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Steering locked - 2008 ForTwo

3670 Views 15 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  den458
The steering on one of my two 2008 ForTwos, my Pure (81K miles) locked up this morning, engine running or not. Car definitely has power steering, historically was easy to steer, but the steering wheel felt like it was mechanically locked in place.

Running car shifted into forward & reverse, moved straight forward & backward. The steering wheel moved just a few degrees, maybe the right amount of play in a steering coupler.

26 degrees now, but the Smart has seen much colder in 12 Chicagoland winters.

I’ve read in our other threads that we have no anti-theft-purposed mechanical steering lock, & that power steering is electric-assist, & there can be no steering fluid issues.

The few posts I’ve found of locked steering behavior like mine invariably end with no resolutions posted - the OP doesn’t describe the failure mechanism or the resolution / fix.

Decided to warm the car interior on high heat for 30 minutes & then recheck. Steering was still locked. Looking under the dash, I tugged on the wheel, saw that slight steering wheel movement caused the steering shaft to rotate slightly where it disappeared through the firewall, looked outside at the tires to see any tire movement, NONE…. Another steering wheel tug…. It rotated freely.

No click, no bang, no audible hint anything had changed…. but the steering wheel was free.

Helluva thing, the steering locking up. It was about 9:45a this morning I noticed it locked. The lock cleared a few minutes ago, about 12:30p.

Not looking for speculation on the many potential locked-steering causes. Anyone here KNOW what ultimately caused any of our steering locked behaviors & what the fix entailed?
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My Pure is definitely power steering equipped (way easier to steer than my Cabrio w/o power steering), it's listed on the window sticker, & I do get a steering wheel icon above the engine icon with key in ON position. FWIW, I did have a ck engine lamp, the code was an irrelevant P0497, some sort of emissions-related code, I cleared it.

The car has sat unused last ~ 30 hours. Tonight I started the car, steering was locked again. Left running, max heat/fan ON, after about 30 minutes, I checked the steering, still locked, but released after maybe another minute. No idea if engine warm-up or passenger compartment warm-up is relevant.

Browsed the site for 451-model steering related complaints, there are some like mine (steering locked at start-up), at least one the steering locked while driving. No apparent investigations for steering defects. As usual, too few vehicles with too few complaints to merit much national concern for mass traffic safety.

It's getting dang cold out, so car may sit quite a while until, idunno.... Spring.
My 2011 Pure, no power steering, no power windows, liked those features. One could simply replace power steering unit with manual system and your problem is solved. Check for recycling yards for used unit, used parts can not be that expensive. My 2014 BWM I3 has electric power steering that on occasion quits working, but still functions with regards to steering car. After power cycle it seems to resolve problem.
Think you are right about waisting $$$ on diagnostics. If your steering rack has mechanical failure, diagnostics maybe able to detect electric motor failure, or related some limit switch malfunction... not much else. Can you lift front end on jacks/blocks ( wheels in the air ) & then rotate steering wheel? without ignition switch on?
Just a simple DIY diagnostics test. Alternate idea: take car to independent shop (not dealer) to check front end. There is no CV joint on Smarts on front end, RWD car.
My original idea, case your steering rack is defective... replace with manual rack, may find used unit on web.
Smart cars are very light on front end, and narrow front OEM tires make steering easy.
Hi, here is another possible issues on Smart car... steering column universal joint. There is one next to steering rack, one inside car. Suspecting outside joint need lube job. Check web on
Seized steering column universal joint (, image with lower joint. There is another inside car.
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Maybe your power steering system is fine, but steering column universal joint is going bad. Since there is NO lube point on these, spray penetrating/ lubricant like PB blaster externally, then rotate. Give it some workout. If this makes a difference I would replace steering column universal joints... critical to your safe driving.
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