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TLDR: I have too much travel in my brake pedal before it grabs, even after brakes bled by a lotus dealer. I need to adjust my parking brake at the rear caliper.

The long and the short of it is that I had my brakes powder coated. As a part of this service they rebuilt the brakes and installed stainless lines. As a courtesy they nicely adjusted my parking brake. Now even after having my braked bled by a lotus dealer the pedal has a significant amount of travel before it bites the brakes.
The dealer insists that they bled the brakes appropriately and there is no air in the lines. But the brakes definitely aren’t how they were when I dropped it off at the powder coating shop. I need advice, either how to fix the brake problem or where to bring it, I’m located in northern NJ.

As an added bonus my parking brake barely works anymore. The guy said he “pulled the holder on the rear caliper to a lesser position” any advice on how to undo what he did would be appreciated.

1259873
 

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They're not bled properly if you have travel, and if the "dealer" did the powder coat I would be suspicious of that job as well. Sounds like they have a air bubble due to calipers being off and they might have let air get in MC while bleeding.
 

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I recall reading a post about air being trapped in the ABS valve body, and it being difficult to get out without the help of a diagnostic tool to open the valves. As previous poster said, MC would need to be unported for this to happen. I know you said that the before/after feel was quite different, but a contributing factor might be excessive free play in MC pushrod. I adjusted mine recently with positive results (critical to have slight free play when pedal is against up stop, though).
 

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See instructions next to last. This always works.



Note to new Elise & Exige Owners:



1. These cars have large (i.e. dangerous) blind spots. Multivex mirrors are NLA, but RLS (Really Light Stuff) offers very good tape-on replacements.

2. The horns are way too weak (quiet). There’s an inverse relationship: smaller the car, louder the horn needs to be.

Get something such as a Stebel Nautilus.

Stebel: “HONK! LOOK OUT!”


Remove the stock horn; replace with louder.



(I drive with my finger on the horn button in any traffic. Iffy situations, my headlights are on.



Stay to the left of traffic, i.e. avoid passing on the right if you can.



Stop way behind trucks, SUVs, etc. Some have blindspots >50’. )



3. The early cars came with misaimed and dim headlights. If you drive at night, convert to HIDs. While better than stock halogen bulbs are available, HIDs throw more light. Stay around 5000k. As of this writing LEDs are not as good.



4. Ensure your car has had the work required by the recall for oil line fittings done. You could lose an engine and/or spin in your own oil.



5. Transmission:



The best transmission lube I’ve found is Redline MT-90 plus a little Power Punch Extreme Gear Oil Additive. (Note that it takes two changes to get rid of the previous lube.)



a) Early cars have wobbly shift towers. Look up Stan’s Mod (bolt and spacer; http://www.billswebspace.com/ShifterReinforcement.pdf) and



And, use:

Re-Enforcer long thru bolts that terminate under car and tie down the tower:

https://www.inokinetic.com/lotus/re-enforcer?category=Transmission



These (lube, mods) make a huge change in shifting.



6. As per some engine builders on these sites, wait AT LEAST 20 -35 minutes aftercoolant has reached full operating temp before engaging cam switchover.



For street cars, consider removing one or both oil coolers. Some cover them. Oil doesn’t get hot enough on street, leading to cam wiping.



I use Mobil 1 5W-40 Turbo Diesel oil. 85k miles and fine, but one is not a useful example.



7. Rear toe-links can loosen and break with disastrous results. You can check tq periodically, or use Nordlock washers. Best is conversion to better engineered brace, such as BOE’s InoKinetic’s for two examples.



8. While under the car with panel off, look around for hoses and wires chafing their way to failure. That’s how this was found:




9. The stock radiators are prone to leaking where the end caps meet the metal part. Keep an eye on this. Most of us use single-pass all-aluminum radiators.



10. When your wheel well liner comes loose, skip the lame plastic rivet and use Well-Nuts instead.



11. Life will be better if you disable the auto-arming alarm function on the earlier cars. You won’t have to press a button to start the car. Instructions:



Remote Key Fob, Immobilizer & Misc Alarm Programming



12. These cars cannot be left off a Battery Tender for weeks at a time. Unless dead batteries are a particular joy of yours. Buy one right away. There are numerous threads here about which ppl use and like.



