smart towing

Discussion in 'Motorhome Chat' started by davejen, Sep 25, 2008.

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  1. davejen

    davejen Funster

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    Hi, all,
    I'm sure this has probably been asked somewhere else (but I can't find it):Doh::Doh: what I need to know is whether you can tow a Smart Car that has the semi-automatic transmission with all 4 wheels on the road. I've seen loads being towed- surely they aren't all manual ones.
    Looking forwards to your esteemed knowled
    thanks in advance,
    Dave & Jen:thumb:
     
  2. camcondor

    camcondor Read Only Funster

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    Hi there, yes, its been asked and no doubt answered many times before, but this is my opinion as a Smart owner/driver who has FULLY researched the issue and has both a trailer and an A frame:

    We tow a Smart Passion 2004 model; some Smarts have a "fully" auto option, while others have a "semi" auto option - Smarts don't have a clutch. The lower spec models only have the "semi" option, while the higher spec ones have both options. Lower spec models include the "Pure".

    However, towing of either model presents no problems at all PROVIDED you leave the gearbox in Neutral and the handbrake off!! You do NOT need to leave an ignition key in a Smart to tow it - it does not have a steering lock, so it can be locked up when towing for improved security.

    Mercedes will however NOT honour the warranty on a Smart if you two it on an A frame, so best to get one outside of warranty so it is never an issue!! Reason why? Who knows. Some Smart owners have towed their Smarts many thosands of miles on an A frame without apparent damage. Those that have had problems generally left the gearbox in reverse (which is how you usually leave a Smart, as per the handbook) or left the brakes on. That way, you will blow up the little engine quickly or cause a fire with the overheated brakes = destroyed Smart. But with normal careful common sense you won't.

    Towtal did our A frame only 2 weeks ago - we have a lovely Brian James trailer which tows really well, but we battle to hitch it up on our steep driveway. The A frame is fab - it tows just as well as the trailer, easy to use and store on site, and the Smarts electrics operate via the A frame making trailer boards redundant. So we have both and real experience of both. But no doubt your question will spark the usual flame war that happens about A frames and trailers somehow :Rofl1::Rofl1::Rofl1:

    We've kept the trailer for use in Europe - the Spanish police are not partial to A frames, although its a bit hit and miss - some folk never have problems, others have been stopped and fined. I don't want the worry and we own a trailer anyway. Otherwise, for sheer ease of use, the A frame wins every time!!!:thumb::thumb::thumb:


    Laurie
     
  3. American Dream

    American Dream Read Only Funster

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    Oh yes they do.It's a semi automatic one controlled by the management system and Bl**dy expensive to replace.I speak from experience.Mercedes charged me over £500.It's because they have to set up the throw and engagement travel via the diagnostics machine.

    I've got the manual somewhere.

    Steve.
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2008
  4. davejen

    davejen Funster

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    Thanks Laurie & Steve - all we have to do now is find one!
    Dave & Jen:thumb:
     
  5. madbluemad

    madbluemad

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    Thas not so easily done either. Its not like popping out for and Astra etc, there are plenty about, however there doesnt seem to be a common price when looking at age and mileage.

    I just want one to tow behind the mh and so I'm not looking to pay a lot out. On the other hand I dont want an old rip.

    Maybe there is no in between. I dont know what sought of mileage can be expected from lets say a passion. Luarie will know, she's the authority on smarts

    Jim :Smile:
     
  6. camcondor

    camcondor Read Only Funster

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    Steve:

    No it does not have a clutch as far as many are concerned:

    the quote below as posted on a specialist Smart forum:

    "It's not an auto because it isn't an auto gearbox plus it doesn't have a viscous clutch. It is a clutchless manual 5 or 6 cog gearbox.
    Just because it doesn't have a clutch doesn't make it auto."

    I think from a semantics point of view, it has an electronically operated gearbox and it does NOT have a clutch pedal. Therefore the V5 documents class it as AUTOMATIC, by definition not having a clutch ala DVLA!.

    Smart Milton Keynes have also confirmed that it does not have a clutch:see quote below:


    "I have a definitive answer, I emailed smart of Milton keynes with the question below and received the the answer. I stand corrected


    Hello there,

    Yes that is no problem, smarts are classed as an automatic as there is no clutch.

    Any further questions please feel free to contact me

    Kind Regards

    Samantha Walsh
    smart Sales Executive"

    :Eeek::Eeek::Eeek:

    There is quite a bit of discussion on the Smart forums, one of which is at Smart Mania - Smart Car Forums.

    Anyway, we digress from the original topic, which was whether Smarts can be towed safely on "all 4 wheels" or not, viz on an A frame as opposed to a trailer.
    I know they can, because I do both!!!
    However, Smart will not honour a warranty on a car still under warranty, if they find out that you have been towing in this manner, and you manage to blow up the engine somehow, or melt the brakes / start a fire by not using the A frame correctly!! No problems then, unless you have a new Smart under warranty, in which case I would probably wait until after the warranty runs out before towing on an A frame - a problem totally unrelated to towing on an A frame may pop up, and prove expensive (as Smart problems can) and Merc may squiggle out of the warranty if they get wind of you towing on an A frame. Not worth the aggro!!!

