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1991 Esprit SE
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46 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
Everyone, Hi!

Firstly, I would have liked to wait for this introduction. My goal was to complete the overhaul of the car and get it running right and clean before posting here, with a summary of the jobs I did on the car. First it would show my love for the esprit, and maybe some of the problems I encountered and solutions I found could be of use to another.

Well, sadly, I have to post here now, as I am in a deadend for two reasons, which I will ask for help at the end of the post. Please scroll down you experts :).

To begin, I would like to thank everyone on this forum, the other forum (thelotusforum), and the various sites like LotusEspritWorld. I overused the search function, so you all helped me greatly but you don't know it. Thank you, thank you everyone for your help. And my guess is that the users Vulcan Grey and Sanj are some kind of advanced creatures from outer space :p

Thank you Sanj for building me the ALDL cable and explaining how to setup everthing on my laptop.

About me and the esprit:

I have dreamt of the esprit since I was going to the Stade Olympique de Montreal at the annual Auto Show in the '80's and early '90's. There was once an esprit exposed there, I was pretty young, but I still remember it, and have kept in mind the esprit as being the most beautiful car ever built. I would often say that I would like to have one, one day. Well, I recently got the chance to lay my hand on one, pretty good price, but lot of work to do on it. As far as I know, the engine is good, and for the body, it has been painted by a very skilled guy 7 years ago, still looking like new. When I first saw it, I nearly fell on my knees, and told myself I would buy it for sure. When I drove it (just a bit since there was a few problems with it when I tried it), I fell in love with it. I have put a lot of hours into the car, the energy driving me is the anxiety of finally driving the car again.

Here is a list of the jobs I have done (only ones worth mentioning). I have lot of picture, will try inserting a few here :)

- change headlight motors for rebuilt ones (ebay, great service from a guy rebuilding these motors)



- changed the headlights, rear brackets and adjusting screws, and fit the new PNM engineering version, as mine were rusted and broken. Fitting was far to be perfect, took 8 to 10 hours just to finish this job







- the plexiglass sunroof seal was not holding anymore, it wanted to fly off the car once on the highway, so removed the sunroof from the aluminium frame and re-sealed it with windshield urethane



- speedometer was not working, gained access to the binnacle, with great force took out the speedo, opened it and fixed the magned that was loose on the shaft. Did some minor damage on the outer edge of the speedo which are visible from the dash view, but oh well, it works :)





- painted the dash, as the original clear-coat was falling appart







- changed water temperature sensor. Radiator fans were blowing 100% of the time with a check engine light on. This fixed this.



- rear high mounted brake light was leaking inside the engine bay trim, causing water accumulation. Cleaned and Sealed with weatherstrip silicone which is easily removable by hand

- broken rear right yellow corner on the tail light. Changed over to clear corners from PNM engineering. Be carefull when performing this, cracked one light doing so, could repair with a special glue and some sanding and compound, crack is no longer apparent for mere mortals that won't look at the car inches-by-inches. Oh funny one, I also forgot I had one tail light in the oven from the night before, and started the oven, I had a lot of fun re-forming everything with a heat gun. Rumor is I sweared so loud that astronauts on MIR international space station heard me



- Fixed the ''prestone level warning light on'' by actually putting prestone in the header tanks. more on that later

- alternator strap was so loose, I don't even know how it turned. Applied tension to the strap

- Main header tank radiator cap was leaking, changed for a new one

- Air horn was not working. Dismantled and shot air tool oil in it. Did the job 100%

- Rear spoiler was not installed on the car, and the studs supposed to hold the spoiler were rusted and broken. Since I want to re-install the spoiler, I had to use a hole saw to remove the studs, and counterbore the spoiler legs and the fastener location, I then put in special metal inserts with an epoxy adhesive that do a pretty good job holding the spoiler on the back door

- Drilled hole through rear door (rear hood) for spoiler installation





- took the chargecooler pump out, and found out that the pump had passed through a nuclear blast or I don't know. Installed a repair kit from PNM engineering.





