Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Details of Dilemma .....

I didn't post yesterday, just allowing things to ruminate around in my head.  Petunia is in the Portland MB dealership shop with an "exploded clutch" plus who knows what else.  The service department representatives, Kevin and Sean, have been very polite.  However, after doing the beginning of the diagnostics on Monday, Kevin called with the news that at a minimum, it has to have the clutch replaced.  And, he doesn't know if there's more damage than that.  He said they'd need to 'remove the transmission pad' to check on the condition of the transmission, etc, etc, etc.  The minimum bill will run $2600!

Kevin and I had a long conversation as to the possible causes of the problem; his guesstimate was: either that the car had been towed with the gear shift in the Park position or the car had been Raced!
I don't think so!!!!!

I've certainly not 'raced' it!  And, I had written the instructions for preparing the car to be towed and I'm confidant that I've never towed it in the Park position.  When I've disconnected the battery before towing, I've added a step to my prep procedure; that is, I try to remove the key  and it CANNOT be removed from the ignition.  If the car were in Park I would be able to remove the key.  I've done that little maneuver just to make sure.  Of course, I could feel his skepticism regarding my telling him that those things have not happened.  Anyway, those possible causes exonerate  Mercedes Benz or Lemon Law right there.   He also said they "don't recommend flat towing" for another reason entirely [even though the Owners' Manual does say flat towing is fine and gives specific instructions as to how to tow].  He says that disconnecting the battery, which has to be done to tow, sometimes can interfere with the function of the computer system.  I asked what the outcome of that would be; he responded that it's not dangerous but irritating because it can cause warning lights to come on when they're not necessary.  He added that people bring in their cars because of the warning light activity and they get charged to have the computer 're-calibrated' (I think that's the term he used).   I've noticed that after towing, I have to turn the radio off that comes on automatically when it's towed and I also have to re-set the clock.

I've authorized MB to do the $2600 worth of work they've estimated so far; they have to order parts and it won't be completed until at least Friday or possibly next week.  And, that's if the clutch is the entire problem.

I have to admit I'm really bummed and feel so isolated as to how to progress.  Here I am in Oregon, not sure whether I should even attempt to tow Petunia again.  I've joined the Smart Car online forum to get information from other owners.  There are lots of people flat-towing their Smart Cars and there are possible 'fixes' for the steering column issue [the unlocked steering wheel moves either right or left when turning sharp corners, then doesn't return automatically to a neutral position]; but I'm not sure if I should try them.

I feel less than confidant in my understanding of the mechanics of clutches, transmissions, etc. and the Smart Car is 'different' than lots of other cars so, for instance, my son is not able to shed much light on what I should do.

For now, I've paid to stay in Milo McIver SP until at least tomorrow; I'll need to make a decision than as to whether to stay put or move.  Kevin, at MB, suggested it may even be possible for someone to drive out here and pick me up to go to the shop and bring Petunia back here, rather than driving Floribunda into a downtown Portland area to pick her up.  I'm really feeling stranded.

Okay, as if that weren't enough of a problem, here's another ....
The insurance company has determined that my Toyota Camry is totaled!  Recall that I've had it parked at my friends' ranch in Loomis, CA.  My son and daughter-in-law were to pick it up there; it was to be a gift for my two granddaughters to drive when they're old enough.  Well, my friend, Bob, checked and the battery was dead from non-use; he jumped it and decided to drive it around to charge the battery and rear-ended another car!  The claim's adjuster said the car is totaled and will issue a check when he receives ownership papers.  I thought I'd given the pink slip to my son in the Camry file I'd kept; he can't find it - so either it's somehow lost or it went into my storage unit and would be pretty impossible to guess where it is currently!  It's not a big problem as I can have a copy made and sent to AAA; but it's a real drag at this particular time.

You know, friends, I'm using this blog to blow as a counseling session and I think I'll quit complaining for now.  Thanks for reading; it makes me feel less alone.

For now I have to remember my own words of wisdom .... just put one foot in front of the other and live one day at a time.


  1. As I remember when flat towing you can remove a fuse going to the ignition that cuts all power to everything regardless of rather the key is in the on or off position so you are able to leave the battery connect and it only feeds power to computers

  2. What an enormous disappointment! So sorry to hear that this unfortunate event has befallen you so early in your new life.

  3. What a bummer. Hope things finally come together. In the meantime, I hope you're not blaming Oregon for all this. After all, it's really a pretty good place to be.

