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  1. Here are more pictures: You can see the rest in my Picasaweb photo album:
  2. While Viking Motorsports is working on my car, I ask them to do more additional work and find me some missing parts on the car. Thanks to all your suggestions, the list got longer and longer. I just got the additional quote from Harry, and here it is. 1, Tensioner bearing $100.00 no labor 2, Needs the clutch line, $170.00 plus $115 labor. 3, Hub caps $200.00 a pair no labor. 4, Rear Valance $175.00 plus $57.50 labor. 5, Wiper blade $30.00 no labor 6, A/C recharge $150.00 no labor 7, All four dampers adjust $115.00 labor (No. 8 was adjusted the door swing out for $230 labor, but I cancelled it). 9, Brake switch adjust. No labor 10, Turn signal bulbs. $30.00 plus $115.00 labor. 11, Gearbox and Clutch inspection. $369 labor. 12, Rear hatch struts. $126. New additional work: $1752.50 With the original $7000, it is well past $8700+ Wait. Harry just told me that I need 1. New clutch and pressure plate: $631.15 2. New fuel filter: $10 3. Don’t need new clutch line (already has stainless steel line and new clutch hose): -$285. New total: around: $9100+ (Wow! I can almost buy another Esprit with the money). I guess the Esprit Fact File is right, you got to be infected with the “Lotus virus” in order to own and keep the car. Time to file request to increase the loan amount paper work. Why should they approve it? It is because the Esprit S4 will worth a million bucks (at least that’s how I feel) when it is done. Howiiieee
  3. Once again I appreciate all the replies. Here are some pictures I get from Viking working on my car so far. I hope to have more later. Of course, the best pictures on the Esprit Engine rebuild is from Travis: (awesome details) Howiiieee
  4. As most of you already know, my 1995 Esprit S4 timing belt broke and I was stranded on the road on Sunday July 25, 2010. There was a strong peer pressure from the Esprit community wanted me to have it fixed right, not fixed cheap. Therefore, I towed the car to the Lotus specialist that everyone recommended in Southern California, Viking Motorsports, to get it fixed. The shop owner Harry inspected my car and told me the bad news – all sixteen valves were bent. Usually only a couple are bent when the belt breaks. Harry thinks only one or two teeth were gone initially so the engine was still running and car was still moving, but off sync. Finally all the valves were bent, the engine seized up, and the timing belt won’t turn anymore. Well, too bad I found out afterwards. My assumption on the 100K rated belt was “dead wrong”. The bad omen of license plate ending with “444” (which rhyme with Chinese “dead dead dead”) did haunt me. After all, it is a 16 years old car and many things on the car do need service on top of the belt and valves. Here is the list Harry told me is needed to be done on the car: 1. Removed the engine from the car for easier access. 2. 16 valves and some new valve guides. 3. Machine work to repair the cylinder head. 4. Top engine gasket set. 5. JAE blue timing belt. 6. All the auxiliary belts. 7. Water pump. 8. Thermostat. 9. Cam towers bolt. 10. Replace all the engine coolant hoses with new silicone hoses. 11. New coolant. 12. New water wetter. 13. New engine oil (synthetic) and filter. 14. New transmission oil (MT90). 15. Other parts if needed. The current estimated total, around US$7000 (and may go up more). Time needed for the repair, 2 weeks. I was hoping to just skip one mortgage payment to pay for it. Now it is more like 3 mortgage payments. Foreclosure time!!! Even though my wife and I can sleep inside the Esprit, where am I going to put my daughter in a two seater? There is a saying that you don’t really own a Lotus until you pay for the first repair bill. I guess I need to be initiated into a “real ownership” now. I need to get a loan or split the payment into 2 or 3 credit cards. Wait a minute, the $500+ I just spent on the subwoofers and Amp is still on one of the cards. Anyone want to buy an Esprit S4 so I can pay for the repair? I try to rationalize it this way – There are about $3000 worth of work I should have done anyway after I bought the car (new belts, water bump, hoses, C service), so this is just a $4000 lesson (how did the 4 gets in here again). Since I wanted a 4 cylinder model and S4 is the best, I guess I will have to live with some 4s (but the license plate has to be changed). Any comments on what’s been done and what else needed to be done? May be I can make it a $5000 lesson instead (lots of TO and too tire to drive the car afterwards). Howiiieee 95 Lotus Esprit S4 Southern California (PS: I’ve asked Harry to take some pictures on the damages and the repairs, maybe I can post them afterwards for all to see.)
