Hello everyone,  I am wondering if there are any other owners that have experienced the engine malfunction icon lighting up on the instrument cluster.  At the moment, my car is at the dealership and I have been informed that the 1st cylinder has gone bad, 35psi.  Is there anyone else that has experienced this problem?  My Smartcar is a 2008 Passion for two.  Any comments or suggestions would be welcome as I have not decided on what to do yet.  Techs have said they would have to do a tear down to determine what the actual problem is, thus incurring a large expense before repair would actually begin.  Thank you for any information that you can supply.  I will probably try to contact Mitsubishi to see if there has been any problems with the engine that is in the Smartcar.

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You are not alone:

http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f25/repeated-engine-failure...

http://www.smartcarofamerica.com/forums/f4/7-000-fix-my-10-000-smar...

Doubt if Mitsubishi USA will have any info on the smart engine as smart is the only car using it outside of Asia.

My guess is you're looking at a used replacement engine since the car is out of warranty.

Sometimes it is just a malfunction of the cluster light. Sometimes others have reported it to be a breather module problem. It has happened to me and my mechanics (not the Smart dealer), run the computer check and it comes back with no code, so they just turn it off. I have had no problems with performance and mine is a 2008 also.

Smart has a major design flaw.  The radiator and recovery tank are up front.  The engine is in back, higher than the cabin floor the hoses connecting the two have to pass through.  Ask any middle school kid how bubbles in the back, inside the engine, are going to get OUT of the engine by going DOWN under the car then up into the radiator so the coolant can be replaced in the engine.  It's not rocket science to see this is stupid.  All that's needed is a tiny gas leak in the head gasket from the high pressurized cylinder to the cooling passages in the gasket under the head to make a little bubble...which gets bigger and bigger.  The bubble on top of the coolant cannot go DOWN or SIDEWAYS like a regular car, so is trapped in the highest point in the engine....#1 cylinder head!  Duhh...  When the bubble gets big enough, the trapped gas bubble empties the head of coolant, making it much hotter than its "normal" 200-210F, which is bound to warp the head, screw the valves and destroy the engine.  Like I said, it's not rocket science if you ponder it.

My solution is to run the car to operating temperature, then drive it up an embankment as far as I dare, hot, engine running to keep the thermostat open so the bubble can RISE up out of the engine, under the now tilted back cabin and escape into the radiator where the coolant recovery valve can deal with the now-low-coolant as the engine cools off.  I then refill the tank with coolant and hope it holds up until next time without emptying my multithousand-dollar head.  I live in flat country and rarely, if ever, climb a hill so this could happen, naturally.  Germans live in the mountains so their cars don't get trapped bubbles, like mine.  I usually put in about a half to a litre to refill the tank.

Recently, noting this defect, I've also notice the bubble in the head displaces water in the engine some, which makes the recovery tank GET FULLER, on its own!  I suppose it depends on if the system has a drip somewhere in its long coolant system.  If anyone sees their coolant tank INCREASE its level, I'm thinking the bubble in the engine of a well-sealed system is displacing water in the engine.  The only place it can go is to overfill the coolant recovery tank.  Sounds logical....

My condolences for your loss.  They want so much to fix it I'd dump the car and get another, one with cheaper parts and parts-store-available parts....like a Yaris or a little Nissan.  A Yaris fuel pump is $50 on Amazon.  My stealer tried to replace mine when a wire shorted for $1,086!  I'd rather scrap it than go back....

There is a procedure to remove air in a cooling system.  Creative parking attempts, uphill/downhill climbs, and living in flatlands or hilly terrain has nothing to do with it.  If there is air in the cooling system, it gets there from servicing the cooling system, exposing it to air.  You must bleed the cooling system properly, just like any braking system in any car needs to have brake lines bled after a master cylinder or brake line service. 

If exhaust gases are leaking into the cooling system, then that is a head gasket leak and the engine should undergo a head gasket replacement and not continued punishment from driving without correcting the issue.  Driving on a leaking/blown head gasket will only cause damage to more engine parts requiring a more expensive head gasket replacement and cylinder head and possibly block repair.

