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Old 07-27-2009, 06:04 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Track day oil or fuel starvation: How much to worry?

I track my Elise a couple days a year, and all this talk about oil and fuel starvation kinda makes me nervous. Are these types of failures common or rare?

Is there any relationship between fluid levels and likelihood of starvation? In other words, would driving with a full tank and/or over-filling the oil sump a little for track days help my odds?
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Old 07-27-2009, 07:07 PM   #2 (permalink)
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I track my Elise a couple days a year, and all this talk about oil and fuel starvation kinda makes me nervous. Are these types of failures common or rare?

Is there any relationship between fluid levels and likelihood of starvation? In other words, would driving with a full tank and/or over-filling the oil sump a little for track days help my odds?
Yes, there is a relationship between fuel level and fuel starve. But it also has to do with the strength and duration of lateral G forces, plus the condition of the tank baffles (which are known to deteriorate over time). Always try to keep as much fuel in your tank as is reasonable. Solutions include a racing fuel cell, or a fuel surge tank.

For oil issues, your oil level should be at max at all times. Not above and not below (within reason, of course). Again, strength and duration of G forces affect oil starvation, which can be remedied with a baffled oil pan, an Accusump, or both.
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Old 07-27-2009, 07:16 PM   #3 (permalink)
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I was gonna say the problem is not as significant for normally aspirated Elise/Exige, but then I saw your "oh, and a supercharger".

It's a pretty significant problem, many people have lost engines because of it.

I run Hoosier R6 compound and lost one motor because of it at Thunderhill CA long left hander. Got lucky on motor #2 (same track, same tires) as it encountered the same issue only with about 3 psi less pressure and a more safe tune -- but that motor dropped a valve about 2 weeks later just driving around the street. Motor #3 is surviving with BOE's fuel slosh solution.

With Engine #1 and #2, the tank was filled up prior to each session on 100 octane race fuel -- didn't prevent fuel starve. My car is an 07, and by my first engine failure I only had about 5000 miles on it, Engine #2 lasted about 3000 miles. I "think" Engine #3 will be fine, but this Lotus has tossed failure after failure at me so who knows.

I think normally aspirated Elise/Exige with stock rubber seem to encounter the fuel starve and oil starve issues much less.

Rob.
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Old 07-27-2009, 07:48 PM   #4 (permalink)
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depending on the track / driving style people report fuel starve on a stock car at 3/4 a tank or less, stay about that and you'll likely never see it.

as for the oil, if you manage to starve it badly enough to cause damage then there is probably not a lot you could have done about it, so just check the levels each track day, if you notice the consumption going up then have it checked. The accusump/moroso help, addtionally adding extra oil capacity.

like i said in the other thread, common sense, if something acts odd, sounds different etc, check it (though not by flooring it around a track or sitting in the pits free revving the engine to 6000 rpm)
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Old 07-27-2009, 08:34 PM   #5 (permalink)
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If you don't make any changes to prevent it (Fuel or oil) then at the very least make sure that you top off the tank with fuel before every session and make sure the oil is topped off.

Yes, both are very real problems. I have the data that shows it.
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Old 07-27-2009, 08:46 PM   #6 (permalink)
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I heard rumors of a dry sump solution....from v2 and monkeywrench
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Old 07-27-2009, 08:51 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Sorry not from V2 at this time. I am looking into other less costly solutions.
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Old 07-27-2009, 08:56 PM   #8 (permalink)
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dry sump would be cool, lotus offer one too i think.
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Old 07-27-2009, 09:48 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by charliex View Post
like i said in the other thread, common sense, if something acts odd, sounds different etc, check it (though not by flooring it around a track or sitting in the pits free revving the engine to 6000 rpm)
Last track day at Streets, I had the wonderful problem of the actual dipstick not showing the correct amount of oil in the car. Car was slowly running low on oil, I have a moroso pan and repositioned dipstick due to supercharger kit. Sometimes one side is covered, sometimes both are, sometimes car is full of oil but only shows a couple dots of oil near the first dot. I tried bending the stick and that seems to work a little better, but for the most part unless it's topped off the stick has a hard time showing what's even in the car... anyways car sounded funny, it was super low on oil but was an easy fix once it was back at the shop - I'm glad I turned off the car when I did or it would have been another engine bye bye.

