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Discussion Starter #1
A week ago I picked up my 88 from a reputable shop which did a timing belt change and some other misc service for me. They had the car for a little over a month. I returned home and was dusting it off before putting the cover on for the winter and saw what I thought were several scratches above the driver side glass, which I later determined to be stress cracks since I can't feel anything on the surface. The car was indoors at the shop. It was about 34 deg F for the 20 min drive home (the coldest weather it's ever been driven in), although cold weather surely wouldn't cause this. Suspension has been inspected and isn't an issue from what I can tell. Any ideas what would cause this? I heard a few peculiar noises on the drive home, but I figured I was over-sensitive because I hadn't driven it in over a month, and wasn't used to the usual creaks and sounds that usually come with the car (especially from the sunroof fittings). Photos attached. Area in question is between the glass roof panel, windshield and side glass. I can see where this could be point of a susceptibility, being the thinnest area of body material.

So irritating. Body is immaculate other than this and a few spots on the rear bumper. While I don't think it was due to shop irresponsibility, it does come to mind. Mybe the tech was lifting himself out of of the car? Even that seems a trivial amount of load compared to other forces in play during driving. I sent an email and photos to the service manager, who said the general manager would be in touch, yet he has failed to contact me.

Any opinions or thoughts would be appreciated.
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Wingless Wonder
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We got a couple stress cracks in that area from driving on uneven ground at a car show field. 馃槩

Could be from a driveway apron or uneven transition into the shop or lot.




(We drove our Esprit in 20F. temps yesterday, no issues.)
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Update: Another thought... with the unevenness idea... they did have to remove the rear driver side wheel to address a tire bead issue. I would assume they took off the tire while on the rack, but if they were short on rack space and opted to jack the car up, wouldn't that put stress on the particular point in question? Again, the car should be able to handle this sort of pressure, but perhaps if they were using a floor jack and quickly raised it?

The pattern of cracks seems so random though. I would think that if it all of these cracks occurred at the same time, from a consistent source (like those created when jacking up the car) the resulting cracks would be somewhat similar. Maybe it was during their test drive.
 

Wingless Wonder
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When was the last time you checked:

1. The tubular radiator tray supports?
2. The 4 bolts securing the body to the frame in front? (2 vertical, 2 fore <-> aft)
3. The body>frame fixing bolts in the rear trunk?
4. Rear bulkhead bolts (that may require extra fettling, to fully tighten)

These fixings often loosen over time.

If you can't find the locations I'll look them up in the parts lists tomorrow.

Your theory regards lifting at the jack location on the body sill may have merit. I lift the front on the crossmember of the frame, not the body...and in the rear, on the engine cradle 'hoop'.
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
Carbuff: I'll check the points you mentioned. I have a service manual so I should be able to find them. I just acquired the car and while it was given a quick once over at the shop, I'm not sure they would've gone to that extent. I have done some more internet research on the matter, and jacking up any Esprit is definitely of concern. Advice is to proceed very slowly, which might be difficult if working with a floor jack.

Since the chassis is based on a backbone, I'm guessing the four jack points on the outer perimeter body sills aren't integrated into the chassis... or aren't as much as they should be as jacking points. So the front crossmember would probably be in the vicinity of the radiator? And I'm curious as to what the cradle hoop is. I've attached a screenshot of the service manual diagram of the chassis. Would it be the area indicated by the red box?

Thanks
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Wingless Wonder
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Another thing to remember with fiberglass: When stressed/twisted, they can crack internally and the visible stress cracks will not appear until later. How is the body in the outer corners near the headlamp buckets? That is a common place for stress cracks.
 

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Atwell how do you get your jack under the front cross member? its so far under there and I have a super low profile long jack.

I guess the front cross member (shown above) that supports the front lower suspension A arm mount is not strong enough?
 

Wingless Wonder
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I used TWO low profile jacks before I got my 4 post garage lift. Mine would fit under the front bumper, and contact the highlighted rectangular box section. I would lift the car a little, enough to get my other jack under the main part of the frame (between the spring supports) and lift it the rest of the way at that point (with the wheels off the ground). If I was just working on one corner of the car I would keep the jack near the A arm pivots.

I would place jack stands under the body sill 'jack points' to steady the car when working under it.