You NEED a digital multimeter (voltmeter) to work on modern cars. Handy around house too. Get one this week.



13, Some on this site are a bit obsessed with hockey pucks for lifting the car. Don’t use these. Too hard and slippery, generally, and too small a surface area. Use a piece of wood, as your hero does.



14. If you are fooling with sparkplugs, remember to slather those tubes in dielectric grease (prevents shorts).



15. Visit the Uber Thread



**Elise/Exige Uberpost READ THIS. Everything you need to know is in here**



16. Most parts on the car are made by Toyota and others, so buying things like a/c compressors, engine parts, etc. is wildly expensive when purchased thru Lotus.

Toyota dealers, auto parts stores are way less expensive.



17. The soft high-grip tires on most of our cars lose much of that grip when temperatures drop below 50 F. I know of too many ppl who spun their cars when not remembering this. I use hi-performance all-seasons.



Note that many summer tires cannot even be stored in temps below 20 F.

-----
Plus, “How to bleed brakes”:

How to Bleed Brakes



How to Search:

For future reference: Don't use the search on this site. Simply use Google and end the search text with "site:lotustalk.com". E.g.
Transmission Fluid change what bolt site:lotustalk.com

no space betweensite:lotustalk.com
 

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Where in NNJ. I know people.
 

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Since the parking brake no longer works correctly, I would start by seeing if there is a gap between the rear pads and rotors. If it is too large, the extra pedal travel comes from the amount of fluid needed to push the piston out far enough for the caliper to squeeze the pads against the rotor. The parking brake mechanism is supposed to ratchet the piston out and adjust the rear brakes when you use it. (this is why you have to spin the piston to retract it) Too large a gap would also cause the parking brake not to work. Take the wheel off and work the parking brake lever on the caliper and watch to see if the piston pushes out enough to grab the rotor and how far it retracts. If the parking brake part of the caliper is working properly, it should adjust out until the pads is slightly touching the rotor when you release it. It also should be impossible for it to over adjust and make the brakes too tight the way it's designed. If all that is ok, you could have air in the abs unit or possibly the powder coating could have got into the bore. Also, make sure the calipers are all installed with the bleeder screws on the top so the air can get out, you would be surprised how many times I have had to correct do-it-yourselfers that put the calipers on the opposite side so the bleeder ended up on the bottom and trapping air in the system no matter how much they bled it.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
GLB, I live in newton but am willing to travel to get this fixed.
I think the parking brake has to do with him adjusting the cable more than the piston itself but I’ll look into it. The bleed valves are on the top of the calipers so I think that was done appropriately. The lotus dealer and the shop that did the powder coating are two different people but the lotus dealer (part of Aston Martin if Summit here in NJ) said he didn’t think that the master cylinder had a dedicated bleed valve. Is that true? Would there be a way to bleed the MC specifically? They bled the brakes as per lotus which requires a lotus scan tool and activating the ABS module to bleed them, I would guess that would get the air out of the ABS
 

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It's very easy to introduce air if you allow it to get low at all if bleeding with two people. At this point your best bet is to have it flushed by emptying MC, refill and either pressure or vacuum start at the clutch slave then go around the car bleeding farest from M/C to closest. Tap each caliper to release any trapped air bubbles. I think you'll find this will fix it. I know I did it to myself once.
 

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The front calipers have to come off the be fully bled after being emptied (while being powder coated). Stock, there is only one bleeder fitting on the outside of the caliper. Air trapped on the inside has to be moved to the outside. Visualizing the air bubble at the top of the inside half of the caliper, flip the caliper over and tap the caliper with the wooden handle of a hammer. Continue tapping as your slowly turn the caliper back to right side up such that the air bubble travels through the external connecter pipe. Then bleed the outside bleeder and repeat until no air comes out.
 

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I've never had to move calipers around.

