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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Does anyone know if Lotus color sands the paint of the Elise during the painting process? (In England, I believe the term is "flatting" the paint.)

I'm pretty impressed with the lack of orange peel in the paint job, it is pretty smooth, better than a BMW or Jaguar. I suspect the paint is color sanded and polished, because I did find one dull spot in the area on the rear pillar just behind the hardtop. It looks like a small area where the factory might not have polished it out fully with the initial cutting compound, so it made me wonder.

Other than a dirt spot in the clearcoat, I think the paint quality is really good - much better than I expected from Lotus, really.




DLY
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Upon further examination of the paint, I don't think these cars are color-sanded. For one, color sanding would take at least 6-8 hours per car, so I doubt Lotus is spending that much time on the paint. Among production cars only mfgs. like Rolls or Bentley (maybe Aston Martin) can do this.

Looking at the vertical surfaces, there is noticable orange peel. The horizontal surfaces are impressively smooth, but on most cars the horizontal surfaces tend to have less orange peel anyway since the paint "flattens out" naturally after flow-out on a flat horizontal surface.

I suppose the dull spot was either a really big scuff or an incomplete paint repair (since spot color sanding is used by virtually all mfgs. to repair local paint defects.) A few minutes with an orbital buffer and a couple of different polish grades fixed it like new...



DLY
 

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DLY they do not color sand but they do paint the panels prior to assembly on the car. This allows them to paint with the panels in a more ideal position than you would get assembled. I think the lack of orange peal has to do with the panels being painted in a flat rather than verticle position. Also the painting is done by people not robots. My Caterham 7 has the best paint I have ever had on a car, and it is also people painted, very talented people.
 

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etypeiii said:

I'm pretty impressed with the lack of orange peel in the paint job, it is pretty smooth, better than a BMW or Jaguar. I suspect the paint is color sanded and polished, because I did find one dull spot in the area on the rear pillar just behind the hardtop. It looks like a small area where the factory might not have polished it out fully with the initial cutting compound, so it made me wonder.

Other than a dirt spot in the clearcoat, I think the paint quality is really good - much better than I expected from Lotus, really.
DLY
personally I think you find a better paint job on a 12K Honda or Toyota. my car is SY and I've found several areas where the paint has small defects (a pit or hole here and there) and my engine lid probably needs repainting (I'm waiting to hear back from the dealer).

does this take away from the ownership experience? actually it hasn't yet - as long as Lotus agrees to have the work done. I do expect Lotus to stand behind their product and want problems corrected. I find my paint job unacceptable for a 40+K dollar car and would expect a better paint job in any new car regardless of price.
I figure they're trying to get as many of these cars out of the factory as possible and they are hand painted after all. Robots don't get tired and spray the same at the beginning of their shift and the end of the day.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I'm sorry to hear that your paint was substandard. The quality must vary, especially since James has explained they are manually painted. If the painter is having a bad day...

I went over my car very carefully within days of getting it, to note all the paint defects or even tiny scratches (more so I wouldn't go nuts wondering if those problems were there before I got the car, but also to spot anything major as you did.)

I found one speck in the clear coat which looks like a particle, but that was it. There were some tiny scratches such as you might get if you dragged a book on the surface. Those came out with some Meguiar's #9 polish and an orbital buffer.

As I mentioned, the horizontal surfaces were extremely smooth, but I saw very heavy orange peel on the inside rear pillars and minor orange peel on the doors. The doors weren't much worse than on most cars though- virtually every production car has it (especially visible with dark cars, like my BRP.)

Perhaps build order/time has an effect? (Despite the comparatively late arrival of my car, its VIN is 315). So I suppose I am fortunate, and that the paint quality can vary quite a bit. Speculation: SY being a more popular color, pehaps they try to squeeze those out faster?




DLY
 

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my car is 402 and SY has no clearcoat unfortunately.

I've got a couple of spots where you can see a grain of something was removed, leaving a small hole. then whoever did the removal left behind sanding marks where the paint is obviously less glossy than the other parts of the car.

my local bodyshop wouldn't accept this level of workmanship so I don't expect Lotus to not do anything about my issues. I'll keep you all posted....
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Raggedy, that too I have evidence of in my original post. There was a spot where it looked like they sanded it down with fine grit sandpaper to remove a defect, then seemed to forget to polish it with compound to bring back the gloss.

I would have to say that the clear coat probably does hide some defects, as does the darker color. A tiny "hole" in the color coat would be very hard to see on a darker paint, also covered with a clear coat. And if the defect were under the StarShield...

What kind of badness do you have on the engine lid?




