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Hello all,
I've been in the market for a new (to me) car for a month or two now and was looking mainly at subcompact vehicles as I was intending to downgrade in size from my standard sized sedan. I stumbled across the smart Fortwo and was instantly intrigued, much more so than I was by any other make/model in my price range. I managed to find one at a dealer about an hour away that seems like a great deal. It's a 2016 Prime (gas model) with 22000 miles for $7200 and they say it's still under warranty (the details of which I'd need to further inquire on). My budget for a car is $12000 MAX however I was hoping to keep it under $10000 if I could. I found a few nice cars in that range but nothing that comes remotely close to the excitement and curiosity the site of the Fortwo struck in me. After doing a bunch of research I sold myself on it. Then I tried to sell my girlfriend, family and friends on it, and failed horribly. The reason this car appeals to me is primarily its value and size. It's near unheard of to find a 2016 of any make or model with such low mileage for that price. Also parking is a HUGE problem in my city. Some nights it can take me an upwards of 30 minutes to find a parking spot in my neighborhood and even then it's a 10 minute walk away from home. I think the Fortwo could help A LOT with this because I can't tell you how many times there are spots "just a little too small" for my car that a Fortwo could easily slide into. Some of their points they made against the Fortwo have me fearing buyer's remorse down the line now though. Primarily concerning being limited to a strictly two seater vehicle for such a long time and the lack of cargo space. After all, I want to keep the car for at least 5-7 years. I argued that in the last 5 years I've had my current 5 seat sedan I've only ever had more than one person in it at a time a handful of times. Nor do I rarely ever have more stored in my car than a pair of jumper cables, a backpack, and some other small odds and ends like a box of tissues. Even when I go shopping the trips usually produce no more than half a dozen standard sized bags worth of loot which I can imagine would store just fine. This is why I think I can live with the exceptionally small size of the Fortwo and that's what I told the naysayers in my life. They say though that just because that's how I've lived my life up until now that it's not guaranteed my circumstances won't change. And they're not wrong. I could have a kid between now and then, especially as I am in my early-mid twenties with a serious girlfriend. If I ever need to move into a new place I'd have to borrow or rent a bigger vehicle or be forced to do about two dozen trips to move all of my belongings. Even just the rare occasion I buy something big, like a table set for example, I'd now have to nag a friend to pick it up for me or me or pay for delivery. I am starting to sink into their mindset that sacrificing the 2 extra seats/space even the next in line smallest cars offer is not worth the money I've be saving and ease of parking. However the only other cars that come remotely close in year/mileage to this Fortwo are still nearing $9000. It's hard to decide whether almost $2000 is worth the security and peace of mind having those extra seats will have despite the fact I will likely never/rarely use them. Anyone have any thoughts or advice to share with me?

tl;dr
I want a smart now but I fear in the future the limitations might make me regret my purchase. Any advice to help ease my mind and come to a clear decision?

Thank you for your time and consideration,
wannabesmartie
 

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In My Opinion... and you will hear plenty, I enjoy my smart! i have owned a smart since they first came into the USA in 2008 and put hundreds of thousands of miles on them (on number 3 now)

If it is your Only vehicle, and you regularly have your current vehicle packed with stuff, it may not be a good fit. If you drive a motorcycle, then you are used to minimal cargo areas. That being said, If I am hauling a bunch of stuff, drive something else. For 97% of my driving, it is just me in the car and not much else. I use it for grocery runs and even trips to the hardware store with no problems. I have even driven with a 8 ft plastic pipe out the back window, and out the passenger side window secured to the mirror (less than 2 miles on back roads)

The thing to keep in mind is that with the smaller size, there are some drawbacks, lie a more bouncy ride from the shorter wheelbase, less suspension travel which makes the roads a bit more rough, side winds affect you more (like on a motorcycle) We hear from people all the time that buy a smart and want to modify it to ride like a larger heavier car. Well, it won't. but for it's diminutive size, and fun factor, it can't be beat. so if it fits your lifestyle, go for it!! You can always rent a car or truck for the few times you need something bigger.

