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Engine light came on in the Smart

Brad & Jacolyn

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Just thought I would let y'all in on my latest adventure. The engine light came on SOLID yesterday afternoon. The manual was fairly worthless. It said contact Smart dealer immediately. I called and they said if the light is on solid it is not serious. If it is flashing shut it down. They also said to bring it over and they would put it on the computer. They checked it out and every code was inactive. They reset the codes and turned off the light.

They also told me that they see this sometimes when people use phone chargers in the Smart. Seems it puts some kind static into the system on occasion and turns on the light. We had a 12 volt fan plugged in to blow on the dogs in the back. They suspect it was the culprit and did the same kind of thing. They said the computer was showing no problems but if the light came back on they would get us right back in. They also said the light would have turned itself off eventually if the fault did not reoccur. I have seen this kind of thing happen before on a different car. If the fault corrected itself and did not reoccur after a certain number of cycles (warm up and cool down) it would turn the light off.

Just an FYI for everyone.



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This happened on my old 2000 Ranger truck. Originally threw a code for the Idle air control and the throttle position sensors. Bought new and replaced both and unhooked the battery, the light stayed on; after a number of startups it went out. Came on again again solid and then continued for a few startups and shut downs and has been out for a few thousands of miles now. believe it is good now!

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Our current smart has not been subject to the issue, but our '05 G&K conversion was constantly tripping the check engine light for various emissions issues. Usually I could just plug in my reader and clear the code. Occasionally it would stick around for a while. Sometimes it can be as simple as a lose gas cap. As your dealer said, as long as the light is not flashing it is not a critical issue.

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A flashing check engine light indicates a misfire. While that doesn't sound too serious (especially if you're used to older cars), the proximity of catalytic converters to the exhaust manifold and engine block (which is done to reduce emissions on start-up) means that they will heat up VERY fast. Depending on the design, the prognosis ranges from an exhaust restriction needing converter replacement to disintegration of the catalyst which can end up scoring the piston walls (read: you'd need a new engine).


The major auto parts chains (e.g. AutoZone, Advance Auto, O'Reilly's) will all read codes for free. In general, it's worth a few minutes to stop in as soon as you get a check engine light just to find out what's going on--it may not be serious, but may be headed that way fast without intervention. While they used to be quite expensive, if you've already got a smartphone you can pick up a Bluetooth scan tool for less than $20--and you'll have far more at your fingertips than with most stand-alone tools. As cheap and as small as they are, I've made it a habit to always have one with me. Here's an example.


The smarts are somewhat quirky electrically--my sister learned some time ago that with a portable jump-start battery pack plugged in to the lighter socket that the car can't be turned off with the key.

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Our 2013 smart had the same problem last year and when we took it in for service they work on it for 3 hours and found nothing wrong. So they went into the computer and turned the light off. Two days later it came back on and has been on for a year and runs great,I don't pay much attention to it any more.......

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If you have a laptop, smart phone or IPad you can get an OBD II adapter on E-Bay that communicates through Wifi. I have used one on several vehicles. For the IPad or IPhone you have to buy an app, but they work very nice and you can just leave it hooked up while driving down the road. It also,allows you to reset the dash light.




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