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2006 Elise, Krypton Green with hard top and Touring Package..
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Discussion Starter #1
I've worked on/restored several cars over the years so not afraid to turn a wrench - own 2 XKEs now and had other marques in the past and have always had the British car bug. I also have access to a full machine shop (friend is a race car engine builder) capable of doing about anything so I decided if anyone could own one and work on it if needed, it was me. Thus, time to pull the trigger. I finally bought a 2006 Elise with the naturally aspirated Toyota sourced 1.8 L after years of watching these and reading about them on this forum. Indeed, I love the car.

When younger I rode motorcycles and had no qualms about taking them to higher rpms frequently as in general they were designed to take that routine abuse. For street cars, I generally have been hesitant to take them to redline very much at all. My friend goes to great extremes to balance racing engines as well as take out any rough spots that can cause engine failure. Yet it is not uncommon to see those engines grenade at high rpms. Granted, those engines are also tweaked to get much higher HP than stock as well and run near the edge of performance which is the most significant contributing factor. Not a direct comparison here other than the general observation that higher RPMs are more stressful even on the best prepared/balanced engines.

So, I am wondering what the real world dependability experience is on the Elise from those who regularly take the car to that sweet spot from around 6200 rpm when the cam comes on to near redline. The motor seems to not be overly stressed to produce too much power by design and typical of smaller motors designed to rev higher regularly so I'm confident it should be able to take it occasionally. I have read there have been some issues with camshaft hardening in a few of these motors that gives me a little concern as well.

I have changed the oil to the synthetic Mobil 1 5W-40 Turbo Diesel Truck Motor Oil as some have noted here it is better at lubricating the valvetrain. And I do let it warm up a minute or so before pulling out of the garage then fully come up to temp before exceeding even 4000 RPM so I make make sure the car is warm and lubed up before winding it out. But, it is almost a 15 year old car and though it only has ~26,000 miles I'm still hesitant to get up in that upper range/on the cam routinely.

So, I'd appreciate hearing of anyone's experience. Thanks !
 

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When younger I rode motorcycles and had no qualms about taking them to higher rpms frequently as in general they were designed to take that routine abuse.
There's your answer! Wring it out - the stock redline on any modern engine means all rpm below it are fair game. Just check for "cam wiping (google it for endless threads) which has shown no correlation with rpm other than maybe not waiting 20 minutes or so after water temp reaching 180F since oil temperature will lag behind significantly
 

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2010 Exige S260
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Engines are happy to be on the red line, however use Redline Oil 5w40, and change the oil pump to the upgraded oil pump. Because the stock oil pump gears will fail on sustained high rpm's. I've seen it fail multiple times (30 minute race red line all the time) so changing the stock oil pump is the insurance you need. Also go for the baffled aftermarket oil pan. Change the oil thermostat (dual oil coolers make the oil too cold). Even better, install an oil temp sensor.
 

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Here's my experience: bought my Elise with 38k miles on it, owner claimed never raced or tracked. ECU dump says it didn't spend much time at high RPMs.

For the first two years, I used my car for auto-x, competing in national events with it for a solid 1.5 years. I wasn't as versed on the "over cooling of the oil" issue, so I don't think I let it warm up adequately during that time. Result: it eventually ate an intake camshaft. I am not easy on my auto-x cars... often riding the rev limiter when needed on course. I once estimated my AP1 S2000 spent ~15-20 minuets of it's 108k mile life on the rev limiter during auto-x and tracking. My Elise doesn't have nearly that much abuse on it, but you get the idea.

I replaced it, opened up the valve lash and installed and oil temp sensor.

I then stopped auto-xing and started tracking after moving to CA. After about 10-12 track days, I just took the engine apart to replace the pistons and rods for a RevX build. It looks great. No scoring, no piston damage, I measured compression about twice a year and never saw a notable decrease. The head looks great, as well. With the head off, the cylinders are oval by about 0.001"... MWR claims this is fairly normal as the bore shape distorts without the head installed. Even if this isn't the case, 0.001" is small. The bore diameters do show some wear, but that's to be expected.

For all of the above, the powertrain was totally stock. Stock tune, stock exhaust, stock airbox... literally stock.
 

