Smart car advice

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by jac-in-a-box, Mar 30, 2015.

  1. jac-in-a-box

    jac-in-a-box Read Only Funster

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    Bit of a follow-on from a thread I posted late last year on having a car to use when away in the m'home...decided to drag around our small set of wheels on a trailer and a Smart car would seem to suit our needs - just the two of us plus 2 very small hounds.

    Anyone any experience of diesel Smart cars? Reliability, service costs and common issues particularly. Comfort, acceleration & speed are not of any great interest...I just want be able to do a little exploring without being encumbered with the difficulties of parking a large (to me at least!) motorhome.

    Thanks, David
     
  2. Wobby

    Wobby Read Only Funster

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    We had one, we could never remember the last time we fill with diesel, seemed to go on forever. It's a bit heavier than the petrol job but has more than enough poke. When we settled down again the boss insisted on, well the avatar tells all, frankly I was quite happy with the smart.

    Wobby
     
  3. Reallyretired

    Reallyretired Funster

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    Glad comfort, acceleration and speed aren't priorities. You don't get a lot of those with a Smart car:D. They are great fun to drive, and even if they're not fast, they feel as if they are, being so small. I had one for a while as a toad, loved it, but impractical as with two largish people and a dog there was no room for anything else.
    Fuel economy of even the petrol one is great. Servicing and repair costs are high, even replacing some of the bulbs is a dealer job.
     
  4. Jaws

    Jaws Funster Life Member

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    The diesel ones are a tad sedate but the petrol ones....

    My fortwo does 0 -60 in 8.9 seconds and tops out at 98mph ( I have had a VERY minor map change )
    It has all the mod cons you can think of inc heated seats, flappy paddles, built in GPS etc etc
    Woman and I used ours to camp in Italy one year.. Took all the gear and us two and we knocked out the run to Garda in 20 hours
    You can take EVERY panel off the thing in 40 minutes, there are no probs changing any of the bulbs, a major service is £218 ( apparently though I do all my own servicing ) and a minor service including oil change takes about 40 minutes

    Unless you go pre 2007 you will have the litre ( actually a couple of cc under ) 3 cylinder Mitzi engine as fitted in all sorts of cars..

    And if you reckon I aint a large person.. well bless you my son and thank you (y);)
     
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  5. jac-in-a-box

    jac-in-a-box Read Only Funster

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    Thank you for your replies!

    Seem's there are no major issues with them...the hunt begins!

    A little contrary to my first post perhaps, having somewhere to store a trailor at home may prove to be an issue until the summer, I'm not going to rule out an A frame for use until then (the trailor option was decided purely for European jaunts) Would I be correct in thinking that A frames are not marque specific...any A frame can be fitted to a suitable small car?
    Though I 've had a ferret on the net, I'm not sure I've fully understood how the braking system works...if I buy a second hand A frame that was fitted for say a Fiat, could I expect it to fit and function on a "Smartie"?

    Nothing is ever straightforward as it first seem's!

    David
     
  6. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    Any A frame will fit a london bus with the correct mountings.

    Its only the mountings which are vehicle specific, the A frames are the same, and if they arent available they can be made by someone who knows what they are doing.
    different manufacturers have different designs and arent interchangeable but all work the same way

    Braking system involves drilling a hole in the under dash bulkhead and a small hole in the brake pedal.
    the cable slips through the hole and a Y shaped yoke fits over the pedal with a pin and splitpin....similar idea as a bicycle brake lever.....outer cable rests against the bulkhead and the inner fits to the pedal.
    the cable is in two parts...a short part on the car and a longer one on the A frame.
    when in use they join end to end making one cable.

    Of course, you could go down the electric braking route....no holes or cables.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2015
  7. donnkim

    donnkim Funster

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    I don't think its is an easy job to refit a second hand A frame especially as you have to weld the second tow point.
    We have a 5 door Picanto on an A frame from Towbars2towcars. Brilliant electronic system which is also very light and quick to install and remove. Not cheap though
     
  8. pappajohn

    pappajohn Funster Life Member

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    Depend which A frame.
    some use the cars towing eye point which means welding in a second one.
    others use steel plates bolted to the chassis or a manufactured bracket But leave the pull bar visible on the car....the A frame fits to the pull bar.

    I made my own mount from 6mm steel plates bolted to the front cross member. (Vauxhall Corsa)
    Took me a day, start to finish.
     
  9. StefAndDi

    StefAndDi

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    I don't know if it sold, but a couple of weeks ago Funster RV 20K advertised in the Classifieds section a very nice looking Smart Diesel in Black, complete with a Smart trailer and all the necessary tackle. It may be worth a PM.
    Stef.
     
