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Discussion Starter #1
Hi all, I've been lurking around here for a long time, never had the right time or money to pick up a Smart, but that has finally changed- today I picked up a 2008 Smart Fortwo Cabrio with 53k miles on it.

However, since I am a glutton for punishment, this car needs some help- I'll try to keep this short.

The story on the car is interesting, it ends with MB/Smart of Beverly Hills diagnosing it with a bad ignition in February. I don't believe that it was replaced (if it was, it wasn't at MB, I called to check). The person I bought it from didn't know anything about Smarts but claims that when she purchased it, it was stuck in gear. She got it out of gear, but it had the bars on the display and wouldn't start. She (and her technician friend) managed to jumper the starter solenoid to get the car to start, she claims at that point it would drive forward but not reverse. It was driven around the shop parking lot and thats it.

Since that time the car will no longer engage drive at all. I heard it run before I bought it, it was started by hot wiring. I can shift it from park to neutral.

Here is what I know for sure:
-Its a lifelong SoCal car, so its really clean underneath (and should have stayed dry) so the clutch actuator shouldn't be destroyed inside (?)
-When I turn the key on, it will instantaneously show P then go to three bars if the ECU was asleep first (maybe normal?)
-When the ECU is waking/booting ie: if I leave the car off/key out for a while, and then turn it on- when I put my foot on the brake I can hear a short hum under the rear of the car (sounds like a fuel pump priming?)

Where do I go from here? Is there a way to test the clutch actuator? should I be able to see it moving at some point (key on/key off/shifting?) I read that you can make the actuator work by shifting from reverse, 2nd and 3rd.. but I can't seem to get it out of the 3 bar display at the moment.

It had a dead battery, so it has one "pending" code: P0805 Clutch Position Sensor. I'm not sure if there were more codes that were lost when the battery was flat.

Greatly appreciate any and all help or direction anyone can give me, I'm pretty handy but I'm new to Smarts! I'm excited to get this thing running and driving for the summer!

Cheers,
Tim
 

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Make sure the battery is charged & do the transmission "teach-in". Turn the key on, depress the brake pedal & hold, & slowly move the selector from Park, Reverse, Neutral, & Drive. Slowly move the shift lever back to Park with the brake pedal depressed. Turn ignition off, then start the car & see if it goes in all the gears. If this doesn't work, disconnect the neg. Battery cable for 30- 45 min., reconnect & do the transmission teach-in, again. If you still do not have any luck, it is possible that the clutch actuator is bad or one of the shift motors isn't working. You may want to consult with Smart madness in Signal Hill, & have the car towed down there. There # is: (562) 981-6800.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you Smart Bob for the reply,

I left the car connected to another idling car for an hour or more and the battery is healthy enough to close the windows now. I will be checking voltage tomorrow and perhaps getting a new battery or getting this one properly charged.

I have run through the "teach-in" a bunch of times, but it always goes straight to the bars.

My next question would probably be- what sequence does the computer go through on startup? or what should I expect to see/hear? I've never paid a lot of attention when I'm test driving a good smart.

It definitely makes a servo noise when the brake is depressed after the key has been turned on for the first time after sitting for a while, but there is no clicking/clunking etc as some people have described hearing.

I have been considering sending it to Smart Madness, however I just used one of my AAA tows to get it home, I was hoping I could get a little farther down the rabbit hole of fixing it before I threw the towel in and brought it to a shop.

I guess the other question is this: I've read a lot about the intermittent failures of the clutch actuators- signaling its time to lube or it will be bad soon. Since I just bought this I don't know if those types of things were ignored until the actuator completely seized or?

How would someone (dealer/shop) go about diagnosing this as a clutch actuator failure? There must be a way to check it out to see if its operating that isn't "replace it and see if that fixes it"

Thanks again!!
Tim
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Battery is currently at 11.9V, though it has been disconnected from my other car for a few hours now.

Probably too low, I'm going to have it slow charged tomorrow, and load tested.

If its good we'll try this all again, however the battery looks new, and it is not the original Smart battery.
 

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Locate the actuator under the car. Watch it while you have a friend turn the key on. The first thing it should do when the key is turned on is actuate to disengage the clutch in preparation for starting the car. If it doesn't move, you've definitely got an actuator issue. The next step would be to remove it and disassemble per my instructions in this thread: http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f25/clutch-actuator-disected-44190/

Post 14 gives the pin out for the motor. Pins #3 & 6 are the motor power connections. It's pretty easy to connect 12V to them to make sure the motor works. Don't be suprised if you open the actuator and there has been moisture intrusion. That was the issue with the one in the above thread.

BTW, that actuator is now on another smart and functioning perfectly...:D

Good luck getting your smart back on the road.:)
 

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Locate the actuator under the car. Watch it while you have a friend turn the key on. The first thing it should do when the key is turned on is actuate to disengage the clutch in preparation for starting the car. If it doesn't move, you've definitely got an actuator issue. The next step would be to remove it and disassemble per my instructions in this thread: http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f25/clutch-actuator-disected-44190/

Post 14 gives the pin out for the motor. Pins #3 & 6 are the motor power connections. It's pretty easy to connect 12V to them to make sure the motor works. Don't be suprised if you open the actuator and there has been moisture intrusion. That was the issue with the one in the above thread.

BTW, that actuator is now on another smart and functioning perfectly...:D

Good luck getting your smart back on the road.:)
In the video, the actuator did not move...hence...bad actuator :(

Do as WhiteNBlack08 said and it may work.

