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Hello!

I've just come off my second time in three months dealing with having the three bars of death come up while driving my Smart down the middle of the road and trying to find a safe spot to coast to a stop (and not stopping in the middle of the road).

Dealer finally figured out it was the transmission motor.

But during my own research over the holiday, I have discovered, it seems there are several different reasons why the three bars might come up and the Smart will immediately shut down.

I'm trying to get a sense of who has experienced this and what were the circumstances behind it? Did you report it to the NHTSA?

It seems to me, unless the issue with your car is dire (like it could catch on fire or explode), there is no reason your car should be stopping in the middle of the road while you are driving. The warning should be lesser like a warning light on your dash telling you to get your car into the dealership ASAP.

Just the act of the car shutting in the middle of the road causes more danger and potential death than weak batteries or frayed wires.

What were your experiences?
 

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On the smart, anything that causes the clutch to fail to work properly, causes the trans to not shift properly or causes the trans control module to fail to verify proper operation will cause the three bar symbol on the dash. It is no different than a alternator failure, a fuel pump failure, running out of gas or transmission failure on a normal automatic. Any of those failures will cause the car to stop where it is.
 

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Sorry to hear you've had this as a recurring problem.

You say you're, "trying to get a sense of who has experienced this", and since it is natural for people to be more vocal when they've got a gripe than otherwise ...

I've not experienced this a single time (knock on wood) in 8.5 years of ownership and 88K on the clock. It's often discussed though, so you're far from alone. But it's also far from universal.
 

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Only time I have had it happen to me is when I picked up my latest car, 2008 and the battery was weak on it. Since charging the battery it hasn't happened. It shouldn't happen driving down the road or at high speeds, I would take a look at electrical issues (or have the dealer check them)

as for a 'dire' issue, a computer losing connection with a component sounds like a 'dire' issue to a car that everything is computer driven.
 

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Three Bar of "Death" and your experiences

Happens all the time when I disconnect the battery to do electrical work. No big deal - just shift through all of the gears and back on the road. I had some caution lamps on the last time, but a restart is all it took to reset.
 
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