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My wife discovered this morning that snow quickly disables the ABS sensors and triggers warning lights which according to Smart indicate that the car should absolutely not be driven. She called the dealer and they suggested that a warm car wash might clean the sensors and fix the problem. No word as to how we should get the car to, or through a carwash. No word as to why the ABS system should be so easily disabled by snow... ie, the road condition that ABS systems are specifically designed to handle.

We have really enjoyed our Smart so far, but unless we get some different info on this situation, or unless a recall of some sort is in the offing we're going to have to think long and hard about keeping it. This was the first snow of the season here in Minneapolis, and the car was rendered unusable within one block. No thaw is in the forcast for at least a week or two. So I'm thinking we might need to get it towed (before the city tows it). I never would have guessed that a car from the Alps would be so helpless in snow.
 

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All cars with ABS are useless in snow, even by big 4x4 is crap at stopping in snow with standard road tyres on.
If you get a lot of snow where you are, get a cheap set of steel wheels and fit snow tyres to them for winter, the smart works a lot better in snow with them fitted.
El
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks. But my issue is not that the car had trouble in the snow, or even that the system designed to handle rough weather isn't weatherproof. My issue is that after one block in the snow on the first snowy day of the year, the car illluminated a combination of warning lights that the manual indicated and the dealer confirmed mean that the car should absolutely not be driven in this condition. If the warnings mearly meant that the ABS was down, so pump the breaks if you skid, it would be annoying but no big deal. But the lights meant that the car is undrive-able. Unless Smart and the Smart dealer are grossly exaggerating, which I suppose is possible. My wife also reports that the car was driving very strangely and she could smell the brakes... as in perhaps they were stuck in a semi-engaged position.
 

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Its pretty chilly to be taking the car though the car wash right now, most aren't going to let you wash the car. Do you happen to know of a place that has a heated garage?

I haven't encountered this problem yet, and I haven't read much about this either...
 

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If you smell brakes, you may want to call Smart Center of Bloomington back and let them know, you may have a bigger issue on your hands.
 

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That explains it a little better, sounds like the brakes have gone nuts in the snow, in that case, get it to a dealers or get them to pick it up, it's under warranty, so get them to look it over and see if they can spot what's up with it
 

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How in the world did I drive for 37 years without ABS? Or stability control..... or airbags? Why..... safely....... (Perhaps I should sell my motorcycle...... no ABS, airbags, stability control, or SEATBELTS...... lol)
 

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FWIW, my smart went through lots of snow last winter without triggering any malfunctions. Lots of members have reported similar experiences so I'm guessing there's an particular problem with yours that needs dealer attention. In general, it seems that smarts do just fine in the snow.
 

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I don't know what to say. I spent 3 Hours in the snow yesterday driving in every snow condition possible. The little triangle was working hard the entire time, thus my brakes were working hard to keep me in control. It did everything I asked and more. Even pulled me out after I got it high centered. I also went through drifts that sent snow over the roof.

Not sure what it would take to get the sensors to fail, unless something melted and refroze over night
 

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Not sure what it would take to get the sensors to fail, unless something melted and refroze over night
Yep. OP: if the car is garaged and accumulated snow and ice from the day before has only melted to the point that when you took off in the morning the tone rings and/or sensor studs got turned into a ball of ice, that would explain your problem.
 

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Make sure you bring in your car before 2pm tomorrow. I have had 2pm to close reserved for 3 weeks now. I am getting a new roof installed.
 

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There's plenty of snow in Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Canada, Sweden and everywhere else they sell smarts...right? Perhaps the engineers thought about snow and brakes?

I am interested to read how this ABS + snow situation resolves...
 

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You may be safer with it not working...!!! Get in your car and drive it to the dealer... Just drive it like a Normal Safe driving person...<:))

They’ve failed to tell the truth about ABS
http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/killer-abs-abs-braking-increases-rollover-risk-by-51/
That is an misleading article with some incorrect information.

The reasons for higher accident rates for vehicles equipped with ABS has little to do with the operation of ABS and everything to do with the ignorance and lack of skill of the drivers of those vehicles.
There are far too many drivers who do not know how ABS works and when they do panic brake and hear and feel the pulsations of the ABS working they instinctively release pressure on the brakes. Those who are involved in turnovers simply lack the skill to execute evasive manoeuvres safely.

ABS is most effective on dry roads. It is least effective on surfaces that have loose sand or gravel and snow. There must be traction for ABS to work, otherwise the wheels just lock up and skid. Stopping distances can increase with vehicles that have ABS, but for unskilled drivers who use it effectively, it will allow them to stop in shorter distances than they might otherwise. A skilled driver who is capable of feeling tires at the threshold of lockup and who can properly modulate the brake pedal to keep it there during braking can stop in shorter distances.
The chances of most drivers feeling the ABS working is greater on wet roads where there is some traction at low speeds.

The major benefit of ABS is to not only keep the tires at the threshold of traction but since they still are rolling and do have traction, a driver can steer if he has the presence of mind to do so and is trained to steer where he wants to go instead of staring at the object he is wanting to miss. This takes training and most drivers do not have that.

The issue here is not that ABS is ineffective, it's that far too many drivers lack knowledge of how to use the ABS system and also lack the skills to take safe evasive manoeuvres. It would be a real shame to eliminate a system like this instead of instituting proper driver training and licensing!
 

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Just to add my two cents worth, I drove my sweet little smart all last winter in varying snow conditions. ABS worked perfectly, never had a problem. The only issue is to remember that your smart only weighs 1800 lbs or so, and you do have to exercise some care when driving in any wintery conditions.
 

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So that is the big job Joe was talking about on Friday? :)

Yea, I need to book it down to the cities after work. I hope it won't keep them long after 5pm on a Friday! :eek:

Regarding the ABS, I know having ABS in the snow and ICE is better. Try this:
Drive 20mph, slam on the brake peddle...see how long you take to stop.
Then drive the same speed and pull on the e-brake...see what happens. (Make sure your in a open lot) :)

ABS + Snow Tires is the ultimate combo in the winter. :smartje.bl.zw:
 

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Jeff, that is a good idea, but remember when pulling the ebrake, you are only using the rear brakes, so... in theory only using half the braking force, but I guess when you're on Ice... What difference does it make, your not stopping anytime soon :)
 
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