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Discussion Starter #1
So from all my research so far on the pre-2000 V8 liner issues on this forum and others, it's summed up that if you overheat the V8 engine, you will likely have a sealant failure, and the resulting water in the oil will eventually cost you through the nose in engine rebuild expenses.

So if you want to buy a used one of these cars, the question is: Did the 3-6 previous owners every overheat the engine? (Yea, like I am sure they would be forthcoming even if you could contact all of them…)

And if you buy one that is ok now, can you be sure you are not sitting on a ticking time bomb that eventually will break you financially and mentally (e.g. Kaz)?

Some seem to have even gone ahead and paid for a liner repair (approx $4000) with the new sealant in hopes of avoid the possibility of blowing the entire engine ($15-20K).

So with all that said, could these $10, super easy to use, and immediate results generating kits be the ultimate in piece of mine for buying and owning these V8’s?

Motor Analyzer - Pertinent Ideas

Here's the scenario: When buying a used V8, you could simply take the car for a test drive, and then pull the dip stick and put a drop of oil on the test kit to know if water is getting in the oil (if yes, that’s a no-buy).

And after you buy, you could use these kits on a regular interval to look for any water getting into the oil and only then spend the $4K before the engine blows (or add Barsleak like the Lotus guy suggested).

Could it really be that simple and inexpensive of a solution?

I ordered a pack of 6 to do some tests. I'll take fresh motor oil, test it, then add a ridiculously little amount of antifreeze, and test it again.
 

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if i buy a car - i will drive it and make a decision from there.
while driving, i will be aware of any mechanical issue & symptoms - the rest can easily be fixed.

now, if you are stupid enough not understanding any mechanical aspect...bring someone who understand.

History - losing fluid - liner you mentioned and symptom that you cannot see, these are hit or miss situation. You don't have enough time to know the car & the owner....there is always a gamble buying a used car.
 

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now, if you are stupid enough not understanding any mechanical aspect...bring someone who understand.
I agree it's good to have someone with you if you are unfamiliar with the mechanicals and need a more expert opinion.

I disagree with calling those people stupid.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
if i buy a car - i will drive it and make a decision from there.
while driving, i will be aware of any mechanical issue & symptoms - the rest can easily be fixed.

now, if you are stupid enough not understanding any mechanical aspect...bring someone who understand.

History - losing fluid - liner you mentioned and symptom that you cannot see, these are hit or miss situation. You don't have enough time to know the car & the owner....there is always a gamble buying a used car.
The whole point of my post is that you can use a $10 test kit to know instantly during at the time of the examination of the car if there are any traces of antifreeze in the oil so it is not a "hit or miss situation."
 

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There are a lot of other subtle signs that can help you determine if the motor was overheated. Blistered paint, wrench marks on bolts, hoses changed, things out-of-place. A good tech familiar with V-8's will know what to look for. If you are that concerned about liner leaks you can pressurize the cooling system and check for a drop in coolant level and coolant in the oil. What you can't really see is the condition of the clutch and how many times and how hard the powertrain was flogged. When ever you buy a used car you always take the chance of buying problems. You do a PPI and check as thoroughly as you can but you still have to take your chances. That is where a full service history can help. If you don't have one or it is not complete you always have to wonder why and what they are trying to hide. You NEVER get that when you buy at auctions which is why you should not buy a car like a Lotus that way unless you can get it cheap and you find out it is never cheap enough! Buyer Beware! If liner seals worry you maybe you should not be buying a car like a Lotus. There are PLENTY of other things that can bite you besides liner seals!
David Teitelbaum
 

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Discussion Starter #7 (Edited)
Thanks, David. I still think a quick/easy oil analysis tool has value.

The liner sealant on the pre-2000 V8 can go at 110c, so that temp won't cause blistering paint, and if the sealant failure didn't cause a complete engine failure yet, there won't be any tell-tale signs of the engine being worked on if they didn't do anything about a small amount of leakage.

Pressurizing the coolant system is not an easy thing to do while shopping for Esprits. It's something to do when you are having a full PPI on a car you are certain you want to buy. But I don't want to even waste time on a PPI if a quick drop of dipstick oil on a card can tell me it's time to move on to the next one.

As far as the clutch goes, and a lot of the other things like suspension, radiator leaks, exhaust cats and mufflers, belt service, I am budgeting for those items as part of the purchase price. I just want to rule out as easily as possible the really expensive stuff that makes any car at any price a bad buy.

