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Engine trouble on my S4

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Oh dear.

My S4 has been laid up for the past two years while my ex-wife and I divorced. I've been living 90 miles away and been back very infrequently but when I did I ran the engine for a bit... all had seemed OK.

A couple of weeks ago I shifted (with the help of Mike) my X180 and dropped the S4 off at the local performance car place that used to service and MOT the car. I was hoping that a C service and a bit of sorting would be all that was needed to get the car back on the road. Trouble is, driving the car the mile up to the garage she was really struggling and seemed to be getting worse... not much power and the revs wouldn't pick up...

Just heard from the garage that they aren't sure what's wrong but that they think it's a fairly major engine problem. Apparently there is a compression problem which means that there is pressure in the sump and it's blowing off the breather pipe... Haven't had much to do with the engine aside from the induction system and turbo and nothing at all in a long while... so I've no idea what this might mean... Sounds mechanical rather than electrical / fuel / engine management etc.

So I'm a bit stuck. The cars is still in Somerset (I'm in Oxfordshire) and they don't know what's wrong with it and so have no idea what it could cost to get it back on the road, but could be £5k or more which I just don't have. Not much I can so from here to gather more information for any theories but I'd be happy to hear some...

So should let them get into it and hope the bill isn't too huge, find someone who knows more about Esprits or sell the car as a non-runner for what I can get for it?

What's a full engine rebuild gonna cost?

I'm absolutely gutted. When I left her she was being driven regularly and running sweet as a nut... Please don't remind me that leaving her stationary for two years wasn't a good idea as that won't help :)

Cheers, Ian

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Hi Ian,

Is it smoking? When an engine has been laid up the best thing to do is crank engine over a few times and not to fire it up. This establishes oil pressure and get oil around the top of the engine. Sounds like combustion pressure is getting round rings. It doesn't sound good. Could one of the rings be stuck?

I have a place up here which could look into more and can take engine out should it need a rebuild. I think they would charge about £300 to take engine out. It's not PNM BTW, I would recommend that they did the rebuild should you ever get to that stage.

This garage should be able to store car for short term.

Contact me and I might be able to help. [email protected]

Only trouble is getting it up here. Once you did that then I reckon it could be your cheapest option.

A rebuild will start at about £3K then add you bits and more labour depending on what's wrong with it.

David

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Hi Dave,

Didn't see any smoke, and did crank the engine before firing it up.

The garage did offer a stuck ring as a possibility but I've no idea what the consequences of that might be...

Thanks for the advice - I'll be in touch via e-mail...

Cheers, Ian

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Regarding price for a re-build, as Dave stated, £3k + labour, you could also go the route Dave Freeman went, buy one of the crated engines (£5k or £4,5k if you return your old engine) at least that way it's not all the labour involved in a strip-inspect-rebuild job, but it is a painful amount of money if you think yours may be a simple issue requiring a strip, new rings, perhaps a new liner & piston and then re-fit.

The guys who do the service may be able to do a more thorough fault diagnosis without stripping it, compression test both dry and wet (oil down plug hole), leak down test with induction off and other things (check oil pressure etc).

Andy

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Hi Mate agree with Andy. Cost for new engine is around 4 to 5k but then there are all the other bits that need changing as u go along. Expect another 1000 or so for all the bits u should fix whilst the engine is out. It's not cheap but.......

Rebuilding is labour intensive and can be just as expensive.

Suggest you get all thetesting done you can before looking at rebuilding.

Dave

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Hang on a minute, don't go whipping the engine out just yet. How reputable are the garage, what is the oil pressure at the quage, could there be water in the petrol etc. One trick you could try is to take the plugs out spray a reasonable amount of WD40 around the edge of each piston using the tube that comes with the spray. Then leave for 24 hours, put the engine in say 4th gear, push the car a few engine revolutions, put the plugs back and then start her up. A mechanic I knew did this on a seized 911 he got cheaply and it freed up the pistons and away he went.

If it was running ok before you stopped driving it, I doubt that you need to buy a new engine

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Hang on a minute, don't go whipping the engine out just yet. How reputable are the garage, what is the oil pressure at the quage, could there be water in the petrol etc. One trick you could try is to take the plugs out spray a reasonable amount of WD40 around the edge of each piston using the tube that comes with the spray. Then leave for 24 hours, put the engine in say 4th gear, push the car a few engine revolutions, put the plugs back and then start her up. A mechanic I knew did this on a seized 911 he got cheaply and it freed up the pistons and away he went.

If it was running ok before you stopped driving it, I doubt that you need to buy a new engine

I like the sound of that and it must be worth a try!

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The 'compression problem' alluded to by the garage - can you get any more meaningful details from them (comp readings perhaps)? You say you started it infrequently - how infrequently?

