Did anybody else read this story or hear it on the radio yesterday? Has anybody has this problem, I've never heard it here.
Smart Car Can't Make a Left Turn
From the Antelope Valley Press (this is in California) comes a story that ran yesterday: "It's a problem that has baffled German engineers, auto industry experts, Kern County road engineers and, most importantly, Samuel Wattles of Rosamond: How do you make a left turn in a new Smart Car? Wattles waited a year and a half for his Smart ForTwo -- a tiny, two-passenger car that gets more than 40 miles per gallon -- only to find that the lightweight vehicle wasn't heavy enough to set off the sensors that activate left-turn signal lights at intersections." So he can't safely make a left turn in his Smart Car! It will only turn right.
"So why wouldn't the Smart Car set off a magnetic sensor? Ken Kettenbeil, a spokesman for Smart USA, which imports the German- and French-made ForTwo, said he's never heard of anything like this. He even called company representatives in Germany -- Smart is a subsidiary of Daimler AG, makers of Mercedes-Benz vehicles -- and said they were similarly unaware. 'This is the first time we've gotten this question,' he said. 'We haven't heard this before.'"
"We've never heard of one of our cars that won't turn left. " end quote
Oh come on! "Not heavy enough"? The sensors don't go by weight. If anything, the problem is that the engine is in the rear and the SMART is so short that the car is between sensors- The front, without the engine, is over the first sensor, and the rear, with the engine, is just slightly ahead of the next sensor back. The solution is simply to stop further up or further back, placing the engine over the sensors (those hexagonal cuts in the pavement)
I find it hard to believe that smart USA has never heard of this. We started discussing it back in February. Some older road sensors are not able to reliably sense the smart or motorcycles for that matter. You can read all the details here:
There was a story about different type of sensor cuts in different parts of the US, and that once in a GREAT while a motorcycle would not run over to sides and it wouldn't sense it. I have never had that problem or know of anyone who has, but the solution would be to carry 30 cell phones and have them all on at the same time and not only can you trip the lights you could probably get them to synchronize so that you will never have to stop again (and you can pop popcorn at the same time).
Probably the first reply, by Jim Yedor, hit the nail on the head.
I've never had a problem tripping the light in my smart. Decades ago I had a moped which sometimes posed a challenge in this regard. I found that if I approached slowly and carefully over the cut in the surface where the sensors were placed would almost always do the job ... on a vehicle which probably weighed a hundred pounds or thereabouts. Most of the sensors trip by electrical induction, not weight.
As an avid motorcyclist, I am quite familiar with this. And it's very annoying. The sensors go by the electrical radiation (or something like that) emitted from your engine - not the weight. I've never heard of a problem with a car, but I have had problems on my bike. In fact - there is one particular intersection that I try my best to avoid because the bike just won't trip the sensor. I do know a few tips though to help you get by. If the car won't trip the sensor, put it in neutral and rev the engine. The increases the "radiation" that the engine produces and hopefully will trip the sensor. (I've never really found this to work on the bike, but give it a try). If your patient, wait at the light until another car comes up behind you who also wants to turn left. Pull ahead of the white line, and let the car behind you trip the sensor. Or just get in the right lane and go straight through the intersection.
You should also check your state laws, because they have provisions for this (specifically for malfunctioning street lights and motorcycle riders). In Michigan, the law states that if a stop light fails to turn green after three cycles, you have the right to make the turn on red when traffic clears. Check your state laws before doing this though, this is just how my state works!
This sounds crazy the car weighs 1800 lbs and am sure the sensors can detect. I turn left off the highway everday for work and it is just fine. They have the sensors in the road at this exit. I have never had a problem.
this is a common problem for motorcycles,most traffic lights are controlled by changing the magnetic field.Those square or hexagon cuts you see in the pavement have a wire laid in it and a current is passed through it,when you stop over it the steel in the vehicle changes the magnetic field,the light controller senses the change and trips the light. the solution for this is to search motorcycle websites or magazines for a bolt device that will eleveate this problem,I havn't seen one ,but I believe it's just a large magnet. happy left turn's ken