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Roadster Driveshaft Removal

It is now becoming a more common problem with Roadsters, the ABS rings rust and fail

Modification Details

What Are The Symtoms?

As you brake, the ABS almost always kicks in. This feels like a fast shaking through
the pedal. The ABS light does not illuminate when the ABS kicks in. In this particular
occasion, the ABS pump was firing erratically even when the car had stopped.

Price Problem And Solution

Smart have increased the price of the drive shafts by £50 each and now retail at
£170 + VAT EACH! So I suggest you do what I did and get a pair second hand.
I am lucky to be very close to 
Chequered Flag in Strood. They always have a vast range of spare
parts for smarts.If you want to contact them, it's best to get on the phone, 01634 711 866.

Dave at Chequered Flag donated the driveshafts to us to help a friend fix her car.

The next option is to replace the rings with some aftermarket units, available here:

First Things First

Get your replacement drive shafts and give them a good clean with a wire brush and a file.
When you are happy they are clean, give the notched ABS ring a coat of 'direct to rust' black Hammerite.
Ensure it is a thin coat and get in to all the corners.
This should stop the rings rusting again, you may as well paint the shaft too.

Let the paint dry in a warm place for 24 hours before fitting.

Remove The Centre Caps

The drive shaft bolts are hidden behind the wheel centre cap but it's usually impossible
to get them out so you will have to remove the wheel to pop them out. 
Look here.

With the centre caps off the rear wheels you will have to put the wheels back on.
This is because you need the weight of the car to undo the driveshaft bolts.

Replacing The Driveshafts

Ignore the fact that the photos are from a fortwo, the set up is exactly the same.

Using a 21mm socket (see bottom of the page), remove the driveshaft bolts on each side.
Jack the car up using the rear tridion jacking point and remove the wheel.
Ensure the car is being held up by axle stands before commencing work.

Using an 18mm ring spanner and E18 socket, remove the bottom x-frame bar bolts.

We will start with the longer drive shaft first as it's easier to remove.
It's easier to remove the drive shafts if you remove the bottom shock absorber bolt.
We did this the first time but found it was possible without if you are strong. It's up to you.

Put the drive shaft bolt back in about 4 turns and pound with a rubber mallet.
It shouldn't take to much but eventually the shaft will move most of the way out.
Remove the drive shaft bolt once again.

Remove the axle jack so the axle can swing loose.
Place a pry bar down the tube and bend the axle tube outwards.
You only have to move it about an inch to be able to lift the shaft up and out of the holder.
Take the opportunity to clean the sensor located at the front of the holder.

Use a crowbar to lever the loose drive shaft from the transmission.
Don't feel tempted to pull on the drive shaft unless you are fond of ball bearings.
The shaft is held in by a sprung oval clip that creates a compression fitting.
Replace the jack under the axle tube and jack it up slightly, this will stop
the other side swinging right down when you undo the shock absorber bolt.

Repeat the whole thing again on the other side with the short shaft.

Fitting New Oil Seals

With the driveshafts out you can pull the old seals out with your fingers.
The new seals simply push back in place before the drive shaft is replaced.

Here is the ABS reluctor ring from the long shaft that we removed.
You can clearly see that there is an enormous split all the way through.

This is the shorter drive shaft, the crack isn't as bad but will still cause problems.

Here are the nicely reconditioned driveshafts from Chequered Flag, all painted.

Line up the short shaft with the hole and push it in as far as you can.
Hold the shaft straight and knock it in with a rubber mallet by hitting the other end.
They will both slide in very easily so if it takes a lot of force, check you are lined up.

To get the ABS ring ends of the shafts back in you have to apply the same idea as
you used to get them out. A bar down the axle end and bend it out.
Swing the drive shaft over the top of the brake drum and into the housing.
Repeat on the other side with the long drive shaft.

There is a good chance that all the moving around will have moved the bottoms
of the shock absorbers, persuade them back in place with light taps from a
rubber mallet and a crowbar if they move back too far.
Jacking the axle end up a bit at a time can help the bolt find the thread at the other side.

Replace the drive shaft bolts and tighten to 30Nm + 90 degrees.
Refit the x-frame tie rod bolts and tighten to 100Nm

Replace the wheels and lower the car, make sure you have torqued
the drive shaft bolts before lowering, this preloads the bearings.

The Outcome

This car had been to a 3rd party smart specialist to be looked at twice previously,
dispite spending hunderds of pounds on 'fixes', the problems continued.
Just 2 hours with a pair of smart owners, a few tools and donated parts:
the car now drives and brakes perfectly which was a big relief to the owner.

Specific 21mm Socket

Most sockets of this size will be the correct "dual hexagon" type. But check yours just
in case as some sockets, especially impact sockets are standard single hexagon type.

The socket on the left is the correct type, the socket on the right will not fit.

Many Thanks

Apart from thanking Chequered Flag for the parts, i'd also like to thank Tiny
for doing a lot of the work, supplying the driveway and the tools to do it.

If you want to see the maddest smart ever built you want to see Tiny's cabrio.

Disco dancing smart

Repairing The Driveshafts

Have a look 
here for repairing the reluctor rings.

Click if Info Helpful

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