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Discussion Starter #1
Three times on the way home from work, while driving on dry surface streets, the ESP just dropped out. Got the yellow triangle on steady and the accompanying change in behavior. Pulled over into a nearby parking lot and shut down the car. First time, I pulled out the manual to figure out what just happened :) second and third times just sat out the two minutes and away I went, problem reset.

Took the puttputt in for the 10,000 mile maint yesterday and the tech said he had three codes for "loss of traction" stored and that's why the ESP shut down. Work order says "operated as designed" and he said even though I may have not noticed it, the vehicle lost traction (hit an oily spot, maybe a sandy spot where a puddle had dried or the like) and that would be enough to throw the code and stop the ESP.

On reflection driving home, though, that didn't make sense... the Electronic Stability Program shuts down if you lose traction? Huh?

Comments/opinions?
 

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I think you hit it in that last bit. The ESP is normally on but not engaged - unless the car loses traction. The triangle only illuminates when the ESP is actively controlling traction. So, it sounds like your ESP operated as normal and the car lost traction for some reason - oily spots, heavy bump, etc. :)
 

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Sounds to me like you have a technician that either doesn't know what he is doing, or is too lazy to investigate further. I believe you are right, the system won't shut down when you lose traction, that's when it activates.

By the symptoms you describe, sounds like the senors lost the signal for the exciter rings on one or more axle. Maybe get under the car and check to make sure the rings are clean and none are broken. It's a fairly easy check, although easier to do with the wheels off.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I think you hit it in that last bit. The ESP is normally on but not engaged - unless the car loses traction. The triangle only illuminates when the ESP is actively controlling traction. So, it sounds like your ESP operated as normal and the car lost traction for some reason - oily spots, heavy bump, etc. :)
Nope, the triangle isn't flashing (activated), it's solid (fault).
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Sounds to me like you have a technician that either doesn't know what he is doing, or is too lazy to investigate further. I believe you are right, the system won't shut down when you lose traction, that's when it activates.

By the symptoms you describe, sounds like the senors lost the signal for the exciter rings on one or more axle. Maybe get under the car and check to make sure the rings are clean and none are broken. It's a fairly easy check, although easier to do with the wheels off.
Thanks... will check. Found something on Evilution's site I didn't catch earlier... thanks for pointing me in that direction.

Evilution - Smart Car Encyclopaedia
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Update, just to close out this thread: pushed the issue a bit and the service center got with Smart America; turns out my vehicle missed the last software update, so they flashed it in.

Been behaving perfectly since then. Wife even commented that the shifting seems smoother, and it does. Cost: nothing.
 

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Update, just to close out this thread: pushed the issue a bit and the service center got with Smart America; turns out my vehicle missed the last software update, so they flashed it in.

Been behaving perfectly since then. Wife even commented that the shifting seems smoother, and it does. Cost: nothing.
That's very good to hear! I'm happy for you, and thanks for updating us all, and potential future folks looking for answers, heaven forbid.
 

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Was having almost the same issue. Would be driving along and notice the yellow triangle and abs light, would turn car off and restart worked fine.
Then out of the blue couldn't shift out of park last week?
Called the great guys at Portland smart. The first thing he asked is if the brake lights were working, they were not.
Had a bad brake light switch, which locks the shifter in park, no brake lights and the triangle lights.
Took about 30 minutes to replace the switch myself, work great again.
 

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Was having almost the same issue. Would be driving along and notice the yellow triangle and abs light, would turn car off and restart worked fine.
Then out of the blue couldn't shift out of park last week?
Called the great guys at Portland smart. The first thing he asked is if the brake lights were working, they were not.
Had a bad brake light switch, which locks the shifter in park, no brake lights and the triangle lights.
Took about 30 minutes to replace the switch myself, work great again.
Wow, now THAT is some GOOD information. Thanks!!! I don't know if it's been covered before but it's first I've seen of it. Hmmm, how to make sure somebody (maybe me!) finds this in the future....

Keywords: stuck lock locked in park cannot can't shift can't put into drive can't change gears Can't think of any more that get the idea across, beyond the words already listed above.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
Just came back to update and found the above information... will be checking the brake light switch tonight.

Wife driving home from work the other day and reported the triangle. Started it up in the morning, triangle on and the "crawl mode" was inactive. Put it into gear and would just sit there until you hit the gas.

Filled up the tank and the triangle went away and all was well. Then driving home after work, the triangle came on, speed dropped from 70 to about 60 and continuing to go down.. what the hell.... dropped it in manual and floored it and could barely maintain 65. Pulled off the road and as I pulled into the slot, the 4 way flashers started going. What the hell? Shut down and pulled fuse 11 and reseated it just for the hell of it. Turned the key on, triangle still active. Turned the key off for about 10 seconds then back on.... triangle gone. What The Hell?? Drove home, parked and checked for loose battery or ground connections in the passenger footwell... found nothing at all. Wife and I drove out to two different malls to do some shopping... nothing at all wrong. WHAT THE HELL??

Has to be some kind of electrical gremlins... going to wiggle around that brake switch tonight and see if I can provoke anything. Failing that, going on a biz trip to Germany soon, going to drop off the puttputt and tell the service guy to track it down or give me a replacement or something! This will be the third time in the shop for the same reason in about, what, three months??
 

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Do you have anything plugged into the power port? aftermarket radio or gps? Could be a bad ground or bad battery problem.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Just got back from Germany, picked up the puttputt yesterday. They replaced the potentiometer/rheostat/whatever in the gas pedal assembly, and also noticed they replaced the eye-level brake light, said it wasn't working.

Both of those sound like likely suspects, especially the brake light if it was flaky and connecting intermittently. Service guy also said they've replaced a couple of those gas pedal assemblies in the last few years.

Hopefully this will be the last time I need to post on this particular subject...
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Alas, not to be. Sent an email to the Smart web site asking them to put me in touch with service... wife got another yellow triangle last weekend. Does anyone have a good service email contact at corporate? I hate to invoke the lemon law, but this is coming up on four visits for the same problem in less than a year...
 
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