  4. So very sorry to hear that you are going through all of this. Good thing you are such a strong woman and can handle it and take it in stride. As I recall, your Smart Car was not brand new so it is quite possible that "racing" it or "towing it" improperly occurred before you ever got it and the results of those actions just now showed up. Interesting that the mechanic is saying it shouldn't be towed when the manufacturer is saying it is towable. In my experience, manufacturers are the very first to say it shouldn't be towed because they don't want to be blamed for any problems that arise. Definitely do some research on the proper forums. I'm sure you followed the procedures you were given and it seems like if it had been left in park, the brakes on the car would also be wrecked not to mention the tires from pulling it. That doesn't seem to be the case. Don't let the mechanic imply anything when you know you did it properly.

  5. We are following your disappointing saga and are commiserating with your feelings. I know it would be very difficult for me to go through all that without feeling overwhelmed. It seems to me that you did all the right stuff in preparing to travel/tow following the advice of those you worked with. Best of everything....we will be continuing to read along with your journey.

  6. Here's what u do
    Go find a nice mom and pop quaint italian restaurant sit down order a bottle of there wine
    Drink 1/2 order a fine meal after do the rest of the 1/2 bottle take a cab home
    It will all look better the next day
    Look at the sales slip for any auto warranties most give 30 60 90 days ?? and also the trailer hitch slip
    As u know now MB don't tow flat even so lots do it and it works for Tham
    The book tells u that it can be towed Who's liable for that book tells u yes dealer tells u no
    One of the things to look at is the cars built date
    is the trans a pre date last years model trans and did they have a poor year
    In the USA How many came in for the same blown clutch and is there a recall about this on any year
    And are there any recalls on this car overall??
    the hitch guy needed to cover his ass and told u so before installing it
    Now is he backsteping hoping your not looking at his liability???
    Think that bottle of wine would look good about now
    Joy your day

  7. Before you make the over $2,000 payment, find out if there were problems with smart car clutch or any recalls. I once bought a car that had a hair line crack that was impossible to see but the car kept overheating prior to taking it on vacation. While enroute to Yuma, I blew an engine. I refuse to pay for the car and walked out and left the car with the dealership in Yuma. When I got back to Phoenix via a rental car, I was advised to write to the attorney general about the car and copies of the complaint when to dealership in Yuma (where the car was left) and one to manufacturer in California where it was made. Whoola with three days my phone was ringing off the tree from the car lot who sold me the car, the dealer, mfgr to settle the matter. I didn't realize the 'lemon law' was that strong but it is. Do your research and submit with your complaint through the attorney general's office in CA and do not pay just yet or contact your attorney. You invested a lot of money so protect the investment like you would any other investment.

  8. It is a slight help to write about your woes on the blog. I've done that many a time. Whether I have many readers or not, it is a release and a couple of comments of good wishes does help, a little.
    I was so excited for you when you first purchased Petunia. I hope this will be the only glitch and all will be in working order soon without much more expense.
    The good thing about FT RV is you can choose to stay someplace longer to save some $.

  9. Thank you everybody for your nice words of support. I just spoke with a man who manufactures a little Smart Car trailer. He said that he's heard of problems with flat-towing it. Nice to know - NOW! But, he did also say I could try just 'returning' it to the dealership in Portland. Hmmm I don't know about that. But , I have written an email to my salesman in CA and left a phone message for the service manager here in Portland. I want more info. I'm positive I didn't tow it in Park and I certainly haven't raced it!

  10. If you intend to pursue compensation for the problem, take, and keep safe, really good notes about dates/times/who you talked to and what they said. If you find instances on the net of similar problems, copy them down onto a document on your computer for printing later, if it turns out that this might help your case.

    I think I'd try returning it to the dealer in its AS IS condition as a first choice. It may not work, but it certainly won't work if you don't attempt it.

    They will try to stonewall you at every turn, so you must stand your ground and be firm.

  11. Hi, have been following your site for couple of months. Was a full time RVer, more than 10 years. Recommend Good Sam Insurance for extended care on RV and Car service. Have used for several things, including motor service on large 40 ft. Country Coach Motor home. We are STILL living in the coach. Wife had a stroke, been off the road for 3 years, 6 months. Hope this will help for the "next" problem...never expected but usually shows it's ugly head. We are both 83 this year and enjoyed the life your are living, since 1999. A good site for reference and/or help is RV.COM/ full timers who love to help. A club you might like is FMCA. Fun bunch to be around. Things general work out. Be praying for you and your kids. Paul

  12. Oh, Mary Pat, so sorry to hear about the predicaments! Hoping that this is the large bump in the road and the rest will be smooth sailing!