caused by that setting no matter how accurately it was set.

It's like going to a high end shop and saying "Set my tire pressures to 50 PSI". Sure, they'll nail the 50 PSI exactly, but it will still won't work well.


Your argument is getting old...The shop I use deals mostly with euro cars They do tires, wheels and suspensions, PERIOD!...They aren't a wannabe M-B service center. They actually put weights in the car simulating having people in the car. And a set up like that is fine for me.When they did my car last year, they found a little too much toe on one side, corrected that and the car felt like it was glued down to the ground.I have 175's on all corners with the appropriate size rims..I don't trash my cars on a race track....IF you ever drove a non power steering smart vs one with power steering you's probably better understand what the OP may be referring to. IF you think smart's specs are wrong ( and I suppose you're an automotive engineer) why don't you consult smart and get them straightened out?

If this post annoys you , or you think it's an attack , the Mods have my
permission to please delete the post and then delete my account as I am just about done with this forum that was more interesting before it became , fore the most part, a forum solely based on the ED.
Over and out..............
 

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In our cases, NO it is NOT alignment issues. Both of the cars were aligned at a shop that ONLY deals with high end Euro cars.
Doesn't matter which shop it was aligned at if factory specifications were used. Factory specifications call for **significant** toe in, 36 minutes or 0.60 degrees or just under 1/4" toe-in at each front wheel. If they set it to that, you can experience problems caused by that setting no matter how accurately it was set.

It's like going to a high end shop and saying "Set my tire pressures to 50 PSI". Sure, they'll nail the 50 PSI exactly, but it will still won't work well.
Why do you have a problem with the oem alignment settings?
 

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Your argument is getting old...The shop I use deals mostly with euro cars They do tires, wheels and suspensions, PERIOD!...They aren't a wannabe M-B service center. They actually put weights in the car simulating having people in the car. And a set up like that is fine for me.When they did my car last year, they found a little too much toe on one side, corrected that and the car felt like it was glued down to the ground.I have 175's on all corners with the appropriate size rims..I don't trash my cars on a race track....IF you ever drove a non power steering smart vs one with power steering you's probably better understand what the OP may be referring to. IF you think smart's specs are wrong ( and I suppose you're an automotive engineer) why don't you consult smart and get them straightened out?

If this post annoys you , or you think it's an attack , the Mods have my
permission to please delete the post and then delete my account as I am just about done with this forum that was more interesting before it became , fore the most part, a forum solely based on the ED.
Over and out..............
I don't get why you think this argument is getting old. Is the argument you should put four equal sized tires on getting old as well? Just because you don't think alignment is the cause is fine, but when you try to denigrate other posters by insinuating I should be an automotive engineer, that says way more about you than about me. You now use four equal sized tires. By your logic, you should be going to the Smart factory and asking them to change the OEM wheel spec as well.
 

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Why do you have a problem with the oem alignment settings?
For the various reasons I've consistently been saying. That amount of toe-in is not typically called for and results in a vehicle that is reluctant to turn from straight ahead, results in mid-corner understeer, and causes tire wear. These are all issues reported by various owners here.

Here's a couple of paragraphs from this TireRack article: https://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=4

Excessive toe settings often bring with them drivability problems, especially during heavy rain. This is because the daily pounding of tractor trailers on many highways leave ruts that fill with water. Since excessive toe means that each tire is pointed in a direction other than straight ahead, when the vehicle encounters a puddle that causes only one tire to lose some of its grip, the other tire's toe setting will push (excessive toe-in) or pull (excessive toe-out) the vehicle to the side. This may make the vehicle feel unsettled and very "nervous."

Additionally the vehicle's toe is one of the most critical alignment settings relative to tire wear. A toe setting that is just a little off its appropriate setting can make a huge difference in their wear. Consider that if the toe setting is just 1/16-inch off of its appropriate setting, each tire on that axle will scrub almost seven feet sideways every mile! Extend it out and you'll discover that rather than running parallel to each other, the front tires will scrub over 1/4-mile sideways during every 100 miles of driving! Incorrect toe will rob you of tire life.


Ideally, you want near zero dynamic toe up front, which for a RWD vehicle means some slight amount of static toe-in, up to 1/16" at each front tire. The OEM specification calls for nearly 1/4" of static toe.

For high performance cars and driving, the order you would change things to alter handling behavior are springs/shocks, wheels/tire, sway bars, alignment, and tire pressures. I get that alignment is down on the list but unless you're going to change the other, more difficult and more expensive things, starting from the bottom of that list means doing the least expensive things first, and alignments are often a neglected part of maintenance. On a forum dedicated to handling-oriented cars, like a Miata, and alignments are one of the first things suggested and often discussed.
 

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For the various reasons I've consistently been saying. That amount of toe-in is not typically called for and results in a vehicle that is reluctant to turn from straight ahead, results in mid-corner understeer, and causes tire wear. These are all issues reported by various owners here.

