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Lights and headlamps not working on my 1976 Series 1

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I know people are a bit tired of similar threads but I thought I'd have my own.

The car is stored for the winter but I'm running it from time to time so it doesn't fall appart completely. I've had problems with the headlamps before but they've always decided to start working again , only god knows how. But today whole different scenario.

So here it is:

Start engine, car starts right away, battery is charged since I put it on slow charge yesterday. I let the engine warm slowly everything's fine. So I say to myself "lets turn on the lights"....

First click on the switch, lights turn on (side lamps): they work!

Decide to light the panel: first click : works, second click : works, panel lights completely : it works!

Decide to turn on the headlamps : second click on the light switch : headlamps don't raise up, boom everything dies (the lights, not the car)wallbash.gif

No more lights, no more panel, no more faith.

So I turn off all switches and start over again : nothing that previously worked : no lights, no panel, no fraking headlamps, (no kidding)!

Hazard : Works

Direction indicators : Works

Decide to flash the lamps : works, the headlamps light and raise up : conclusion : it's not the motor (or is it) and I hate the car.

I'm lost, as I said I've had problems with the headlamps before, they would just not raise completely etc.. first time was in May or June last year, I don't remember but I do remember checking for rust on each side, looking at the motor, looking behind the light switch, turning the motor manually and crushing my hand... Then the next day they started to work again without me knowing why and I never solved the problem since I didn't use the car that much(something I plan to do more this spring : use the car).

Please help.

Hey whats wrong with this wreck? We`re getting gas back here.

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Hey Hemlock,

First place I would look is the rocker switch on the instrument panel -- check it for melting/deforming. The second thing I would check is the indicator stalk switch for the same thing. On Federal S1s, the current for the headlamps actually passes through both the instrument panel rocker switch and the steering column stalk switch. As a result, they get warm enough for the plastic to ooze until they only make contact intermittently. This is poor circuit design on Lotus' part, in that they do not use relays! I don't know off hand whether the UK models do, but I think the chances are good that they don't, either. If you don't have handy access to service manuals, I can go out to my garage and check.

But to continue, referencing the federal models, the problem you are describing (flash high beams work, but not headlamps) can happen when the rocker switch is faulty; the "flash to pass" feature on the federal cars will still work with a faulty rocker switch, as it is designed to work whether the headlamps are on or not.

If the car's wiring is left completely stock, the switch can deform from heat in regular use; a long period of running with the headlamps on, or a shorter period with the high beams on is enough to do it. If the car originally had sealed beams (35W low beams, and 55W high beams), a change to H1/H4 headlamps (55W lo/65W hi) is enough extra current running through the switches to ruin either of them quickly. It is a common problem for people in the States to upgrade to H1/H4 lights and immediately melt the indicator switch (internally) the first time they use the high beams, or melt the rocker switch in a short period (10 minutes sometimes) with just the low beams. The solution, of course, is to install relays in the front of the car so that the wires originally running to the headlamps now just trigger relays, and the relays complete circuits for the low and high beams taking power straight from the battery on heavy gauge (8 ga - 10 ga) wire.

So, in short, the first thing I would do is carefully remove the rocker switch and inspect it for warping, and/or dirty contacts.

Hope this helps, and sorry it's so long. . .

- Tony :P

P.S.: If I recall correctly, UK model S1s have a different switch from US models; UK cars have three spade connectors on the back, while US cars have five pins connectors on the back (but the switches are otherwise identical). If yours is the one with spade connectors, you are probably in luck -- much easier to find, IIRC.

Tony K. :)


Esprit S1s #355H & 454H

Esprit S2.2  #324J

1991 Esprit SE

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Guest surferphil

I had exactly the same problem until Matt Watts rebuilt the rocker switch in about 10 minuites. You can do it yourself if you have a go they come apart nicely, not like modern technology.

Don't get too down by the problems though, it's a fairly simple car and some really knowledgable people on this site who have been through the same experiences. It's a steep learning curve for me but I'm getting there too.

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Thanks for the replies guys and for putting me in the right direction.

Hey Tony, yes I have a three spade connectors rocker switch.

I'll have a go at it over the weekend .

Will try to keep the thread updated.thumbsup.gif

Hey whats wrong with this wreck? We`re getting gas back here.

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