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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Hey ya'll,

I know we've talked alot about the warranty, but what about the actual RELIABILTY of the Smart 42? Any hearsay/stats/personal experience on how often they break down, what components start to show trouble first, etc. Reliabilty is VERY important to me. I want a car that I can drive and drive and beat up and still have it ready for more the next day. To give you my perspective I used to have a 92 Maxima (245000, lost to collision), and currently drive a 98 Outback (145000). On both of them everything in the car still worked/works even with high mileage and heavy use.

At 145000 my Outback has yet to actually have a breakdown require a tow or major corrective maintenance (knock on wood). Most major problems in 3+ years of ownership were a batt failure (old original batt) and the check engine light indicating a cylinder misfire (remedied by replacing the ignition coil).
 

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My day trip with the Canadian Smart Club

I know we've talked alot about the warranty, but what about the actual RELIABILTY of the Smart 42? Any hearsay/stats/personal experience on how often they break down, what components start to show trouble first, etc. .
In conversation with owners of Smarts who drove from Montreal to Cooperstown, NY to see the '08 Smart on it's Street Smart Tour, I had the opportunity to speak with many of the 15 owners about their CDI Smarts.
They were all very happy with them and absolutely loved the 60mpg that the CDI delivered for them and got that with good consistancy. I drove with them in my S2000 in formation, you might say, to and from Cooperstown and it was a very fun day. I met them at the Saratoga exit on I-87 and they/we drove straight thru the middle of Saratoga. You should have seen all the people looking, taking pictures of us and coming right out onto the street as we sat at stoplights to ask about the cars...what they were, who makes them, what kind of mileage do they get, etc.
The Smart Club members asked me if I would lead them on a route back out of Cooperstown in the most direct way as they were doing a round trip in one day and were anxious to get back home, late as it would be. So I led them until I came to my turn off in Albany and they went on up the Northway back to Montreal. It was pretty impressive seeing a whole line of 15 Smarts traveling in formation down the road at 75mph and what looks they got from the cars we passed!!!
I must admit I was astounded at the ease with which they kept up with me as I kept my speed right at 75 all the way to Albany. They slowed at one point on I-88 on a very long hill, maxing out their little CDI's pretty much grinding up the hill but it didn't take them very long to catch back up to me.
So it appears that that model Smart is pretty reliable anyway. We'll see about the new, '08 models....Don't like hearing about strikes and what that can do to the quality of the build of an automobile, though.....:(
 

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Reliabilty.

Glider Dude.

The USA Smart 4-2 hasn't been out long enough to know yet.

The Euro gas model with the MB engine has mixed reviews overseas. According to their forums, some engines fail early even with top maintenance.

The Mitsu engines have been in the Euro models a while and are used on the Smart road show. I talked to the drivers at the Michigan show and worst
problem they have had, so far, was a failed plug.

BTW, both wife and I run lots of miles as road warriors, and have gone through six Subarus. and a hand full of other cars. The Subies have been problem free. We will retire the 02 Outback at +200k next year.

A2jack
 

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Ok. What about the previous model, which has been in Europe for 10 years now? What's it's reputation?
This car is significantly different than the 450 so a comparison is not valid. FWIW, The MB gas engine has had problems, you can get a feel for them by reading posts on the Smart Mania Site http://www.smartmania.co.uk/forums/index.php

I don't know what other application the Mitsu engine has been used in but my gut feeling is that if it is like most from Japan it will be quite reliable.

FWIW2 I have driven German cars for many years and in my experience they are not as trouble free as Japanese cars.
 

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I would say based on past automotive trends that no one looking for Japanese reliablity should be going with the Smart for these reasons-

1. first year new model = some bugs, 2. German electrics = trouble, and last, but surely not least Monsieur, 3. surly French "workers" doing assembly = BIG trouble. Three strikes (French union poking pun intended) and you'll be out.

(the only part of the Smart with Japanese reliability will likely be the engine which is built - yes- in Japan!)

Buy the Smart for the fun of it, it's not the type of car that I think you'll be able to just drive and forget about.

Hope I'm wrong BTW.
 

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Lewis.

I second you on all your points.

