Transmission Problems in 2009 Smart Fortwo Passion

Is anyone having a problem w/the 2009 Smart Fortwo Passion's transmission? With tons of blogs online about the issue, Smart USA doesn't seem to be concerned at all. No recalls. My warranty has been over for six wks - the problem began yesterday. I was driving along & all of a sudden, the car seems to think it's in N. Once I turned the car off, it wouldn't start again & the dreaded three bars appeared. We tried the "teach-in" fix & it worked temporarily before acting up again. It was a problem in the 2008 model - an upgrade was provided for a fix. Smart USA should recall the 2009 model due to this obvious defect.

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Comment by Steven Watson Buehler on October 3, 2015 at 3:36pm

I have an issue where when I start my 2009 fortwo Passion in the morning it will not shift into reverse (the display stays blank and after a few seconds it starts beeping). 99% of the time I can shift into Drive, move forward a foot or two, then shift to Reverse and it’ll be just fine. If that doesn’t work I turn off the engine and basically perform the “teach-in” procedure even though it doesn’t require it (hold foot on the brake while starting and keep it on the brake for about 30 seconds). Then I can do the shift-to-drive/shift-to-reverse to get it going again.  It only does this in the morning after a day of driving; the rest of the day it runs just fine.  The car is also very jumpy in slow-moving traffic, but I expect that from a 66,000-mile microcar.

It’s pretty clear that the transmission software has issues, but the only update I know of was done to the 2008 model year; the 2009 already has the updated software installed.

I also think a small part of the problem is that we’re so used to driving an automatic that the feel of a manual transmission is quite different, even if it’s a computer doing the unclutch/shift/reclutch. I had to change my driving style a bit to deal with the corresponding moments without power.

Comment by Terry Schmitt on January 19, 2013 at 5:20pm

When I start my 2009 Passion, with 21,000 miles, it sometimes does not go into gear.  Eventually it does.  What's up with this???

Comment by Jennifer Ulitschan on October 16, 2011 at 11:52am
This happened to me and it wasnt a transmission problem. It was a computer problem, It was fixed in no more than an hour at mercedes benz dealer but paid about 165.00 for it. No prob since.
Comment by Robert Stout on September 22, 2011 at 5:20am
Due to the high cost of parts, I purchased a solid extended warranty from "Warranty Direct" when I bought my 2009 Smart...A two year warranty from Penske when you bought your Smart should have alerted you to do the same...
Comment by Kevin Causey on September 13, 2011 at 11:37am

I'm in your boat. Have a 2009 and at the 50K service was told I needed transmission work.  $500+ in repairs on a transmission with 50K miles just seems ridiculous.  I called smart to log a complaint, and of course registered similar complaints at the local dealer.  They were nice about everything, but I can't think of a car I've bought new in the last 30 years that's needed any transmission repair at 50K.  I know a recall would never happen unless they felt it was incredibly life-threatening, but at least smart could cover the cost of repair by extending the warranty to 100K.

I love my smart car and prefer it over any other car I've driven to work.  Buyers beware of its durability, transmissions should last longer than 50K.

Comment by Drema Pyles on September 7, 2011 at 4:02pm
The negative number means how many months or miles until it's time for service or how many months or miles past service. There's something about this in the User Manual.
Comment by Drema Pyles on September 7, 2011 at 3:54pm
Hi Debra! Ours did the same with a negative number and the strange object. That's the cars method of telling you it's time for service, such as an oil change, etc.
Comment by Debra Pope on September 7, 2011 at 3:52pm
OK here's a new one , when I start the car, the regular odometer dissapears and it shows a negative number like -9 or -12 and under it is a strange shaped object ?? after a few seconds, odometer returns to normal ? anyone else seen this or knows what it is ?
Comment by Drema Pyles on September 7, 2011 at 3:52pm
Thanks, Debra. I'm just concerned that I'll have to pay for mine since the warranty was over 6 weeks ago. At least with your reply, we can mention the shifter motor might be the problem.
Comment by Debra Pope on September 7, 2011 at 3:49pm

I had a similiar problem, scared me to death, got it towed into the dealer, they did some updates, and I thought it was fixed. A few weeks later same problem,towed back into dealer, this time the problem showed up, it needed a new shifter motor, I also have the 2009 and it was covered under warranty !

Hope this helps !

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