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Discussion Starter #1
Hello everyone,
I need some advice and help. I have a 2009 Smart Cabrio with electronic steering. The car is great while in the city, driving under 45 mph, but when I get on the open road and am driving at 55 mph and above, the front end feels like I need an alignment. I have taken the car back to the dealer and they say they have realigned the car, but the problem is still there. The feeling the car has is similar to driving over a metal grate bridge, pulling from side to side while driving in a straight line. It is so bad that I am constantly moving the steering wheel 1" to 2" trying to correct the track while driving. Has anyone else experienced this problem? Would putting wider tires in the front help it to track better? I know this is a small car, but my old Geo Metro Convertible held the road great with no front end unstable feelings. I have to say this is the only thing I hate about this car. Everything else is just great and I love driving it otherwise. Thanks in advance for the advice...
Ryan
 

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Hello everyone,
I need some advice and help. I have a 2009 Smart Cabrio with electronic steering. The car is great while in the city, driving under 45 mph, but when I get on the open road and am driving at 55 mph and above, the front end feels like I need an alignment. I have taken the car back to the dealer and they say they have realigned the car, but the problem is still there. The feeling the car has is similar to driving over a metal grate bridge, pulling from side to side while driving in a straight line. It is so bad that I am constantly moving the steering wheel 1" to 2" trying to correct the track while driving. Has anyone else experienced this problem? Would putting wider tires in the front help it to track better? I know this is a small car, but my old Geo Metro Convertible held the road great with no front end unstable feelings. I have to say this is the only thing I hate about this car. Everything else is just great and I love driving it otherwise. Thanks in advance for the advice...
Ryan
Assuming the alignment has been confirmed in-spec, and the tire pressures are correct, what you're describing sounds like normal Fortwo behaviour. The relatively narrow front tires, combined with the short wheelbase and the light weight of the car mean that it will tend to get pushed around by the wind and also follow any ruts on the freeway. Wider front tires (along with wider front wheel) can help with this, but I've just become accustomed to it.
 

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I don't have problems with the wheels pulling from side to side as you describe. In Oregon we have "ruts" worn into our highways from too many nitwits using studded snow tires even though we only average 2 days a year they might be needed. The ruts tend to seriously pull the sports steering in the roadsters I've owned but never so much in the Smart. My Electric Power Steering does fine in these conditions. The drive to and from San Francisco gave no indication things might be odd.

I'd suggest driving another Smart on a section of road you know gives you problems to see if another car with EPS gives you the same trouble such as one might encounter with heavily grooved pavement.

While your Smart is in alignment, I'm wondering if camber is part of that alignment. The feel you've mentioned is reminiscent of the sports suspension in the ruts.
 

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What Padawan says is correct, up to a point. The smart does need some wind correction and it will follow ruts in the road. Assuming you can find a flat, smooth road surface on a calm day, the smart should not require constant correction. Under those conditions our car tracks straight and can easily be held that way with one hand on the wheel. So, something may need attention - tire pressure as mentioned, loose wheel bolts, bent front suspension part, etc. Who knows? :)

With three smart centers in the Tampa area you should be able to get a 2nd and 3rd opinion. Or perhaps take it to a full time alignment shop?
 

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The only thing I would suggest is you demand that the service mgr go for a ride with you and show them what's happening.
At high speeds the car will feel a little bit squirley, because of the short wheelbase, but I am talking about 85mph+.
Wifey's 2008 without the electronic steering is fine at 75mph.
That steering effect you are experiencing, in my opinion, might shorten the life of your front tires.
I don't know much about cars, but, I would think alignment, is only one part of the equation. Maybe it's the shock absorbers, steering knuckle, wheel balancing, etc.
Good luck !!!
I hope someone more knowlegeable than me posts up a solution.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Thank you all for the advice.. The problem happens even when there is no wind and on flat roads that have just been paved. The feeling is that the car can not stay in a straight line. It is as if it is pulling itself around, similar to what it does when it is a windy day. I did take it to another smart center, and they told me that the problem my be in the electronic steering. They said that the design of that feature is too much power for a small car of this size, and as a result any slight movement of the wheel, either intentional or unintentional, can cause the car to shift direction and feel out of control. I have not taken it to a allignment center outside of our local smart center. The car has been into them 3 times for this. The first time they did an alignment and said it was good. I took it out and it still acted the same. When I took it back, they said they forgot to adjust the rear tires. Me, being a bit trusting, accepted that. I did not know that the rear is not adjustable in the smart, which makes me wonder why they would lie to me. I took the car back out and it still did the same thing. I just took it back again a few weeks ago and they said there was nothing more they could do about it. I complained, so they sent a tech out with me who said it did not act completely normal and they sent in a request for tech info from Mercedes. It was a windy day when I went out with the tech, and the wind was coming steady from one side of the car. Even with the wind coming from one side, the car would pull to both sides. Still have not heard back from them about this. I had an 08 smart that did not have any steering problems like this, but it had manual steering and not the electronic. Maybe that is the difference? I am now trying to find out if putting wider tires on will help give me a more stable feel to the front end. Anyone else changed to wider tires and feel like it made the car more stable?
 

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Discussion Starter #8
Hey NuBiker,
I can't get my car past 74 mph without it starting to shudder and having a feeling like I am "hitting a wall" for speed.. Hard to explain it other than that.. It's like no matter how much gas I give it I can't get past that point easily.. The dealer told me this was normal, that they all shake above 70 mph. I am getting a little upset with my local dealer service...
 

