Questions about safety, affordability, ultimate value and even performance are all well-worn topics for fans of the Daimler-built Smart ForTwo minicar, but to date mechanical problems haven't been a hot topic - aside from balky transmissions. Now Daimler has decided to fix the problem by offering a free upgrade to the 24,622 2008-model vehicles affected.

The fix applies to U.S.-market cars sold last year. The problem was a hesitancy going into gear, rough shifts and even slipping between gears, according to reports from users. The company is acknowledging the problem, and stepping up to fix it free fo charge - as they should.

"We will upgrade your transmission software to the new 2009 operating mode which provides improved shifting dynamics as well as instant changing between automatic and paddle shifting just by touching the up or down shift paddles," says one owner's notice letter, according to USA Today.

A simple software update will fix the automatic's issues, and it only takes about 90 minutes from start to finish.

Getting these issues out of the way will be a key element to the success of even more expensive versions like the ForTwo EV displayed at this year's Detroit Auto Show. The huge potential for efficiency and consequent low emissions won't be enough to overcome a car that offers a poor driving experience for many picky American drivers.