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S4s Test Drive questions


Kjakk

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I have been checking out a 1995 S4s near where I live and I am seriously considering buying it. I took it for a test drive today and had some questions / concerns maybe someone could help me with. First off, the car drives excellent and the turbo boost is awesome! Very fun car. I drove it for about 20-30 minutes and after we parked it I noticed the gas light was on but the gauge read a little under a half tank. The temperature gauge was towards the high end also. I turned on the heater and the air blowing out did not seem hot. There are service records that go back for about 5 years only and it looks like some work had been done on the heater vacuum or something not too long ago. I read somewhere that heater problems could be a sign of something more serious. I have always wanted an Esprit and this one is very cool, but if I spend my money on a problem car, my wife will kill me. Any ideas?

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on my significantly older car I never trust the gas guage. I use the trip odometer. Is that the concensus?

My temp. guage is off significantly, it reads between 90-100 when in reality when measured with an infrared heat gun it is around 70-80 most of the time.

My heater doesn't work but as I like to brag I live in California, so I haven't ever bothered with figuring out what it will take to fix it, I'm pretty sure my car has a few broken cables or else I would have more problems, someone else can detail you on that.

So all i can really tell you is don't trust the guages :rolleyes:

Edited by slade

"It's called a fire hydrant. Firemen like to stick their hose in it, and eventually squirt water from it."

Owner of 86 TE HCI, and 55 Chevy. Stare at broken down TR7

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Yeah the guages are interesting to say the least. My fuel guage tends to dance for me hovering between half and empty, then the light comes on and then settles down at a quarter for a bit before going up to a half! Very random!

The heater controls work in conjunction with a vacuum pump. If its not selecting which vent to blow the air out of, then its probably the vacuum pipe behind the dash has come off (I am fixing this on my SE at the moment). By the way I think hot only blows out of the screen defrost vent. I might not be correct here though!?!?!?!

You will find plenty of quirks with any esprit that you buy/drive. That said dont buy one which doesnt feel right to you

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Fuel Gauge not reading right........... Mines fine

Temp gauge reading far right.......... Mines fine

No hot air...................................... Mines fine

Walk away ! ! !

The hot air thing could be simply an air lock in the heating system or it could be something much worse.

Hot air does come out of other vents not only the defrost windscreen vents.

If the temp gauge was reading low then I'd say it's probably the sender as these seem to go, there's a few of us on here that's happened to. But as it's reading high then there could be a more serious problem.

The fuel gauge should read about right, Paul C on this forum uses his fuel gauge as a accelerometer, the harder he pushes the car the more the low fuel light comes on, I've tried that and can only get it to come on when there's actually little fuel in the tanks.

Is there someone who can look at the car in more detail with you and see if you can find out what's causing the faults.

alternatively run the car with freescan plugged in, that'll tell you if there's any fault code reported and will tell you the water temp as well.

Sorry to put a downer on the car but please be careful, a bad one can cost a fortune to put right.

Edited by lrg_machine

Jez

Mean Green S4s

I think therefore I am - Descartes

I'm pink therefore I'm spam - Eric Idle

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I am not familiar with Freescan. How does this work?

I did talk with the mechanic that has worked on the car for the last 3 or 4 years. The C service was done there at 28000 miles. (It is at 31000 now) I asked him if they would do an inspection on the car and he said that the car was fine. I got the impression that he would think it was a waste of time and money if I wanted him to inspect the car. So if I cant trust his opinion then I will need to do a little work to find someone else with Lotus experience in the area. Lotus US is near Atlanta I think and that is only about 3.5 hours away but I dont know if they can offer anything as far as checking out the car prior to buying it.

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They all have quirks, but get it inspected to be certain. You may want to try the Yahoo Turbo Esprit list (which sucks to use), but there aren't that many S4s' in the US, and this list has a few members in that area who may know the car.

