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Discussion Starter #1
Well,

what should we be expecting as far as reliability? I know that the motor will be different, but hows the electrical, suspension and general reliabilty like? Body squeaks? Nagging things that always break? Does the soft top or hard top leak?

Jose Soriano
 

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Good question !!! One I will try to do justice to ;

I've had mine for 8 months from new and had the following problems ;

1) Alarm armed / worked ok but the "tell tale" light on the dash blinked constantly, the control unit and then the immobiliser unit were replaced . . . . . . turned out to be a single diode in the loom that was missing.

2) Drivers window the mechanism worked loose and needed tightening.

3) Doors rattled a little, the dealer replaced the door strickers with larger diameter ones (now std)

4) Slight "misting" in one of the headlamp lenses getting sorted at next service.

5) Slight coolant leak after first track day (ie after first real hard driving) suspected hose clips, apparently there are tight spots on the jubilee clips and the torque drivers at the factory stop at these tight spots so some of the hoses can be loose. Being pressure tested at next service.

Generally the soft top leaks slightly (not a problem, if standing overnight in the rain there may be one or two drips inside).

The hardtop seals "squeak", but this can be fixed with some silicone spray.

Regarding rattles etc, yep, but none that are annoying all related to the fact that it's a pretty rigid chassis, your inches from the ground with only a sheet of aluminium between you and the road there is noise from the soft top (wind).

In a nutshell if you expect the creature comforts / refinement of say an S2000 (the Honda I guess that's what it's called in the US) you will not get it with the Elise.

Essentially it's not a complicated car, the K Series (which I guess you will NOT get) is a solid unit, i've not hear of any fundamental problems. The suspension / chassis is of course what Lotus are best at, it's worth keeping an eye on the geo and finding someone who can check / set it correctly. The geo is a big part of the official Lotus servicing.

Not heard of any significant problems with electrics, again it's not that complex.

Re horror stories, roofs can be a real problem, I know a couple of people who can't use the soft tops as they leak so much, there was a bad "batch" of roofs that Lotus know about.

Indicator pods have been known to pop out at speed, which can be an interesting experience.

Don't forget this is a hand built car and they're not perfect, but that's what makes them special. . . REALLY SPECIAL !!

As long as you go into ownership with the right expectation and your eyes wide open you will not be disappointed.

Don’t forget it's a car that had one eye on the track.

Finally this is just my view of ownership, the club that i'm a member of (South East Lotus Owners Club) has an active forum, go have a look around and ask the same question there ;

SELOC

Hope this helps
 

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That sounds encouraging; I've been preparing myself for much worse based on what I've heard about Lotus and other British cars.

What ever happened to the issue of rusty bolts on the chassis? I believe someone recommended replacing them with stainless steel, but I think Lotus avoided that for a reason (the galvanic potential between stainless and AL being too great, corroding the AL as a result). What's Lotus doing these days about this?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks

That's exactly the kind of information I was looking for. To me, it sounds quite reliable with only minor issues. Believe me, I understand what the car is and I wasn't expecting it to be like a Honda. I've owned some cars / bikes far worse in terms of reliabilty (like two Alfas, a GTV6 and a Spider, and two Triumph Bikes - a '51 and a '56). I loved those vehicles... especially the GTV6 so you learn to live with the constant maintenance and nagging issues. I'm sure that even if the Elise wasn't reliable, I'd still buy it. I like what the car is. Period.


Jose Soriano
 

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Matt,

No experience of this, but found this which may help ;

"Stainless Fasteners - Good or Bad

Brian Martley

Should I use stainless steel bolts, etc on the aluminium chassis ?

Well, there's been a lot written about this topic and these notes aren't going to tell what to do, but they will explain the pros and cons of stainless fittings in contact with aluminium, so you will be in a better position to make a judgment.

The Elise originally came with plated carbon steel screws and bolts for the undertray, etc, and as many folks found out, these rust and often become difficult to remove. So the obvious answer is to move to replace them with something more corrosion resistant - stainless steel is the common engineering alternative.

Which then started the question of possible corrosion between the aluminium and stainless steel, which is a valid concern. Mostly this stems from the relationship between stainless steel and aluminium in the galvanic series. Look at this page for a brief summary if you haven't seen one before. The basic message is that if you connect two materials from opposite ends together in an electrolyte then a corrosion current will form, the magnitude proportional to the surface areas and spacing between the materials in the series.

