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I brought my 2008 Smart Car in for its 3 year service (to a certified Smart center), and not 15 miles after I picked it up did my entire left rear wheel fly off while I was going about 50mph. Thankfully, I was unhurt, and my wheel didn't hit any cars in the 1/4 mile it went after I stopped.

At first, the dealership said that they would repair the car. However, when I went to pick up the repaired car, they said that only the exhaust pipe and left body panels were damaged. I insisted that the backing plate for the brake drum was dragging along the ground as I skidded to a stop (I have photo evidence), and the manager of the dealership did not believe me. We took a look at the backing plate, and any person who had looked could have seen significant damage after the car was "fixed." They have since replaced this part.

The dealership is now denying all responsibility, even telling me that the tires were not removed during the service (checking the tires and brakes is in fact part of the standard 3 year service). I'm now very concerned that the car was not repaired properly. I don't know what kind of long-term damage could result from the car dragging on the ground like that. I wonder if it could have damaged the axle. I want to bring it to an independent mechanic for evaluation, but I don't know if standard mechanics are able to assess Smart Cars.

Any advice on how to deal with this situation would be wonderful.

Thanks so much!
 

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SO glad to know you were not hurt.
Call your insurance?

See what type of written complaint process the center has and get a copy for your records; exhaust those, then contact smartUSA and file a ticket/complaint with copies of what is included in the service check.

Moved the post to the Close Call subforum for better responses.
 

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Why would he? Just another opportunity for forum members to get on his case.:rolleyes:
This is true, but you know as well as I do, he brings it on himself.:rolleyes: Many people get along just fine on the forum. We make mistakes, we say things we regret later. There is a reason Kamaal gets the flack he does. It's not that 50% of the members are wrong and he is the only one right. (OK, I exagerated, 35%) I will get the opportunity to meet him in person sometime in the near future (he is only 40 miles from me.) I am sure he is a good guy and probably friendly and knowlegable. I try to give him every benefit of the doubt. We'll see.:wink:
 

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Your car is mechanically ok... The brake backing plate saved your car from getting any further damage...

BUT

Future Note: You need to pick up a Torque Wrench & 15mm six point socket & short extention. Put some anti-seize on the Lug Bolt Threads to get proper torque & longevity.
These cars need to be Torqued right on the money (81 Foot Pounds) or they will loosen up, or you damage if over torgued... You can't trust anybody but yourself to get it right...

Get over to Harbor Freight and get what you need...
~Copy Print~

 

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Why not just take the car to another smart dealership, for a second evaluation. A car salesman on the west coast can't see the damage, on the vehicle.
 

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Wheel flying off....

This is gonna maybe sound harsh...hope it doesn't offend anyone that might think otherwise.... Get a good lawyer and sue their asses ! You could have been KILLED !...And the wheel flying through traffic could have killed someone....can you talk about luck or what...Man it's lucky you didn't go tumbling down the road....Keep your receipt of what service was done...get a list of what is to be performed on that service and go from there.....document everything...everything...miles from dealership when it happened...pics of scene where it happened...any witnesses statements if you got any...and Don't know if your dealer has this but mine does....They have survaillence camera's in shop and you can watch what's going on while they work on your car...request video ...your lawyer can easily get this done if they have a survaillence system set up in shop.... I don't understand any Smart dealer being that F...ed up ! Glad you are being able to tell the story ! Hope the experience doesn't turn you off to maybe trusting a better and different dealership !
 

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Don't feel bad. My left rear wheel fell off once too because some idiot didn't double check his work when he got in a hurry. I've always double checked the lug bolts from there on. Good thing is I had a trailer hitch so not much damage happened and now the car has been pretty much gutted to include the DeDion so no harm no foul.

The dealer should have had a camera system so torquing should be on video. I would look into it further.
 

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Why not just take the car to another smart dealership, for a second evaluation.
It must be nice, having two dealerships within a reasonable (?) distance. I feel like I have to go halfway across our largest unfrozen state just to get to one dealership. May the little smart always be as reliable and fun to drive as it has been so far.

I might add a note to the very good advice here to the effect that one should without fail personally check the tightness of the lug bolts anytime they are touched by another person. The wisdom of this advice was driven home to me as my dealer's salesperson accompanied me as I drove (my first time behind the wheel) around the block in my new 2011 smart before taking delivery.

