Smart Fortwo (2004–2007)

What's good

5th overall in 2003 What Car? J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Survey. 100% breakdown free in 2003 Which survey. Rated one of the cheapest superminis to run in 2003 Which survey. 2001-2003 Smarts had fewest breakdowns, problems and faults in 2003 Which survey. 19th top car out of 137 in 2003 Top Gear survey.

Smart social networking site www.destinationsmart.co.uk 

Spare parts for Smarts from italy: www.rdmricambi.it

What to watch out for

Choppy ride. Softip transmission takes a while to master, but better than Softouch programmed automatic. Gear changes are slow either way, but slowest in fully automatic mode, and still a bit slow even with the paddleshift.

No RHD diesel.

Some transmission and rear tyre options push the CO2 to between 121g/km and 127g/km, so no longer in Group B and cost an extra £80 in annual tax.

Parallel imports sold as UK market cars.

Rearmost side windows can be prised off with bare fingers giving access to thieves. So never leave valuables in the car.

Engines can have a short life and exhaust back boxes rust inside out.

At least one instance of rear window shattering violently due to minor prior damage exposed to extreme temperature change. Replaced without demur under warranty.

Exhaust manifolds can crack and cost £380 + labour of about £300 to replace. OK if still under warranty, but a lot of money if not.

Check the CO2 certification of the car you are buying as could mean the difference between £35 and £115 annual tax.

Coil spring failure increasingly common. Failure occurs at the tops of the springs.
Smart initiated unofficial recall over this.

Knocking from the front near-side suspension has been attributed to excessive end play in the steering rack and also near-side suspension strut. This noise uniquely is evident especially on smooth roads with ridges and seams, and is annoying. It can be heard and felt through the steering wheel, and floor. Smart Car Of America Forum has featured this issue also.

If the rack is replaced ensure steering wheel is centered, Smart dealers have found this difficult to correct first time.

On some cars with side airbags there is a faulty connection onto the SRS wiring loom under both front seats. This will cause the SRS warning light to illuminate and the airbag system will be disabled. Re-route and secure the airbag cables and connectors. Sometimes Smart Centres tell owners that the only cure is a new steering wheel, at considerable cost.

Frequent oil changes essential for long engine life.

From talking to Smart mechanics, a gentle warm up until the turbo spins freely is very important. Also, the oil level is difficult to check unless on level ground. People just forget to check the oil level and if they do, over fill it.

Smarts have a persistent weakness and that is that the reluctor rings on the drive shafts rust and crack so that the ABS keeps cutting in. You can't get separate reluctor ings any more so Mercedes wants you to buy a complete drive shaft for £200 plus fitting. You can fix it yourself with Araldite and a jubilee clip.

1-7-2011: MB/Smart replaced a pair of front springs FOC on a 2006 ForTwo, so if your front speings break all may not be lost.

5-11-2014: SEVERE WARNING that brake pipes pf Smart ForTwos are hidden behind plastic shrouds and can corrode to the extent that they leak. Not found during an MoT because the pipes are hidden.

Recalls

June 2003: stickers sent out to Smart owners to put over the air intake on LHS of the car warning drivers and filling station attendants that it is not the fuel filler hole. VIN KMHEN41EPXA000380 to KM11WF35H82A526636:

2008: Unofficial recall over coil springs issue, springs being replaced FOC. Owners need to contact their officlal local Smart dealers.

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