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2003 Lotus Esprit
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Good Evening everyone. I posted in the new member area but also wanted to post in here. Sorry for the long post! I recently purchased a 2003 Lotus Esprit. Only 23,900 miles on her. The Esprit has been a bucket list car for me, I was one of those kids with a poster on my wall of the Esprit. I am a big car guy, mostly have owned and worked on old Jags and Saabs. I currently also own a 92 Saab 900 Turbo that has been a work in progress for awhile. While I do somethings on my own I would love to find a trusted mechanic near me for the Lotus. This purchase was long distance and the car was shipped to me in an enclosed transport.

I have taken her out a few times and all in all everything seems to be running well. I have never driven a Lotus so take that with a grain of salt! She does have a check engine light on, the code that pops up is P0128. The check engine light does not always come on, but when it does its that code and only that code. The car came with limited service history paperwork. In 2014 at 21,977 miles the battery was replaced, along with the spark plugs, driver side valve cover gasket, and a coolant level sensor. That was all done at Lotus of West Covina who appeared to own the car then and was getting it ready for sale. Lotus of West Covina sent it to Lotus by Claudius a month later to have the Timing belts and serpentine belt replaced. The remarks state that they replaced the timing belts with the new "blue style" Other than basic fluid changes I would assume that even though the timing belts were replaced about 2,000 miles ago the fact that it was 8 years ago means they need doing again? I hear that's the weak spot with these engines...

RS Motorsports in Closter, NJ came highly recommended to me. I live in upstate New York about an hour north of Albany so that is a distance. If that is truly the only one that works on the Esprit to the level of putting on new cam belts then I would have no problem shipping it down there. But if anyone could recommend someone closer I would also consider it. Even if someone is closer who can do basic fluid changes and a NY inspection I would take recommendations like that as well. I can do my own fluid changes but really don't like to!

Thanks for reading my story. Attached are some pictures of her!
Wheel Tire Car Land vehicle Vehicle

Wheel Tire Vehicle Land vehicle Car
 

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2021 Evora GT, 1986 Turbo Esprit
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Welcome to the group. Gorgeous car. Ralph at RS is one of the best if that’s where you end up.
 

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1998 Lotus Esprit V8
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237 Posts
Welcome aboard - that Esprit is gorgeous. You're extremeley fortunate to be so close to RS Motorsport. He is always quite backed up, so I would call asap to get into the queue as I've heard it isn't uncommon for his calendar to be booked up for months at a time. I would advise you build a good relationship with Ralph as you will find able and willing Esprit technicians to be as rare as hen's teeth. Do not entrust ANYONE to learn on your Esprit - though they are relatively easy to work on, they're also very easy to break when the wrench is in the wrong hands. At 8 years, it is time to do timing and accessory belts. I recommend you go with blue belts again. I feel the extra $150 dollars or so is worth it compared to the black belts, which I wouldn't trust past 5 years max (Lotus recommends 2 yr intervals on black belts, which is excessive, imho). While he's in there, you'd be wise to do tensioners and idlers as well so that you have a good baseline as to the age/mileage of the timing components. Lastly - once you get the fresh belts, DRIVE IT!!! You should have the tension on the belts checked after approximately 500 miles or so.
 

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⬆ Yes, all of the above. I took my Esprit to a Lotus dealer during a promotional maintenance inspection event. The tech seemed professional enough but had never worked on an Esprit before. As in never ever. I'm not sure he'd ever even seen one. Fortunately there was a Lotus factory regional rep onhand and he walked the tech thru every step. Turned out well, but just sayin'.

Don't be surprised if you get a recommendation to replace the water pump also during the belts change. The impeller over time has a tendency to "walk" on the shaft and contact the housing inside...aluminum shavings are not conducive to cooling system efficiency. Not sure if that would be an issue with only 24k on the clock, but Ralph could advise correctly.

Enjoy! And of course...
Forehead Eyebrow Human Sleeve Happy
 

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R S Motorsports is probably the best in the USA. Other dealers send him motors and transmissions to rebuild. He is about 2 1/2 hours south of Albany. Worth going there. Before you go there you should discuss just what should be done, a full "C" service is more than just belts. Some of it you can do yourself if you are so inclined but the belts and tensioners are best left to someone who has the special tools and experience to do it right.
David Teitelbaum
 

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Calypso red
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Congratulations shes a beauty 😃 i can recommend an upgrade if you didn't know about that a bolt is drilled to secure the timing belt from slipping. I would think the lotus specialist in nj should know how to do it. Its recommended on lotusespritworld.com if you want the little bit more security around the belts . Cheers 😎
 

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2017 Lotus Evora 400 manual, 2009 Rossion Q1, 2019 Jeep Cherokee Trailhawk
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I didn't see it mentioned but if I'm not mistaken you're the winner! Beauty, Congrats!
 

