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1984 Turbo Esprit overheating after 48 hours of ownership! Seriously worried!


GreenGoddess
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Hi Guys,

It's only 48 hours since I took delivery of my Esprit. On the first day I drove it for about 45 minutes and I enjoyed the turbo boost performance quite a few times on that 45 minute trip (taking the engine up to approx 5500-6000rpm a few times.

Yesterday I discovered that it had an engine rebuild in February this year and it has only covered 300 miles since the rebuild. (I was initially told that the rebuild was back in 2018.) 

I spent last night worrying that my slightly enthusiastic first drive may have damaged the engine (the first 1500 miles after the rebuild are supposed to be driven slowly, not going over 3000rpm for the first 500 miles).

This evening I took the car out again for another 45 minute drive but this time I drove it very slowly and carefully, never going anywhere near 3000rpm.

Unfortunately, after about 30 minutes I looked at the temperature gauge and it was showing about 120 degrees!!! 

Naturally I panicked, pulled over immediately, and switched off the engine. I could see no coolant or other fluids leaking. The engine oil looked good and there was no steam coming from any pipes that I could see.

I let the car cool down for half an hour until the temp was below 90 degrees and then nursed it home for the final 2 miles.

Upon getting home, I removed the cap from the coolant header tank and I could see that it was full of nice new looking coolant. I suppose that rules out any leaks?

Anyway, I am seriously worried now. I am terrified the engine is toast.

What are the things I need to check to try and find out what has caused the overheating?

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Did the temps only get to the mark between the 90 and the 140? or much higher than that?

Mine will go up to that mark - or just below that before the fans come on - and then will do the needle dance between the 90 and the mark. Only in traffic though.

Check the coolant once cold - where is it? Does your car have the expansion tankm or does it drain out of the header?

To check that the fans are coming on, start the engine on the drive and let it tickover, Keep an eye on the temperature, and the fans should come in somewhere around the tick mark on the gauge.

After my rebuild I was limited to 3000 rpm (so very little turbo at all) for 1500 miles and then a 500rpm increase for every further 500 miles. I just created a 50 mile round route and drove it 2-3 times a week.

What oil are you using?

 

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Thank you. The needle on the temp gauge was about 2 or 3mm above the mark after 90 degrees and the engine bay did feel hot. 
 

When cold, the coolant level is about 2/3 down from the top of the black metal cylindrical header tank. 
 

I have no idea what oil is in the car but it is new. As I said, I have only had the car for 48 hours or so and this is my first Lotus. 
 

Thanks for the advice about the fans, I will check those tomorrow. 

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Did the temp exceed 90c while you had been on the move or after a period of slow moving or being stationary?

It's a while since I had a Turbo Esprit but I don't recall temp ever exceeding 90c while being constantly on the move (apart from when I had a hose go and lost all the coolant!).

 

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But remember one thing: don't lose your head to a woman that'll spend your bread: Lotus Turbo Esprit (89-11); Lotus Esprit GT3 (12-14): Lotus Evora S (14-17); Lotus Esprit V8 SE "UK Last 15" (18-...) Lotus Emira FE I4 (2024...)

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2 minutes ago, Jack Stone said:

Did the temp exceed 90c while you had been on the move or after a period of slow moving or being stationary?

It's a while since I had a Turbo Esprit but I don't recall temp ever exceeding 90c while being constantly on the move (apart from when I had a hose go and lost all the coolant!).

 

I drove at 40-50mph for 20 minutes, then stopped and let the engine idle for 6 or 7 minutes, then drove for about a mile and a half at 30mph. That’s when I noticed the high temperature reading. It was probably halfway between the 140 degree mark and the next mark down.

2 minutes ago, ChrisJ said:

The mark between the 90 & 140

Ah, ok. Thank you. I will do a test tomorrow. 

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As mentioned, check fans are cutting in (by time it's at the first mark after 90c).

Also check when rad was last checked/refurbished etc.

 

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But remember one thing: don't lose your head to a woman that'll spend your bread: Lotus Turbo Esprit (89-11); Lotus Esprit GT3 (12-14): Lotus Evora S (14-17); Lotus Esprit V8 SE "UK Last 15" (18-...) Lotus Emira FE I4 (2024...)

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3 minutes ago, Jack Stone said:

As mentioned, check fans are cutting in (by time it's at the first mark after 90c).

Also check when rad was last checked/refurbished etc.

 

Thank you. I will check all this. I am hoping whatever is causing it is a coolant system problem. I will be absolutely gutted if the engine or head gasket is toast. 

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14 minutes ago, Bazza 907 said:

My fans don't cut in for quite a while and only when the needle is quite a way past 90.

I suspect you're overly concerned because it's a new to you car and that it will be fine. As others have said the fans should kick in by the time it gets half way between the 90 and 140 marks. They should bring the temp back down to 90.

I really REALLY hope so. I’m scared half to death 🥹

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  • Gold FFM

Just Google low oil pressure gauges on S4s models and you’ll find many folks panicking like mad also. 
chill - it all sounds just fine and dandy - worth checking them rad fans are working and the rad pack is bled of air.

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Only here once

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  • Gold FFM

The other thing you might find is the "Fan Fail" light coming on. If it does, pull over, open the front bonnet and press the reset button on the passenger side (or at least it is on mine -I assume this is standard).

This was a panic with my "new car syndrome".

My temperature in hot weather has gone above 90 and it is still going like a train. No damage done.

As Barry says, another concern is the oil pressure gauge going to nearly zero at idle. This is normal.

All sounds fine in my experience.

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Like the others I'd say no cause to suspect the engine gone bad at this point. Do however get on top of the cooling concerns as a turbo'd engine is less tolerant of overheating when under sustained load. Fans, gauge, sender and rad itself should be verified as in good working order.

Cheers

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10 hours ago, Barrykearley said:

I used to check fluids before every drive in my first one

I still do check my Esprit every time - oil & water - picked up a pin-hole water leak that was losing 1ltr for every 10 miles. Don;t check the Excel though. 

9 hours ago, Kevin Wheeler said:

If it does, pull over, open the front bonnet and press the reset button on the passenger side (or at least it is on mine -I assume this is standard).

No reset button for me.

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Thanks again guys. I am going to check everything after work today. Do you happen to know where the temperature sensor is on the car? I am assuming if I aim an infrared thermometer at the area where the temperature sensor is then it should give a much more accurate reading of the actual engine temp. [EDIT: just found another thread which says the sensor is in the large curved pipe at the front top of the engine]

Edited by GreenGoddess
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28 minutes ago, GreenGoddess said:

Do you happen to know where the temperature sensor is on the car?

Forum search for "temperature sender" :thumbup:

Cheers,

John W

http://jonwatkins.co.uk

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2 minutes ago, jonwat said:

Thanks, but I think it is in a different location on my car. From what I have found on this forum, it should be in the large silver coloured curved pipe at the front top of the engine.

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That’s where the temp sensor sits in an 83. Probably same in yours. The otter (fan) trigger switch is behind the coolant radiator, below, front right hand side

4829A9FF-E5A0-43A4-958F-CE5BD15BBEE7.jpeg

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