My only suggestion is to take a long drive and make sure you realize the quirks before you buy. the 453 is a big step up from the 451 (which I have) and a fine car.
 

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2020 end of the line............

I bought my first smart in 2008,and my second(current)smart in 2013. I love my smart,and dread the thought of having
to drive any other car. But like my username,this is my last smart. The reasons are numerous. The stealerships A.K.A.
smart centers, treat smart buyers/owners like a red-headed step child,or second class citizen. Charge MB prices for parts
and labor,for working on a smart..............
Since MB has announced stopping sales of smart in 2020, the market for our cars has bottomed out.The stealership say
they will continue service for 3yrs. But will they have simple service/repair parts on hand,as they didn't have in 2008,when
they began selling??
To even find a problem on a smart, is best done at a stealership using the MB star machine. VERY few independent repair
shops own or have access to expensive star machine............
As great as it is,to me,smart is a dieing/dead horse! Do you really want to ride one??................
 

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So your fears are very very valid. Buyer's remorse was such a big problem in the early years of smart in the USA that our biggest competitor was our own used market.

It is possible to live with these cars long term. Since 2012 I've owned nothing else but a smart. In fact, nowadays I have four of them!

The few times I needed a larger vehicle I threw some money at U-Haul to rent a van.

I became a motorcyclist in 2018 and I got a knack for buying and selling the things. I move motorcycles around so much that a smart should be an impractical vehicle. Thankfully for me, the older cars have an aftermarket towing hitch and my smart thus became a tow vehicle. But if that hitch weren't available? I'd either have to sell the car, buy a truck, or just have no more than one motorcycle.

So yeah, think about how much stuff you move around and how much you need to do it. If you hardly ever need more space and seats than a smart provides? It'll be an excellent car for the job.

A further note is that the 453s are somewhat notorious for bad-ish city fuel economy with some people reporting getting into the high 20s! Combined with needing premium, these cars are not the cheapest at the pump. So take that into account as well.

As for repairs, I've had the exact opposite experience of Albert up there. There are a plethora of cheap and knowledgeable mechanics in my area that have no problems working on a smart. Any Euro mechanic worth their salt can work on these things. Once your warranty expires you really shouldn't have any reason to even think of a dealership again. I know I haven't! Parts availability should be solid for many years, if not indefinitely. There's also a solid parts aftermarket on many critical parts so even if MB breaks from their norm of providing parts long into the future, all isn't lost.

For further assurance: I own two first gen smarts. They were never sold here and MB dealerships aren't supposed to touch them. I have to get all my parts from Canada or Europe. And even then, things aren't that bad..
 

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With 3.5 years on my 453 2016 Passion I am still pleased with smart ownership. No plans to get rid of it. So far the 453 seems to have a good track record but only time will tell. As a previous owner of a 2013 451 I can tell you there is a tremendous difference between the 451 and 453 - in my humble opinion, all positive. It is very possible the car is still under warranty. Depends on date of original sale. Warranty is 4 years or 50k miles. Mine still has 4.5 months of warranty.
 

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I want a smart now but I fear in the future the limitations might make me regret my purchase. Any advice to help ease my mind and come to a clear decision?
Your above comment, probably says it all? :shrug:

First and perhaps foremost in your decision process should be (1.) Are you aware that smart is an ORPHAN in N.A.? and (2.) Where is the nearest smart Center (NOT simply a M-B dealer) should you need the remaining warranty or service?

Reading your backstory, the "future limitations" of an expanding family could make smart the wrong choice as having to sell such a niche vehicle in a year or so as the resale declines could provide you with some serious buyer's remorse.