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..... i can recommend an upgrade if you didn't know about that a bolt is drilled to secure the timing belt from slipping. I would think the lotus specialist in nj should know how to do it. Its recommended on lotusespritworld.com if you want the little bit more security around the belts ....
I don't think Ralph recommends this mod, he tends to do things by the (Lotus) book. But it can't hurt to ask.
 

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2003 Lotus Esprit
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I didn't see it mentioned but if I'm not mistaken you're the winner! Beauty, Congrats!
Nope was not me! The listing went active just after I paid for the Esprit I purchased. That one only has 12,000 miles, mine has 23,000. I think the bidding on that is already more than I paid!
 

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2003 Lotus Esprit
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
A great Lotus immersive experience would be to attend the Lotus Owners Gathering event in WV upcoming in September. You'll see lots of fine cars and people, and learning opportunities abound. You have to join the Lotus Ltd club, but that's a should do anyway.

I joined Lotus Ltd the day I bought the Esprit. Already enjoyed reading the magazine they sent. I don't think I will make it this year, but I will keep an eye out for next years event.
 

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Calypso red
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It's a recommended mod from
LOTUS ESPRIT WORLD.COM for the V8. It should have been done from the factory . Unless you think not securing the belt for more security is better 😂 please don't argue for no reason which some people it's in their nature.
 

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What a lovely car... Congrats on picking up what looks like a great one!

If you read online, you'll find a lot of paranoia about the Esprit V8, much of which is going beyond rational. The cam belts aren't really a weak spot at all; it's just that the stakes are so high if something goes wrong with them, changing them at reasonable intervals is well worth the cost. At 8 years, it's time to change them - even though they are probably still fine in a car like yours. It also takes some experience to change the belts. It's not that difficult, but because they aren't indexed from the intermediate shaft or on the cams, most mechanics will be lost. Doing the intermediate shaft modification that Modelfabio557 mentioned is a good idea (I did it too), but keep in mind that only helps prevent slippage in one of the 5 areas. The torque is still critical. If it's done correctly, there is nothing to worry about.

Based on your P0128 code, I would also suggest putting a thermostat in it. This is also not a difficult job because it's right on top of the engine, but you will need to refill and bleed the coolant. It's also possible that someone removed the thermostat out of that same V8 paranoia I mentioned earlier, which is trading the the statistically-insignificant, remote possibility of a thermostat sticking closed - for a lifetime of inefficient running and excessively cold engine temperatures in the winter. :LOL:
 

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It's a recommended mod from
LOTUS ESPRIT WORLD.COM for the V8. It should have been done from the factory . Unless you think not securing the belt for more security is better 😂 please don't argue for no reason which some people it's in their nature.
LEW is a nice resource and that was my initial thought as well. But my preference is to follow the advice of a trained and certified Lotus factory technician that has an unmatched reputation with many years of working on V8 Esprit's. I asked about the mod when I had cam belts replaced and was told that if the factory directions are followed with pulleys correctly positioned and torqued the mod isn't necessary.

And it would mean disassembling a whole bunch of stuff that isn't required during a routine belt change. Maybe if the engine is already out of the car and being rebuilt it's a different story. But as mentioned above the mod only addresses 1 out of 5 potential slip points (intermediate shaft pulley plus 4 cam pulleys), so at best it's only a 20% solution.

Like I said, the OP can always inquire. Better to hear it direct from the source in case I missed some subtlety.

Just curious, did you have your intermediate shaft drilled/pinned?
 
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Calypso red
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Yes you are correct it's way too much work if you just tightening the belt and making sure they're okay this would definitely involve having an engine out while you were doing it would be the way to do it cheers
 

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Based on your P0128 code, I would also suggest putting a thermostat in it. This is also not a difficult job because it's right on top of the engine, but you will need to refill and bleed the coolant. It's also possible that someone removed the thermostat out of that same V8 paranoia I mentioned earlier, which is trading the the statistically-insignificant, remote possibility of a thermostat sticking closed - for a lifetime of inefficient running and excessively cold engine temperatures in the winter. :LOL:
To add to this, I’m not sure this is a.) just another “snake oil” untested/unproven product or even if b.) there is a cross-reference for a V8 Esprit, but there is a thermostat by Motorad that, should it get “stuck”, purportedly will end up stuck in the open position. According to their labeling, once that happens, it must be replaced. Perhaps something like this (assuming it’s not “snake oil”) might be useful?
Motor vehicle Font Auto part Gas Metal
Motor vehicle Font Auto part Gas Metal
 
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