Ok ? So it seems obvious, doesn't it ? The most likely grade of stainless steel you'll use is 304 or possibly 316. It will be in it's passive state (active state means the protective oxide is removed and it's corroding, which isn't normal) and hence quite a way from aluminium in the series. Carbon steel on the other hand is reassuringly close to aluminium, so there shouldn't be any real corrosion potentials.

Indisputable facts. Case proven, so don't use stainless coupled to aluminium ?

But how come it's used in marine applications, and many others ? Ahh well, that's magic. The trick is to either electrically insulate the components, which is quite difficult really when you think of a screw thread with mechanical loading, or alternatively to remove the electrolyte which allows the corrosion cell to form.

Keeping out the electrolyte - (salty) water in this case - is a difficult but more practical solution and what I've personally attempted on my car. The first time I removed the undertray after about 12 months, there were signs of corrosion underneath the washers on most of the bolts. To be honest, it doesn't matter if you've got stainless washers there or not, if you have a crevice (the washer to undertray joint) which gets salty water inside, then you'll get an effect called crevice corrosion. How fast this develops will to some extent depend on the metals in the joint, but it's a fairly common occurrence. You'd still have it to some extent with plain carbon steel washers.

And don't say "oh, I'll just tighten it up a bit more" because it's going to take more force than you'll generate with those small bolts to completely seal the washers against water ingress.

Personally I replaced as many of these things as I could with stainless but assembled everything with heavy coatings of grease - even down the threads and both sides of the trays where possible. After tightening everything up and re-coating, you couldn't see the bolt heads. The idea is to keep out the electrolyte, and 3 annual services on it still seems to be working - the original corrosion hasn't gotten any worse.

Works for me - will it work for you ? Just attention to detail, not rocket science."
 

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If you really want to reduce the fastener corrosion problem, consider Titanium fasteners with the grease. ;) I'd bet that Colin would think highly of this...lighter is better.

Yeah, they're expensive. But how often are you going to be doing this? And if you get the Ti passivated (anodized in sulfuric acid, develops a cool looking purple/blue oxide film) it'll be that much more resistant to corrosion. Then again, this can be done with SS also.
 

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Thanks Jason. The grease idea, used in conjunction with stainless bolts, sounds like the best idea.

Titanium is an interesting approach. They're not all that expensive so it'd be feasible, if the material properties proved sufficiently comparable (as they most likely would...but it'd depend on the alloys being used). However, I don't think they're much better than stainless steel when it comes to galvanic corrosion, see this chart.
 

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Ah yes...I may have gotten myself inverted mentally. Oops.

When the point is to protect the aluminum chassis, Ti isn't likely to help much. Ti won't dissolve in practically *anything* so it's commonly used in unbelievably harsh chemical environments. But that's because it doesn't dissolve, not because it won't promote something else corroding.

I'll have to check with some friends regarding this matter. I'm under the impression that passivated Ti has a high surface resistivity that would help prevent current flow and greatly reduce corrosion.

Also, with a good quality silicone dielectric grease, the problem should be reduced significantly once again...

:) -la
 

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Discussion Starter #10
No problem Jason. I actually enjoyed it.

I guess I really don't have to worry about the corrosion living in Sunny Southern California!


Jose Soriano
 

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History of things that have worn out or failed our car over 6 years and 70000 miles.

1. Main water rail punctured by poor specification of fixings to the tub (happened in France but Lotus flew out the part and we were on the road in 2 days) design fault on early S1 cars only.

2. Radiator hose cut due to vibration od the radiator which the dealer discovered had not been relace by the French dealer correcly while sorting out 1 above :-(

3. Universal joint on steering column has needed to be tightened about once a year to get rid of tiny bit of play.

4. Flexi section of exhaust failed after 30000 miles - now replaced by long header 4-2-1 manifold.

5. Bolt dropped out of window winder mechanism at around 35000 miles.

6. Both front wheel bearings needed replacing at 35000 miles and again at 70000.

7. All lower suspension ball joints replaced at 55000 miles.

8. Exhaust replaced wit s/s Janspeeed supers port at around 40000 miles.

other than that the only items have been routine pads filters etc as part of the service process.

Item 1 was the only issue that required the car to be recovered.