My backstory - owner since 2008, own 3 one of which is an ED. :D
 

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Well. There was a similar lesson a priest at our church once noted. He posed a question, do you take the hand of a child, slap it, and say you were going to do something wrong? Or do you wait until after the child does something wrong before you punish him/her?

Basically, you are going by your past experiences, which tells you this car fits your current lifestyle. Wait until circumstances change and then make changes when that time comes. (Even marriages don’t mean forevermore nowadays)....
 

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I have lots of problems finding a good mechanic, and my regular car, a 1982 Mercedes 240D 4 door diesel with MT, can find no one to work on it. There is one guy, buyt he quotes 1100 for a job then charges 3700, cash only.


I'm looking for the alternative.
 

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I don't really think anyone here can convince you one way or another. We can provide our input based on our experiences, but it all comes down to whether or not you feel that it'll fit into your lifestyle.

As with many of the others here, My ForTwo days started back in 2009. Brand new ordered Brabus ForTwo Coupe. Loved the car. Unfortunately, traded that car in for a 2013 Dodge Dart. HORRIBLE CAR! Since December of 2015, I've been riding around in a 2016 Smart ForTwo Prime. All I can say is at this point, I think the only car I will ever get to replace my ForTwo is a Tesla (assuming I'll be able to afford and buy one before their prices eventually skyrocket). It's the most fun you can have in a small car. They're an absolute JOY to drive.

What initially drew me to the Smart back in 2009 was, like you, the style. And the first one i've ever seen was the first generation model (450) like Miss Mercedes has. I saw one in front of a jewelry store, and knew i wanted one. Plus, at the time, I was driving a '99 Dodge Durango. I didn't have a girlfriend. I was working part-time, though it felt like it was all-the-time. And it just seemed ridiculous to be driving around such a big vehicle, spending so much money on gas, and never hauling anything. The only thing that was really ever in the back of my Durango were a pair of 12" subs and an amp. I never needed a big vehicle.... but it was for sale DIRT cheap, and my parents bought it for me.

As far as family complaints about storage.... yeah, if you're driving around with someone else, you basically just have the area in the back, and the passengers lap. But if it's only you, fold that passenger seat down, and you'd be surprised what a ForTwo can fit. Just today i had to take a 12,000BTU window air conditioner to the UPS store to ship back to Amazon because it was damaged when i opened it. Was able to fold the passenger seat down, slide the whole box in, and still had quite a bit of room. There was room behind my seat yet, and the box barely made it to being about even with my back in the seat (and i'm a bit over 6' tall, so the driver seat is basically as far back as it goes). I've gone to Ikea and brought shelves home. I've done runs to Sam's Club for a decent amount of stuff. It may be small, but it's roomy. Even the 12" subs from the Durango fit in the back of my 2016 Smart.... and they were in a BIG box.

Out of curiosity.... seeing as we're both in PA.... where in PA are you? I live in Lehighton. I'd say if you're curious about driving one around (assuming you know how to drive stick), or want to get a better look at one assuming I might be closer to you than the one you're looking at, I'd be more than willing to meet up with you somewhere. Can always PM me.
 

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Please think long and hard on this. There are a lot of subcompacts out there superior to smart.
From Consumer Reports
'Road Test
Tooling around in a Smart car is like owning a puppy: Everyone wants to see it, touch it, and ask lots of questions. But not everyone wants to deal with the headaches. With its elevated seating position, amazing maneuverability, and comparatively microscopic dimensions, the Smart should make for an excellent city car. But the harsh ride and jet-blast noise levels will probably drive you crazy. And its 36 mpg overall isn't great compared with cars that boast more room and comfort.
This oddly named car is pitched as the perfect urban vehicle for city folks, but the overall package raises some difficult questions.

Some members hate CR because they were didn't like the smart.
To I say CR buys their cars from dealers just like you and I.
CR drives theirs cars for hundreds of not thousands of miles (long term test) unlike Car & Driver, Motor Trend who have a handpicked car for a few hours. CR has its own test track.