- then found out that the complete chargecooler system was empty of coolant

- The chargecooler header thank was a total waste of thick rust inside because of being empty for a long time. Had to create a special tool out of a brass brush to get most of the rust out of the tank. Here is just a small part of the corrosion removed from the tank



- Both header tanks exterior was rusty, so I sandblasted those and painted them





- backflushed the chargecooler element since the thing has been empty for how long



- Found a leak on the front chargecooler system radiator hose when putting coolant in the system. Fixed using 2 new stainless clamps instead of the original one

- then found a leak in the chargecooler steel header tank. A pin-hole caused by corrosion pissing a great looking straight jet of coolant out of the tank. Had to fabricate a metal doubler with the curvature of the tank, welded it on (with great difficulty due to the very thin remaining steel on the tank!). Then overcoated the repaired area with a thick coat of epoxy adhesive.





- Both big, black plastic fittings holding the 2 big pipes with the clamps that are on the rear-left side of the car (for engine cooling purpose) were broken and removed from the rear quarter panel. Outermost side of both pipes were lose in the engine bay with nothing to hold on. I had a friend repair both fittings, and I glued them back using urethane, instead of the original aluminium rivets. Had to shave all remaining of the rivets that were on the faying surface first.





- Part of the fiberglass body of the car was cut through, and removed, because someone had to remove the left hand side fuel tank from the car. It is the gutter-like contour that the rear hood gasket set down on when closing the hood. Without this, all the water from the roof of the car would get on the left side fuel tank area. The part removed was approx 18 in long. I created a fiberglass part using the lower region of the gutter-like shape as a mold, and transfered it where the area was cut out. Glued the new repair fiberglass doubler using urethane adhesive.









- Disconnected the EBP valve from the exhaust, routed back the old cracking vacuum hose and removed it.

- changed various old cracked vacuum hoses

- repaired a few metal inserts here-and-there, that they used to screw down the many bolts in the fiberglass body. When you unscrew the bolt, the original insert sometimes turns with the bolt, rendering the removal very hard, and re-assembly impossible. Used special metal inserts with epoxy adhesive. Works like a charm.

- Hood latch, right hand side, was not working. Had to move down the glovebox a bit and had access to the rod, but very limited space existed. The problem was that the rod was disconected from the hole in the latch due to a broken plasic part holding both pieces togheter. I put the rod into the hole, put epoxy adhesive on a tie-wrap, and wraped the rod on the other side of the hole, holding the rod into the latch hole, making the system work again. The tie-wrap prevents the rod from falling back from the hole, doing the same job as the small plastic part that was there originally.



- Changed windshield washer motor

- cleaned windshield low-level warning light sensor located in the windshield tank. Would always throw the low level light. Just put half a tank of windshield washer, shaked the tank with the sensor installed like a crazy man for a minute, and all the s**t got out of the sensor, working again.

- windshield washer system was blocked. Used a small needle to unblock the system at the sprinklers.

- headlight would stop going down, intermittently, when turning lights off. Unmounted the pods control module, disassembled, and looked inside, everything looks fine. I cleaned every connexion and used dielectric grease, seems to have phased out the problem. Possible that it did, since the control module was sending current, but stopping right away. The thing is that the control module stop sending current when the lights are at the bump stops because it senses a raise in current draw. The connexion cleaning may have helped alleviate the original current draw. We'll see if it holds.



- removed both rear quarter glasses, since the urethane seal was old and leaking water into the fuel tank area

- one pin was missing from the driver side sunroof latch. Created a pin out of steel and held it there with loktite





- put clear front corners to replace the cracked original yellow corners



- Check engine light on when testing the car. Code is 43, knock sensor system. I have changed the knock sensor, problem still not solved.





----------------------- JOBS TO DO

- Missing manifold stud, bought a replacement bolt and stud, should be able to install without removing anything.

