Smart 450s (First Generation)

The other day while driving the grey coupe, the check engine light came on, but with no driveability issues really. Since I already had the Scangauge plugged in I pulled the code on the spot and it came out as a P0401 - Exhaust Gas Recirculation Flow Insufficient Detected. It's a common code on these and basically amounts to an EGR valve full of tar and soot, preventing the valve from moving through it's range properly. The proper fix is to remove the valve completely and clean everything, then re-install. This is pretty intense work and requires draining the coolant and unscrewing some often very rusty exhaust flange bolts that could snap off. I have bigger plans for this thing so I opted to do a halfway step for now to clear the code and keep the car humping along until I can modify it properly.

Pop your hood and you'll see the EGR valve on the left hand side near the air filter box and intercooler. Unplug it from the harness by squeezing the sides of the plug and popping it off. You can then undo the 3 bolts holding the solenoid on, which are 4mm allen keys. I also clipped the zip tie holding the harness to the solenoid to move it out of the way. The allen key on the backside was quite hard to get at, and I ended up using a ratchet and flex joint to have the right length on the tool to get at the bolt properly. Now you can pop the solenoid off the valve housing. You'll notice how there is some soot buildup here.

The car had 103 000 km and service history was unknown so it was time to do some basics. When I first got the car I didn't have an oil filter so I changed the oil right away without doing the filter. I've just received filters which I ordered so I was able to change them both at 108 000km as seen here.

To locate your air filter, pop your hood, then on the left hand side of the engine bay you'll see a large black cover. This is your airbox. To gain access, release the 4 metal spring clips holding the cover on. A couple of them are pretty tough to see but they are basically on all 4 corners of the cover. Feel around and you'll get them.

With the tabs released you can rotate the cover for clearance then lift it off.

To remove the old air filter you need to unclip the plastic tab from the top as shown, then the older slides away from the filter. The filter is kind of jammed in there like a girl in a wobbly H so it may stay stuck to the intake pipe or the clamp end. Either way, pull it off the other end and you can lift it out.

Start off by jacking the car up and supporting it using proper safety methods such as jack stands. Don't do it as shown. Unsafe.

Now that the car is safely supported, take a peek underneath. You'll want the car to be in neutral with the parking brake applied, and the front wheels chocked. Make sure the engine is off. (1) You'll see the clutch actuator located near the intercooler intake scoop and bellhousing. (2) Closeup of the clutch actuator, you can check the actuator rod to see if it is tight. If it is loose enough to move around a lot, you'll need to adjust your clutch actuator's position, more on that later. (3) Remove the dust boot from the actuator housing. (4) Using this opening, spray in some silicone based lubricant. Next replace the boot in it's original position, making sure it is seated all the way around the flange.

Breaking off the mounting stud on the radio antenna is common enough on these cars. I think it comes down to the metal they used in the antenna base is just super prone to oxidizing, and locks itself to the mounting stud on the bottom of the mast, which is of course very fragile, so when you come to unscrew your mast to take off the front panels, it just snaps right off and you're left with a broken mast and an antenna base you have to either drill out / extract, or replace.

To replace the base, you need to unscrew the fastener holding the black plastic triangle on. It's a bit tricky because sometimes the threads on the screw won't engage so you have to get a tiny screwdriver behind the screw head and pry it out slightly until they catch and it unscrews. Then when you're on the last thread just pull the whole thing out.

Now you can remove the cover and access the bolt holding the antenna base to the car. There is just the one bolt so unscrew it.

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