You may want to read this thread.
https://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f170/ev-battery-replacement-153826/index33.html
So there is no legal path worth pursuing?

Was the "purchase" in your home state? Seems that the State Attorney General (where sold or your home) might be interested in such a misrepresentation especially when the "branding" took place AFTER the sale of a presumed functional vehicle?

Your local "action news?" Small claims court?

Sad that M-B, whose slogan is "The Best or Nothing" can leave you with NOTHING . . .
It may give you some insight in MB and their treatment of customers, just sayin.

Things to consider.
smart is a orphan brand here, that was sold by Mercedes Benz.
There are 24 or less MB dealerships in the United States that still sell or are authorized service centers.
How close is one to you and for how long will they continue to provide service and what are their rates, (example how much to diagnose a problem using MB Starr machine?
Have you found an independent shop who can work on and/or diagnose using a MB starr compatible diagnostic machine.
Every smart was imported. Outside of common parts air filters, oil filters, etc. All NEW replacement parts have to be imported or bought used or recycled. How will that affect price ?
Maybe you have the room, tools and skill to work on your own car, that helps keep cost down.
I the beginning 2008 (smarts biggest sales model year)a lot of smarts were bought because they were "Cute" then reality set in.

Since everyone else states how many smarts they have owned like it's a badge of how good the car is.
Well I'm on my 2nd smart convertible. It's a good little toy, novelty, top down good weather weekend driver.
Ultimately it's up to you how much muss and fuss you may encounter as a smart owner, maybe none or??????
Good Luck with whatever you choose, keep us updated.
JL:smartje.bl.zl:
 

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Since everyone else states how many smarts they have owned like it's a badge of how good the car is.
Hardly, no “badges” here but longevity with The ORPHAN Brand may lend some “credibility” to my opinion?

Reality - NOT in the market for another smart nor a M-B as Daimler has taught me that my pockets aren’t deep enough to be their “target customer.”
 

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My "08 passion is still my year round daily driver. Only when I need to take dogs, wife and baggage do we take the CRV. I've had little that I couldn't fix on my own but there are local mechanics readily available in my area if the need should arise. If they hadn't been discontinued, another gas smart would be my next car. But, YMMV and you're right to ask questions. It's not a car for everyone.
 

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Good example of dealing with MB when you have a problem smart car on your hands.
Granted this was a EV but how much different would it be for a gas smart ?
Fact of the matter MB never wanted smart cars in their showrooms.
Red headed step child syndrome.

Well Brucesmart hoping you have good luck and get it going that would be great conformation that bricked cars can be made whole again.

As for me as promised the wifes E350 is gone and it was not replaced with an MB product, she has a nice new Tesla Model 3.

As MB DNA stated the MB slogan is "The Best or Nothing", they left me with nothing and I will leave them with nothing (as in profit from future sales) from me or my family for life. I hope all the lost future sales were worth it to MB as it would have taken so little for them to make things right. Actually I am sure that just on this one sale MB lost far more than it would have taken to make things right with me. Like I said I told them I was in the market a simple rebate or great lease would have smooth things over and kept me a customer. Instead the actually rude "Executive Referral Manager" told me she was not responsible for the mistakes of other departments at MB and that her dept did nothing wrong and that was that final decision.
 

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Well since we're doing scary dealership nightmare stories...

I have 3 dealerships within an hour drive from me. Most people do not. And yet:

I can't get my 450s (first gen smarts) serviced at any of them. The cars are allowed here, but officially, MB won't touch them.

When my 2012 was in warranty, either they would refuse to fix a problem unless it caused a Check Engine Light (even if the problem was obvious as day), or they would fix the problem and literally break something else in doing so. The dealerships were so stupidly incompetent at fixing the car I could have lemon law'd the thing... and the car isn't a lemon!

My luck with my 2016 wasn't any better. A dealership tech left a huge spot of oil on the door card. They blamed me for it then effectively told me tough luck.

