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Wierd noise from either front or shifter - Gearchange/Gearbox/Clutch - The Lotus Forums - Official Lotus Community Partner Jump to content


Wierd noise from either front or shifter


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Hi guys,

Maybe one of you guys can shed some light on the following :

Have a 1990 SE which has only done 35K miles.It has just had a full C service by the official Lotus dealer over here in The Netherlands so i will have to assume that they know what they are doing ;-)

Anyway,i have this wierd sort of noise which is coming from the front of the car when going at lower speeds.It is in all gears and sounds like a cross between a grinding and a whining noise.It gets worse if i touch the shifter when the car is in gear.It also seems to be dependant on the engine revs as far as how noticeable it is.

The noise is NOT coming from the enigine as far as i can tell and that also runs fine.I have just doen 200 miles in the car this morning at speeds well over 100 mph so engien wise there seems to be nothing wrong.

Car als changes gear fine without any problems so that is not it either.

Any ideas ?

i like a car to be perfectly running and any kind of noise irritates me if i think it is not supposed to be there ;-)

By the way,i am a first time owner of one of these so forgive me if the question is stupid ;-)



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The shifter may be a red herring if the noise is coming from the front of the car as that is just cables heading backwards as far as connections go.

Is the noise speed or rev dependant and do you think that perhaps the noise is still there at higher speeds, just being drowned out by road noise?

If it's a wheel bearing on one of the front wheels, I'd not drive it too quickly in case it heats up too much and seizes, that wouldn't be a fun experience. Jack the front of the car up and check the wheels by rotating them and listening for noise and also see if there is any lateral movement in the wheel on the hub.

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I'd agree with Bibs. The gear linkage runs up the chassis, which is a hollow fairly resonant box section. If a vibration in the box causes the cables to resonate, it can easily sound like it's coming from the front, so don't rule out a problem at the rear. By putting your hand on the stick, you'd be dampening the resonations and/or changing the resonant frequency. On the other hand, if it's a wheel bearing problem, it could also be setting up a resonance in the cable.

It's probably the wheel bearings, but you should be sure before getting the spanners out. The easy way to test this is to try driving at a speed that produces the clearest noise, then change gear, but keep the speed the same. If the pitch of the noise stays the same, it's probably the wheel bearings. If the pitch changes, then it's gearbox related. You could also try just depressing the clutch and coasting. Does removing the load off the gearbox cause the noise to change/disappear? If so, then your box probably needs attention. If you still get the noise with the clutch depressed, try raising the revs (still with the clutch pressed). Does the sound change now? If so, then it could be some problem with the engine that just happens to sound like it's coming from the front.

As Bibs says, try rotating your wheels while jacked up. They should be smooth. Also try pushing/pulling them. If they move at all (relative to the suspension), then you need new bearings and you aught to keep your speed right down. Once the bearings have gone, they develop a lot of heat and can easily cause the wheel to seize, and you risk warping your hubs too (which can lead to all sorts of other problems).

More speed, less haste

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Update on this problem :

The noise seems to be getting worse so have planned a trip up to A'dam to the Lotus dealer to let them have a look at it and maybe find out what the cause is.I still have warranty on the car (ah the bliss of getting 3 months full warranty off the Lotus importer ,GRIN GRIN :-) )

After some exploration and experimentation i am fairly sure the noise is coming from the gearbox or tranmission.When i lift off the throttle the noise is a lot more noticeable and the pitch of the noise varies with gear changes so fairly sure that the problem is at the back end of the car.Secondly if you touch the shifter during driving the noise also gets a lot more noticeable.

If anyone has any wise commenst feel free to PM me of drop a reply in the forum.

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Ok,this looks like a nasty problem.

After consulattion with an "expert " the noise is definitely gearbox related.It is one of three things ,either the actual gearbox bearings are worn (seems a bit early at only 35,000 miles).It could be worn slelectors in the box or lastly it could be the actual shifting mechanism which is worn.

If it is the last then it is an easy fix with the upgrade kit on this site.If it is either of the first 2 then it is big bucks since it will mean getting the gearbox refurbished and redone with new bearings :-( :-(

Oh well,the joys of owning these sorts of cars.Thank god this year has been good business wise :-) ;-)

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