The actuator he's talking about came off my car...he disassembled the whole thing and it now works perfectly....it is currently on my granddaughters car :D
 

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Discussion Starter #8


Well.. that little curly bit dropping out when I took the cover off seems suspect :shrug::D

thank you all for your help, I've ordered a used clutch actuator off ebay.. I'm going to take that one apart before I install it and I'm gonna load it up with white lithium grease..

Hopeful this fixes it.. poor previous owner really sounded like she'd been through the wringer...


Cheers! Will report back tomorrow probably.
 

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Looks like you found the culprit. I have a clutch actuator from another car that had the exact same thing happen to it. The tip of the motor shaft that engages the gear broke off. When I opened the cover, there was only a dab of marine wheel bearing grease on the broken tip. The plastic gear is also damaged. I hope that the manufacturer, Sachs, is aware of this and has improved their methods for grinding the tip of the motor shaft. You should be on the road soon.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Ok just installed a used actuator that appeared to be in much better shape (20k mile wreck) but I'm still getting the failure to teach in.

I can now see it operate through a range of motion when the car is turned on.. And I can now hear the gear changer motor clicking as I change from P-R-N-D

But the display is still flashing bars..

Ideas?
 

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Disconnect the battery negative cable for 30-45 minutes, reconnect and try the re-teach. Hope this will work for you.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks Smart Bob, I just disconnected.. I'll leave it be for an hour or so and give it another try.

Hoping that fixes it!
 

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Discussion Starter #14
That didn't do it. Now I can hear the actuator moving, followed by the motor that swaps the cogs, I can hear it seeming to try to change gears? I believe I can hear it whistle/hum when I turn the key on (I have the engine cover off) and if I put my foot on the brake or shift out of park I can hear it clicking and humming and clicking and humming for about 15 seconds. I have tried to rock the car forwards and backward when it's doing this to try to feel what it's doing.. It seems to be almost in a gear? It rolls but I can feel the teeth as it rolls (maybe that's perceived) it rolled freely before so it is doing something.

Is there a sensor that tells it what gear it is in? Or is it integral to the unit, and what would that unit be called? I'll try to get a video of the noise it's making.
 

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I'm wondering if it is not your shifter motors, maybe needing to be cleaned out. Carbon brush dust with transmission oil sludge has been known to cause them to fail. The two motor assembly sits on top of the transmission. They remove best if they come off as an assembly and disassemble from there. There is a nice thread to be found on here complete with pictures. Now that you have ruled out the clutch actuator, I would go for that next.
And yes there is sensor on the lower rear of the transmission. It tends to be subject to water contamination, just not usually in California. :D
 

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Discussion Starter #16 (Edited)
I think maybe they do. This video has pretty good sound of what happens when you turn the key on and then press the brake, followed my shifting P-R-N-D and back from D-N-R-P... ignition off, then doing it again.

You can hear the initial whine, followed by a lot of clunking and whirring.

This video is with the top up/windows up/doors closed, with the engine cover removed and the carpet folded over itself.. as a judge for how loud it is.

You can at times kinda feel the car shake as its swapping cogs, or you can at least feel a clunk.

Still looking for input. I guess if I have to take the shifter motors off I won't be doing it until Sunday or Monday as I want to do it all in one big job and I won't have time these next few days.

Thank you all again!
Tim

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Nys0LiMfQM
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Would someone perhaps be willing to get video of what the teach-in sounds like from the engine compartment? Or if you've heard it clearly does it sound like thats what is happening in my video? I have the battery at Autozone charging right now, they tested and said its good, just needs a charge. I probably won't get to the shifter motors before tonight, as its date night. So tomorrow after work I'll R&R them.

After I do all of this stuff, will the TCU need to be re-initalized by someone with the STAR system?

Also I installed the clutch actuator as best I could tell to the old marks.. but is there a way to determine its correct adjustment? Maybe it needs to go a little either way?

Thanks all for the help!
 

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From the sound in your video, it sounds like a starter solenoid click to me. The teach in clicks are just faint clicks, whereby the transmission is being shifted through the gear ranges. As far as I know, the Star machine shouldn't be necessary. I do know that there is a program on the Star machine to locate the clutch actuator in the correct position & actuate it. There is probably also a program in the Star machine to cycle the shift motors to see if they function. Having a fully charged battery is the best way to start your trouble shooting procedure. I would get the battery charged up, reinstall, and try again before removing the shifter motors.
 

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The teach in as I was told to do it and had to do several times when I was having problems with my 13 was more like this. With the car in park like it normally would be. Get into the car and put your foot on the brake. Put the Key in and turn it to the on position (last position before the starter cranks). DO NOT CRANK THE ENGINE. With your foot on the brake the ENTIRE time the three bars will flash on the screen. Do not do anything with the gear lever key nothing just sit there with your foot on the brake. You should hear some clacking from under the car. This make take a minute or two but the three bars should change to "P" when the transmission has been reset. Once the P appears the on the dash the car should start normal. If the P never appears it is something else. Give it time to reteach tho. Good luck
 

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I have the battery at Autozone charging right now, they tested and said its good, just needs a charge. I probably won't get to the shifter motors before tonight, as its date night. So tomorrow after work I'll R&R them.
If you have replaced the broken clutch actuator then forget all the other nonsense until you put a good, fully charged battery in the car.
 
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