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The #1 cylinder failures Larry is referring to is almost always preceded by a problem before it. So that is not indicative of an engine design flaw or problem. All it means is that the owner needs to recognize a problem prior to causing engine damage. There's no difference between a smart engine in this regard and any engine from any other engine manufacturer. It's a cause and effect relationship. The cause causes the effect, so there's no design flaw in the smart car engines. One just needs to recognize the early operating issues (Cause) to prevent engine failures (Effect).
Thanks, Kamaal. That's really high mileage. I'd be climbing those SoCA hills is more than enough to get the bubble under the cabin. I wish it had a coolant recovery tank right by the engine connected to the head, but it doesn't. I live in Charleston, SC, and the steepest "hill" is on the beach...(c;]
jwright wants to know the numbers. I don't have any except for the reports of $7000 engine failures reported by users....two is enough to wonder why. The rebuilders have also, as he well knows, reported the valve burnings at cylinder 1, "It's always the #1 cylinder" on many posts. I don't know how many but if it were only 2 they wouldn't talk like that. Just looking at the drawing of its goofy cooling system from the service info it's most obvious there's no way for that bubble to make the radiator. Bubbles don't go DOWN. Like the crazing sunroof plastic, it's a design flaw MB never fixes.
To more directly respond to Larry's question, my 202,000 mile smart has been operated in pretty much any extreme weather condition California has to offer. While it doesn't see frigid cold below 0 degrees, it's often in weather between 10 degrees (Mountain areas like Tehachapi/Frazier Park/Big Bear, and desert areas only like Lancaster/Palmdale) to possibly up to 120 or so depending on the season (Baker, CA to Vegas).
It goes over the Grapevine at least once per week, between Los Angeles and Kern County. That's a 6% grade for over 5 miles and a 3% grade for roughly 30 miles in other stretches. It goes over the Cajon Pass monthly, between Los Angeles and San Bernardino County. That's a 6% grade for over 12 miles. In all seasons. 100+ degree weather, and 10+ degree weather with snow/sleet/freezing rain in Winter.
It's frequently in the nasty bumper to bumper traffic on the 10 freeway between Downtown LA and West Covina, and always stuck in 5 freeway traffic between Burbank and Downtown LA. It gets idled with the a/c running every Summer. It's often on the 101 and 405, tons of traffic there. Goes through just as much stop and go, start and stop situations as it does long roadtrips to Vegas every Summer.
It's a solid car, I pretty much disregard complaints about how the car can't do this or can't do that because I do this and do that all the time. What people say it doesn't do or can't do, I DO on a regular basis. To this point, it's gone between 0 and 202,000 miles with less repair and maintenance than any Honda, Toyota, or Isuzu I've owned or any others in my family.
The only thing the Civics, Preludes, Corollas, and various Isuzu models I've pulled over 200,000 miles have proven over my current smart, is that they are capable of being reliable daily drivers over 250,000 miles with enough maintenance, repairs, and know-how from the owner on how to keep them reliable. But right now, at 202,000 miles, it's ahead of where those others cars were in terms of maintenance and repair requirements up to this point.
The transmission has never had its fluid changed. I never dared to try that in an automatic car. Not saying it couldn't handle the stress, but the cost of an automatic tranny rebuild job or replacement from something as easy as a $150 to $250 trans fluid and filter job wasn't worth the risk.
The timing chain doesn't need replacement ever, and the water pump is still factory original and does not leak. So I have left well enough alone. The thermostat is still the same, the operating temperature is quite frequently spot on between 175 and about 205 degrees so I'm not worried.
Without overheating the motor, and by running recommended 91 octane fuel, a leaking head gasket should not result for hundreds of thousands of miles. I'm not expecting a leaky head gasket anytime soon. Spark plugs are supposed to be changed every 30k miles, and mine went over 100,000 miles without issue.
With regards to the "bubbles" complaint, have you had a leak-down test or compression check performed to verify a head gasket issue?
Trapped gas with no way to escape would cause your car to overheat, especially if the head gasket is actively leaking and adding more air bubbles to the cooling system. There would be enough trapped gas in the cooling system to burst hoses, swell hoses, and cause leaks. Overheating would happen rapidly, likely within 10 minutes of driving the car if there really was trapped air and gas in the cooling system with nowhere to escape.
My car spends the majority of its time in Southern California. That means Los Angeles of course, everywhere from Palm Springs to San Bernardino, to Bakersfield, to Santa Barbara, to the San Fernando Valley and OF COURSE West Covina area. With 200k miles... it goes everywhere. No limits on its travels. The compression is solid because it gets oil changes every 15k, I almost never let the oil drop below 1/2 quart shy, and I won't let it overheat. The minute I sniff coolant I'll check for leaks. I inspect the hoses once per month, and if I discover deterioration the hoses will need to be replaced. As it stands, all the major hoses are in top shape without even needing a replacement.
Larry, do you have the actual numbers to support your "...so many engines are destroyed at far lower mileages." statement?
Kamaal, just for interest, do you live in flat, level terrain or in hilly, mountainous terrain? My interest is in Smart's inability to get any bubbles that form in the engine cooling passages, say from a tiny gas leak in the head gasket, to go DOWN under the cabin and get to its coolant recovery tank behind the grille. There's no way to get this bubble to the radiator if the car never goes nose-up enough to make the bottom of the cabin go above the level of the bubble in the engine, which I believe is the main failure defect in engine destruction. Every few weeks, I drive my Smart up a nearby embankment as high as I dare with the engine hot and running. Sometimes I get nearly a quart-sized bubble to migrate up to the coolant recovery tank, much more than would be necessary to empty the coolant passages in the engine head, leaving it uncooled where the bubble is trapped. As you have more miles than anyone, I'm curious about your longevity and why so many engines are destroyed at far lower mileages. Thanks for your information....very impressive in this car.
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