  5. Once again I appreciate all your inputs and suggestions. I have re- towed the car to Viking Motorsports in Costa Mesa, Ca. It cost me another $200 just to get it there, but you folks are right. If I want to keep this fabulous car running for a while, then it has to be done right. I have undusted my "high limit" credit card and hope for the best. Harry will tell me what needs to be done and I will get the car to a clean bill of health again. If I learn my lessons here and keep up the maintenance from now on, I hope the car will keep running for years to come. It is interesting that you all voted Viking, none for Claudius or the dealers. By the way, Harry told me he will use the much stronger JAS blue timing belt and change all other belts, too. There will be a list of other things that will need to be done. I will start a new topic after I get the list to share the experience with you folks. Here is an interesting thing that I want to share with you folks. One of the things I was a bit concerned when I bought the car was not the timing belt, or any other mechanical thing. It was the license plate number. It ended with the numbers "444". Chinese and Asians in general do not like the number 4 as it rhyme with the word "dead" in Chinese and many other Asian languages. The Japanese even invented a new pronunciation for the number just to avoid it. The first thing I did after I bought the car was to order a personalize license plate (no number 4 on it at all) for it. However, the new plate has not arrived yet and the car is "dead". I hope my new license plate will be here soon so I can replace the bad omen plate before I drive it home. Thanks again and hope to drive my red Lotus Esprit S4 again soon. Howiiieee
  6. Thanks again for all the quick response. I don't think the timing belt is 16 years old. Previous owners have done a lot of works on it, like blow of valve, new wheels and suspensions, new exhaust systems, and others which I don't know. The problem is I do not have much documents on it and don't know when they were done. The engine bay was clean and the hoses looked fairly new. The car was last inspected by a Lotus specialist - Claudius, in Cerritos, California, in March 10, 2010, just 4 months ago. A speed sensor was replaced to correct a Check Engine light and the ECM was reprogrammed to S4S spec. I was not the owner at that time, but I assume they have checked the timing belt while replacing the speed sensor and check the new ECM settings. I really did not expect a timing belt problem so quickly. The car ran fine with me for a month, then this happened. More questions: 1. How long does a timing belt last in an Esprit? I checked the forum on how much you spent to keep your Esprit running, and few has listed the timing belt on their list. 2. Is there another possibility that another component failed and forced the timing belt to fail prematurely? 3. For those who have serviced their Esprits in Southern California, which shop is better - Lotus prepared by Claudias, Viking Motor sports, or another shop? 4. What was the quote on the timing belt job if you had one? 5. Is the Maxima belt just as good as the "Lotus brand" from the dealer? The current shop where my car is has not given me a quote yet (he is still researching). I want to be ready to make a decision when the quote comes. I love the car, but I do have a family to feed and a mortgage to pay. Howiiieee
  7. Hi folks: I truly appreciate all your reading, replies, and suggestions. I just came back from the repair shop. The problem was obvious, the timing belt was not turning. I could not see it while cranking, but when mechanics pointed to me, there is no doubt why the car won't start. They even found a couple teeth of the belt. The car has 47000 miles on it; so much for the Lotus claim of 100K timing belt for California on the 95 and newer models (one of the big reason for picking this car). Now my questions are: 1. Why the belt failed? Age? loose tension? Engine froze up? Others? 2. How do I know if I need the engine valve job or not? 3. What other things should I ask the mechanics to check while repairing the car? 4. Should I keep it with the European car shop? or tow it to a Lotus specialist 50 miles away? Even though the car is difficult to drive (high clutch and gas pedal, hard to tell 1st or 3rd gear from a stop, lots of driver attention and input), rough (you feel every inch of the imperfect road), and loud (engine and road noise overpowering at any speed), I still love the car and want to step in and step out of the car as often as I can. all your help to put it back on the road and keep it running will be greatly appreciated. Howiiieee 95 S4 Southern California
  8. I have enjoyed my “new” 1995 Lotus Esprit S4 for one month now. It was almost trouble free and I really enjoyed it almost daily, until today. I drove the car to go play tennis in the morning. Everything was good. After tennis, the car started right up and I am driving to have lunch. A short flash of “check engine” yellow light came up for two seconds, then went away while I was slowing down on the freeway. After I exit the freeway and stopped at the traffic light, I have noticed the check engine light came up again and the oil pressure is dropping from 6 towards 0. I made a right turn and the oil pressure dropped to 0 and the engine shuts off. Both engine and coolant temperature stayed at 80 degrees, no smoke, no spill, no burned smell. I coasted downhill about 50 meters to get out of the traffic and passerby helped me push the car into a gas station (no mechanics anymore). I tried to start the car again, but it won’t. Only sound like a spinning fan when cranking. I visually inspected the car and see not fault. I waited for 30 minutes for everything to cool down then tried again, same thing. I am stranded for the first time with the Lotus. I call a flatbed tow truck and got it to the local auto repair shop’s parking lot. It is Sunday and all were closed. The tow truck driver told me to check the engine oil level. It was a bit low, just under the low line. I just have the oil change when I got the car one month ago and only 1000 miles into it and I was surprised that it is low so quickly. The oil do still look very clean. I bought a can of Synthetic 5W-30 and put it in. The oil level is full again. I tried to start the car, same thing. The oil pressure stayed in the red. I left the car there, called my wife to pick me up. I’ll check on it tomorrow morning with the shop mechanics. They fix BMW, Benz, Jaguar, Land Rover and other European cars. Questions: 1. What could be the cause for the oil pressure to drop quickly from 6 to 0 in 10 second, when there is no visible leak or spill? 