Bear in mind that an '88s front valence/splitter is higher off the ground than later cars. Additionally, the chassis was 'improved' in later years...compare the extra stiffeners (# 9 &10, and #25 & 26) in the S4s parts diagram, below.



I assisted an X180R owner removing front tires at a track day once. I was cringing, but he instructed me to use his jack on the front sills. BOY did the body creak... 馃槺 But we got all the wheels off and bled the spongy brakes between sessions!!!:cool:
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I don't know much about Esprits. However those cracks would bother me a lot if I had that car. So I don't think you are being OCD.
 

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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
carbuff: These are the first cracks that have shown up, hence my madness. Especially since they came at the hands of a shop who should've known what they were doing. After a quick web search, it's obvious that much care should be taken when lifting these cars.

Getting back to your engine "hoop" comment and process... would you or did you use two jacks on the rear as well? And where exactly is the "hoop"? Is it visible in the diagram above? Sorry for the newb questions.

Another thing to remember with fiberglass: When stressed/twisted, they can crack internally and the visible stress cracks will not appear until later. How is the body in the outer corners near the headlamp buckets? That is a common place for stress cracks.
 

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The shop manual pic is the wrong angle. Here's a picture of the hoop.(arrow). Don't EVER be tempted to lift by the lower control arms, they will bend. (That goes for tying our cars down on a flatbed, too. )
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Discussion Starter #13
Got it. But as your "hoop" description implies... that's pretty round! Doesn't lifting it from this single point make for some precarious balance concerns once elevated? Thanks for all your help! I need to lift mine so as to remove the tire the shop tried to fix (it went flat).
 

Wingless Wonder
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Put a hockey puck in the saddle of your jack
Or, (for the newer cars) a foot-long piece of wood with a groove cut into it to straddle the locating flange. The lifting or supporting force should go to the sill itself.

That is another difference between early Stevens cars and later. The sill's jack points on the early cars are shaped like little stirrups, while the later ones are simply a straight flange. Both types serve solely to secure the factory scissor jack saddle in place so that it won't move. (you HOPE) o_O

As Eric said, the car is relatively stable when lifted by the rear chassis. I further steady the body by lowering it gently onto jackstands placed on the jacking cups, when actually working underneath (as opposed to just removing or rotating tires).
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Excellent input, thanks! I'm just removing and replacing the tire at this point, so a good primer exercise for me!
 

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I have used the onboard jack with my 2003 Esprit, and was pretty surprised at the amount of flex in the structure when jacking one wheel at a time, i.e. the doors did not want to open or close while lifted. Don't think there was any permanent harm done i.e. have not seen any stress cracks, but it was a little disconcerting. Enough so that a full lift QuickJack is now on my shopping list.

BTW rubber hockey pucks with slots cut out make very nice protectors for the Esprit T-shaped metal jacking point tabs. My tabs were folded over when I got the car, obviously from a careless garage lift at some point, but I managed to get them reasonably straight with a little coaxing.

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#20, 25 and 26 were Sport300 only. A bodu off installation to weld on the 4 cups that actually bolt these pieces together.
#15 came on the Sport300 and later on on more models.
#9 and 10 are also on my SE from 1990 but welded on, not bolted on. That was because of the powersteering on later models.
Also thicker gauge tubing on later cars.
The removable perpendicular u-shaped bar #30 have been seen reinforced.
I lift mine on the two front jacking point with a low bed jack plus a rubber puck. On the rear i lift on the horizontal part/round shape at the lowest part of the u-shaped tubing. No creaks, no doors that cannot shut or open. No problem at all actually. Never tried to use the original jack; it's been oiled, wrapped and stored safely.
the thinner tubes taht support the radiator pack are a single tube each side on early Stevens cars. On SE onwards, it became reinforced "Y" shabed tubing both sides.
Sport300 have two extra body to chassis bolts than other Esprits.
Cheers,
Redfox
 

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I would think that this car along with many other exotic cars are supposed to be lifted in certain areas because of the frame strength etc. These cars are not seen everyday by garages and I can easily see a technician in the shop manually jacking up the car in the wrong area and causing the stress cracks. It has nothing to do with the weather in my opinion. I would also say you should never open the car door on any car when you have one corner jacked up or the back end or front end jacked up. Do that on any vintage convertible and see what happens???? Mark Seifert
 
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