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Less is Better
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I've worked on/restored several cars over the years so not afraid to turn a wrench - own 2 XKEs now and had other marques in the past and have always had the British car bug. I also have access to a full machine shop (friend is a race car engine builder) capable of doing about anything so I decided if anyone could own one and work on it if needed, it was me. Thus, time to pull the trigger. I finally bought a 2006 Elise with the naturally aspirated Toyota sourced 1.8 L after years of watching these and reading about them on this forum. Indeed, I love the car.

When younger I rode motorcycles and had no qualms about taking them to higher rpms frequently as in general they were designed to take that routine abuse. For street cars, I generally have been hesitant to take them to redline very much at all. My friend goes to great extremes to balance racing engines as well as take out any rough spots that can cause engine failure. Yet it is not uncommon to see those engines grenade at high rpms. Granted, those engines are also tweaked to get much higher HP than stock as well and run near the edge of performance which is the most significant contributing factor. Not a direct comparison here other than the general observation that higher RPMs are more stressful even on the best prepared/balanced engines.

So, I am wondering what the real world dependability experience is on the Elise from those who regularly take the car to that sweet spot from around 6200 rpm when the cam comes on to near redline. The motor seems to not be overly stressed to produce too much power by design and typical of smaller motors designed to rev higher regularly so I'm confident it should be able to take it occasionally. I have read there have been some issues with camshaft hardening in a few of these motors that gives me a little concern as well.

I have changed the oil to the synthetic Mobil 1 5W-40 Turbo Diesel Truck Motor Oil as some have noted here it is better at lubricating the valvetrain. And I do let it warm up a minute or so before pulling out of the garage then fully come up to temp before exceeding even 4000 RPM so I make make sure the car is warm and lubed up before winding it out. But, it is almost a 15 year old car and though it only has ~26,000 miles I'm still hesitant to get up in that upper range/on the cam routinely.

So, I'd appreciate hearing of anyone's experience. Thanks !
An engine with a narrow powerband and that makes it's power at redline has to be expected to operate there. I can only imagine the engine hours needed for Toyota to approve an engine's redline. But even if the worst happens and the engine wears out, a rebuilt is what, $2000? The engine is made to rev and the car is WAY more enjoyable on the 2nd cam. Use it!
 

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We track junkies shift supercharged cars at 8200 and try to stay above 6000 as much as possible. Some run groups 45 minutes of this. I’ve a few times “money shifted” to over 9000 😳

But I changed oil every 500 miles, the Turbo truck oil you mention.

Also tried to tear out the brakes and burn up tires and clutches and destroy third gear. Tough little cars. That is perhaps the very best thing about these cars. So easy to become that track junkie. And fix it all in your garage.
 

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As already stated the engines are fine at higher RPMs ... use correct oil and be sure car OIL is up to temp and it will last looong time. My fiend has 90,000 miles on his, 85,000 of which spent on track, sometimes sun up till sun down. Mine has 100,000 miles on it and purrs like a kitten. On top of that the engines are common and cheap to replace. I will get 300,000 easy out of mine.

Sent from my SM-N975U using Tapatalk
 

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Less is Better
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Succinct explanation of why the diesel truck oil is good?
It's not necessarily truck oil, but it is Diesel engine oil. The high lift valve profile is driven by a separate lobe on the camshaft. This valve is actuated by sliding between the cam and follower. It is believed that a slider like this needs high amounts of zinc (ZDDP) for lubrication under this type of high pressure interface. Most modern oils have reduced ZDDP as required by the SAE classification to minimize the chances of catalytic converter contamination. Diesel oils do not have the same restriction and retain the high levels of ZDDP. This is believed to eliminate the cam wiping issue several have experienced.

Personally, I use Redline 5w40 which also contains high levels of ZDDP.
 

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2006 Elise, Krypton Green with hard top and Touring Package..
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Discussion Starter #11
Appreciate the replies everyone - the stories with real world experience of hours on track for months or even over several years using the stock set up were particularly useful and what I needed to get comfortable to start hitting redline routinely - after I'm sure the oil is good and warm.