GLB, I live in newton but am willing to travel to get this fixed.
I think the parking brake has to do with him adjusting the cable more than the piston itself but I’ll look into it. The bleed valves are on the top of the calipers so I think that was done appropriately. The lotus dealer and the shop that did the powder coating are two different people but the lotus dealer (part of Aston Martin if Summit here in NJ) said he didn’t think that the master cylinder had a dedicated bleed valve. Is that true? Would there be a way to bleed the MC specifically? They bled the brakes as per lotus which requires a lotus scan tool and activating the ABS module to bleed them, I would guess that would get the air out of the ABS
Choices: Precision Motorsports
438 W Mill Rd
Long Valley, NJ 07853
Will (owner) 908-832-6572

They did a brilliant job of corner balancing my Elise and adjusting/aligning suspension.

C2 Automotive
500 US 46
Fairfield, NJ 07004
Colin Miller (named after Chapman) Great guy.
973) 647-9440‬
(Same bldg as Eurotire, but keep those ppl away from your car.)

I often use Chester Auto
15 Seminary Ave, Chester, NJ 07930
‭(908) 879-7148‬
They took clams off to fix my a/c. Good people.
 

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How to Bleed Brakes

Note that many people disagree with my method, so judge for yourself.

Taught to me by semi-famous Toyota engineer, who built championship winning cars and bikes.

1. Get Sears or ~ brake bleed kit (canister, hoses, adaptors for bleed valves) and their hand vacuum pump. Kits there have both components. Inexpensive.

2. Pour a little b/f in canister, hook up hoses and use the tightest adaptor you can.

3. Pump vacuum to 20-25” with bleeder valve closed.

4. Tap caliper with small hammer or similar. This releases the air bubbles clinging to the caliper into the stream. WHATEVER method you use, DON’T skip this step.

5. Open bleed valve.

6. When vacuum is almost gone, close bleed valve.

7. Check level in master cylinder. Do this often.

8. Repeat as needed.

Benefits:

*Never got a firmer pedal using any other method.

*Requires only one person. Your wife/so will thank us both.

*You will not be pushing the piston in m/c into the rough area normally unused, thereby not prematurely wearing that seal. (Clutch m/cs are always used to full range.)

Note: On my Elise, I needn’t even remove the wheels.

Yeah, yeah, people use pressure bleeders, but my racecar mechanic friends don’t like these.

Yeah, I know about speed bleeders.

The above is my opinion. No responsibility for screw ups, injuries, maiming or deaths.

Take it, leave it. OK with me.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
I've never had to move calipers around.



Choices: Precision Motorsports
438 W Mill Rd
Long Valley, NJ 07853
Will (owner) 908-832-6572

They did a brilliant job of corner balancing my Elise and adjusting/aligning suspension.

C2 Automotive
500 US 46
Fairfield, NJ 07004
Colin Miller (named after Chapman) Great guy.
973) 647-9440‬
(Same bldg as Eurotire, but keep those ppl away from your car.)

I often use Chester Auto
15 Seminary Ave, Chester, NJ 07930
‭(908) 879-7148‬
They took clams off to fix my a/c. Good people.
I called Will and will definitely be taking the car to him. He seemed super knowledgeable. Thanks so much for the recommendation. I think the issues are more than I can handle seeing as how the lotus dealer couldn’t handle it and I’ve never bled brakes before.
Thanks so much for all the info! I’ve been on here for a while but this is really my first time posting. You guys have been awesome!
 

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The front caliper is a pain to bleed... this is why BOE offers side port, which is easy to do at home too. The ABS may have some air.

Since the work around the brake, do you have new pads? New pads create soft pedal upon the pads is set with the disc.
 

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Inokinetic really has an easy solution for bleeding all the air from the fronts:


This is similar in principle to the dual bleed design of the Brembos that Porsche uses.

But I'll be curious to know what the resolution is here. '05s are known to have a lot of initial brake pedal travel, mine included. I'd love to understand why @DBrookes car didn't have it before.
 

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I called Will and will definitely be taking the car to him. He seemed super knowledgeable. Thanks so much for the recommendation. I think the issues are more than I can handle seeing as how the lotus dealer couldn’t handle it and I’ve never bled brakes before.
Thanks so much for all the info! I’ve been on here for a while but this is really my first time posting. You guys have been awesome!
Given that you should change b/f every year or two, good idea to learn how to do this kind of thing. My instructions should be easy enough to follow.
 

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I don't know how hard or often you drive the car. But, you might consider having Precision do your corner balancing & alignment.

Read about the benefits:

 
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