Air in the cooling system and exhaust gases leaking into the cooling system are two different, two distinct scenarios that are not the same.  They are not equivalent.  Equating the two scenarios only confuses owners who are not professional technicians and are only seeking solutions to their vehicle trouble. 

With regards to parts pricing, oem parts are almost always the highest quality parts available and as such are priced accordingly.  It makes sense considering the oem parts are the same or equivalent as those installed on the vehicle during manufacture and have much better longevity and much better performance when it comes to ensuring a well running vehicle.

My 208,000 mile smart pure still runs its original water pump, oil pump, alternator, muffler, exhaust pipes, and hoses.  Choosing to install lesser quality aftermarket parts may cost less, but they are generally also much lower quality.

I've seen some people here and on the Internet suggest the generic/aftermarket cabin air filters to try to save a few dollars.  I've tried the aftermarket/generic cabin air filters just for comparisons sake and literally the OEM filtration is twice the thickness, far more filter surface area, a stronger frame, and I've taken a brand new aftermarket filter into farmlands in Kern County and Goleta.  All you smell is cow emissions and garlic.  Take a brand new smart/Mercedes cabin air filter into the exact same farmland and the cow emissions is either undetectable or slight. 



Kamaal said:

There is a procedure to remove air in a cooling system....

Amazing!  208K and nothing leaks in or out of a Smart cooling system.  Hell, I bet a Maybach can't claim that at 208K.  The design flaw stands.  There's no way for a bubble to get out of the top of the Smart engine because bubbles don't go DOWN into water-filled passages.  Smart isn't physics magic any more than the magic of all our panaramic sun roof panel bubbling up and crazing.  I'm on my 3rd and you can hardly see through it when the sun is low....

You call it design flaw.  I call it maintenance flaw.  You expose the pressurized system to air, you're supposed to bleed the air out yourself and not rely on the engine to do the work for you.  Get air trapped inside your brake lines and see how the braking system responds, in any car.

Air gets trapped inside the cooling system in just about any engine I have ever worked on, and there are no guarantees the air works its way out smart car or not.  Some thermostats have little bleeder valves to help air work its way around, some cooling systems spit it into the overflow jug, but if there is too much air there is just too much air.

Just had my car serviced today. Engine light was on, I have a K & N air filter installed. Code shows air flow problem. My shop says they have experienced this before on Mercedes using a superior after-market air cleaner...too much air flow. It will not hurt the engine, just confuses the sensor, making the light activate. The cure is to return using the stock air cleaner...if the engine light bothers you.

Hmm...sensor sets the mixture...runs engine lean with too much air...burning valves, melting piston/rings/warping head.

Should be just fine...in a car with a history of Cyl 1 failures from overheating.

Wonder if this shop guy was the same one that couldn't find a shorted fuel pump wire and tried to sell me a $1086 little plastic fuel pump...??



Bert Monsen said:

Just had my car serviced today. Engine light was on, I have a K & N air filter installed. Code shows air flow problem. My shop says they have experienced this before on Mercedes using a superior after-market air cleaner...too much air flow. It will not hurt the engine, just confuses the sensor, making the light activate. The cure is to return using the stock air cleaner...if the engine light bothers you.

Unless your car was in Chicago it's not the same shop.  PS - running an aftermarket air filter should not trigger a CEL; the shop needs to come up with a better explanation.

Larry Butler said:

Hmm...sensor sets the mixture...runs engine lean with too much air...burning valves, melting piston/rings/warping head.

Should be just fine...in a car with a history of Cyl 1 failures from overheating.

Wonder if this shop guy was the same one that couldn't find a shorted fuel pump wire and tried to sell me a $1086 little plastic fuel pump...??



Bert Monsen said:

Just had my car serviced today. Engine light was on, I have a K & N air filter installed. Code shows air flow problem. My shop says they have experienced this before on Mercedes using a superior after-market air cleaner...too much air flow. It will not hurt the engine, just confuses the sensor, making the light activate. The cure is to return using the stock air cleaner...if the engine light bothers you.

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