  10. jac-in-a-box

    jac-in-a-box Read Only Funster

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    Right, it's becoming a little clearer now...the mechanical system, as pappajohn described and if I've understood, there is a direct connection via the cable between the motorhome brake pedal and the towed car?

    Again from the web, it can be taken a step further, by fitting a vacuum boost system to the towed car to improve brake efficiency - use the servo...and then there is the electric system.
    As I thought, nothing is straightforward!

    For StefAndDi, yes I'd seen the Smartie on a trailor, looks good. If only it was a little closer to home, we'll see!

    David
     
  11. tonyidle

    tonyidle Funster

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    At least three brake systems: Overrun uses a cable that connects the caravan-style hitch to the towed cars brake pedal: Electronic (1) uses a box in the front footwell of the towed car to sense deceleration and to push the brake pedal via a servo: Electronic (2) does the same and also powers the towed cars servo. The last two can use a very light and simple A frame because it has no braking function - the box of fairy dust in the footwell does everything.
     
  12. jac-in-a-box

    jac-in-a-box Read Only Funster

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    ^^^ all be coming a little clearer now, though still tainted by a large dose of fairy dust. In fact the whole motorhome business, to a beginner, seems that way.

    None the less, thank you Tony:)

    David
     
  13. PeteH

    PeteH Funster

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    Fitting a "Caratow" to a Smart:-

    If yours is Second Hand, Caratow will supply adapter(s) for DIY. Approx £125-00 (2010) plus a brake cable £40-00.

    OK. First you remove the whole front panel. Lights and all. Then you remove the two Crash pads/Bar. The tow Adapter bolts in place of these. While the front is off, drill the hole for the Brake cable, and fit the cable run. Replace front panel, (Note:- dependant on model you may have to cut away some of the ABS/Plastic Stiffening in the grill?) and in the cockpit drill a hole for the Brake cable in the Brake pedal, Needs a short drill or best an angled Air drill, due to a lack of clearance. Fit the external Draw-bar to the exposed Adapter plates. Its not as bad a job as it seems but needs a bit of time and patience. When removing the Front panel there are 2 Hidden bolts behind the Mirror fittings? if I remember correctly?

    The ONE big thing to remember is that when you set up to go, is to be Absolutely SURE that it is Neutral. If not you WILL wreck the Engine and transmission!!. (says the man who sued and Lost!!!!!)

    Pete
     
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  14. GWAYGWAY

    GWAYGWAY Funster

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    I hope that there is a vacuum pipe connection to the car from the van as otherwise the servo on the car will inoperative. I found out being towed once that the brake system becomes absolutely solid without the servo. ie Two balls out of the ears from pushing the brake pedal, to avoid being a battering ram to the towing car,luckily the handbrake worked better, the power steering also goes solid without the engine running as mine is electric and controlled by the ECU.
     
  15. simplyjimbo

    simplyjimbo Funster

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    Much easier with a trailer!
    Seriously though, it takes me 5 mins if that to drive onto the trailer, strap the car and drive away.
    No additional wear and tear on the cars running gear, and its totally legal in Europe where laws are a bit open to interpretation by 'keen' foreign traffic cops in Spain and Portugal especially, and soon France.
    We use a Brian James Smart car trailer.
    Just a shame we couldn't get the guy to swap his E-Type with us!

    Nikki Birthday 1014 and Millau 064.JPG
     
  16. jac-in-a-box

    jac-in-a-box Read Only Funster

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    PeteH - good stuff, thank you.
    simplyjimbo - first line of your post...couldn't agree more!

    For now I think I'll give the A frame idea a miss. Was hoping, somewhat naively, that I could pick up a 2nd hand frame bolt it on and be away, much more to consider obviously!

    I've got 5 cars + the m'home and really haven't the room to store a trailer just now...and none of the cars are small enough for towing. With the expense of an used A frame and whatever else I might need to be fully prepared for towing the costs are mounting - and it was to be a "temporary option" It'll push me to get rid of a car or three pronto and focus on a trailer.

    Learnt a lot though! :)

    David
     
  17. PeteH

    PeteH Funster

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    Jimbo is right. IF you are planning a lot of Continental use then go the trailer route. I "A" framed across Europe with a series of small (Cheap) cars.. and was "pulled" 3 times by Spanish "Plod" for it!!. (always Sunday, and all 3 times Guardia on motorcycles!!). The FACT that (properly set up) its not ILLEGAL. Does not stop them giving you a load of HASSLE!!!. The issue you had is the one I had. Nowhere to store a Trailer.

    Pete
     
  18. PeteH

    PeteH Funster

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    Not any issue with a Smart. HOWEVER. It is critical that you make absolutely sure that the Gearbox is in Neutral. before towing. It IS possible to get a false neutral on some early models.

    Pete
     
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