- change the windshield (cracked, can't pass inspection)

- change rear dampers (have the parts)

- Radio is working, but no sound from the speakers. Amplificator located behind the 2 seats is probably the culprit. Previous owner said bad fuses to be changed

- window, driver side, won't go down more than half-way. Only need to disassamble the door trim and grease the mechanism, per previous owner

- driver and passenger door seals are shot

- driver seat leather is shot like if someone let a bulldog with rabies in the car

- need to put back rear quarter glasses

- front lip is cracked underneath. not much impact on look, but I'll have a friend repair it with fiberglass when I can

- compound/polishing job the exterior paint, as I have created lot of scratches on the body while working on it

- have to repair the connection of the small black hand pumps that are related to the driver and passenger seats, those are used to pump the seats hard of soft I think. Funny thing on a 100 000$ car

- paint and install rear spoiler

- paint engine bay area since the fiberglass doubler's white tone does not really match the car

- change the timing belt after the summer driving season, if the car is still worth doing this after the summer driving season, which I really hope so

- find a solution for code 43 which is not the sensor being the culprit

That is about it.

Now this is where I need help.

First:

I have hooked the car with freescan, and found the knock counts to be continously getting higher and higher, as soon as the engine is running. This means that the knock counts up by 50 more per seconds (the knock count number always go up!). The problem is, I changed the knock sensor. Still registering infinite knock counts, I then held the knock sensor in my hand while plugged, same thing. I even disconnected the sensor plug from the knock sensor, and still registering infinite knock counts. I have looked into the manual, electrical section and it seems the knock sensor sends a signal to the ECM (cable labeled ''U''), but the other way of this connexion, there is also a relation with a direct ignition module (cable labeled ''G''). Beside satisfying my curiosity, this gave me no solution.

Everything on the connector seems fine, and I read 4.92 volts at the knock electrical connector when the ignition is on (sensor unplugged, engine off).

This causes the engine to retard timing as seen in the knock retard section of freescan. Maybe also hinder the temporary overboost. I feel like, all this work for a non-optimal performing car :(

I really need the help of you smarter guys here to find this one! I really don't know what to do now and where to start looking.

On the image below, the ''knock count'' is at 113, and counting up rapidly. Car is idling. Also, I must say again that I even tried with the sensor unscrewed from its location and also unplugged, which creates the same condition, which rules out bad gas and ''real'' knock. By the way, I used a new sensor from a buick century 1990, as stated by Vulcan Grey in another post.



update:

My 4.92 volts reading is above what I've read in the freescan manual, though, I am not sure if the end of my connector is really related to that:





Second:

I don't have good news from the place I ordered the windshield. They were supposed to have it by end of may, but now they have no news from england when they will get it. JAE can get me one...... end of august! Summer's done in canada at the end of august, better take a spot in a cryogenic tube for 1 year to get to drive the car since I have to pass an inspection before going on the road, and in no way it will pass with a broken windshield. That is the only thing refraining from passing the inspection.

Does anyone know, or have any contact for a new or used windshield for a lotus esprit SE 1991 that would ship to canada?
 

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For a guy who did all that work while diligently researching the forum (and not posting until now) - very impressive. Your diligence is totally amazing when we're talking about an Esprit in such a condition.

But I won't BS you - you do really have a big job ahead of you. Looks like you're moving along just fine.

My only critical advice is to NOT put off the timing belt change. All your work will be for nothing if that timing belt breaks while running.

RE: windshield - there is a Massachusetts outfit about 1 year ago that was selling Esprit windshields - not sure if they still have them but you can call them:

Pro Source Glass
9 Lamancha Way, Andover, MA 01810
(978) 975-5400

From April 2013:
1988-2004 Lotus Esprit New Factory OEM Tint Windshields Now Available $550
Item Id: 271195041511
End time: Apr-30-13 22:22:07 PDT
Seller:
prosourceglass (856)
100.0% Positive Feedback
Member since Jan-22-04 in United States
Location: MA, United States
 

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+1,000,000,000

on suggestion to do TB before driving...
 

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Two thumbs up on the work you've done.
An Esprit that was soon to be in the junkyard, is now saved due to your diligence.

Sadly , I don't have good news in regards to a windshield. When mine cracked on my 93 SE, it took almost 3 months for my insurance agent to find one. That was after checking all the normal sources( JAE, etc).
At that time, I was told it was the last one in the country( this was 2 months ago).

As a option, I will say that some glass shops can make a tool from your old windshield, and custom cut a new one for you. That was one option offered by the shop I used if they couldn't locate one.
Best of luck To you,and again kudos on the work so far.

