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1) I just had a brief back-and-forth with another prospective Elise owner, and he pointed out some concerns about the unrepairability of the chasis. This prompted me to do some keyword searching on elisetalk, and I discovered a posting that suggested there are three levels of addressing body damage: replace individual clamshell parts; replace entire clamshell, or total the car because the aluminum chassis itself have been compromised.

My question: Is the Elise somehow more succeptible to "bent chassis syndrome" compared to other cars, all accidents being equal? And how many accidents end with total write-offs compared to other cars? I'm looking for hard facts.

In one funny way, I'm thinking maybe I would want my car to be a total write-off at the point where the chasis's been compromised enough to consider repairs. I mean, who wants any car that's been through thousands of dollars in chassis repairs? My reasoning is that I would never trust the car to be straight again, so why not start from scratch and retain piece-of-mind.

Thoughts? Should we just not give a damn about the unrepairability of the chasis? What have our European friends experienced?

2) Assuming that when the car hits our shores, it's insured at the rate of any other $40,000, open-top two seater, how long will it take for the insurance industry to build a book on the Elise, and change rates to reflect actual claims? Six months? One year? Does anyone know how the insurance industry works?

3) Finally, will the car have a warning chime that sounds when you turn off the engine with the headlights still on? Sounds like a "luxury amenity," I know, but I drive with my lights on more and more frequently, and I've found chimes to be invaluable.
 

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Most cars on the road today are made from "unibody" construction, meaning that the body and the chassis are the same metal. Yes, many body shops can bend your unibody back into roughly the shape it once was, but the car will never be the same again.

With the Elise, I think of it the same way, in some respects. Yes, they may be able to bend the tub back into shape, but the car will never be the same, and what would the point be?

Its just a matter of how much the driver cares -- a driver of a Honda Civic doesn't really care that much that their car doesn't track straight, and never will. The driver of a Lotus will have some problems with that... :)

Steve
 

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I would guess that the structure of the Elise is so rigid (also factoring in the small size) that any impact hard enough to damage the monocoque would write off the car in any event. (and write off any car of comparable size.) It would have to be a really hard hit.

I understand the Elise structure is a "built-up" type of structure made of simple pieces bonded and riveted together. Assuming repair shops exist with the technology, the monocoque could be reconstructed with new pieces, like new. ( as opposed to a traditional stamped-steel unibody, which basically has to be bent and twisted back into alignment.) In a sense, like reconstructing a damaged tube space-frame. But who can do it for the aluminum glued structure?

The possible bright side is that the new Jaguar XJ series, upcoming Aston Martins, and probably other future Jags, also use a bonded/riveted aluminum structure. Ford has made sure that there are a range of shops that can repair these structures if damaged. I don't know if the specific technologies are compatible, but it does give hope that the shops may be able to repair these cars. Maybe not now economically. but as the range of aluminum bonded structure cars increase, perhaps someday... our European friends I guess will have the last word on this.

I'm guessing 1 year for insurance rates to change. They'll collect the actuarial claim information for the year, and change the rates at the end of the year to reflect the costs. I don't think they'll wait long.


DLY
 

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JonM3Coupe said:
there are three levels of addressing body damage: replace individual clamshell parts; replace entire clamshell, or total the car because the aluminum chassis itself have been compromised.
It's crucial to make the distinction between the fibreglass outside of the car and the aluminium chassis itself.

Many impacts will crush the clamshell(s) and do damage to the suspension, but these are basically 'bolt on' parts onto the chassis that's underneath. Even the composite 'crash box' inside the nose (radiator is on top of it) is replacable.

Repairs are usually just that. Replace the bits that are broken.

Damage to the chassis itself is usually not repairable (at least Lotus will not approve *any* repairs) and you have to buy a replacement chassis. Repairing extruded aluminium beams and bonding them properly is *not* trivial if you want to keep the right strength. New chassis is probably cheaper..

