Light Stalk Fix
Many people have reported problems with intermittent exterior lights which can usually be traced back to a dodgy light stalk.
The first signs of a malfunctioning light stalk is it feels hot and the lights won't
illuminate first time or can flicker (not to be confused with the warm up cycle
on newer smarts). The electrical grease inside the stalk is supposed to stop
any arcing when the lights are switched, initially this works well but ,over time,
the the grease moves. This allows arcing to occur every time the lights are
switched off. The arc causes spark erosion on the contacts and you get a
small patch of burnt metal which doesn't conduct electricity
Originally there was a recall for this problem so it's worth trying to get smart to sort it,
also if you have warranty left go and let smart do the honours.
If like me you wouldn't let them touch your car, you can sort it out yourself quite easily.
There are two methods to fixing it, a quick way and a proper way.
Using a drill make a hole in the end about 2mm in diameter.
Try to drill quite fast so the bit clears the debris from the end but don't push too hard,
you don't want the drill bit damaging the inside of the switch.
Go and buy a can of switch or contact cleaner (ensure that the spray you choose is OK to use in conjunction with plastic as Ian M states that some with destroy plastic very quickly). When I say that I really mean it, don't use WD40. Although it will fix one problem it may cause another.
Spray a quick squirt of switch or contact cleaner (they usually come with a straw attachment) into the hole. Leave the ignition off and turn the light switch all the way on and all the way off about 50 times to allow the cleaner clean the burnt contacts. Leave for 10 minutes and test your lights. If it hasn't sorted the problem try another squirt of cleaner. Most of the time this method will work.
If you have a can of spray white lithium grease or spray copper grease,
give it a quick squirt. This inhibits further spark erosion of the contacts.
...and turn it a little bit further, it takes a little bit of force to do this.
The end can now be carefully pulled off the stalk.
As you pull it off you will encounter a small sprung pin that helps the definite movement
the switches as you twist the end. This can pop out so keep an eye out for it.
It just pushes spring first into the single hole in the top of the stalk.
You can put a clear bag over it all to catch any flying parts but this can make twisting the stalk
end to the correct position very hard so best to twist first, apply the bag and then pull the end off.
On the end you will see the 3 contacts equally spaced around the stalk. The longer inside terminals are sprung and move backwards and forwards to touch the live copper ring that surrounds them. Inside the cap that was removed are three plastic ramps. As the stalk is rotated it lowers a contact one by one onto the live copper ring.
When it touches the ring it creates a circuit and the light will illuminate.
Clean the contacts with fine wet and dry paper. Apply a touch of white grease or even
copper grease to each one, the grease is to prevent arcing and spark errosion of the
contacts. Line the fog light symbol up with the notch on the stalk and push the end
all the way back on. Test the lights to ensure they all work.