Tony C
 

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Similar experience to Tony here . . .

2000 S1, 45K miles in almost exactly 3 years.

Never let me down (yet !), however problems :-

1x Failed heater matrix (leak - small but smelly)
2x Failed exhaust flexible sections
2x Failed front wheel bearings (both sides have now gone)
1x Window Glass problem (class came unstuck from carrier)
1x Failed ECU temp sender
1x Failed Cooling system pressure cap
2x Track Rod Ends
1x Lower wishbone balljoint
2x Broken Windscrees (stonechips)
3x Broken Headlights (stonechips)
2x Broken Driving Lights (stonechips)
(stonechips incidents are almost all following sportsbikes at close quarters)

No rattles/squeaks/clunks or other noises as yet . . . better than many other cars that I've been in . . .

Fd
 

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No serious problems; all were "consumables" in my book.

Car is Nov 2000, Sport 160, done 45k miles, around 4k on 30 or so track days in Uk & Europe. Car runs A038's and a 340R Dry track geo go generate huge amounts of lateral G which bends and breaks things; as does climbing big kerbs which i also tend to do (the bustop @ Spa for example)

New wiper blade @ 35k
Starter motor failed, new one at 45k
Alternator cooked @ 48k

Apart from that nothing really, I have had two screens (stone chips), 30 tyres, 3 sets of discs, 10 sets of pads, 2 steering racks, 4 tie-rods, 6 ball joints and a new battery.
 

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Nothing really? Multiple steering racks and tie rods/ball joints, etc, sounds like something to me. :) I would have imagined a lightweight car like this would be easy on its components, reducing the cost of consumables like brake pads and rotors.

But I drive a Toyota so maybe my perspective is all off... 168k miles on the original steering rack (new bushing though), 248k miles on the engine, and it sees regular racing.
 

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Not really due to lightness. I am amazed at what happens on my shifter kart after two hours of racing.

On my Toyota, I replaced the clutch every 18 months. Went thru a tranny at 50,000 miles. Engine was getting tired at 80,000 miles. Replaced blown struts and torn endlink mounts. Shifter cables broke twice. Went thru two sets of engine mounts.

And today, I have to park the turbo Alltrac because something is very very wrong with it.
 

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Depends how you use the car, my car is tracked regularly for long sessions, if I buy 4 hours track time it's on the track for 4 hours, not in the pits, on the road it is driven hard all year round.

Don't let the spectre of certain failures put you off, some are caused by component problems and are known problems with certain age ranges of cars.

Examples :

Steering rack - supplied with incorrectly hardened internal parts.
Steering rack - rack gaiters failed very quickly due to faulty rubber - dirt ingress - rack failure
Balljoints - substandard parts fitted, no longer fitted

The list goes on . . .

Fd
 

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In 16 months I had :-

front indicator pop out (TATDS, was sorted by a warranty safety recall)

gear linkage snapped (had to drive home from France with only 3rd and 4th gears - niiiiice) - linkage was an aftermarket kit though

clutch cable rubbed thru an aluminium coolant pipe causing loss of pressure in system

leak in coolant system hose at front of car

gear linkage seized and made changing gear a nightmare, again aftermarket kit

1 smashed driving lamp (track day)

2 scuffed alloys (my shite parking)

problem with coolant filler cap pressure
 

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Moose - S2 ?

Guess so with the indicators . . .

The clutch hose abrading the main coolant return pipe is a very common problem on almost all S2 elises I've looked at (tens ?) . . .

Another common one is the same coolant pipe being damaged by the clutch operating arm/pivot . . .

Ultimately this problem will look like the old S1 "rivet through your coolant pipe problem" . . . give it a year . . . almost every car I've looked at would have failed within a year I estimate had I not rectified the prob with some insulation and a cabletie . . .

Fd
 

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My Exige is very easy on brakes and tires compared to other cars I have tracked. I have been on the same tires (A048's) all season and had the same pads for the last 1.5 years. I had to replace a rotor, but I think it was warped from the start.
 

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>>Moose - S2 ?

Yup :)

meat I would *LOVE* to know how you've managed to make A048's last that long - I was getting thru rears in 5000 miles and fronts in not that much more.

I was using Pagid brake pads and even after 12,000 miles they worked like new, but the tyres, don't talk about tyres ££££££££
 
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