Alan
 

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The sensor does not "send" a signal so much as it modulates the output voltage from the ECU. The ECU outputs 5 volts and the knock sensor grounds some of that depending on what is happening. By taking the knock sensor off the motor it can't effectively "ground" or drain the voltage so that is no test. Seeing the +4.92 voltage is a good start. Make sure when the knock sensor is attached it is well grounded. You get a code 43 under 2 conditions:
1) a detected mechanical knock
2) voltage above 3.75 or below 1.25 for more than 5 seconds. (this is a sanity check to make sure the circuit is intact)
You problem will be one of the following:
Bad sensor (not likely you have TWO bad ones)
wiring issue (the knock sensor not being properly grounded and the ECU seeing more than 3.75 volts)
A problem within the ECU (very unlikely but possible)
At this level of diagnosis you really should have a Service Manual. It is all there under Code 43, how it works, what goes wrong, and how to fix.

As for all of the rest, WOW, I hope you got the car cheap! I also agree you need to re prioritize and get the belt done ASAP. As long as you are doing the belt you should check all of the valve clearances, timing, and replace the spark plugs. I would also do a compression check to set a baseline. Since the car has been off the road for so long you should make sure the tires are not over 7 years old, the battery over 5. Change the wiper blades. Flush ALL of the fluids and replace all of the filters. Although you have done a lot, there is still a LOT more to do! Not only all of the things you have on your list but once you start driving you will find a lot more to do!
David Teitelbaum
 

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1991 Esprit SE
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46 Posts
Discussion Starter · #6 · (Edited)
The sensor does not "send" a signal so much as it modulates the output voltage from the ECU. The ECU outputs 5 volts and the knock sensor grounds some of that depending on what is happening. By taking the knock sensor off the motor it can't effectively "ground" or drain the voltage so that is no test. Seeing the +4.92 voltage is a good start. Make sure when the knock sensor is attached it is well grounded. You get a code 43 under 2 conditions:
1) a detected mechanical knock
2) voltage above 3.75 or below 1.25 for more than 5 seconds. (this is a sanity check to make sure the circuit is intact)
You problem will be one of the following:
Bad sensor (not likely you have TWO bad ones)
wiring issue (the knock sensor not being properly grounded and the ECU seeing more than 3.75 volts)
A problem within the ECU (very unlikely but possible)
At this level of diagnosis you really should have a Service Manual. It is all there under Code 43, how it works, what goes wrong, and how to fix.

As for all of the rest, WOW, I hope you got the car cheap! I also agree you need to re prioritize and get the belt done ASAP. As long as you are doing the belt you should check all of the valve clearances, timing, and replace the spark plugs. I would also do a compression check to set a baseline. Since the car has been off the road for so long you should make sure the tires are not over 7 years old, the battery over 5. Change the wiper blades. Flush ALL of the fluids and replace all of the filters. Although you have done a lot, there is still a LOT more to do! Not only all of the things you have on your list but once you start driving you will find a lot more to do!
David Teitelbaum
Thank you everyone on the timing belt advice. The previous owner actually did drive the car every summer untill this year, just very infrequently (and in a less-than-perfect condition let's say!), the car still looked new from the outside and was ''drivable'' beside the recent condition of stalling at idle and hard-to-start, probably caused by leaking vacuum hoses. The belt was changed and is on its third year, still at 48 LBS of tension and looking pretty good. It is a certitude I'll do it this autumn or winter though, and I'll look into checking the valve clearance, timing and compression check per above recommendation



The place where I have no news on the windshield is the same mentionned above, in Massachusetts. Pro source glass. Guess I'll have to wait.

As I am in a hurry, I do not have time to experience with the data in the above post, but thank you I will try something later today or tomorrow :)
 

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Thank you everyone on the timing belt advice. [snip] The belt was changed and is on its third year, still at 48 LBS of tension and looking pretty good.[snip]
I verified my belt (in 2011 when I bought the car) was at least 14 years old (the factory spec is 3 years/36 K miles). This was verified with an in person meeting with the 2nd owner (1997-2009) and 3rd owner (2009-2011). I brought the car directly to the shop after purchase - did ZERO driving due to the potential for serious engine damage.

