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Radiator repair

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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.

Regards,
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i followed exactly your way of removing the radiator! no need to take the ac radiator hoses etc. off. you just unscrew those two bolts you mentioned. eventhough i didn't have ay problem with my 2004 elise i changed the radiator just in case... i suggest you do the same thing sinceu already found a leak... i don't know how much can this glue last....
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
i followed exactly your way of removing the radiator! no need to take the ac radiator hoses etc. off. you just unscrew those two bolts you mentioned. eventhough i didn't have ay problem with my 2004 elise i changed the radiator just in case... i suggest you do the same thing sinceu already found a leak... i don't know how much can this glue last....
Since I now know how to take it out and 'fixed' for now, I want to give it a try to see how it will last. It is strong than the radiator itself I believe. Don't mind to take it apart if need. Next time, I will do it much quick.

I told dealer coolant slow leak. They said it is normal and you just need to top it off. After the warranty is over, the problem became more visibl ;)

BTW, which one you bought, the oem again or the sector111 all alum?
 

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i got a pro-alloy one but not from sector. from UK directly!!! big difference in temp. the car under pressure is working 5degrees C below and under normal driving around 2-3 below. I even saw 84 degrees !!!! that has never happened before. one of the best mods so far
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Q-bond is not good to resist hot coolant. It leaked again. Glad it happened before I put back the clam.

I cleaned it up and used the epoxy (J-B weld) insted of. It seems promise. This time I boileed a test piece in the coolant for 2 hours to make sure before apply.

I also made adaptor to to connet a air compressor to the radiator and applied up to 20 psi air pressure for 24 hours. Initially, when I applied 15 psi, there was leaking between aluminum and plastic joint. I clmped it tight with pliers to fix it. I think that's enought as the coolant jar cap will open at 15 psi.
 

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you are spending too much time for nothing. it is almost impossible to bond this item, especially under heavy conditions. if you don't want to sent a lot of money just take the radiator out and replace the plastic ends with aluminum and weld it. it should not cost you more than 100 bucks tops.

however, i do hope you get it right this time and none of the above will be necessary:cool:
 

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I bought another radiator on LT for $150 shipped.. seems like you are doing too much work.. I have an old radiator I can send you.. Only 1900 miles on it.. Just pay for the shipping.. its bent but the tanks are not broken..
 

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Q-bond is not good to resist hot coolant. It leaked again. Glad it happened before I put back the clam.

I cleaned it up and used the epoxy (J-B weld) insted of. It seems promise. This time I boileed a test piece in the coolant for 2 hours to make sure before apply.

I also made adaptor to to connet a air compressor to the radiator and applied up to 20 psi air pressure for 24 hours. Initially, when I applied 15 psi, there was leaking between aluminum and plastic joint. I clmped it tight with pliers to fix it. I think that's enought as the coolant jar cap will open at 15 psi.
cool project, but

1. given that I drive all over eastern US, wouldn't personally try bonding as I don't want to get stranded waiting for radiator.

2. Could you fashion some sort of brace so that part doesn't move/vibrate such that the joint will loosen again, maybe using a HD hose clamp?

3. EZ way to apply pressure test: cut up a bike inner tube, clamp one end to inlet, other to outlet. Is this what you did?
 

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+1

i got a pro-alloy one but not from sector. from UK directly!!! big difference in temp. the car under pressure is working 5degrees C below and under normal driving around 2-3 below. I even saw 84 degrees !!!! that has never happened before. one of the best mods so far
that is what I did also.......here in Phoenix in heavy traffic temps would go as high as 220...........now with the new radiator and a better fan my temps hover in heavy traffic at 201-202 and during normal driving at 185.......great for peace of mind!:up:
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
thanks glb. to answer your questions:

1. it is my weekend car so that I am not too worry about it

2. no I did not try as there was no space in the structure. Notice radiators in other cars all have some room to move with some rubber padding

3. I cut 2 block old radiator hoses, one end to the radiator sealed by a cap and the other end with a cap weld an air pump pipe adeptor. Bike inner tube will not sustain for 20psi I think

add a pic for the adeptor. 2 caps bought from home depot
 

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thanks glb. to answer your questions:

1. it is my weekend car so that I am not too worry about it

2. no I did not try as there was no space in the structure. Notice radiators in other cars all have some room to move with some rubber padding

3. I cut 2 block old radiator hoses, one end to the radiator sealed by a cap and the other end with a cap weld an air pump pipe adeptor. Bike inner tube will not sustain for 20psi I think

add a pic for the adeptor. 2 caps bought from home depot

Yup about car mfgrs mounting radiators softly. I managed to do this w/my elan, but have never really looked at the elise radiator.

I've driven mine to FL 3 times and Indy last summer....I couldn't take the risk. I can't tell you how pissed I am about no spare tire, but nothing I can do.
 
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