    As for finding Smarts in reasonable condition - my opinion is that as they are little "specialist / niche" cars, buy one from a specialist unless you really know what to look for via Autotrader or on ebay!!! There are a few independents with good stocks and back up service, such as Nottingham-based Smarts-r-Us, Chequered Flag and some others down South, and of course, the main stealers - Liverpool, Derby, most main centres have a Smart dealer; some Merc dealerships do Smart as well, although not all of them are tooled up for Smarts, which need specialist tools, like the suction pump to remove and change engine oil, as there is no sump outlet!
    They are much more expensive than most other "tiny" cars, but you can buy reasonable "older" ones (lower spec) from around £1800 upwards. A very good spec 04 Passion costs around £4500-£5000 today. They are around £8 000- £10 000 new, depending on the spec and mods supplied. You usually will not find them on corner car sales lots as they are a bit "specialised" for general used car dealers. Early LHD models are the cheapest, but can be noisy and a bit of a rough, jolting ride compared to new models.

    Engines don't have the longest life around - average rule of thumb is a Smart engine that has done 30 000 miles is about the same as a normal engine with double that - 60 000. Engine transplants are about £1500-ish.

    Hope that helps - we love the little booger and all her quirks, and also use her in and about town now. Uses virtually no petrol!!! Early diesel models (LHD mostly) have legendary fuel consumption of over 100 miles a gallon!!!

    Join a Smart forum and have a nosy about and ask questions!! There are loads of Smart enthusiasts out there!!!:thumb:

    Laurie
     
  7. Lindy-C

    Lindy-C Deleted User

    I know where there is one for sale, its actually part of a "package" together with with a Fourwinds Hurricane a customer of mine is looking to sell.

    The Smart has been A framed behind the RV with no problems that I am aware of.

    I don't have many details as such, but will happily put you in touch with the owner.
     
  8. American Dream

    American Dream Read Only Funster

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    I am intrigued then as mine definately had one.

    Evilution - Smart Car Encyclopaedia

    Perhaps they have done a total redesign of the assembly.

    I would like to know how they disconnect the drive from the engine between gearshifts.Would love to see a schematic as mine had an electronically operated clutch with friction plate and all.

    Proved to be the weak point in the transmission when I tweaked it.

    They do sintered metal friction plates to overcome this problem.

    I'll try to find my Mercedes disk with the schematic on.

     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2008
  9. camcondor

    camcondor Read Only Funster

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    Hi Steve

    The original question posed by the poster was whether or not they could tow a Smart Car safely on all four wheels due to the auto / semi auto gearbox. I think the answer to that is a qualified YES from myself and many other Smart owners.

    Modifications such as Brabus conversions are certainly not what everyone wants to do with their Smart, nor do they necessarily wish to do relatively complicated work on this specialised little car - they simply want to tow it behind their motorhome in a safe manner and use it to get about when on holiday in their MH.

    I think the whole issue as to whether Smarts have clutches or not is relatively boring and offtopic - suffice to say the DVLA class the cars as AUTOMATIC ie not having a clutch, and no Smart has a clutch pedal. Plus the gear change on newer Smarts is electronic, no clutch involved. Lots of forum postings on Smart forums agree. Who cares?? There is life beyond clutches, and as far as I am concerned, I am happy with the simplification of there being "NO CLUTCH "on a Smart.

    Like the old A FRAME VS TRAILER chestnut, it seems there is now a Smart car equivalent!!!! Hopefully, it will rest in peace on this forum anyway !!!!:Eeek::Eeek:
     
  10. oldun

    oldun Read Only Funster

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    Many vehicles classified as automatic by DVLA have clutches. My Renault Master is classed as automatic and has a standard diesel engine, manual gearbox and CLUTCH but all gear changes are manged through a computerised system which works the clutch and gearbox without assistance from the driver. There is no clutch pedal but this doesn't mean there is no clutch.

    If a vehicle does not have an automatic gear box with a fluid coupling or the DAF type of belt driven drive system then there must be something (lets call it a clutch!) that decouples the drive from the engine whilst gears are changed.

    It's OK to say it boring but that doesn't stop others like me getting fed up when pure drivel is stated on these forums.

    Let's get it straight vehicles classified by the DVLA as automatics CAN HAVE CLUTCHES, automatic they may be but they are clutches.
     
  11. davejen

    davejen Funster

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    As the originator of the question, I apologise for the upset some people feel at some of the answers, but Iget the general feeling that it's ok to tow!:thumb:
    I certainly didn't want any ill feeling to ensue .So thanks for all your input on the query. I have had autom
    atic cars for the last 40-odd years and apart from "proper" autos I can tell you that even the DAF variomatic system had a clutch- a centrifugal one with 6 or 8 small friction toggles like the filppers on a pinball machine that engaged when the engine revved-up . Inow drive a Honda Civic with I- Shift which is an automated manual 'box it works either fully automatically or you can drive it "manually" via the paddles on the steering wheel. It still has a clutch-you can make it engage by taking your foot off the brake pedal and feel it engage, it disengages when you put the brake on again, but of course it don't have a clutch pedal.Anyway lets hope this concludes the subject before anybody starts fisticuffs:Blush:
    Lets keep happy :Laughing::Laughing:
    Regards to all
    Dave & Jen:thumb:
     
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