Paddle Faster, I hear Banjos!
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Paying the money and enduring the extra hassle to get an experienced Esprit owner / mechanic to check it out will pay itself back tenfold should it turn out to be a bad example.

"When I was a kid I used to pray every night for a new bicycle. Then I realised that the Lord doesn't work that way so I stole one and asked him to forgive me."

------------------------------

ribbon200.gifG-Car Owner and Proud! ribbon200.gif

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If both the fuel gauge and the temperature gauge read high, it may be the 12v voltage regulator causing it. These gauges have a stabilised 12v supply and sometimes the earth connection to the voltage regulator becomes intermittent, which gives erratic high readings. One day I'll REALLY try to find it, wherever it lurks, and fix the thing! Until then, I'll just ignore it - as long as there are no other symptoms......

Scientists investigate that which already is; Engineers create that which has never been." - Albert Einstein

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My temp. guage is off significantly, it reads between 90-100 when in reality when measured with an infrared heat gun it is around 70-80 most of the time.

So all i can really tell you is don't trust the guages :o

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Most people aren't aware that there is a calibration screw on the back of the Smith's temp gauge. It should be covered by a piece of tape or adhesive. It's not uncommon for the gauges to be 8C off. Peel off the tape and use a small screwdriver to dial in the gauge. Assuming the data logging is accurate, my car runs at 82C while the gauge reads 90C.

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If the temp gauge was reading low then I'd say it's probably the sender as these seem to go, there's a few of us on here that's happened to. But as it's reading high then there could be a more serious problem.

The fuel gauge should read about right, Paul C on this forum uses his fuel gauge as a accelerometer, the harder he  pushes the car the more the low fuel light comes on,

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Maybe the later fuel gauges are more accurate, but the early ones were very non linear. It takes quite a while to reach 1/2 tank, but from there onward the gauge drops lock a rock. It's not uncommon for the low fuel warning light to come on around 1/4 tank or slightly below. While the needles don't bounce like in an old aircooled VW the gauge doesn't appear to have much dampening either. Acceleration or braking can cause the low fuel light to come on once below half a tank.

I'm not sure what others' concerns are about the heater, but you have two issues to investigate.

1. Is the heater core getting hot water? There could be a problem with the heater valve or its control (assuming the engine temp is OK).

2. Is air flowing out of all openings as expected? This is a function of the vacuum operated flaps. The vacuum lines can come off from time to time, especially if someone had some need to work under the dash. The easiest way to check this is have someone apply vacuum with a Mityvac on a vacuum line near the pump. If the system holds vacuum the connections are intact. Otherwise, and it's time to trace down a vacuum leak.

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If both the fuel gauge and the temperature gauge read high, it may be the 12v voltage regulator causing it. These gauges have a stabilised 12v supply and sometimes the earth connection to the voltage regulator becomes intermittent, which gives erratic high readings. One day I'll REALLY try to find it, wherever it lurks, and fix the thing! Until then, I'll just ignore it - as long as there are no other symptoms......

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

The voltage stabilizer is located inside of the instrument binnacle. Faulty or poor grounding of the unit is a common problem. It's probably easiest to remove the binnacle to deal with it.

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Chuck, Check out the Lotus Esprit Fact File.

It says if the heater does not work. walk away.  I suspect this is more important than the gauges.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Unfortunately the Fact File fails to articulate why. Removing the heater/AC assembly, if n the event that the heater core leaks is very laborius and therefore expensive. But the heater control valve can be accessed by removing the fiberglass cover screwed to the front firewall. Before he walks away, I think he needs more information regarding the cause of the problem.

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Unfortunately the Fact File fails to articulate why.  Removing the heater/AC assembly, if n the event that the heater core leaks is very laborius and therefore expensive.  But the heater control valve can be accessed by removing the fiberglass cover screwed to the front firewall.  Before he walks away, I think he needs more information regarding the cause of the problem.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Absolutley. I was hoping someone here could elaborate.