DLY
 

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The more I look at my car, the more defects I notice. I've always had trouble finding defects "before delivery" when picking up a new car. I thought I looked my car over well enough when I picked it up, but obviously different lighting shows different things.

I still haven't had a chance to get my car to the dealer, but I'll let you all know what happens when I do.
 

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engine lid:
two areas, one about 1 inch long by 1/4 inch wide and the other about 5 inches long by 1/4 inch wide. both of these areas are a dark shade surrounded by a dull area. These both look like spots where the paint was burned through and the dark shade is the primer coat underneath peeking through.

then there are several areas where the vertical parts meet the horizontal parts (corners) that are dull and look like they were hand sanded to correct defects.

also,there are areas/spots that have a haze - not as shiny as the rest of the car - almost like light oxidation.

the areas where the buttresses meet the rear deck (corners) also look dull.

i have a large spot (about the size of a hand) on top of the right fender that is dull and scuffed looking. the detailer told me it looks like an area that was color sanded at the factory but not properly polished out.

there is a small dark spot (1mmx2mm) on the front clam. it's on the edge in front of the radiator grille. the detailer said it looks like something deep in the paint and he wouldn't be able to take it out.

were the esprit paint jobs this bad? the detailer told me all of these hand made exotics (incl ferraris and lambos) have issues with their paint. modern day ferraris aren't as bad as earlier models, but they still have problems here and there.

i wonder if this is a result of the factory being under pressure to keep up with a production rate they never had before with the Elise before the US market opened up...
 

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I called the dealer today to talk to them about the paint problems and also to ask if they had heard back from Lotus about what to do about the black fingerprint that is under the starshield in the front of my car. He had not yet heard back from Lotus (on a call he made at least 3 weeks ago), which leads me to believe they may be avoiding issues (not surprising).

My dealer is once again going to try to get a hold of someone at Lotus to find out what to do. In the mean time, the weather here sucks so my car is sitting under it's cover in the garage :(
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Those problems defintely I think Lotus should fix - some orange peel or 1-2 small pinholes OK, but these types of problems are way too major. It does tend to make me think they might be rushing construction, or (if this applies) their final prep center is not carefully going over the paint. Raggedy's list of problems sounds really abysmal, unfortunately.

Do most people think their paint is low quality? If Park Place still has their demo and unsold green model, I'll examine them really closely (though the dealership's in-house prep service might have addressed the most egregious defects, so we still may not the "dullness" issues anyway.




DLY
 

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etypeiii said:

Do most people think their paint is low quality? If Park Place still has their demo and unsold green model, I'll examine them really closely (though the dealership's in-house prep service might have addressed the most egregious defects, so we still may not the "dullness" issues anyway.
DLY
I'm extremely pleased with the quality of the paint (and paint job) on my car. We're very picky people (with lots of trophies to show for the meticulous level of detailing we do on our cars) and neither Michael (YELOTUS) nor I has found anything on this car to complain about. We went over it carefully when we picked the car up and having had almost 3 months to view it even more carefully now, there are no imperfections worth even mentioning.

- Ellen
 

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update:
ok, so after hearing that someone has been waiting 3 weeks to hear back from their Lotus rep, I decided to try something on my own.
History 1st:
A professional detailer I was referred to by the local Lotus dealer tells me the gray areas on the engine lid is the primer showing through. Not good.
Then the dealer calls in their body shop and paint experts. They determine that it could be the primer, but they wouldn't know for sure until they tried working on it.
Dealer decides to forward the problem to Lotus to see what they will be willing to do to correct this problem.

So today I figure to let another detailer/friend take a look. After a lot of elbow grease and different liquids/compounds he is able to get the spots out!

So the lid will not have to be repainted. The paint will always have the few pinholes I've found but I can live with them. He was also able to polish out the hand sized dull spot (color sanding spot according to 1st detailer).

So it's at a point I can live with - not perfect in a concours sense, but good enough that I won't bother the dealer anymore (and I've always considered myself anal when it comes to details).

now about that rattling/shaking/shimmering sound from the undercarriage.... :p


oh one more thing: order a metallic color with clearcoat. i can see the flat colors (red and yellow) being a potential problem down the road as they aren't clearcoated. they'll require more maintenance to keep em shiny! :D
 

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I was told that the most common problem with the paint is that adhesive gets on it as the panels are bonded together. Yes, the bonding comes after the painting. The panels are painted seperately and bonded together on the car. I saw Lotus doing what looked like a good paint inspection at the end of the production cycle. I'm surprised to hear about so many problems, I thought they were being quite picky about paint quailty.
 
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