Well, it appears the NHTSA has at least determined one source of smart fires. The engine bay insulation mat in the earlier models can deform and fall apart, making contact with hot engine parts and making the smart burn itself to the ground.
NHTSA Campaign Number: 18V273000
Manufacturer Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC.
Components ENGINE AND ENGINE COOLING
Potential Number of Units Affected 42,781
Mercedes-Benz USA, LLC. (MBUSA) is recalling certain 2008-2009 smart fortwo cabrio and fortwo coupe vehicles. The rear insulation mat in the engine compartment may deform, deteriorate, and loosen over time, allowing the mat to contact hot exhaust system components.
MBUSA will notify owners, and dealers will replace the rear insulation mat with an improved one, free of charge. The recall is expected to begin in July 2018. Owners may contact MBUSA customer service at 1-800-367-6372.
Owners may also contact the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration Vehicle Safety Hotline at 1-888-327-4236 (TTY 1-800-424-9153), or go to www.safercar.gov.
MBUSA has only just started to notify owners. There are few dealerships left that even service smarts, so getting every single 451 sold between 2008 and 2009 repaired will probably be impossible. That doesn’t even consider that a good percentage of these cars are no longer in the hands of the original owners.
I hope the NHTSA is continuing their investigation. The 451s don’t only catch fire in the rear, a number of them have also had fires originating from the front of the vehicle. Most of us believe the computer under the dashboard is the cause of front end fires.
A question I also have is do the 2010s and newer have the “improved” mat design? If they do, why did smart wait three model years (including the European launch) to improve the insulation and why didn’t they recall the old ones? And if they don’t, why are they not included in the recall?
More information as I get it.