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For those of you contemplating radiator replacement now is the time to make a list of all the things to do when clam is off. Louder horn, resistor pack inspection and drain hole, heater box /ac upgrading, any other "while you're there" suggestions?
What is the heater box / AC upgrade?
 

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What is the heater box / AC upgrade?
I’m on the road between doctors and it was the previous owner that did all of them there are multiple ones but my AC is so cold that even in 100° weather coming straight from air-conditioned garage I can’t have it on full blast and I close almost all the vents. If you Google AC modifications for Lotus Elise you’ll come up with all the threads that have been posted over the years
 

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Thanks for replying, I wouldn't classify that as catastrophic as it sounds like you had enough water to safely get the car off the road with no engine damage, if I understand the answer correctly. Do you know how much coolant was left in the car when you finally stopped? The car goes into limp mode when the coolant is not sufficiently cooling the engine, do you know if it got to that point?
If you're classifying "catastrophic" as having destroyed my motor, then no. But that was only the case because I was close to home and didn't allow that to happen. This was a catastrophic failure of the part (radiator) that happened without warning. It was not a slow leak or "mist" on the windshield. It spewed enough coolant to warrant use of the wipers and lost all pressure in the cooling system causing the temp to skyrocket rapidly. Had I not been as close to home as I was, it would have warranted a tow.

For anyone that is still running the original radiator in a car that is as much as 15 years old at this point and trying to justify in their own mind a reason not to replace due to the amount of work or cost involved, I'll share my way of thinking prior to buying the car. Prior to buying an Elise, I did my research regarding potential problems and repairs to look for in a used example. The radiator and resistor pack were pretty much numbers 1 and 2. I ended up buying a 2008, so the resistor pack wasn't an issue, but it still had the original radiator. I bought the car in the Fall, so I figured I would enjoy it through the Winter and take care of the radiator that next Spring. Obviously I had an incident with mine that changed that plan, but here are a few reasons why I was going to go ahead and replace it:

1. The Elise radiator lays on its back and is rigidly mounted in the car, as opposed to sitting upright on rubber mounting feet in a typical application. This, in combination with the rigid suspension of our cars, means it takes a LOT of abuse compared to a typical car/application. And don't forget that most of the Elise's on the road in the US are now 15 years old.
2. There is no option of a quick fix/roadside repair in the Elise. I've replaced radiators in other cars that could have literally been done on the side of the road with a replacement part and a few tools. That isn't the case with an Elise - not by a long shot. You're looking at an expensive tow at the very least.
3. Look at all of the clam-off items that are "must-do's" compared to "like-to's". There are really only three failures that require the clam to be removed - the radiator, resistor pack (for the early cars) and condenser. Take the clam off once, and you can do both the radiator and resistor pack at the same time. Both WILL fail, it's just a matter of when. Gain the piece of mind and confidence to do a little touring or drive to that track that's out of state with no worries. If the condenser still develops a leak, worst case is that your AC doesn't work for a while.

I completely understand not wanting to replace a part when it isn't broken. But taking into account what I listed above, it's well worth it in my opinion for the peace of mind. I prefer not to wait for the inevitable catastrophe, that in the end, will end up costing me more than if I had just gone ahead and done it.
 

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Like I said, my OEM radiator went on my 07 Exige S when it was two years old. The left side plastic developed a crack and the radiator leaked significantly and instantaneously.

i replaced the radiator on my current 05 Elise for piece of mind. As stated above, it’s 15 years old and there are known regular failures plus my own experience (to be honest, I had to replace the AC condenser so it was a no-brainer to replace the radiator)

Completely ignore the first video Posted on replacing the radiator. Those guys have no idea what they are doing. Taking the front clam off is not hard, just remember to keep track of the left and right shims to reassemble aligned. The radiator replacement just takes time as everything is a tight fit. Getting the air out of the cooling circuit is very important when refilling.

The resistor pack “upgrade“ is due to electronic controls being located in the bottom of the blower motor where they are exposed to condensation water. The upgrade relocates the circuit to the top of the blower motor. Mine still functioned when I replaced it, but it had seen better days and I’m surprised it still worked. Pulling the blower motor requires you to open the AC hard lines, which means new o rings and the ability to recharge the AC system. If your not mechanically inclined I would not suggest this is a “casual mechanic” type of job. Getting the blower out is very tricky.
 
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+1 2005 elise, many miles, still running stock radiator with no issues. I wouldn't replace unless it was leaking given the labor involved. If I was doing this on a car that hasn't had a lot of work done I'd do several things at once to make it easier - resistor pack (I re-routed mine to the top of the radiator just under the center spine of the clam), radiator fans, horn, really thorough oil change, coolant flush, check for a/c leaks, clean everything, drain holes (do these regardless as you can do from the underside).
For those of you contemplating radiator replacement now is the time to make a list of all the things to do when clam is off. Louder horn, resistor pack inspection and drain hole, heater box /ac upgrading, any other "while you're there" suggestions?
 

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2005 elise touring ardent red
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Years ago I was filling up gasoline and noticed a leak of antifreeze under the car. I hurried up and drove home FAST since the car is air cooled and the temp gauge rose quickly at low speeds. I made it to my garage where all the antifreeze dropped. Had the dealer pick it up and fix it.
 

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I hope this isn't seen as a thread hijack but I see it relevant to the discussion. Question: How many still running the OEM radiator have flushed/refilled coolant using the Airlift tool?
 

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I hope this isn't seen as a thread hijack but I see it relevant to the discussion. Question: How many still running the OEM radiator have flushed/refilled coolant using the Airlift tool?
I use an airlift Are you suspecting that pulling a vacuum damages the radiator?
 

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2006 Lotus Elise BRG
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I used an Airlift about 6,000 miles ago. Other than a little squirt of coolant after winter storage this year it's been fine.
 

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Not sure. However, if many still running OEM radiators have used an Airlift for coolant change then it could be ruled out.
You might want to run over to the original radiator thread and ask.

 

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How do I tell if my radiator is OEM? What parts on the front of the car need to be removed to allow complete visualization? Can anyone offer a ballpark figure for the cost of radiator replacement, parts and labor?
Thanks,
 

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2005 Elise LSS Saffron Yellow
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How do I tell if my radiator is OEM? What parts on the front of the car need to be removed to allow complete visualization? Can anyone offer a ballpark figure for the cost of radiator replacement, parts and labor?
Easy to tell. Look in the radiator exhaust grill on top of the front clam on the passenger side. That thing that looks like a radiator is the radiator. If you look outboard of the fins you'll see the end tank and part of a hose fitting. If the radiator has been replaced, the end tanks are welded aluminum and are welded to the core. If not, they're plastic and will eventually start leaking at the joint between the core (fins) and the tanks.

It's a clam off job to replace, but easy after that, so figure something like 6 hours of labor plus the cost of a radiator.
 
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