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it depends but generally things to watch out for:

'mayonaise' under the oil cap - oil and water mixing
erratic coolant temp - jumping up and down by 10deg or more
high coolant temp and not coming down
loss of coolant from expansion tank
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I figured there were enough Rover powered Elise guys on this list to get some kind of answer.

I drive my car rarely enough that it is hard to tell what is up. I replaced the fan, chased all of the air out of the system, let the car cool down, then topped off the coolant. That was a few months ago. Every month after that, I started the car and let it warm up and charge the battery. Then, I took the car out for a parade and the coolant was low.

I drove the car in the parade on a warm day. Moving at parade pace, the car would go up to 108-110, sit there a while, then drop down to 90, then repeat cycle.

As long as the car is moving, the coolant temp is fine, but when I get stuck in traffic on warm days, it is erratic, similar as described above.

Haven't seen chocolate milk oil or oil or coolant leaks.

alan
 

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IMO:

The best way to warm up the car/charge the battery is to drive it.

If you leave the car parked with the engine running in order to charge the battery, you're putting a pretty severe strain on the motor/oil system. The manual explains that.

The car has to be moving forwards in order to get air over the radiator, and if you reve the car to say 2000rpm, you'll notice that the temp on the stack drops - this is because the water pump is tied to the crank speed.

Craigy
 

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Discussion Starter #9
There are logistical issues that prevent me from driving the car to charge it.

The cooling system has not problem with a 90-102-90 cycle in my garage. However, in a slow moving situation (like a parade), the cooling temp (irregardless of reving up to spin the WP faster) cycle is more 90-110-90 and spends more time hanging out at the 110 end of things.

So, getting back on topic, does it sound like I have had a head gasket failure?

alan
 

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If you've not got something looking like mayonnaise on the inside of your oil filler cap, you've probably not got HGF. The coolant can and does leak from other places, notably from the expansion header tank cap and also the hot side of the radiator. You might have a small leak that only shows up when the coolant goes up towards the max temp the system is allowed - and if any does leak at that temperature, you're not going to see much evidence as it will often evaporate before leaving any signs.

I still think that the way you're letting your car run is going to be an issue. At the very least, I'd change oil more often on a car that has to idle a lot - say once every 4500 miles instead of every 9000 (in fact, I do that anyway because I quite often do short journeys).

Possibly better for you would be to charge the car's battery using an airflow battery charger as lotus specify in their documentation for the car. That will keep the battery in much better condition than starting it and running it at idle for a while. It's not expensive at all, assuming you've a garage and can run electricity into it with impudence.

It's not expensive or difficult and it might well save you some trouble. You are, after all, going against Lotus' recommended modus operandi. They tell us these things for good reason.

Craigy
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Just FYI, there is no mention of not charging the engine by idling the car (actually, I usually hold the revs up and go through some rev cycles, but the engine is not put under loads) or the adverse impact of doing this in my manual.

I change the oil based on time, since I have only put a couple hundred miles per year on the car in the last couple of years. I am usually off rallying and I work out of my house.

alan
 

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RallyElise said:
Just FYI, there is no mention of not charging the engine by idling the car (actually, I usually hold the revs up and go through some rev cycles, but the engine is not put under loads) or the adverse impact of doing this in my manual.

I change the oil based on time, since I have only put a couple hundred miles per year on the car in the last couple of years. I am usually off rallying and I work out of my house.

alan
You either have a different manual from me or you've not read pages 5, 58 and 73 as thoroughly as I did.

The "severe service" secion on p58 applies particularly to you, and it backs up what I said about more frequent oil changes.

If you've not got the same manual - give me a shout and I'll scan it for you.

Craigy
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Craigy said:
You either have a different manual from me or you've not read pages 5, 58 and 73 as thoroughly as I did.

The "severe service" secion on p58 applies particularly to you, and it backs up what I said about more frequent oil changes.

If you've not got the same manual - give me a shout and I'll scan it for you.

Craigy
It would appear that we have different manuals.

P. 58 describes replacing the air filter. P.73 describes bulb replacement. P.5 describes what to do to be a safe driver and to be mindful of the environment.

alan
 

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Hope this helps Alan.

If you want anything just U2U me - I'm working away for a couple of days but will check on here to see if you've left a message.

Craigy
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks.

BTW, the p. 5 and p.58 stuff does not apply to my use. It is for folks who, say, spend most of their time in their cars idling in traffic or use their car as deliver vehicles and let their car idle while they go in and drop things off and that kind of thing.

The p. 73 stuff may just be referring to what I have discovered on too many occasions. If I don't run my car, say, every month, it will completely drain the battery. It will drain it so dead that it won't hold a charge at all I've gone through three batteries in five years.

I only recently found out that I can leave the trickle charger on it constantly, but I think I will figure out how to take it out more often so I can work the suspension and avoid flat-spotting the tires.

alan
 

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I think idling is idling be it in your garage or in traffic. Get yourself an intelligent trickle charger that senses when the battery is charged and then switches into a maintanence mode. Due to long periods abroad I was going through battery's at a rate of knots. Since hooking it up to a good quality charger I've had the same battery for 3 years...

p.s there are many different *kinds* of HGF, you really should be posting your symtoms up on Seloc, the guru's will tell you exactly what to do to in order to get to the bottom of it.
 
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