And then when I buy the car, I want to make sure I catch problems before they become real big problems. It's easy for me to put a dab of oil from the dipstick on a card every 1000 miles than to run checks like a coolant pressure test.

FYI, for anyone else interested, that company doesn't carry those test kits anymore, but I did find them for less at another source:

Engine Test and Analysis - EngineCheckUp!

I am an ex-Lotus Esprit, Ferrari, Porsche, Viper, Corvette, etc owner, but that doesn't mean I don't want to be a smart buyer that uses the latest technology to buy right, so thanks for your somewhat condescending warning anyway.
 

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Where did you hear that the liner sealant "can go at 110C" ?

I've never heard that and find it hard to believe....

The liner problems with the V8 are blown out of proportion IMHO. If you read the history of the problem, it came about due to bad sealant and poor quality control from an outside vendor. The failures were limited and early on in production. If your V8 hasn't had the problem yet, it isn't likely to happen without a serious overheating condition, something way higher than 110C.

Having said that, I see nothing wrong with using the test kit for validation...
 

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Discussion Starter #9
I read it here on the forums, but since I have been reading so many threads, I can't find it again. And to be honest, who knows if that exact temp was accurate. But it does seem to be a consistent message that overheating to a temp that wouldn't normally hurt liner sealant, does with the pre-2000 models.

Do many of the pre-2000 crowd on here add BarsLeak to their coolant just to be safe as suggested by others as in this thread?

http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/f164/were-v8s-really-unreliable-49187/

Where did you hear that the liner sealant "can go at 110C" ?

I've never heard that and find it hard to believe....

The liner problems with the V8 are blown out of proportion IMHO. If you read the history of the problem, it came about due to bad sealant and poor quality control from an outside vendor. The failures were limited and early on in production. If your V8 hasn't had the problem yet, it isn't likely to happen without a serious overheating condition, something way higher than 110C.

Having said that, I see nothing wrong with using the test kit for validation...
 

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I think that the test kit makes great sense and is easy to do on a preliminary inspection. All assuming it does what it claims.
Obviously if you have antifreeze in the oil there is a problem that will require a major repair, and you tend to shy away from a car like that.

As to the issue of records and a PPI, I think that is a mixed bag. Records may tell you that maintenance is up to date, which is good, but it won't tell you much else. A PPI is only as good as the mechanic performing it. Even repairs can be botched.

The problem with the Esprit, especially the V8 is that it is extremely rare, thus very few GOOD mechanics exist that know anything about them. I would venture to say that the Lotus dealers are for the most part no longer able to do good work on them. It is close to 10 years now since the Esprit was produced.
The V8 is a little more complex, and the engine a little less debugged than the later 4s.

Find the best mechanic that knows older sports cars, and get to know the car yourself. Get the manuals and specs and help him out. Systems are all very similar, but their integration varies from car to car.

Personally when I buy cars I either buy based on the condition of the car meaning well kept above and below the hood, or I buy knowing I am going to fix a lot, but I know what I am in for and base my price on that.
A well sorted car, is probably the best for the novice, meaning lots of recent reconditioning of the systems by a person that knows the car well, that way you tend to have less expensive surprises.

But these are exotics, so it is a little silly to not budget for significant repairs( or at least have the resources) to keep them running, whether you do the repairs yourself or have someone else do them.

Buying a Lotus is by definition an illogical expenditure, it is an emotional expenditure. Nothing wrong with that, and nothing wrong with trying to rationalize it as some thing else(I do it all the time)
Is it safer than drinking, drugs, or sex? I don't know but it is at least as fun and complicated.

So yes we are all a little stupid, and we all have to beware, but in the end many of us are having fun, while others are taking their HIV drugs or are in rehab!

Randy
Presently dating four Esprits!
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I agree with all of that.

Adding to the topic of repair records, I worry more about the repairs that were done to the car that the seller conveniently decided not to include those records with the car. You know, the ones where Bob's Grease Rack pulled the engine to see if they could figure out how to fix it, or some constantly recurring expensive problem that they patched up just good enough to get it sold? You can bet you’ll be paying for those down the road.

