So far, NHTSA knows of eight fires, and they have all happened since 2015.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the United States is opening a preliminary evaluation into the 2008-2009 Smart ForTwo, including the Cabriolet, after eight reports of engine fires. The agency estimates that 42,875 vehicles in the country could be at risk for this problem. NHTSA’s investigation aims to “assess the cause, scope and frequency of the alleged defect.”
Complaints to NHTSA’s Office of Defects Investigation prompted this investigation. The group received six reports of people noticing smoke, an unusual noise, or an illuminated check engine light while on the road, and they discovered a fire after parking along the side of the road. In two other incidents, there were no indications of the blaze until the driver stopped the Smart. Five of these cases were in 2015, and the remaining three occurred since October 2016. “All eight incidents involve severe fires that rapidly engulfed the vehicles,” NHTSA reported. The cars had between 29,000 and 86,000 miles (46,670 to 138,404 kilometers) on them when the blazes happened.
Smart’s parent, Mercedes-Benz, says that it’s cooperating with NHTSA on the investigation, according to Automotive News. A preliminary evaluation is the government agency’s first step in determining whether there needs to be a recall, and it’s not necessarily a guarantee of a repair campaign happening for the problem in the future.
Smart has been largely recall-free in the United States. The company had to repair 5,058 examples of the 2014-2015 Smart Fortwo and 2014 Fortwo Electric in 2015 because the steering gear mounting bolts could have broken while driving. In 2008, the company mended 43 units of the 2008 ForTwo because the paint was able to delaminate from the body and frame.
Source: The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Automotive News