Elise radiator replacement - LotusTalk - The Lotus Cars Community
 
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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-15-2010, 02:40 PM Thread Starter
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Elise radiator replacement

Hi all,

I'm in the process of replacing the radiator in my 05 Elise (with a ProRad one) and I have a question:
The official Service manual from Lotus says that to remove the radiator on an A/C car with front-mounted oil coolers (i.e. all US cars, as far as I know), I have to disconnect the A/C lines and oil lines. However, this link says that I can just lift the whole assembly a bit and undo the fans and AC condenser, and slide the radiator out without disconnecting any AC or oil lines. How do I do that? What bolts exactly should I remove? How do I access the side of the radiator that's at the front of the car? (with the clamshell removed, obviously)


By the way, I found the following things that were wrong in the instructions, at least for my 05 Elise:
1) You don't need to remove the headlamp assemblies (and you can't do it the way the manual describes anyway) - you just need to remove the covers by unscrewing the silver knobs that have a flat-blade slit in them. Not the hex-head (i.e. socket-head) nuts that hold the headlamp assembly. If you try to undo those, the headlamp assembly still won't come off because there's an additional screw holding them under the cover. You'll crack your clamshell if you attempt to push/pull too hard.

2) When the manual talks about the "door hinge cover", they're actually referring to the body panel that has the side turn signal on it.

3) The manual says to remove only 1 bolt that's holding the clamshell to the door hinge cover. There's actually an additional one that needs to be loosened through the door opening right above the hinge (a bolt that's holding the clamshell to the door hinge cover).

2004 Lotus Elise R (OEM supercharged, OEM BBK, Nitron Track Pro, OEM stg. 2 exhaust, OEM harness + bar, etc.)
1992 BMW 750iL highline (100% stock)
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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-15-2010, 05:07 PM
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Radiator replacement

I changed my rad out with a ProRad about four months ago. It was a huge job (about 17 hours) and alot of things in the manual are vague to the point of useless or even wrong as you've noticed. Too bad Lotus didn't put a decent rad in in the first place considering the difficulty in changing it. The dealer claims 8.5 hrs shop time to change it.

I don't know about swapping out the rad without removing the AC condenser though. I spent a couple of hours writing up all the little problems I had so others would know what to expect and then when I went to post it it got lost for some technical reason. I emailed the moderators and got no reply so I don't waste my time writing long posts explaining things anymore. I only post once in a blue moon now and keep it brief. I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't feel for you.

The side panels behind the front wheels have to come off to get the clam back on. Don't lose the shims or forget where they go or the panel fit will suck. And yes there are two bolts there not one like the manual says.

I had a hard time getting the air lock out of the coolant system when it was back together again. After a couple hours heating the engine up and venting the system I gave up and put the car back together and drove away.
The temp. began to rise then quickly dropped off scale before slowly coming back to the proper temps. That was a relief. The next day at the dealers getting the refrigerant evacuated and refilled, they said they had never had a problem with an air lock before.

If I was you I would use a digital camera and take photographs as I went along so when you are putting it back together and you can't quite get something to fit, you have something to refer back to.

Removing the turn lights is one of the most difficult things to do. They go back on easily though.

Try to get help when taking the clam off and putting it back on. Put some cardboard on the rad to protect it from the clam.

Good luck.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-19-2010, 10:00 PM Thread Starter
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Alright! I managed to remove the radiator without unplugging the AC or anything else! The trick is to lift the rear of the radiator as far as it will go, then reach in and up from the front of the car where the air comes in, and undo the 2 nuts that mount the front of the radiator to the AC condenser. Then undo the 4 screws on the rear side - those are easy to see and access. I my case, the front nuts and studs were rusted and almost impossible to get out... and the force needed to undo them ended up bending the brackets... but I bent them back, so it's fine. Just a PITA.

I'll take some pics and post some detailed info on how I did it.

bunsw, thanks for the notes - they'll come in handy during reassembly. Why did you need to remove the turn signals? Are you talking about the front ones next to he headlights? All I did was unplug their connectors - so I didn't need to remove them.