The biggest 'problem' with the Elise is that such chassis damage can occur if you for instance slide the car sideways into a curb on the street and the wishbone pickup point at the front tears out of the chassis. In this case the damage may seem limited, but it's a new chassis job. The wishbones are designed to buckle/bend first, but we all know that in practice it doesn't always work like this.

The front is more susceptible to this than the back as the rear of the car is partially built onto the steel engine subframe, which can be replaced.


My question: Is the Elise somehow more succeptible to "bent chassis syndrome" compared to other cars, all accidents being equal? And how many accidents end with total write-offs compared to other cars? I'm looking for hard facts.
Most Elises in europe are involved in 'single vehicle' accidents. Backwards into a ditch/hedge and such is often the case. These accidents often do not cause chassis damage. Lots of fibreglass and other bits (not cheap either) though..

But the 'slide into the curb' is often the reason that chassis damage happens as the suspension is torn off the car.

Stilll.. The chassis also is *just a part* and your insurance probably won't declare it a total-loss if the new chassis job (+labor cost) is not high enoguh.

Re-chassied cars are often *better* than they came from the factory :)

Thoughts? Should we just not give a damn about the unrepairability of the chasis? What have our European friends experienced?
Drive it.. You won't worry..

3) Finally, will the car have a warning chime that sounds when you turn off the engine with the headlights still on? Sounds like a "luxury amenity," I know, but I drive with my lights on more and more frequently, and I've found chimes to be invaluable.
My S2 beeps when you turn off the engine and open a door when the lights are on.. Luxury! :)

Bye, Arno.
 

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Sorry to hear that the car beeps when you leave the lights on. Lotus clearly has sold out and compromised the rugged spartan vehicle that we all wanted just to satisfy the fat lazy American consumer.

What's next, cupholders??
 

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JonM3Coupe said:
Finally, will the car have a warning chime that sounds when you turn off the engine with the headlights still on? Sounds like a "luxury amenity," I know, but I drive with my lights on more and more frequently, and I've found chimes to be invaluable.
If it doesn't, you can buy a "LiteMinder" for less than $10 to beep at you when you leave the lights on. It's a small device (less than 1 inch in any direction) with two wires that you attach to appropriate fuses in the fuse box (it has "piggy back fuse clips").

It's one of the first things I did to my Miata after I left the parking lights on...:rolleyes:

Tim Mullen
 

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One tip (you'll notice that with the age of my cars I don't get this new fangled chime stuff) is to get in the habit of always using your lights, so that turning them off becomes as automatic as turning off the key. If you have a little shut-down routine it helps a lot. For me it is "fan - off, lights - off, key - off"
 

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I agree with Evl, get into a routine everytime you shut the car down. I do this on my 7 and haven't forgotten to turn the lights off yet, and I always use them during the day in the hope it makes me more visible!
 

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chimes

My Subaru's light go off with the ignition, so you can never leave them on accidentally. If that's not the way the Elise works, I hope they don't have a noise maker on them. I think I'll ususally walk backwards away from my Lotus, enjoying the view, and so will notice if I've left the lights on. Of course, I may back into traffic and get run over by a garbage truck, but I won't leave the lights on.
 

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Evl said:
get in the habit of always using your lights, so that turning them off becomes as automatic as turning off the key.
I do have a habit of turning off the lights all the time (even when they are not in use), but every now and then I do experience a senior moment (brain fart)... I prefer the stupid buzzer "just in case"...
 

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The big issue with chassis damage is the cost of replacing it for insurance companies. The chassis itself is fairly cheap (£3000) but the labour to take every single component off the old chassis and fit it to a new chassis often costs more than replacing the car particularly if the car is not new and so worth less.

Lotus originally said the chassis could have sections removed and a new one bonded in but this would also mean stripping the chassis back to a bare chassis as the glue needs to be cured at high temp where other components would not survive.

As Arno said the side swipe into a kerb is often the one that damages the chassis at low speed. Don't worry about it, they are tough little buggers really.
 
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