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451 Fortwo Not Selecting Reverse

Mod Details
PremiumNo Difficulty Mod ID1285 Creditevilution For451 Fortwo Link Copy to Clipboard

451 Fortwo 999cc

When the 451 fortwo started exhibiting the same problems when selecting

reverse, people immediately assumed that smart hadn't learned their lesson

and that a faulty brake light switch was to blame as with the previous models.

Although it can cause the fault, it is more likely to be the clutch or the software.

Generally what you will get is the N flashing on the speedo.

Explanation & Answer

by smart technician Ash

"This is a fairly common fault, it occurs more frequently on our sales display smarts as

they are left for long periods of time. Smart did at one point advise us to replace the

clutches for ones with a modified teflon spline. This does fix the issue but, on all the

smarts I have had the issue on, I have found a later software version for the gearbox

that gives it a higher threshold before it gives up trying to push the clutch in." 

"In all the instances that I have had this issue, it has rectified it every time."

"It is something that would incur somewhere around half an

hour labour time for anybody who has run out of warranty."

Software Update – Permanent Fix

Take it to smart and have the gearbox controller software updated.

Roadside Fixes

When you stop, hold the foot brake and select reverse, if it just flashes an N at you

on the speedo LCD instead of selecting reverse, try this. Reselect 1st gear, drive

forwards a few inches and try selecting reverse again. So far I have had the problem

appear about 5 times and on each time, this quick method allows you to select reverse.

From Anonymous

Anon found that edging forwards didn't circumvent this fault. However, they did find that manually

pushing the car back a few inches with their leg out the door seemed to allow selection of reverse.

From Robert C

Robert found going very quickly from 1st to reverse worked for him.

Brake Light Switch

I have heard of 3 failed brake light switches on this model. Far far less than the previous models.

Remove the brake light switch and test it to ensure it's doing what it should.

Water In The Gearbox Controller (GDU)

The 451 has a separate controller for the gearbox, it's underneath the carpet, underneath the left hand seat.
The cause of the leak is unknown but probably a leaking seal or windscreen however, the water pools
up around the gearbox controller, gets inside it (it's not waterproof) and causes major problems.

Feel under the carpets for water.

Snapped Clutch Actuator Motor

You would think that having the spiral gear of the clutch actuator snap would cause the 3 bars to show on the
speedo. Normally it is the case but on the odd occasion, the car will happily sit there in the gear it failed in.
Obviously it won't allow the car to change gear with no control over the clutch.

Remove the clutch actuator, remove the 6 torx screws from the top and remove the bottom plate.
You can then physically check the motor spiral drive gear for damage.

Gear Change Motor Failure

This is a fairly new one from mid 2017 but it is becoming more and more common.
It looks as though 1 of the 4 angle rotation sensors inside the gear change motors simply fails.

You have to remove the airbox and air inlet pipe to get to the 451 gear change motor.
You can bench test it or fit a borrowed/2nd hand unit to test.

When fitting a new unit, you will need to have it aligned with MB Star Diagnostics.

Damaged Wiring Loom

The short wiring loom from the gearbox controller (GDU) to the transmission ancillaries has been known to fail.
It could be rubbing, fatigued, pinched, trapped, moving which causes internal breakage or water ingress.

Continuity test each wire or ideally load test each wire. Replacement looms are available from smart.

Blown Fuse 24

Alex H had issues selecting any gears and after exhausting the above possibilities he checked to
see if the brake lights functioned correctly. They didn't. He assumed that it was the brake light switch
but decided to check the fuses as matter of course. This is when he found that fuse 24 had blown.

Fuse 24 powers the brake lights and upon replacing that fuse, the car functioned correctly.

How a combined 3.5 amps blew a 15 amp fuse is unknown but the do deteriorate over time.
Or it could have just been a faulty or badly made fuse.

Blown Fuse 20

On the heels of unlikely fuses blowing, I figured I may as well cover another possibilty, just in case.
If your car refuses to select gears and the radio doesn't function, it could be fuse 20.

Fuse 20 powers the SE Drive that selects the gears via the gearbox control unit.
However, this fault is more likely to bring up 3 bars on the speedo display.

Blown Fuse 12

This fuse blowing would definitely cause gear issues as it powers the gearbox control unit.
However, if there was no power, you'd almost certainly get the 3 bar error on the speedo display.