I expect this machine to be a high maintenance PIA. But I am buying it anyway. We love tiny cars and this is the only new one we can buy in the US.

It will be a blast.

A2Jack.
 

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Yes I agree with you A2Jack but we should enter this romance with open eyes :)

Catena MB will give free loaners for Smartcar warantee work just like they do with Mercedes (says they) so I suppose I'll be seeing them a lot in the future.

p.s. - Pure model will likely = less electrical headaches,
at least we can hope so.
 

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Lewis I assume you have one or more $30+K MBs from Catena...

Or some written info on a loaner car during warranty work on a low priced econo box... ?

Me thinks you are kidding your self... Don't get me wrong, I hope you are correct--- but in this world of every manufacture bleeding red ink, I have a hard time believing MB is going to offer a Loaner car while a first year Smart car waits on a new tranny from France/Germany

Some MB customers that are well known at a particular dealership may get a semi red carpet treatment-- but the rest of the masses will probably not IMO
 

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Lewis I assume you have one or more $30+K MBs from Catena...

Or some written info on a loaner car during warranty work on a low priced econo box... ?

Me thinks you are kidding your self... Don't get me wrong, I hope you are correct--- but in this world of every manufacture bleeding red ink, I have a hard time believing MB is going to offer a Loaner car while a first year Smart car waits on a new tranny from France/Germany

Some MB customers that are well known at a particular dealership may get a semi red carpet treatment-- but the rest of the masses will probably not IMO
All I have is their word- You can believe anything a car dealer says- can't you ???!!!!!!

Excuse me now - have to run as my closing on my purchase of the Brooklyn Bridge starts in a few minutes.
 

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Cool you are going to be the 3,289,456th owner of that damned bridge! Can I come across for free?

I would like to think that if someone in authority at Catena MB told you that the warranty package would include a loaner car under the Smart Warranty that they would have the ethical values to honor their word.

I would dearly love to get a peek at the SmartUSA warranty for the 08 Smart car. I would like to be mildly surprised to see that tow and loaner are part of the package.

I suspect that your "dealer" already knows that the loaner service is part of the "Extended Service Plan" and that the base warranty will have "roadside assist" and perhaps "tow-in" included.
 

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Cool you are going to be the 3,289,456th owner of that damned bridge! Can I come across for free?

I would like to think that if someone in authority at Catena MB told you that the warranty package would include a loaner car under the Smart Warranty that they would have the ethical values to honor their word.

I would dearly love to get a peek at the SmartUSA warranty for the 08 Smart car. I would like to be mildly surprised to see that tow and loaner are part of the package.

I suspect that your "dealer" already knows that the loaner service is part of the "Extended Service Plan" and that the base warranty will have "roadside assist" and perhaps "tow-in" included.

It was Lynn Farrell their sales manager - and it's possible she had inside information as seriously the Catena organization has a pretty good reputation in NJ. But that might just be the Catena policy, not the Smartcar policy she was referring to.

I'll let you know after I get my secret decoder password (only via e-mail), confirm my order with the company (only via the web), wait for their confirmation of my confirmation (only via email), then get contacted by my dealer Catena, order the car from them (hoping for no dealer extra profit), wait in line for the delivery after the French union settles their issues ....... excuse me while I lay down now as the recitation of all these steps is making me tired...........
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 · (Edited)
Yikes, doesn't sound like Smart is living up to their ideals. The whole underlying idea behind the Smart is economical and hassle-free transportation. Having to pi$$ away tons of time and money to fix stupid defects is not economical or hassle-free. I wasn't planning to get one first year; it would be 2009 at the earliest for me. Maybe by then things will have been straightened out. Hopefully the Jap engine will come to the US models.

I guess it also has to do with driving habits. If I live in an urban area or have a short commute and don't need to use my car for work travel, then a Smart should be fine for me. However, if I have to be a road warrior doing 25000 miles a year, I may have to settle for the Yaris or Fit.
 

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In Canada they have a free tow service. If you have any kind of problem with your smart, they come and take it to the dealer. I think this service is good for 4 years. The loaners are a dealer option and the program varies widely from dealer to dealer.
 
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