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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Pulled away from stop sign, car took off in 1st, went to 2nd, modest acceleration load, then went into "neutral" on its own (did not bump shifter). Coasted into a parking lot (phew). Tried going thru the gear positions (P, D, N, R, but no go). Turned off engine. Tried restarting the smart (P/R/N/D/+/-) too, no joy. It will not start/turnover and throws no codes (carry code reader in car). Tow roped it home, close by luckily. No codes on my ODBII reader. 77k miles - 2008 Passion.

Thought fault was the shifter module (again - replaced 5 years ago), but replaced it this weekend and still no start.

Will look at starter cable next.

If clutch and or actuator goes out, will the smart engine not start/turnover (as a failsafe...)? I realize it would not go into gear, but not starting has me perplexed.

Also tried the P/D/N/D/+/- "reset, still no start/joy.

The car remained running as I coasted into parking lot, only after shutting off would it not start.

Thoughts?
 

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Try disconnecting the battery for a while, also try to use the key fob to lock/unlock the car before trying the transmission relearn. Was the car running whey you tried that, I think it needs to be not running.
I am not sure how the brakes lights fit into this issue, but do they work with key on?
 

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Sounds exactly like my 2009 did when the clutch actuator went out. Once I turned off the engine, it would not turn over. Eventually, mine showed the 3 bars of death. Put a new actuator on, re-trained, and it started right up.
 

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Sounds like what I am messing with. I am going to remove the clutch actuator next and see what is inside. Hopefully it will just need cleaning and lubrication.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Clutch Actuator on order

Thanks for all the replies. I have ordered a replacement. One thing I discovered by thinking about "A" "B" testing, I tried something.

Had 3 bars of death. Re-train was not working, expect since smart would not start/run the engine.

I unplugged the CA (Clutch Actuator) while still installed, form underneath. For giggles/frustration, I tried turning the smart on, and wha-la the 3-bars of death went away and the smart retrained itself (now "P" appeared) I guess. So I thought what the heck, try starting the engine, and to my surprise if fired right up and the trans made some mechanical noises (like attempting gear selection?), no grinding noises just mechanical noises (of gears). So I then plug back in the CA plug. and "P" remained but the engine would not start (like before).

I Then ask my lovely assistant to repeat this process with her in the car while I "listened" from under neath to see what I could discern. With the CA "plugged in", no start. Then unplugged it and ask that she start the smart. It fired right up, but didn't make any more mechanical noises. Humm. So had her turn it off and plunged it back in, then for giggles asked her to try starting the smart yet again. This time the smart started with the CA now plugged in. Since it was up on the lift (4 wheels off the ground) I asked het to try and put it in Drive, she did, now some mechanic (searching noises, even from the CA), but no wheel movement, tried 1st and Reverse, nada. But at least I had tricked/overrode the smarts "failsafe" to not start the motor. So my backyard conclusion is the CA is in fact going bad/gone bad and I will replace it once the part arrive from Miami... and I will report back on how I fared installing (and any calibration efforts) the new CA.

Moral of the story, if car won't go and then won't start, isolate the CA by unplugging it and if it now starts, then CA may be the failed component. Also unplugging it with 3-bars may also force a retrain.

With the left rear wheel just off the ground enough to change the tire, the CA plug is reachable from sitting on the ground the outside of the car rear qtr panel if you know where to look/reach and understand how the upper male plug unlatches and pulls up and out of the CA female end. So an easy roadside diagnostic tool for future reference / forum readers.

Will report back on next step progress (or not)...
 

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Just for grins, while waiting for the new Clutch actuator, why not remove the old one, open it up and look for any damage, etc... if none, give it a good cleaning, lube it with white lithium grease, and install. It may cure the problem.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
CA Replacement fixed it!

Direct CA DIY replacement, no dealer adjustments needed, resolved our problem, '08 smart Passion (77k) back on the road.

DIY details & observations.

This DIY task is actually easier than air filter or spark plug change in its mechanical aptitude needed :)

Marked position of old CA on engine/trans housing by outlining the tip / half round end locations of the CA bolt mounting tabs (2 rear, 1 front) with a felt tip marker (jam the tip in tight). Clean the surface area before using the marker.

Remove 3 bolts (E10 Torx Star?), noted that front tab had an additional yellow paint tick mark at the exact point the bolt passed thru the front tab slot of the OEM CA. Made note of that and transferred that mark location onto the new CA. Hard to see yellow tick when installed, but suspect it is a factory install/assembly guide mark.

Installed new CA into exact position, aligned with felt tip outlines (and yellow tick mark location). First hand tighten all 3 bolts, then with one hand push new CA till it aligns exactly with felt tip outlines, then ratchet tight all 3 bolts to 10nm with free hand. Plug connector back in.

Started smart and trans went into 1st gear on first try :)

Car shifts fine, actually better then before. No need to go to dealer for CA adjust. smart did throw Engine Service dash light and two (2) 0805 (Clutch Sensor?) codes after install/start up process, cleared codes via ODBII reset (dash light went out) and all is fine so far.

Opened up old CA to find broken worn gear shaft - smaller then a pencil diameter, no wonder it breaks under load. Suspect 11 years of use it did need to be / should have been lubricated / cleaned, but the worm gear gave up first.

YMMV.
 

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BimmerDob,
Where did you purchase the CA from and how much did it cost you? I've been having a few shifting issues in my 09 Passion. No fails yet but the car "bucks" when moving slowly (like drive-throughs). I'm also experiencing some hard shifts between gears (especially 1st & 2nd), and some late gear shifts. The car also doesn't kickdown into a lower gear under load going uphill.

I suspect all of these issues may be the CA getting tired. I'm contemplating removing it to clean and lubricate, but I'd like to have one on hand before I go through the trouble. I'd hate to get the thing out and find a stripped gear or something and be waiting for a replacement.
 

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Like snowball mentioned, having a spare clutch actuator might be a good idea as insurance against future failures!
Where in Miami did your CA come from?
I would not think the plastic worm gear fails under a load, as any transmission gear load would be taken up by the gears in the tranny.
 

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The actuator pushes against the arm, thereby pushing the release bearing into the pressure plate so there is a fair amount of force exerted on the plastic gear. Since the plastic gear is quite large, it may be able to handle the load, but if there is any movement due to worn pivot points, it will apply pressure on the drive gear, with it's diminutive size, it could put sideways stress on it and cause it to fail over time. I'd like to see the drive gear (shaft?) a bit larger for my linking. but you work with what you got I guess.
 
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