Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Smart Car May Not Be So Smart after All

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Smart Car May Not Be So Smart after All

Article excerpt

Dear Car Talk: I took my 2008 Smart Fortwo to a dealership about three hours away (the closest one), due to the car occasionally not going in reverse. We left it with the dealer and went on vacation close by. I got a call, saying the problem was the "clutch adjudicator" and it would cost $750 for the part. With fewer than 48,000 miles on the car, I agreed, but they called again to say I needed a new clutch motor for $450. So now they wanted $1,675 for the work. I said "no" and told them to put the old part back in; I'd live with it refusing to go backward once in a while. They said they couldn't put the old part back in because the car was now permanently stuck in park. I got it back weeks later with both new parts. But it still has problems going in reverse, and the service manager is not returning my calls. Would any mechanic be able to tell me if these parts really were replaced? What should I expect as reimbursement from this dealership? -Bonnie

I'd expect full reimbursement. They charged you $1,675, left you walking for weeks and didn't fix the problem. They have no idea how to fix it, Bonnie. They're guessing. That's why they run into the bathroom and hide when you call.

In my opinion, this car has been the opposite of smart. We find it unsafe, uncomfortable, unreliable and, worst of all, mediocre on fuel economy.

What exactly is the advantage of driving one of these things? OK, some people say parking is easy. If you live in downtown Rome, I can see why you'd want a car with a tiny footprint. But in the Youuu-nited States? You could buy a Prius C, a Ford Fiesta or a Honda Fit and get room for four, cargo space and the same or better mileage in a real car.

I think it's unlikely you'll find an independent mechanic who knows how to fix this thing. Not many of these cars were sold, so experience on them is limited. …

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