S4 Elan, Elan +2S, Federal-spec, World Championship Edition S2 Esprit #42, S1 Elise, Excel SE

 

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Thanks for all the advice, although I do have a hard time walking away from this particular car. It is the ideal year and model, and the mileage is fairly low. There are not many S4s cars in the US and none for sale in my price range. There are also very few 1993-1995 model cars for sale in the US so I do not have many options and no other S4s options. For me to even check out the other cars available at this time I will need to drive about 6-8 hours to where they are. I know that it would be a mistake to buy a problem car, period, but I would really like to try and determine if the car is in bad shape or not before I just walk away. Is there a way to check the head gasket condition? Would the C service have identified any problems with the engine in that area?

I plan on visiting the local mechanic who last worked on it and see if he can give me better information in person than over the phone.

I also signed up on the Yahoo Lotus board to see if I can find someone who will come here to inspect the car for me.

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Thanks for all the advice, although I do have a hard time walking away from this particular car. It is the ideal year and model, and the mileage is fairly low. There are not many S4s cars in the US and none for sale in my price range. There are also very few 1993-1995 model cars for sale in the US so I do not have many options and no other S4s options. For me to even check out the other cars available at this time I will need to drive about 6-8 hours to where they are. I know that it would be a mistake to buy a problem car, period, but I would really like to try and determine if the car is in bad shape or not before I just walk away. Is there a way to check the head gasket condition? Would the C service have identified any problems with the engine in that area?

I plan on visiting the local mechanic who last worked on it and see if he can give me better information in person than over the phone.

I also signed up on the Yahoo Lotus board to see if I can find someone who will come here to inspect the car for me.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

Lots of bubbles in the header tank is a sign. Or you can get testers which check the level of carbon monoxide in the coolant.

S4 Elan, Elan +2S, Federal-spec, World Championship Edition S2 Esprit #42, S1 Elise, Excel SE

 

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I thought Lotus stood for "Lots of travel, unusually speedily."

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I have yet to find an Esprit that blows hot air through anything but the windscreen demisters. And I've owned a few Esprits, including two S4s's.

Put the heater in the windsceen demister position and try it. Should work then.

Regarding the gauges, while they do work fine and are accurate in the S4s, they are very fragile at the back. Remove the binaccle and see if everything is how it should be back there.

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I have yet to find an Esprit that blows hot air through anything but the windscreen demisters. And I've owned a few Esprits, including two S4s's.

<{POST_SNAPBACK}>

I get warm air in the footwells if the recirc / demist control is in the 11 - 12 o'clock position.

:blink:

Jez

Mean Green S4s

I think therefore I am - Descartes

I'm pink therefore I'm spam - Eric Idle

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  • 5 weeks later...

I suspect that these messages are in reference to my car. The heat was always "mild" at best, and I paid the mechanics to go through it and figure out why. They told me that was "normal" for an Esprit. As for the guages, I've never noticed them out of range. The car has been surprisingly trouble free (after my initial $5k repair bill to bring the car up to snuff when I bought it). I wish I could say the same for the Testarossa that has replaced it. But I still have hopes there.

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Markus,

Is your car still for sale? Last time I talked to the dealer folks they said it was in storage. I was trying to get a mechanic I know to look at it since the guy I talked to at PAS said he was not going to work on Lotus cars anymore.

By the way, did you get good service from PAS with your car? It looked to me like the service was very well maintained while you owned it. Just wondering if you took it to them because they are local or because you got good results.

Chuck

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I did like them. They were somehow a dealer at one time, so they were Lotus authorized. It's news to me that they don't work on Lotus anymore. Seems quite odd. Why would you turn down work on nice cars? The car is still for sale. Send me an email at ju@wolfensberger.com and I will send you my phone number. After I took car back from dealer you met, the power steering squeaked, and I'm having someone nearer me (Autocorsa) look at it. I called him today to inquire status, and he was quite interested in buying the car for his inventory. That's why I went on-line to check prices (and found your postings). It feels like I'm selling lower than everyone else.

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