In the Houston area, the local dealer is the last place I would take my Esprit. I have worked on all of my exotics, and my plan is to ship the Esprit I buy directly to a specialist like Viking for major services (belts and clutch), then fix other items myself as needed (bushings, dampers, radiator, hoses, exhaust, brakes, interior), and then if something catastrophic happens beyond my abilities, I will mentally budget $1500 additional in round trip transportation costs to send the car to an out of state Lotus specialist to fix it.

So that’s my plan. But it all starts with buying a solid, unmolested V8 for the right price – and I am close.
 

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The service records are important. Someone who is knowledgeable would know what to look for, expect to see, and would know what is missing. It gives a valuable starting point to a PPI. Without records you have to just assume a lot of work is due (or overdue) and must be done, like timing belts. Just adds to the expense and is an indication the car was not well cared for. I would be careful with that test for water in the oil. If the car was not recently used and well warmed up all you may be seeing is some minor condensation. As with any test the results usually need some interpretation. Your best insurance against surprises is to get (fly) someone who really knows the particular car you are interested in. I agree you need to pre-qualify any prospective car before spending on a PPI. One way to do that would be to get the records on the car to your expert for him to review. It may turn out that he may even know the car or at least he can check with Lotus USA and see if there are/were any issues with it. Buying the nearest car is not always the best choice, especially if you do not have anyone in the area that can check it out for you. Maybe there is someone in a local Lotus club that can assist. You will want to meet the locals anyway once you do get your own Lotus!
David Teitelbaum
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Not to belabor that test kit, but it knows how to tell the difference between condensation and glycol per this chart:
Engine Test and Analysis - EngineCheckup Results!

I can concur and say that am doing/have done all those other things you mentioned above. I even met some of the local Lotus club folks at an event this weekend, and some of them are still there from my last Esprit ownership which is cool.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Where did you hear that the liner sealant "can go at 110C" ?

I've never heard that and find it hard to believe....

The liner problems with the V8 are blown out of proportion IMHO. If you read the history of the problem, it came about due to bad sealant and poor quality control from an outside vendor. The failures were limited and early on in production. If your V8 hasn't had the problem yet, it isn't likely to happen without a serious overheating condition, something way higher than 110C.

Having said that, I see nothing wrong with using the test kit for validation...
Found it:
http://www.lotustalk.com/forums/1431318-post29.html

Mr Esprit V8 wrote: "While on the cooling system... I would recommend you replace the plastic header tank and cooling cap, check with Baily Motosports. The stock caps are poor quality and will not last that long with spirited runs, one failure and you'll pop the liner sealant as the coolant will instantly boil at the piston liners when you lose pressure. The sealant has a melting temperature of less than 110C, do the math ;-)"
 

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I'll contact Kevin and see where he came up with that info. Still doesn't sound right to me...110C is only 230 degrees and is not even at the boiling point of the pressurized coolant.
 

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If you suddenly lose pressure because of a bad cap or a cracked tank or blown hose, and the coolant is at 230 F It WILL boil and rather spectacularly. It will all instantly flash into steam in a BIG cloud. If you shut the motor down quickly you should avoid damaging the liner seals. As the coolant changes state from a liquid to a gas it will carry away a lot of the heat. BTW, this can happen to ANY V-8, not just the early ones.
David Teitelbaum
 

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I think we are all aware of what happens when a coolant hose bursts on a hot engine, the question was not whether it would boil but whether 230 degrees will cause the liner sealant to fail.

FWIW, the original liner sealant used which suffered the problems was Loctite 572 and Loctite lists the operating range as -50C - 150C which is a little over 300 degrees.
 

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It always amazes me at the hysteria over liners on 12-15 year old Esprit engines! If they haven't let go by now I doubt they will unless you have a catastrophic cooling failure which has the potential to cook any year 918.

There a way more 918 failure scenarios than just liners, especially belts. I've seen more engine failures from snapped cam belts than leaking liners, and if potential owners payed as much attention to checking the condition and tension of the belts as they did the liners they'd sleep a lot easier at night.

Bottom line, get the car checked by an experienced Esprit specialist before parting with your money and be prepared to shell out $15K if needed. I had my last one flat bedded ~200 miles to be inspected and while expensive it was worth every penny.
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Yep, sending the car to Viking. Belts and clutch will be changed. Radiator and fans will be upgraded.

I plan to group with the local club to build local expertise on checking the belt tension since there are no expert shops in the Houston area.
 
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