Here's a couple of paragraphs from this TireRack article: https://www.tirerack.com/tires/tiretech/techpage.jsp?techid=4

Excessive toe settings often bring with them drivability problems, especially during heavy rain. This is because the daily pounding of tractor trailers on many highways leave ruts that fill with water. Since excessive toe means that each tire is pointed in a direction other than straight ahead, when the vehicle encounters a puddle that causes only one tire to lose some of its grip, the other tire's toe setting will push (excessive toe-in) or pull (excessive toe-out) the vehicle to the side. This may make the vehicle feel unsettled and very "nervous."

Additionally the vehicle's toe is one of the most critical alignment settings relative to tire wear. A toe setting that is just a little off its appropriate setting can make a huge difference in their wear. Consider that if the toe setting is just 1/16-inch off of its appropriate setting, each tire on that axle will scrub almost seven feet sideways every mile! Extend it out and you'll discover that rather than running parallel to each other, the front tires will scrub over 1/4-mile sideways during every 100 miles of driving! Incorrect toe will rob you of tire life.


Ideally, you want near zero dynamic toe up front, which for a RWD vehicle means some slight amount of static toe-in, up to 1/16" at each front tire. The OEM specification calls for nearly 1/4" of static toe.

For high performance cars and driving, the order you would change things to alter handling behavior are springs/shocks, wheels/tire, sway bars, alignment, and tire pressures. I get that alignment is down on the list but unless you're going to change the other, more difficult and more expensive things, starting from the bottom of that list means doing the least expensive things first, and alignments are often a neglected part of maintenance. On a forum dedicated to handling-oriented cars, like a Miata, and alignments are one of the first things suggested and often discussed.
The "excessive" toe-out design is completely intentional and is one of the design characteristics that brings unique handling and performance characteristics to the smart fortwo. I'm fine with the suspension design.
 

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The "excessive" toe-out design is completely intentional and is one of the design characteristics that brings unique handling and performance characteristics to the smart fortwo. I'm fine with the suspension design.
If you're fine with the suspension design and how it drives, that's great! And that's the whole point - that you should enjoy your car. But if someone is complaining about something not being right or feeling right, I'm just offering up a possible explanation, just like equalizing tire sizes or altering tire pressures.
 

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If you're fine with the suspension design and how it drives, that's great! And that's the whole point - that you should enjoy your car. But if someone is complaining about something not being right or feeling right, I'm just offering up a possible explanation, just like equalizing tire sizes or altering tire pressures.
Considering that the smart fortwo's handling is extremely lively at higher speeds, I am definitely happy with it. Much more exciting than a standard 4 door box snoozefest sedan. Micro-cars with rear engines and rear drive should do more than simply look micro. smart has the best formula, even in the face of criticism...
 

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Considering that the smart fortwo's handling is extremely lively at higher speeds, I am definitely happy with it. Much more exciting than a standard 4 door box snoozefest sedan. Micro-cars with rear engines and rear drive should do more than simply look micro. smart has the best formula, even in the face of criticism...
My last word on this. If you consider the Smart's handling to be "lively", meaning that it is twitchy, that can be caused by and excessive toe setting, like described in the TireRack article.
 

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I had issues with the front tires wearing unevenly due to excessive toe-in on my 08 Passion. To correct this, I reset the toe-in to 1/16" one each front wheel netting a total toe-in setting of 1/8". I did this after putting rear 9 spoke wheels on the front and going to 175's all around. I also used a 4 wheel Hunter alignment machine so that I could use rear wheel reference in setting the toe and making sure the steering wheel was centered. The car handles beautifully and I am getting even tire wear on all 4 corners. Keeping the tires properly inflated is also important.
On my wife's 09 Pure, I kept the smaller front tires but readjusted the toe-in to 1/16" on each wheel. I was able to catch this before there was any mileage accumulation and the front tires on the Pure are wearing evenly and not showing any signs of abnormal wear.
 

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My last word on this. If you consider the Smart's handling to be "lively", meaning that it is twitchy, that can be caused by and excessive toe setting, like described in the TireRack article.
That's why I said it was normal... for the smart. The smart was never designed to be the 'same old' car on the road. It was designed to be different. Let me also clarify that my support for the factory toe-in settings was assuming factory spec, not deviations from those. Aligning back to factory spec is perfectly acceptable in my opinion.
 

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I had issues with the front tires wearing unevenly due to excessive toe-in on my 08 Passion. To correct this, I reset the toe-in to 1/16" one each front wheel netting a total toe-in setting of 1/8". I did this after putting rear 9 spoke wheels on the front and going to 175's all around. I also used a 4 wheel Hunter alignment machine so that I could use rear wheel reference in setting the toe and making sure the steering wheel was centered. The car handles beautifully and I am getting even tire wear on all 4 corners. Keeping the tires properly inflated is also important.
On my wife's 09 Pure, I kept the smaller front tires but readjusted the toe-in to 1/16" on each wheel. I was able to catch this before there was any mileage accumulation and the front tires on the Pure are wearing evenly and not showing any signs of abnormal wear.
Smart Bob, glad to hear it is working out for you. Can I ask what tire pressures you're using both with the 175's all around and on your wife's Pure with the OEM wheel sizes? Once I got rid of the factory toe-in spec, I found an extra couple of PSI to work better as it allowed the tire to firm up without tramlining like it did before. I'm currently running 31 front, 34 rear.
 
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