I do have access to a shop and we have all the equipment to pretty much do anything on an engine from porting/polishing, decking the heads or block, boring out the cylinders, line honing the block, lathes, a HAAS milling machine, several regular mills, welders, etc. as it is a race car engine building shop. So while I can fix about anything that breaks and money isn't a concern, I'd rather not have pushed it and break the engine since I already have 2 other cars I'm restoring with about 1000 hours left to finish them. And, I'm also helping friends get another half dozen or so various cars on the road again. Spread a little thin right now so I didn't want to push my Elise and add another engine job to my years long to do list. But with your comments regarding the abuse long term owners have dolled out on them, I will risk it now.

I've changed the oil and air filter and next up will be the brake fluid and coolant (using the how-to guides on these forums) since I don't know the history of the car's maintenance. Much of its life was likely sitting in a garage as it looks to be collector quality and I know it sat unused for a few years as an older owner had a long illness before it was last sold ... so I'm taking it relatively easy to start. It also will go to the Lotus dealer (when the virus restrictions are over) for the oil line recall as that wasn't done. After that though, I won't hold back anytime. I live on a windy road and it already is a blast to drive and the most fun car I've driven, so definitely looking forward to wringing it out like my cafe racers of younger days.

I do need to track down a full manual - saw some leads in the forum but no luck there yet so still looking. Worst case I'll just order one from the Lotus dealer if I don't find one before.

Thanks again for the comments and encouragement. Looking forward to a great summer with the Elise !
 

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Personally, I use Redline 5w40 which also contains high levels of ZDDP.
Yup. I use Rotella Synthetic T6 5W-40 which also has high levels of ZDDP.
 

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When you do that oil line recall, consider replacing the radiator. Stock has plastic on the ends that will age and crack.
Might do SS brake lines too. Really hard to get to with clam on. There are threads here about other stuff you might do while clam is off.
 
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I had my oem rad leak at 5k miles. It only leaked slightly when the car would cool down. When i finally got around to replacing mine with an aluminum rad, I had the old one checked at a rad shop because I could not find the leak... one of the fin tubes sprang a tiny hole. End tanks were fine.

On the other hand... a buddy down the street has a tracked exige what han been crashed and it still on the stock rad with over 80k hard miles....
 
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2006 Elise, Krypton Green with hard top and Touring Package..
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Discussion Starter #17
When you do that oil line recall, consider replacing the radiator. Stock has plastic on the ends that will age and crack.
Might do SS brake lines too. Really hard to get to with clam on. There are threads here about other stuff you might do while clam is off.
Appreciate the recommendations - thanks !
 

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I've been tracking my Elise for more than 10 years now, and I've got ~15,000 track miles on it, most of those are me trying to keep it on the second cam, so mostly high RPM operation. In these years, I've had the engine rebuilt once, since it simply wore out - bearings were loose, all the pulleys were wobbly, but nothing broke. Even after all these track miles, I'm on my original cams, and like others, I've used Redline 5W40 oil exclusively because of high ZDDP content.

Of these 15k track miles, 10k were on the original oil pump and without upgrades of any sort other than baffled oil pan to address oil starvation on tight turns, and a fuel surge tank to address fuel starvation on long left hand turns. My rebuild ~5k miles ago saw the improved oil pump, titanium valve springs, and lighter forged pistons and lighter valves. I added no power, but the engine revs more happily and I can safely push it to the redline whenever I want without any valve float. The OEM valvetrain starts to float a little bit over 8000 rpm, the 8500 stock redline is a tiny bit too high, IMO.

Anyhow, this toyota engine is damned good and reliable, just make sure you address oil and fuel starvation.
 

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Agree with all, On a tight track like PBIR I very rarely see less than 6K around the track. This is for 20-40 minutes constant. No issues. I also recommend the RedLine.
Tommy
 

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Succinct explanation of why the diesel truck oil is good?
I'll counter point the prevailing wisdom. Diesel engines rev very low. Few go much past 4,500 RPM's or so. The shear stability of an oil that operates in that range is much lower than one that is formulated to operate at much high revs, nearly double. An oil that cannot maintain a intact film will allow metal-on-metal contact.

That's just a theory of mine but for sure the lubrication formulators who design diesel engine oils do not consider the needs of an engine that revs past 8,000 rpms. Probably much lower than that.
 
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