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89 SE problems starting/idling when heat-soaked - Engine/Ancilliaries - The Lotus Forums #ForTheOwners Jump to content

89 SE problems starting/idling when heat-soaked

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Here's a new problem I have with my Esprit SE and thought I'd see the group can help me troubleshoot.  It happened for the first time last night & I've had the car for quite some years now without any similar issue.

Started up just fine, drove about 30 minutes on the freeway and was waiting for someone to come out so I was idling in the driveway for maybe 5 minutes.  As soon as I touched the throttle the car sputtered and died & it would not start.  The ignition would fire, it would sputter a bit, and then die, over and over again.  I could get it to keep sputter-running by pumping the throttle but it would just not run on it's own.  When pumping the throttle the rpm's wouldn't really increase as you'd expect, but would give it another couple of seconds of the idle-sputter.   Left untouched the car would run about 1-2 seconds and die.   So, we took her car.

I came back from dinner and before I began to fumble around for my AAA card I thought I'd try to start the car again and it fired right up.  I immediately pressed my luck, drove it home and it seemed to run OK, but did have an increased sputter/lack of smoothness to the normal purr (which has always been a bit of a purr-sputter really, I've just assumed that's a Lotus engine).  The "check engine" light came on (and I don't have any tools to read the old ALDL style ECU).  I exited the freeway and it made it fine through stop signs just fine and into my garage without issue.
Over the years I've had a ton of work done and it's got perhaps 8K miles on a major rework, but the car has only been driven rarely in the last 3-4 years.  With the virus situation and being home more I have been freshening the car up to drive it more often.  Thoughts?

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  • Gold FFM

Could it be running rich and flooding at hot idle? That would explain being unable to restart once hot, but driving fine once moving.

26 is indeed a though one to work from... I'm sure someone will come along with some good pointers on things to check/try.

Good luck!


I have made many mistakes in my life. Buying a multiple Lotus is not one of them.


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Hi Jason,

I've had the pleasure of the dreaded code 26 myself and took a little finding at the time.

In reality though, it's not too bad once you understand it only relates to a few relays, two bulbs and the secondary injector circuit.

If we are to naturally assume your code 26 and the breakdown are related, it can only really be the fuel pump relay or it's associated wiring connections. If power is intermittently lost to the fuel pump (from the fuel pump relay) this will also interrupt power to the secondary injector circuit. A loss of power to the secondary injector circuit can generate a code 26.

Check all the terminal connections are good from the fuel pump fuse, through the fuel pump relay and then the connections on the relay which go to the fuel pump and secondary injector ballast resistor.

If they are all good, I'd suspect the relay.



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  • 2 months later...

Hi Jason

I have the same error code 26 about every two years and I have sorted the problem by cleaning all 3 Vacuum Solenoid Valves from engine bay relay box. One time I also re solder the Resistor Module.



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