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Old 02-27-2016, 04:20 PM   #1
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Making a Toad out of my Smart Fortwo

We downsized to a Class B Pleasure Way Lexor from a Class A and Chevy HHR toad. Kind of missed having a toad even though the Lexor is so easy to handle and park almost anywhere, so we recently picked up a clean '13 Smart Pure model. Simple and compact. We actually replaced a GEM golf cart with it (Smart is same length, a bit wider) but, not a golfer and only needing a local runabout, having an enclosed air-conditioned automatic virtual golf cart was right for us. So, the process of making a toad out of it. Thoughts or recommendations are welcome.

First, I checked the base plate setup. Since I already had a Roadmaster tow bar, I downloaded the RM instructions for the Smart base plate. I installed the base plate on my HHR myself, but this looks a bit above my comfort and available tool level, so will defer that to a tow shop. Also the fact that that supposed 4.5 hour installation took me 4.5 days.

Then I studied the brake/tail light options. I will get a quote from the tow shop to install the diode kit in the rear lights with a plug-in socket in the front grill. If that is not reasonable, I will go with some good-looking LED add-on lights I found on Amazon. To be decided...

From what I have read, the Smart is actually easier to configure for towing than my HHR was. Switch on, wait for electronics to set, put in Neutral, switch to first off position, disconnect battery, put a bungee on steering wheel to return front wheels from sharp turn.

So, my first job was to install a battery disconnect switch. I got a switch with bracket from Summit Racing that I thought I could best install under the dash on the passenger side since the battery is under the passenger foot area. I got some 4 AWG wire at Home Depot (they didn't have black) and some terminal lugs and made my own cables. I just reused the original negative cable from the battery by taping the end off and tying my cable in with a splice nut. It is working well and the switch cannot be seen unless you crouch down, but it is easy to reach. Couple of pix below.



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Old 03-03-2016, 03:22 PM   #2
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I did a remote control switch on my 2013 SMART Cityflame. I wanted to be able to lock it after setting it for Toad. I mounted mine in the floorboard above the battery - in retrospect a mistake - I think I had room in the battery compartment.


A hitch shop did the diodes and a trickle battery charger while I was getting the Roadmaster baseplate installed. I also had to install a special 12v socket for the Brake Buddy that comes straight off the battery.


A lot of work on a little car, but the great thing is, I can't even feel it when its back there.
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Old 08-24-2016, 06:54 PM   #3
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jrpend,
we have a 2013 smart. is there a manual or write on gettint the smart ready to tow. is your rv a 37 footer? how does the smart tow behind something that big? any swaying in the smart while towing? thanks
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Old 08-25-2016, 06:16 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nvydvrdude View Post
jrpend,
we have a 2013 smart. is there a manual or write on gettint the smart ready to tow. is your rv a 37 footer? how does the smart tow behind something that big? any swaying in the smart while towing? thanks
Hi -
No, I don't think there is a manual. When I was researching Toads, there were some long threads on this forum and on SmartCarUSA on towing them. The Winns (Gone with the Winns) had a couple of video logs on their smart car. A couple of things are unique to the smart.:

1. Battery Disconnect - This is little controversial. Some folks don't think you need it. I choose to have one. As mentioned above I made mine remote control relay so I could lock the Smart while it was being towed.

2. Steering wheel bungees - I became a believer when we towed it the first time. I sat in the Smart while my wife towed us around.

Roadmaster makes a baseplate for the Smart and had pretty good instructions on how to install it. IMHO, it is not for the weak of heart. You have to disassemble a significant part of the car. A good hitch shop should be able to do it. I believe Roadmaster also has instructions for installing the diodes for the lights. Once again a good hitch shop should be able to do it.

The biggest issue we had so far is setting the tow bar height. The Smart is low to the ground. To keep it in spec, I needed a 10 inch receiver drop. That was too low and we bottomed out. After looking at some setups and asking around, I decided to go a little out of spec with a 6 inch drop bar (2 inches more than recommended by Winnebago) that makes my down angle on the tow bar a little bit more than it should. It is a very light car at 1800 lbs. It seems to work very well.

We indeed have a 37foot Gasser motorhome. We have to keep a rear camera on the Smart while towing because we simply can't tell it's there from the feel. We don't get swaying or anything like that. It tracks the motorhome very well. We have a brake buddy to stay legal in Canada and California

Of course we don't try to back up or anything like that.

We are based in California and just completed a trip to Northern Montana with the Smart. We had no issues with the Toad. We are convinced it is a good Toad and right for us.
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Old 08-25-2016, 06:34 AM   #5
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We have used our '08 Smart Cabriolet for our road for about 6 years now. No issues except the self-induced ones (doesn't take but 100 ft to flat-spot the tires if you don't put the car in neutral. ��). Have seen the steering wobble very infrequently, will have to try the bungee trick. Agree with those above, you have to check the camera to see that is is there.

Good luck!!
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Old 08-27-2016, 11:54 AM   #6
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After a few months experience: I had the Roadmaster baseplate and diodes for the brake/tail lights installed by the hitch shop and they did an outstanding job for a reasonable cost considering the work involved. I have a battery disconnect switch and a bungee cord for the steering wheel.

I have towed with and without the battery disconnected and experienced no problems in either mode. It's a lot easier to not have to wait on the computer to cycle, plus I can lock the doors with the remote by leaving the battery connected.

I have towed with and without the bungee cord on the steering wheel and did not detect any steer tire wobble when it was not on. But, since it is relatively painless to hook up the bungee, I prefer the possible added benefit. In fact, I have had to back up a fair distance a couple of times and the bungee seemed to keep the front wheels from turning to one side like previous toads tended to do.

I do not have auxiliary braking and don't even notice the effect of the Smart on the van. I have more gross weight reserve left on the Lexor than the Smart weighs, so I don't feel I am pushing any limits. If I travel to an area where braking requirements are for less than 1800 lb., I will consider an appropriate device.

So far, totally pleased with the Smart as a toad. It's too bad the new models are not towable.
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Old 08-27-2016, 10:00 PM   #7
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I tow a 2012 smart with a 38 ft newmar keep looking to see if its still there. Just made trip from nc coast to minot nd. We love our smart.And I don't have a battery disconnect Don't need one
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