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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi guys, I just received a strange call from my local Lotus garage and now I urgently need your advice!

I brought my Elise there few days ago to install new headlights and a new diffuser. I also asked them to service the car (it has run 38'000km so far).

They jacked up my Elise on a lift and (for some reason) installed a metal pole in the front where the tow hook is supposed to be. Then they hung a car battery on that pole, probably to balance the Elise and keep it from falling backwards off the lift??

Anyway now after installing all parts and completing the service, they seemingly made a testdrive and told me after they brought it back in their garage, the radiator suddenly exploded with a "poof" and all the water leaked out.

Now my questions are a) how the hell can that happen? Is it possible that the weighted pole somehow damaged the radiator? Or maybe mishandling during the testdrive?

And b) who is responsible to cover the costs for the repairs now? I clearly never had any leakage issues with my radiator so far.

Even if the radiator was somehow slightly damaged before (maybe corroded?), isn't the garage responsible to return my car in the same state as it was when i handed them the keys?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts on this!
 

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Radiators can be an issue in the car.

Ask the mechanic to fix it, or ask them to give you labor cost and you buy the part?

Or you can call a lawyer :D
 

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I'm sorry, I hate to be this way, but customers that try to get stuff like this replaced for free is ridiculous. I've been in the auto industry for about 10 years now and it happens WAY too often.

Radiators are very very very fail prone on these cars. It was probably on its way out and it was just a coincidence that it happened in their possession. While I don't agree with hanging something from the front tow hook of a car to balance it on a lift (if the car is lifted properly you don't need to balance it), how would that have any effect on the radiator?

It is like taking your car in to get tires put on, and during the test drive the CEL comes on. "Well since it came on when you guys put tires on it, you should fix it because you guys putting tires on it made it come on." I hear crap like that all too often.

Now, it would be a way different story if they had the clam off doing work, or were putting radiator hoses on the car or something. Because then, they actually were messing with the part that failed.
 

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If the shop doesn't know how to lift the car properly, I sure wouldn't trust them to remove the clam to replace the radiator
 

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If the shop doesn't know how to lift the car properly, I sure wouldn't trust them to remove the clam to replace the radiator
I also agree with this. I actually don't think I would trust them to touch the car at all if I found out that is how they lifted the car.
 

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the radiator failure is probably legit

The battery on the tow hook is a worse offense than just stupidity. THey know the car needs special attention to be put on a lift properly, yet the took some super ghetto shortcut.
 

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Sometimes **** just happens

I hate to say it but the radiator just happened to go when it went? Were they driving it harder than you do, who's to say?

Like other's said if you jack the car at the correct points nothing is going to happen. The fact they use the weight of a battery for ballast is just joke able? It shouldn't have caused any problems to the radiator though. Sorry for you problems, at least they didn't overheat and cook the engine "I hope"

:confused:

:UK:
 

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They jacked up my Elise on a lift and (for some reason) installed a metal pole in the front where the tow hook is supposed to be. Then they hung a car battery on that pole, probably to balance the Elise and keep it from falling backwards off the lift??

That is not the correct was to lift a Elise. I do all the work on my Elise myself becasue of stories like this.
 

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Yeah I get it your pissed, but I agree with the others. The stock radiator will fail eventually at the plastic end tanks. Look at it as an opprtunity to get an all aluminum one like a prorad. The balance thing is a little scary!
 

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I'm not sure why a diffuser swap, new headlights, and basic maintenance would be cause for them to take it for a "test drive" ... other than just wanting to drive it.

As much of a "common" occurrence as this may be, I would still be holding them at least somewhat responsible. By the sounds of how they lifted it, they know nothing about this car, so as I previously stated, I would guess that the "test drive" was a little more than that (people that aren't used having these cars around and want to try it out)... granted, there is not proof. Just like there's no proof that the radiator failed due to being a ticking time bomb. My dad worked as a mechanic for a number of years (a while ago), and the number of stories he has about fcuking around with customer cars is absurd. And yes, he had caused damage due to driving them too hard.

Here's what I would do if I were you:
1) Ask them why they took it for a test drive, because to me, it sounds like nothing really needed to be tested.
2) Expect them to at least help pay for a new radiator (I would do aftermarket, as others stated). Find a fair priced aftermarket one (I try not to rip people off), show it to them and try to work something out. Yes, that would be easier if you trusted them to take off the front clam... but I'm not sure I would.
3) Find a shop you trust and get a quote.

Shops have insurance, so you're not really taking food out of anyone's mouth... maybe they'll learn that just because someone has an "expensive car" doesn't mean they have money to throw around at anything. Maybe next time they have the opportunity to work on something like this, they'll be more careful.

I've tried to trust people in the auto industry and give them the benefit of the doubt, but that has come back around to bite me in the ass almost every time. I haven't been to the shop, but from the sounds of it, I'd be pretty skeptical as to how honest the claim of "it just went poof" is...

(Note the plate)
 

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If you want to be sure they weren't abusing it, just have the dealer perform an ECU dump.

If that looks fine, chalk it up to bad luck.
 

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What if they actually stuck the pole all the way to the end of the clam, and used the radiator as a leverage point? 30lb of battery could definitely do some damage that way.
 

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"Dealer" or "local garage"?

The heading says "dealer" while the message says "garage." Was it an actual Lotus dealer?
 

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I would also inspect the bottom of the car to make sure they didn't bend or puncture any of the body work. These guys are obviously incompetent, so check.
 

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If you want to be sure they weren't abusing it, just have the dealer perform an ECU dump.

If that looks fine, chalk it up to bad luck.
Exactly! People do drive these things when the shouldn't. I had mine at the body shop once and stopped by to take a look. It was parked outside and I joked around about no joyrides assuming they had just rolled it out to make room in the shop for the afternoon. The owner confesses he drove it "just down the street and back". With the clam off and wires just dangling around??? WTH!
 

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:popcorn:
 

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I also asked them to service the car (it has run 38'000km so far).
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I'm not sure why a diffuser swap, new headlights, and basic maintenance would be cause for them to take it for a "test drive" ... other than just wanting to drive it.
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See above... a test drive was appropriate.


That said I'm with everyone else - why on earth would you hang a battery off the front of the car??? Seriously dodgy...
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Thanks for all your valuable comments guys!

It was also my first thought that they might have stuck the pole too far in until it eventually damaged the radiator. Or that something happened during the testdrive.

Actually this garage is a licensed Lotus dealer here in Switzerland. If you Google "Lotus Switzerland" their name is one of the first to show up. And in fact I brought my Elise there to make sure only experienced staff is workin on her. Therefore I was more than surprised to see how they lifted my car.

Regarding the radiator, they already told me it broke at the plastic parts on the side, so it might actually be common material failure. However I will still ask them to show me the broken part and check for myself if it looks like anything touched it.
 
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