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We constantly drive our 08 at Michigan freeway speeds of 80-85. It has the electric steering option. Most of the time it will run almost hands off and track well. However, we really never let go as it will DART from time to time due to road surface.

With no cross wind your car should track like it was on rails at 70 and under.

Keep pressing the dealer, as most Smart Centers do not have alignment skills or equipment, and must send the car out. That costs them money. Please keep us posted A2Jack.
 

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Hey NuBiker,
I can't get my car past 74 mph without it starting to shudder and having a feeling like I am "hitting a wall" for speed.. Hard to explain it other than that.. It's like no matter how much gas I give it I can't get past that point easily.. The dealer told me this was normal, that they all shake above 70 mph. I am getting a little upset with my local dealer service...
Dear god. It's normal for any car with unbalanced wheels to feel like that. My Smart is smooth as silk on a blemish free road at 75. No shudder. No problem going faster if desperately needed (I honestly don't like to see my speedometer at 85 when passing).
 

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Hey NuBiker,
I can't get my car past 74 mph without it starting to shudder and having a feeling like I am "hitting a wall" for speed.. Hard to explain it other than that.. It's like no matter how much gas I give it I can't get past that point easily.. The dealer told me this was normal, that they all shake above 70 mph. I am getting a little upset with my local dealer service...
Go to another dealer "if it is still warranty" and or go to A shop that only they do is wheel alignment not a tire shop they are screw up.... then if the tech said need alignement then let them do it get the reciept and slap it to that dealer remember i'm in your back....:worship:
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Again, thank you all for the advice.. I think I will take the car to an alignment specialty place, have them check the alignment and get the tires expertly balanced. I just hate that my local dealer service just tries to push everything under the rug, so to speak, just hoping that their problem/customer, will go away thinking the problem is normal. If they keep this up, they are going to start giving smart a bad reputation. Thanks again,
Ryan
 

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Just to throw my hat into the ring, I have a 2009 Brabus Cabrio with the wider tires and EPS. In a no wind condition she holds firm straight and true at all speeds up to and including 85+mph. I have noticed that as the speed increases especially over 55mph the steering gets progressively stiffer (let's say speed sensitive). At 75mph it gives me that go-kart feel at the wheel. In the afternoon when the wind picks up I do notice a bit of buffet, but nothing that makes the car uncontrollable. I know that when I come upon a semi that I can steady the car with both hands on the wheel. I notice a bit of a 'push' as I pass and break free of his wind wake. I typically will ride 'high' in the lane to stay out of the imperceptible ruts created by those tractor-trailers. The tight steering tends to give you the feeling of over-correcting. I overlook that due to the very short wheelbase, though.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
After reading the last two posts, I know there is a big problem up front.. My car feels loose and sloppy at higher speeds, not tighter.. It it was tight and in control I would love it.
 

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Mine will only loosen up over 70mph with winds (in heavy winds I feel it even at 60mph but I'm certain it's crosswinds then). Ruts in the road are wider than the smart's wheelbase, so if I encounter a rut, I ride offset so that neither wheel is in a rut (and tend to hug either side of the lane). But with fresh paved road, I'd think either the road isn't even (curved higher in center) or is slanted to allow drainage, in either case you could duplicate the effect every time and would have a different effect on a different stretch of road.

Tire balance could be an issue; if one tire's weights dropped off, you would feel a shudder above 60-70mph. It might even pull to one side. If pressure's not up to specs (remember, the front and back get different amounts but left and right should match), it will do the same thing. Keep in mind, unless you got a tire warranty, anything related to the tire and wheel (damaged tire, balance) is probably not under warranty unless you can prove the dealer delivered you a car that wasn't up to their standards.

Still, the EPS steering control is super sensitive and took me 100 miles to adjust to its behavior. Other cars, you can swing the wheel 2" side to side and barely move... on a smart, instant response. Trust me, if you need to swerve, you'll be happy you had that extra 1/4 second... it has already saved me three times.
 

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Just to fill in a point.. As far as I know, the EPS assisting power is reduced the faster you go, since it's meant to help steer at low speed. That's in the manual I believe.
As for that uber sensitive steering, thats absolutely right. You can just shimmy the wheel very slightly and you can feel the car respond. I actually quite like that.
The steering holds well at highway speed, but still retains that sensitive response.
I'd definately keep pestering the dealer til something gets done.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Sorry it took me so long to get information back to you all.. I took the car to a very well respected tire place. They rebalanced the tires and found that the 2 rear tires were out of balance causing the car to shake above 70mph. That problem was solved. The front end issue was still driving me crazy. After waiting for a solution to my sloppy front end issue, after the dealer said they submitted it to headquarters, I got frustrated. I took the car back to the dealership, along with the paperwork showing the rear tires were out of balance, and they agreed to put the car back up on the rack and check out the front end. After getting the car back, the front end was still sloppy. The smart service manager suggested that it more than likely would feel better with wider tires. I have switched to 16" rims and tires. The results are much better. The car has a much more stable feeling now. I am still convinced that there is something wrong in the front end, as the front end never feels centered on the highway, and always seems to pull to one side and then the other. I am going to take the car to a front end specialist and pay to have the front end re-aligned again. I hope this will fix it. I love my car, I just want it to feel more connected to the road and stable.
 

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I am glad to hear it is better.

Have you ever thought of taking one out for a test drive on a highway and bringing it up to speed to test it?
 
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