Anyways on top of what Charlie is saying an easy thing to do (which I am finally doing this week) is getting an oil pressure and temp gauge with some dummy or warning lights when the levels get funky...that and I'm just going to have to check oil levels over and over before each outing. No oil in my catch cans, but a steady loss of about 1/3 quart every 500 miles or so of hard driving or on track is what I am noticing.
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Old 07-27-2009, 11:02 PM   #10 (permalink)
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oh don't get me started on this....
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Old 07-28-2009, 05:26 AM   #11 (permalink)
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I'm just going to have to check oil levels over and over before each outing.
doesnt everyone do this anyway?

I check my oil level in all my cars before each session, just like I check my lug nuts for torque before each session.
tire pressures also.

its part of a day at the track.
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Old 07-28-2009, 05:29 AM   #12 (permalink)
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oh don't get me started on this....
Me too.
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Old 07-28-2009, 06:35 AM   #13 (permalink)
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doesnt everyone do this anyway?

I check my oil level in all my cars before each session, just like I check my lug nuts for torque before each session.
tire pressures also.

its part of a day at the track.
I'll also throw in checking brake pads and tire wear.
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:08 AM   #14 (permalink)
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So far the Moroso oil pan alone has done it's job in terms of oil pressure at various tracks -- I data log the pressure and lowest psi reading was 33 for a <1 sec rapid left to right (or right to left) transition that caused the drop. Steady state corners (like turn 2 at Thunderhill CA, or turn 6 at Infineon CA) will show around 50-60 psi. Rule of thumb is about 7 psi per 1000 rpm - or so I'm told.

Accusump can't do anything in regards to rapid transitions (<1 sec) that cause oil pressure drops (i.e around 1.6-1.7 G), accusump is for aiding longer steady state pressure drops.

Dry sump would be interesting but -- can anyone expand on what type of dry sump Lotus provided? i.e. is it a true dry sump setup with a separate external oil tank or is it a hybrid system utilizing the existing oil pan? Electric or belt?

Rob
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:20 AM   #15 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by fishguy View Post
doesnt everyone do this anyway?

I check my oil level in all my cars before each session, just like I check my lug nuts for torque before each session.
tire pressures also.

its part of a day at the track.
Of course lol...I'm talking about checking it like multiple times in a row, again my dipstick is somewhat uncooperative sometimes showing different oil levels in consecutive checks. I just checked it this morning again, first time normal, second time one side was covered other was empty with spotty oil to the first dot, 3rd time normal -
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Old 07-28-2009, 08:46 AM   #16 (permalink)
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I am also nervous about this, I am doing my 1st track days in Sept.

but what I am hearing is if your car is NA, and you are on street tires, and you check fluid levels very diligently,

things will be ok. yes?
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Old 07-28-2009, 09:13 AM   #17 (permalink)
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I am also nervous about this, I am doing my 1st track days in Sept.

but what I am hearing is if your car is NA, and you are on street tires, and you check fluid levels very diligently,

things will be ok. yes?
No guarantees, but many seem to be ok -- how you drive and type of track will also play into the "safety" of your engine. If you wanna be more safe, I'd recommend you not exceed 7800 rpm.
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Old 07-29-2009, 06:00 PM   #18 (permalink)
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No guarantees, but many seem to be ok -- how you drive and type of track will also play into the "safety" of your engine. If you wanna be more safe, I'd recommend you not exceed 7800 rpm.
I also am scheduled for my first track day in September, and since my Exige is supercharged it appears I have sufficient reason to be concerned. And while I'll go to the extent of checking oil levels, maintaing a full fuel tank, and other such appropriate precautions, I do not currently have plans for a Moroso or Accusump mod in the interim time period.

So, for those who've experienced engine failures, I'm just curious:

Are you buying new engines out of your own pocket or is your Lotus warranty (don't laugh too hard, this is a legit question from this newby) covering you in some way?
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Old 07-29-2009, 10:12 PM   #19 (permalink)
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My own pocket and then some. I do all the work myself, so I save about 6K in labor.

Warranty is pretty clear, take your Lotus to the track and warranty is void (this is not unusual).
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Old 07-29-2009, 11:48 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Let's be realistic...first track days at 7/10ths pace with instructor in the car, fuel starve and oil starve should not be what these guys should be concerning themselves with.

Now, if you've tracked a lot and this is the first time you are taking the Lotus out, that's a different story...and your own experience should tell you if you need to worry about things like fuel and oil starve on high G, long sweepers...because you've probably had to concern yourself with it in other cars.
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