2. I think the check engine light came on due to the engine oil level falling just below the low line, will the slightly lack of engine oil cause such a quickly drop of the oil pressure? Will filling it back up help the situation? 3. Is it normal for the engine oil be used up so quickly? I see no sight of leak in my garage where I parked the car, nor any oily smell. Well rev it up to 6000 RPM occasionally use up engine oil? 4. The truck driver said the new computer shuts off the engine when the oil pressure drop to the redline to protect the engine, is this true? How to program it to start again? 5. The engine started beautifully every time, until this happed. Will the starter be damaged and won’t start the car? 6. I just installed new Amps for bass, 2 of them. I was blasting them when this happened. Will the amps draw too much power and the alternator not able to keep up and drain the battery, so it won’t start the car? I am not too sure if the local European car repair shops are familiar with the Lotus. I really appreciate your opinions so I am somewhat prepared when I talk to them and not totally be taken advantage of. It will speed up the diagnostics as well. Thanks and look forward to your replies. Howiiieee Rialto, Southern California 95 Lotus Esprit S4
  9. Man. This is a very exclusive club. People can just look at the picture and know where the car has been hung out. Yes. I bought this car from an owner in Buena Park. I live in Rialto, near San Bernardino. I am actually flying to Asia for business and visit the World Expo in Shanghai next week. Once I returned in late June and get my body clock readjusted, I will drive the Esprit S4 to the Cafe on a Saturday morning to meet other owners. Do you have an e-mail list for this group in OC? Here is another picture of the car.
  10. Thanks for the replies. They are very valuable. I hope more people will share their "First impression" soon. Let me try to up load a couple pictures. Howiiieee Southern California
  11. Hi folks: This is my first post. I just bought a 1995 Esprit S4 with 46000 miles on it. It was a salvaged title but I think the previous owner did a very good job restoring it and then drove it for 2 years. He needs to unload many of his "toys" so I was very happy to get it off his hand. I have dreamed of owning a Lotus Esprit ever since grade school when I saw James Bond driving it. Now my dream is finally fulfilled. I don't have the car in my garage yet. The previous owner needs to get it smog checked before the transfer of title can take place so I paid, but left it with him for now. I did drive in it for a couple hours. This is the first time I drove a Lotus and my other car is a 2006 BMW 525i w/ sports package. Here is my initial impression on the car. I looked for a S4 because I want power steering, easier shifting, ABS brakes, more modern interior, and most importantly, the most reliability I can possibly get. So far so good and everything seem to be working in my car so far. It is much smaller than I thought; however, once I got in the car, everything is OK again. I actually have much more trouble getting out of the car as I have to move the seat all the way back to free my legs. The foot well is tight, but I can find a position to fit my feet fairly well inside and drive fairly comfortably. I biggest problem was actually the gear shifting. After driving automatics for 20 years after my "stick" college car, I almost forgot how to drive a stick again. I could not find a stick rental anywhere, so I have to refresh my muscle memories in this "exotics". I stalled 3 times on the road. One time I actually shifted into first after a red light and forgot to press the clutch, that stalled the car for sure. I hope I did not put any bad damage on the transmission yet. I got progressively better over the 2 hours. It is not where I want to be yet, but I can "drive" the car up and down the road, do 3 points U turn, and get on the freeway cruising for now. I hope I won’t get stuck in stop and go traffic in this baby anytime soon. Did anyone else "learned" how to drive a stick in a Lotus? The power steering makes the car easy to drive in any speed. The handling is precise. The ride is stiff, but not uncomfortable. Since I do not plan to drive it in a track meet, is there a way to make the ride a bit softer for everyday use? Compare to my Bimmer 5, the Esprit is loud, and everything in the car seems to be rattling and noisy in any speed. I tried to compensate by turning up the Radio / CD, but the stereo setup in it is pretty weak, too. Is this the way of life for a Lotus driver? What's your experience? Any tips to make it better? Of course the Esprit is a performance car. Until I get the total control of the manual transmission, I won't do anything too fast. Maybe in later posts I can share some "real driving experiences". I thank you all in advance and look forward to share my experiences with all of you for hopefully many years to come.
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