A wheel cover fell off a front wheel as I made this maiden voyage, no more than 15 minutes after the alleged predelivery inspection and service by the dealer's shop. The salesperson's comment, "Gee, sorry. That should not happen."

No kidding? She picked up the wheel cover, mounted it back on the wheel correctly, and I continued my shakedown cruise. No harm; no foul -- right?

But there was harm. Any faith I may have naively had in the dealer's service department went up in smoke, and although I have thankfully never had occasion to go back for service, I am not confident that I will go back to my dealer if/when the occasion does arrive.

When I got the smart home for the first time a torque wrench and a 15 mm socket were included in my first purchase of tools at Harbor Freight.

A month later I had my stock wheels replaced by a set of sporty wheels at a tire shop which is a part of a well-known national chain. I asked the technician installing the wheels to please use a torque wrench set at 81 ft. lbs., and he very courteously asked me if I had one, since they did not, and that their air wrench is notoriously unreliable. While I was not impressed by a tire shop tolerating such a situation, I was on the other hand very pleased that the technician was so honest.

After installing the wheels with the air wrench he checked the tightness with my new torque wrench, and several of the lug bolts rotated a bit before the wrench clicked.

Another loss of confidence, but these two incidents reinforced each other, and hopefully I will never again fail to personally check on any kind of service whatsoever given by someone else to the extent I can, recognizing, however, that I often cannot. Until proven otherwise I must assume that they are untrustworthy. I am of course not talking about just service received at a smart dealer -- I am talking about any service of any kind anywhere.

It is distressing to have to adopt such an attitude, but it is not, I think, inappropriate.

Jim
 

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Any shop that does a repair that involves wheel removal should have a torque wrench!! good grief!! how do they calibrate their air tools without one??? Pure insanity. The local tire shop here in town sticks a warning sticker on your windshield that you need to return within 100 miles or so to have the wheels re-torqued (for free).

Not that I am for the legal process, but i'd at least give a lawyer a call. If it happened to you, it could happen to someone else. Imagine if it happened to a full size SUV with an inexperienced drive, or full of kids...

Had a local shop repair the brakes on a company vehicle I then drove to North Dakota. once I got there I tried to stop at a fast food joint, had to drive around the building a few times as there wasn't any brake fluid left, and the E brake wasn't reconnected. Seems they left a brake line a little lose and the fluid took some time to all leak out. An annoying problem but without an emergency brake, I was in trouble. We had words with the mechanic and the shop owner when I got back....
 

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I'm guessin' some of the newer generation mechanics havn't figured out where the torque app. is on the handheld keypads or was interrupted by a text message...:rolleyes:
 

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Before installing a alloy wheel, back on a vehicle. You need to clean the corrosion/dirt off the back center section of the wheel. A clean contact area is good. Then torque the lugs on the wheel to the manufactures specs. Check the torque again, after 100 miles of so. I've had many of a wheel come loose, after a rotation, because they didn't clean off the back of the wheels, where it comes in contact to the hub. Sloppy dealer work.
 

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Any more info on this - ultimate cause (Ford just recalled a bunch of cars due to fractured wheel studs), resolution? :)
You "Over Torque" on any other car but a Smart, and you knock out the broken stud and replace, and your good to go... On a Smart you strip the threads out of the hub with that BS lug bolt design, and you have another over priced MB fix to do... can you say BUTT-KISS...!!!...<:-((

NOTE: MB what were You Thinking...<:-((
 

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You "Over Torque" on any other car but a Smart, and you knock out the broken stud and replace, and your good to go... On a Smart you strip the threads out of the hub with that BS lug bolt design, and you have another over priced MB fix to do... can you say BUTT-KISS...!!!...<:-((

NOTE: MB what were You Thinking...<:-((
Another incentive, I would think, for us to see that our own well-calibrated torque wrench is always used rather than Bubba's air gun.

The flip side.

Jim
 

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You "Over Torque" on any other car but a Smart, and you knock out the broken stud and replace, and your good to go... On a Smart you strip the threads out of the hub with that BS lug bolt design, and you have another over priced MB fix to do... can you say BUTT-KISS...!!!...<:-((

NOTE: MB what were You Thinking...<:-((

Fiat did lug bolts for years....Ask me how I know....:)
One thing Fiat DID do right is they had locator pins on the rotors so it was easy to get the wheel in the right place unlike smart.....
 
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