And sales isn't any better. Getting my 2012 was easy because the brand manager knew me from this forum and he wanted to give me an amazing experience. But he quit and the people who replaced him? Ugh... First, they don't know a darn thing about these cars. Second, they'll try their best to either put you into another brand, or get you a financing offer so awful that you'll walk away. They are hostile towards smart owners and potential smart owners. And remember, I have 3 dealers within an hour of me!

Because of this, I had to fly from Chicago to Los Angeles to pick up my 2016 from one of the last dealerships that was still enthusiastic about smart... and as of recent the fairy tale ended for that dealership, too.

Oh oh oh, and their financing arm is almost as incompetent as the dealerships. I had to go behind on my payments to help my parents through a crisis (dad had cancer, mum lost work, etc). This is no big deal normally because MBFS offers 12 months or so of extensions. Well surprise surprise, they kept losing the paperwork to my extensions and not telling me about. Then one day while I thought I was in the grace period (10 days) I got a call from a Private Investigator. MBFS told them I abandoned the car and disappeared. Haha...funny. Oh wait, they're serious. Oh and they're repoing the car, too? Oh heck no.

Got a lawyer to help me with this. To my amazement, they couldn't even get themselves together long enough to not play games with my lawyer. They'd never return her calls or send her to the wrong department. Eventually she got a bit upset, sent a strongly worded letter, and MBFS was like "can we forget this happened?"

So yeah. These cars are great machines. That's why many of us either have multiples or are repeat customers. HOWEVER, if you want dealership, corporate, or even financial ease, this brand will get on your nerves.

But like I said before, if you can find a local mechanic to work on it, you don't need to worry about how many dealerships there are and how they treat people.
 
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Yeah.... while i can say that i'm not too happy on the dealership end of things... I don't think anybody here can say that Smart dealers are the "diamond in the rough" when it comes to service center experiences. I mean... i had FAR worse experiences with my 2013 Dodge Dart, but then again i still have had some "huh?" moments with Smart Centers.

Like when i had my '09 Brabus. This was during the time period where the original dealership in Devon closed, so had to go elsewhere. Took my car to the dealer for one of the x0,000 mile services. While i was there, I had mentioned that i wanted to open a claim for the wheels, as they had been dented by these LOVELY Pennsylvania roads. The guy behind the counter legit just looked at me and said "Well.... we'd have to have someone look at them..."...... and that was it. Never had someone actually do it. Just seemed like the laziest ****s to ever work in a place that conducts business transactions.

But I can honestly tell you that NOTHING compares to what i dealt with concerning the Dart. NOTHING! One day, i was cleaning out the car. This was maybe about a year or so after i had the car. I took some books off the floor in the back, and I'm like "Why does it feel damp? And why is the print on the back all smudged?" Felt the carpet... SOAKING WET! Took it to the dealer, and had to take it back another day because their "water leak guy" or something wasn't there. Took it back in on the scheduled day. Apparently some sort of sound deadening material under the car wasn't positioned properly, and wasn't allowing proper drainage. Ok. Still doesn't explain why water would be freely able to pour into the passenger cabin from UNDER the floor... but whatever. They kept the car for I think it was about 2-3 days. I get a call to pick the car up.

Not trusting this dealership in the least, when i drop the loaner off and get my keys from them, I open the back door, and feel the carpet. feels dry. I push down on the carpet, and can hear a wet, sloshy, spongy sound. I walk back into the service department and tell the lady that there is still water under the floor. She follows me out to the car, I push down on the carpet. She does the same thing. Looks at me and says "It doesn't seem like there's water there to me." To which i told her that I know there's water there, since you could CLEARLY hear it, and i'm not taking the car anywhere until it is dry. We go back inside, and she starts filling out the service order, and she then tells me "We'll take it back, see if there's anything still there, but if there isn't anything, you're going to be responsible for paying the labor require to do so." I told her that's great, because I won't be paying them a dime. I believe at this point i had already been in contact with Chrysler about something else regarding the car. So as soon as I got home, I immediately sent the person I had been in contact with an e-mail regarding the situation.