I'm the 4th owner. It is very possible it was the ORIGINAL belt from 1988 (23 years old).

The 14 year old+ belt looks great - no obvious cracks and minimal wear (after 30K miles). So relying on looks/tension is risky at best.

You DO NOT want to rely on '3 years...looking pretty good' for any kind of driving.
 

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Cal H
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With the speedo and tach do not use great force to push them out. Just use a dab of liquid soap under the rubber ring and its an easy push out with just one finger. As far as cleaning the tank I used CLR soaking at full strength no scubbing with brush.

as far as windscreen there is a person selling a front clip on ebay and picture shows it with glass. He wants like 637 for the clip. 95 Lotus Esprit S4S Front Clip | eBay In the past he has been known to take reasonable offers and the clip has been for sale for a while. Message him and see if the glass is chip and crack free and if he is willing to sell just the glass. He has the means to remove it as he is a salvage yard with other glass parts for sale from other cars.

Good luck
 

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1991 Esprit SE
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Discussion Starter · #10 · (Edited)
With the speedo and tach do not use great force to push them out. Just use a dab of liquid soap under the rubber ring and its an easy push out with just one finger. As far as cleaning the tank I used CLR soaking at full strength no scubbing with brush.

as far as windscreen there is a person selling a front clip on ebay and picture shows it with glass. He wants like 637 for the clip. 95 Lotus Esprit S4S Front Clip | eBay In the past he has been known to take reasonable offers and the clip has been for sale for a while. Message him and see if the glass is chip and crack free and if he is willing to sell just the glass. He has the means to remove it as he is a salvage yard with other glass parts for sale from other cars.

Good luck
Thank you, I just emailed the guy about the windshield, even if he mentions that it is not included. I still have no news from Pro Source Glass.

Thanks for the tip about the gauge removal, didn't want to use any oily substance in there, and didn't get the idea of using soapy water!, As for the tank, I tried CLR, but the rust peeling pieces were so big and thick, that it could not get through it at all.

Have not had time to work on the car and troubleshoot the knock sensor problem, will get back to this post as soon as I try my luck again :)
 

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1991 Esprit SE
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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Ok just tried to troubleshoot the knock sensor problem

I have tried plugging the sensor, and while the engine running, cold or hot, connecting the sensor directly to a ground source (touching a ground source). This did nothing to stop the knock counting

4.9V while engine running at the end of the sensor wire (sensor unplugged)

While engine running, I have 4.7V at the end of the sensor (sensor plugged, not screwed in engine)

there is also a 650 milliamp current draw from the sensor to the ground if that could be useful (sensor plugged, not screwed in engine)

Also, both of my sensor internal resistance is approx 3.8K ohms.

Could the problem be caused by something else?

Thanks for the help

 

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I would agree that you need to focus a little more on mechanicals FIRST.
The heart of the car is the engine and transmission. Get that situated, then move on to the cosmetics, and other repairs.

The car you bought may have potential, but it was clearly neglected, and requires a thorough assessment and then a plan of attack that makes sense.

Have you checked compression? What about the clutch and transmission. Renew all wear items, fluids , belts and hoses first.

I second everyone on the timing belt, and while at it check the water pump,and tensioner.

We also restore older Esprits, and always start with an assessment and then work with the mechanicals first. Otherwise you will find yourself doing things twice, or worse pulling an engine after doing lots of stuff that would have been easier with the engine out.

Get on the forum and interact, you will get help and good advice from people who have been there.

You clearly have the energy, and motivation to do a good job and get your car in shape. You will also need patience, and avoid the NEED to drive a car that isn't ready. We all get that urge!

Expect to invest 6-12 months of time to get it good.

Randy
 

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As to your knock sensor issue; welcome to the world of Lotus!

As mentioned this could be an electrical issue. Electrical gremlins are common on these cars, as are poor grounds, damaged wires and connectors.

You mentioned your car stalls and idles poorly. That can be caused by a multitude of problems. You need to confirm good Compression, good fuel(gas, pump, injectors) good spark and then proper engine management.