2004 Lotus Elise R (OEM supercharged, OEM BBK, Nitron Track Pro, OEM stg. 2 exhaust, OEM harness + bar, etc.)
1992 BMW 750iL highline (100% stock)
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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 05-22-2012, 07:12 PM
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I'd like to see some pics, as I am thinking about changing my radiator before it leaks.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-24-2013, 06:31 AM
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Thanks to this I was aware of the problem with the AC condenser. I don't have a dealership closer than 3.5 hours from me, so I was hell bent on leaving the AC in tact.

I have a 2005 car with a 2007 front end on it, so my headlights may mount differently than a 2005, not sure. Either way, I did have to remove the mounting nuts for the headlights (3 adjusters-17mm, plus a tiny stud-8mm), move the lights up and out of the way, removed the clam attachment bolt below, and then reinstall the lights loosely for the actual removal. I didn't want to take them out of the clam because my wires are nice and tidy and I didn't want to redo the wire ties.

But the part I really wanted to comment on was the AC condenser. There are 6 fasteners that hold the radiator to the condenser; 4 screws on the top of the radiator, and 2 welded studs with 10mm nuts pointed UP (why, I have no idea, just through-bolt it like the top and this wouldn't be an issue) in the very front, against the very immoveable radiator shroud.

In my case, I couldn't fit a wrench, socket, or even a crows foot in between the radiator and shroud to move the front two nuts, so I drilled a 1/2" access hole in the front of the shroud and slipped a ratcheting wrench in and easily removed them from there. It may seem like a hack-job but there isn't really a reason not to do it. Here is a picture:





Also, I had an air bound water pump, even after putting 9 litres of coolant/water in, driving it up and down ramps and everything, it just wouldn't prime itself and circulate. I messed with it for a while but basically I got the car to temp and blew directly into the reservoir with all the bleeders open first, then closed, and I felt it burp and it started circulating fine. You still need to bleed it afterwards, but at least it will be circulating!

Just putting my 2 cents up to hopefully save the next person some time.

Happy motoring!
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-24-2013, 06:40 AM
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yeah those front two nuts are infuriating. I have a tiny little flat wrench that I could manuver from the side. The biggest irritation is there is absolutely no reason why it should be fixed like that. I think they had an intern design that bit.

I think if I had to do it again I would drill the access slots like you did.

Seriously, my car is small
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 08-30-2013, 04:16 AM
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This was a massive help, thanks elise freak!
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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 10-16-2013, 10:46 AM
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This was sooo frustrating!!!

'05 Elise Storm Titanium
'03 S2000 Sebring Silver (sold)
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 11-30-2013, 06:06 PM
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I used the same drilling a hole method to access the bolts but I used a 1" spade bit and just went very slowly so I didnt poke anything on the other side. I covered the holes with goirilla tape. Good as new. I also want to comment that with the amount of fasteners that held this thing on... it has to be a structural radiator, a seriously integral structural member.
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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-10-2014, 08:13 PM
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I used one of these and didn't have to cut anything:



They were on sale at Harbor Freight for $6.99 for the whole set so I decided to try it. Worked like a charm
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post #11 of 12 (permalink) Old 03-09-2014, 09:47 AM
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I found the angled wrench was difficult especially as rusted as it was. I couldn't see why I was having so much difficulty. When I put a couple of holes in the shroud I could see what the problem was and it allow me to get a penetrating oil onto the nuts. It also allowed me to carefully break the rust bond with a straight wrench. Excellent hint from 05 Elise Freak, thanks.

I have finished putting the new radiator in. Its getting cold again, I'll wait until the next warm day to refill the coolant and test for leaks.

Howard
2005 Elise AP LSS hardtop

Last edited by hroundy; 03-09-2014 at 12:16 PM.
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post #12 of 12 (permalink) Old 06-24-2017, 09:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aschen View Post
yeah those front two nuts are infuriating. I have a tiny little flat wrench that I could manuver from the side. The biggest irritation is there is absolutely no reason why it should be fixed like that. I think they had an intern design that bit.

I think if I had to do it again I would drill the access slots like you did.
This thread was very helpful to me, I have a drawer full of cheap wrenches, I found a small 10mm, put it in the vice and bent it to fit the job. These two nuts on the front that bolt radiator and condenser together are possibly the only bolts on my Elise that have rust on them. I have some binding going on in the front corner passenger side of the radiator, I can't pull it free, I need to keep reading :-)
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