The next day, I get a call. The carpet is still wet. They told me to keep the loaner for the time being, They'll dry the carpets properly, and they'll keep me updated. Maybe 2 days later, I don't remember if I just stopped in, or if they called me to swing by, but they showed me the progress. They had the whole back seat ripped out, the front passenger seat, and i believe most of the center console, so they could flip the carpet up in the entire rear right corner of the car to let it dry out. Was also told they'd put a pad of some sort under the carpet to absorb any residual moisture, and to prevent any kind of odor from forming. Sounds great. Couple days later (think this entire process took about a week), I get a call. Car is ready, come pick it up. Looks great. They detailed the interior and everything. I still swear that after that whole ordeal, the car looked cleaner than the day i picked it up. I have a feeling Chrysler got on their case.

And the whole downside to that story? I climb into the car, and i'm thinking ".... why are my feet sliding more than they should on the carpet?" That interior detailing? Included full carpet WET VAC! So now the TOP of the carpet was quite wet... to the point that I ended up taking the floor mats out of the car for a day or a few so that the carpet could dry without causing sh*t to grow under the floor mats.

I could go on.... but this is already going on too far. I also have a good story about the slave cylinder on the clutch showing signs of failure... which i also needed Chrysler's assistance to get the dealership to do anything about.

TL;DR..... It's not easy to find a dealership that DOESN'T suck. Not really that much of an excuse to boycott an entire brand because of it.
 

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Advice to "wannabesmartie" Don't buy a Dodge Dart. I thought replacing the Caliber with the Dart was a mistake. With the county firmly in entrenched into Trucks and SUV's. I thought the Caliber was a very close to being a crossover.
Think very hard about buying a orphan smart.
Make sure the previous owner ran the car on premium fuel. There is a reason for it, and you can bet is wasn't because the manufacturer wanted to inflate the cost of ownership.
 

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Hardly, no “badges” here but longevity with The ORPHAN Brand may lend some “credibility” to my opinion?

Reality - NOT in the market for another smart nor a M-B as Daimler has taught me that my pockets aren’t deep enough to be their “target customer.”
Your right, and this is why Mercedes Benz dealers treated smart owners the way they do. Sales people knew they wouldn't be upselling a smart owner to a real Benz.
With some Exceptions we were not MB Target Customers.
 

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I love the service I got at our MB dealership. Aristocrat Motors. It was excellent. They treat my $14,500 smart car like it was a $100,000 MB vehicle. Washed and vacuumed like the big guys, after service. Armored All the tires too. Sat in the waiting room, with doctors, lawyers, football players. Their courtesy driver took and pick me up from work. Very friendly staff. Our dealership loved all smart car owners, from across the country.



As it comes to owning a smart car. It was a prefect vehicle for commuting to work. Reasonable fuel economy. Very few mechanical issue. Fun to drive. Got a lot of attention when it was new. Horrible road car. Lacked lumbar support. No tilt wheel. Then it is a city car. I have other small cars, that are nicer to drive. Fiat 500 Abarth, our 2 road cars. The Honda Fit, and Kia Soul. If smart had only offered the 453 for-four here. I would have bought one. Sorry isn’t customer loyalty, if you don’t offer new products.
 

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This located close enough to you to be worth a look. Way under budget. Its a pure but does have power windows, carries anything a small sedan will except two extra people. If your serious girlfriend drives let her car be the big one. If you are responsible with each other, not reckless, and get married and have planned for children you'll decide whats best car wise at that point. Get yourself a serious tire and wheel package, because it necessary anyway to look and feel better, and you are all set. So I am on Team GO FOR IT.

https://www.smartcarcity.com/2016_Smart_fortwo_Staten Island_NY_31698996.veh
 
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