And the perennial question - Freescan? If only to exclude other stuff. :)

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Yeah, I am no expert on these cars (will be soon though :/) but I have a good amount of experience with the standard variety. If it turns out to be a stuck ring just replace that. Dunno why you would have to rebuild the entire engine? Now someone will chime in why though, hey, said I was learning. If a reputable shop looked at it then they probably went through the usual tests. I'd check the timing marks (of course I'd be spooky about this due to my problems), put a little oil in the cylinders and check the compression. If it returns to normal then it could be rings. If it is the same, stuck valve? You mentioned it blows the breather pipe off, suspect rings, but best to just check the simple things first. Be wary of trying to drive it before you have a better idea. Good luck with the wd-40. Change the oil after you spray that in there, maybe just try lightweight oil first. Had a tiny amount of wd-40 on a stuck hub locker, melted every bit of wheel bearing grease out of the front hub, don't know what it does to motor oil.

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Failed EBPV on the exhaust? You may well have a ring problem from sitting for long periods, but a failed EBPV would give you increased back pressure on the exhaust side, stalls the turbo, restricts the engine which could be enough to assist with pushing past pressure past the rings and may also help explain not wanting to rev.

That is if the exhaust back pressure valve is still on your car?

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Thank all for the replies and the advice.

It's pretty obvious now that I need to have the car infront of me to have any hope of guaging what's wrong with it and thus what it might cost.

Mike's riding in on his white steed (well, silver Range Rover) to trailer the car back to me here.

Hopefully a squirt of WD40 in the right places and removing the EBPV will do the trick. If not at least I can run freescan and try to get to the bottom of it.

The garage that are looking at it are pretty solid and do lots of performance cars (they used to specialize in TVRs so obviously they got a lot of work that way!) but while they see lots of Lotus's, most of them are Elises and I think the only Espirts they have seen are mine. So I'm hoping for the best but preparing for the worst...

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Simple things first Ian. You haven't been running the car so it's doesn't sound like an engine stressing problem. More likely to be a secondary system issue and they should be easy to check. Compression or leak down test is also simple to do and doesn't cost anything really.

Sump pressurising is a pain though. I wouldn't use WD40 down the cylinders. I'd be more inclined to use a light oil. I know that one of the favourites CRC626 can actually displace oil. Not sure if WD40 does the same, but not a risk I would take. Worst thing that can happen is engine smokes a bit after starting.

Edited by ramjet

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Ian,

Just checking with my local Lotus guy, if EBPV is blocked then car wouldn't run for long and certainly wouldn't be able to drive to garage. As soon as it back up, it wouldn't start again. So IMO, I think that the EBPV is a unlikely culprit.

I agree though, get it home and look at it yourself. You could find something else.

Regards,

David Walters

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Silly as it may seem but don't forget to check that brakes are not binding or that the handbrake is not staying on.

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OK so hands up if you had EBPV... :D

...that was the answer. MPx trailered the car back to Oxfordshire for me today, whipped the EBPV off (whipped meaning lots of WD40 and swearing to remove three bolts...) and away she goes. Running absolutely fine now :D

The EBPV was pretty much welded shut but there was obviously just enough gas passing and blowing past the joint with the cat to keep the car running - abeit very unhappily. The stuck valve was also obviously causing the pressure to build up in the crankcase.

So hopefully no serious damage done to the engine. Massive relief and now it's back to plan A (a C service and then hopefully an MOT). To say I'm relieved is a massive understatement.

...it was quite an adventure getting the car here though. I'll let Mike explain if he wants to!

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Good deal, glad to hear you got it sorted and good call ramjet! :D

It usually is the simple things...

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Good news. My own was seized when it was inspected. it was subsequently removed permanently and assigned to the bin.

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Hi Ian,

That's fantastic news. I bet you'll sleep easier tonight! I am really made up for you after what's happened to you lately.

Now, look at it and make sure it doesn't happen again!

Do you need a link pipe now for the EBPV space?

Regards,

David Walters

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Wahaay! Ramjet wins. What's my prize??? :thumbup:

When I did my EBPV, I simply removed it from the car, stripped the butterfly off the shaft, cut the shaft out of the unit, then centre punched the stub on the non diaphragm end so it wouldn't come out and put the body back in the exhaust. Piece of a golf tee to block off the vacuum pipe and reattached the pipe to the diaphragm. Looks completely stock still.

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Ah lovely...sigh...

Glad to help Ian

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Hi Ian, I've just caught up with this thread & my first thought was i'm sorry to hear your getting divorced mate, then I was gutted that you may have to have a new engine, now I'm smiling again that it was just a simple fix, great news! :thumbup:

Just wondering which garage you took it to, not to name & shame but just so I dont go near it...is it in Nailsea by any chance?

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FFS guys!!!!

'Local Performance garage' aint gonna know about Lotus Esprit S4's are they?

Want less headaches? Take it to Esprit Engineering, Unit 21 Downton Ind Est, Salisbury in future.

Even if it did need a rebuild he will do a great job.

I deal with Geoff a lot and he's the best in the vicinity.

While you are at it, get a EBPV spacer fitted (small circular piece of aluminium, about £10), rip out the throttle jack and plug the vacuum tube. It was all designed for Californian emmissions regulations anyway. Flippin' Lotus...

Edited by qwerty123

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