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Another thing to look at is tire condition. Tread and hardness. How old are the tires? There's a date code on the side. A hardened tire can give a feeling going from different types of road surfaces. And Lotus gives feedback like nothing I've ever driven. I remember having my Elise tell me it wanted new tires by letting me feel the car walk out an inch or less in the wet going over road seams.
 

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Komiko asked "All things being equal - would a splitter help a street car with stability on the highway?"

A splitter doen't begin to do anything discernable till at least 60mph. For normal highway driving you will be hard pressed to feel much difference. For the 120-130 MPH runs people are speaking of in this post, yes, it will make some difference.
 

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My Elise has 20k miles on it, I bought it with 13k and I don't know the alignment of it. I feel like the front is toed out quite a bit because the turn in is RIGHT THERE but it definately gets floaty at speeds above 80mph or so. The diffuser seems to hunker the back right down but it feels like the front is on air. I'm not terribly concerned, but I bet it is the same feeling people are talking about. The tires I have are mediocre, but my last set did the same thing. I don't know how else to describe it other than the classic feel of toe out. Where the car wants to wander a little and just feels "floaty". Also, our cars have about 4 pounds on each front tire so they feel floaty anyway because they just sort of are, in a good way.

I'd check alignment specs. I bet these cars are hypersensitive to a poor alignment. I notice a huge difference changing 2 psi in my tires.

In contrast, I have driven my Saabs north of 145mph on random tire pressures, home done tape measure alignments, and old all season tires, and they never shimmy shake or offer any indication you're speeding other than the speedo pointing straight down. Funny how different cars are.
 

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The Elise communicates road feedback very well to the driver. So you will feel surface abnormalities. The car feels very planted on track speeds and track surface, even with wind blowing or moist conditions. But alignment needs to be near perfect. 2mm off is too much for example. And factory alignment may be off, it was a bit on mine. Also I could tell when I got my tire pressures off left to right by 2 psi accidentally and when the tires picked up debris from the road surface when they got hot.

I would take it to a good shop to check or get a ride along in someone else's lotus that is well sorted out to compare the feeling.
 

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OP, everything already mentioned is pure gold.

I would just like to mention that it's been VERY windy in the bay area the last week. So coming from a 3200+ lb. Z4 and jumping into a one ton canoe on wheels could mean the difference between comfort and worry. Especially at those speeds and 30+ mph winds.
 

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That's the thing i wonder, can an elise get blown around by the wind?, because that's precisely what i feel but thought it would be impossible.

The two times when i tried to get past 100mph it was windy and the road was a little moist. I have R888 tires.

I have driven a rental elise to 120mph and it didn't feel bad at all, but i was so euphoric that i might have missed something. This rental also had a front carbon fiber lip.

I have a 2006 Elise Sport with 22,000 miles showing. I am the original owner. It has always had driving characteristics as you described. Yes, it does get blown around by the wind. It is very sensitive to changes in road condition. Changes in the crown, potholes, cracks, ruts or unevenness in the pavement all affect the pull on the steering wheel at all speeds. However, on smooth, consistent pavement, it goes down the road at 100 MPH like it’s on rails. Wheel imbalances at speeds over 80 MPH really make it feel nervous on top of the other effects above. I believe its characteristic of a car with manual steering and incredible feedback through the steering wheel. It's not the kind of car you can drive with your knees.

2006 Sport Elise #46
 

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Some of the replies suggest that the ride experienced by the OP is one of those TADTS characteristics. Not so!

My 2011 SC drives like it's on rails at 130. The downforce was obvious - so much so I was slaloming down the road reveling in the grip. The tires were just barely beginning to transmit the vibration of a nearly imperceptible imbalance. I've also driven on fairly rough, wet roads in the mountains at 120 with a similar feel. This car is far more stable than my 968 at similar speeds (it has much more front-end lift).

So keep after it until you find a solution - your car should be amazing, not disconcerting.

And for those of you who keep blaming the unassisted steering rack for all sorts of ills, I'd love to hear the physics of that.

Glen
 

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....
I have driven a rental elise to 120mph and it didn't feel bad at all, but i was so euphoric that i might have missed something. This rental also had a front carbon fiber lip.
It was not the lip.
If it did not feel pretty similar then the two are set up differently.