Reset the computer by disconnecting power after you check all the above, and then see how it runs. Leave the sensor in place and see what codes come up, and what Freescan shows. When resetting the computer the initial minutes on start up will use the preprogrammed engine parameters which will then be optimized as the computer learns the engine.
This should be done with the engine cold.
If the engine does not idle smoothly within a minute or so of startup you have a problem. The idle speed will often be a little higher and variable for the first 5-10 minutes till the computer learns to control it, but it should not be rough.

Randy
 

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1991 Esprit SE
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
As to your knock sensor issue; welcome to the world of Lotus!

As mentioned this could be an electrical issue. Electrical gremlins are common on these cars, as are poor grounds, damaged wires and connectors.

You mentioned your car stalls and idles poorly. That can be caused by a multitude of problems. You need to confirm good Compression, good fuel(gas, pump, injectors) good spark and then proper engine management.

Reset the computer by disconnecting power after you check all the above, and then see how it runs. Leave the sensor in place and see what codes come up, and what Freescan shows. When resetting the computer the initial minutes on start up will use the preprogrammed engine parameters which will then be optimized as the computer learns the engine.
This should be done with the engine cold.
If the engine does not idle smoothly within a minute or so of startup you have a problem. The idle speed will often be a little higher and variable for the first 5-10 minutes till the computer learns to control it, but it should not be rough.

Randy
After changing the temperature sensor, repairing the numerous worn and cracked vacuum hoses, changing the air filter, the engine idles normally and does not stall anymore, starts easily. My guess were vacuum leaks from worn vacuum hoses causing this. Oil and coolant were changed also.

Electrical gremlin, you give me an idea, I'll look in the areas I have worked, maybe I could have damaged a wire or unplugged something.
 

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[snip]
Finally, ProSource Glass (Prosource Glass International) got their hands on a windshield for me. Very fast shipping, 2 days and it was at destination, and very good packaging. Cost me a total of 720$ USD delivered which I think is not too bad.
Could you verify it's the correct windshield for the Steven's Esprit (US Fed 1988-2004)? (bottom edge is curved on Delorean; straight on Esprit).

There are some that think a Delorean windshield is the same but it is not. I did find a major windshield installer that had Esprit=Delorean on their windshield catalog back in 2012 (not true).
 

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1991 Esprit SE
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Discussion Starter · #17 · (Edited)
Could you verify it's the correct windshield for the Steven's Esprit (US Fed 1998-2004)? (bottom edge is curved on Delorean; straight on Esprit).

There are some that think a Delorean windshield is the same but it is not. I did find a major windshield installer that had Esprit=Delorean on their windshield catalog back in 2012 (not true).
If I remember well, I talked to JAE about this, and they told me that it was the same windshield from 1988 and on.

another indication of this here http://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/1988-2004-Lotus-Esprit-New-Factory-tint-Windshields-Due-In-550-EACH-/261518480997. You can see that it lists 1988-2004 as the same part number.

another important FYI for everyone!

Toyota corrolla molding (for the windshield installation, the rubber located around the windshield) fits 100%, only a small cut in needed because of the extra material. No need to buy the stock esprit molding. I will post a picture later.
 

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If I remember well, I talked to JAE about this, and they told me that it was the same windshield from 1988 and on.

another indication of this here 1988- 2004 Lotus Esprit New Factory tint Windshields Due In $550 EACH! | eBay

another important FYI for everyone!

Toyota corrolla molding (for the windshield installation, the rubber located around the windshield) fits 100%, only a small cut in needed because of the extra material. No need to buy the stock esprit molding. I will post a picture later.
That is the link from the guy in the U.S. who had 4 of them, all sold within hours.. I got one.. It is in transit now along with other bits needed from JAE. Went with Lotus molding, easy to order and JAE gave me a fair price. Plus, supporting a Lotus vendor is important to me.
 

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This is great news...I'm sure a bunch of us would love to know what year Corolla?

Roy


another important FYI for everyone!

Toyota corrolla molding (for the windshield installation, the rubber located around the windshield) fits 100%, only a small cut in needed because of the extra material. No need to buy the stock esprit molding. I will post a picture later.
 
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