Radiator in my 2005 Elise gave up. From very slow leaking and was able to top off from time to time to now there was coolant droops from the front right. Snow and road salt outside pretty badly. So I decided to spend my time in the garage to investigate.
Checked hoses did not find leak. I found out there was no way you can tell unless you remove the calm and take out the radiator. Removing the front clam (2.5 hours) and eventually got out the radiator (another 1 hour). According to the service note, we need to remove the entire radiator/AC condenser/fan combination tray to remove the radiator and refill AC fluid and coolant later once done. That’s too much. Found a short cut. There were 2 nuts/screws inside from the front tray and several more on the other side to link the AC condenser and radiator. Once I unscrewed them and disconnected hoses I was able to slide the radiator out alone.
After inspection, the right side radiator where one aluminum tube meets the head coolant tank is leaking. I bought G-Bond glue from an auto parts store. It said to fix radiator and many other things. Glue came with black powder (iron?) and glue in the package, Crazy glue alike. Cleaned up the radiator and applied the glue. Placed the power around joint area and then applied the glue to the powder. After a few minutes, it all hardened like a stone.
Put radiator back, filled up coolant, bled off air for test. It seems fixed the leak after an hour of engine running. I don’t know how long it will last. The glue is amazing. At the parts store, the guy showed me how strong it can bond things together.
After all that, I started to think the Lotus design itself may worsen the issue. The whole cooling assembly is like a daisy chain. The radiator is responsible to hold the AC condenser and fan tray below it. Radiator then hanging on the top fiberglass tray structure. AC condenser and fan tray will put a lot of stresses on the radiator. Whenever the car is on the bumpy road or under aggressive driving, it is very harsh to the radiator. By searching this site, saw many radiator failures reported.
Thought to share my day with you and hope the fix will stay. If not, I may need to try some aluminum weld like how to weld aluminum welding aluminum weld
or buy a new radiator.