It could be anything - my guesses:
- front or rear toe,
- Front or rear bump steer
- rake
 

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Has anyone tried the Sector 111 canards? What is your opinion, do they add much front grip?
In the spirit of this thread, they are not the solution to the problem the OP posted.

For some other car they may, or may not, have use.
 

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In the spirit of this thread, they are not the solution to the problem the OP posted.

For some other car they may, or may not, have use.
I did not offer them as a solution, I'm merely curious to their effectiveness in creating front down force; as the splitter/spoiler was also discussed by others for high speed use to add down force.
 

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I had a similar problem with my '06 Elise. The front felt very light and unstable as I approached 100 mph. Turns out that some seemingly insignificant damage to the underbody forward of the front wheels greatly changed the aerodynamic. after I replaced the damaged part the car was great. I honestly would not have believed that a small imperfection would have done that.

On a side note, I also performed an alignment and wheel balance, and considered adding a lip.

One more thing: I removed the shims from the upper control arms and found that it improved the handling significantly. Twitchy, no, senstive, yes.

Hope this and the above responses have helped.

Joe
 

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I would check the front tire condition as well. My front tires didn't look too bad, but when I replaced them, I went from a shaking steering wheel at 85 mph to smooth like new immediately.
 

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Okay, too lazy to read entire thread. Here is my 2 cents: you have toe-out in the front. You want zero toe or toe-in in the front.
 

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YES!!
Exactly the same symptoms being described here. twitchy/searching...anything above 60mph feels very unsettled, BUT, it gets no worse up to past 100+.
crosswinds however make it much worse, like it has old bias ply tires!!
No vibration. tires are older but properly inflated. only 9k miles on it.

I had a full 4 wheel alignment done on the car and brought it into specs
EXCEPT:
I had the front shims taken out BEFORE the alignment so it has max attainable STOCK neg camber.

I am guessing it's a combination of things. The camber unsettling the car in a straightline. Maybe the tires, but i suspect better-newer tires might not change this.
The car has those skinny stock tires too.

Should i go toe-in front a little? or live with the twitchyness?
i hate to put the front shims back in with all the understeer.
True once you "relax" when driving it, the car does feel better...but thats not the point.

But it would seem this symptom is a common problem??
 

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From what I've gathered so far, the fact the cars have manual steering, performance tyres, a very light body and minutely specific balancing details mean that they are horrendously notorious for this with even the slightest increments out of true.
I had it on my Exige and so far just new tyres, unbalanced even, have made it better. Not fixed, but nowhere near as bad. I figure an alignment and balance will take care of things.
 

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YES!!
Exactly the same symptoms being described here. twitchy/searching...anything above 60mph feels very unsettled, BUT, it gets no worse up to past 100+.
crosswinds however make it much worse, like it has old bias ply tires!!
No vibration. tires are older but properly inflated. only 9k miles on it.

I had a full 4 wheel alignment done on the car and brought it into specs
EXCEPT:
I had the front shims taken out BEFORE the alignment so it has max attainable STOCK neg camber.

I am guessing it's a combination of things. The camber unsettling the car in a straightline. Maybe the tires, but i suspect better-newer tires might not change this.
The car has those skinny stock tires too.

Should i go toe-in front a little? or live with the twitchyness?
i hate to put the front shims back in with all the understeer.
True once you "relax" when driving it, the car does feel better...but thats not the point.

But it would seem this symptom is a common problem??
Is the steering wheel twitching and dancing in your hands constantly like if you were to let it go that the car would go off the road?...........or does it feel just busy and unsettled without that feeling at the steering wheel?

If it's the former I'd say the car needs a bit of toe in in the front. Added camber should not be a factor here.........the added camber can make the steering feel lighter coming off center but it shouldn't make it twitchy.

If it's the latter then I would say you might want more toe in in the rear. I find these cars to be very sensitive to rear toe and it feels like you need to make constant small inputs with the steering to keep it going the way you want it to go.

After much fussing I've gotten my car to be dead stable at most any speed but it still turns in very sharply and hooks up big time.

Do you have a read out of the toe settings they shop gave you? was the toe set with you in the car?

dave
 

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these cars are rock solid bombing into turn one braking at 120 mph... floaty and twitchy means poor set -up. even with the base suspension and tires, planted and confidant.
 
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