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Timing Belt broke and Engine repair cost on my S4


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As most of you already know, my 1995 Esprit S4 timing belt broke and I was stranded on the road on Sunday July 25, 2010. There was a strong peer pressure from the Esprit community wanted me to have it fixed right, not fixed cheap. Therefore, I towed the car to the Lotus specialist that everyone recommended in Southern California, Viking Motorsports, to get it fixed. The shop owner Harry inspected my car and told me the bad news – all sixteen valves were bent. Usually only a couple are bent when the belt breaks. Harry thinks only one or two teeth were gone initially so the engine was still running and car was still moving, but off sync. Finally all the valves were bent, the engine seized up, and the timing belt won’t turn anymore. Well, too bad I found out afterwards. My assumption on the 100K rated belt was “dead wrong”. The bad omen of license plate ending with “444” (which rhyme with Chinese “dead dead dead”) did haunt me.

post-10495-043102000 1280610937.jpg

After all, it is a 16 years old car and many things on the car do need service on top of the belt and valves. Here is the list Harry told me is needed to be done on the car:

1. Removed the engine from the car for easier access.

2. 16 valves and some new valve guides.

3. Machine work to repair the cylinder head.

4. Top engine gasket set.

5. JAE blue timing belt.

6. All the auxiliary belts.

7. Water pump.

8. Thermostat.

9. Cam towers bolt.

10. Replace all the engine coolant hoses with new silicone hoses.

11. New coolant.

12. New water wetter.

13. New engine oil (synthetic) and filter.

14. New transmission oil (MT90).

15. Other parts if needed.

The current estimated total, around US$7000 (and may go up more). Time needed for the repair, 2 weeks.

I was hoping to just skip one mortgage payment to pay for it. Now it is more like 3 mortgage payments. Foreclosure time!!! Even though my wife and I can sleep inside the Esprit, where am I going to put my daughter in a two seater?

There is a saying that you don’t really own a Lotus until you pay for the first repair bill. I guess I need to be initiated into a “real ownership” now. I need to get a loan or split the payment into 2 or 3 credit cards. Wait a minute, the $500+ I just spent on the subwoofers and Amp is still on one of the cards. Anyone want to buy an Esprit S4 so I can pay for the repair?

I try to rationalize it this way – There are about $3000 worth of work I should have done anyway after I bought the car (new belts, water bump, hoses, C service), so this is just a $4000 lesson (how did the 4 gets in here again). Since I wanted a 4 cylinder model and S4 is the best, I guess I will have to live with some 4s (but the license plate has to be changed).

Any comments on what’s been done and what else needed to be done? May be I can make it a $5000 lesson instead (lots of TO and too tire to drive the car afterwards).


95 Lotus Esprit S4

Southern California

(PS: I’ve asked Harry to take some pictures on the damages and the repairs, maybe I can post them afterwards for all to see.)

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9. Cam towers bolt.

Are you sure it's these and not cylinder head studs you need (they are supposed to be a use-once item although I've always re-used them)?

While you are doing the water pump, put a cap-head bolt in place of a standard head bolt in one position, it's the one where the sprocket of the axillary shaft occludes it. Although not an issue as you are replacing the pump, it does mean any pump change in the future is easier.

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Remember an old one will need to be removed and shipped back as a core and then the new one will need fitting. That would probably work out at $10k+ I'd have thought.

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I'm sure a big bulk of the charges will be for labor. Unfortunately you just can't get around this unless you do the wrench work yourself. Saving grace is that your car will be treated respectfully. Nothing worse than paying the high dollar hourly rate and have someone with no real clue fumble their way through and do a half ass job, as happened to a forum member in NYC not so long ago.

Keep posting updates.

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Once again I appreciate all the replies. Here are some pictures I get from Viking working on my car so far.

post-10495-009166000 1280809799.jpg

post-10495-008651900 1280809833.jpg

post-10495-003292200 1280809872.jpg

I hope to have more later.

Of course, the best pictures on the Esprit Engine rebuild is from Travis: (awesome details)


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While Viking Motorsports is working on my car, I ask them to do more additional work and find me some missing parts on the car. Thanks to all your suggestions, the list got longer and longer. I just got the additional quote from Harry, and here it is.

1, Tensioner bearing $100.00 no labor

2, Needs the clutch line, $170.00 plus $115 labor.

3, Hub caps $200.00 a pair no labor.

4, Rear Valance $175.00 plus $57.50 labor.

5, Wiper blade $30.00 no labor

6, A/C recharge $150.00 no labor

7, All four dampers adjust $115.00 labor

(No. 8 was adjusted the door swing out for $230 labor, but I cancelled it).

9, Brake switch adjust. No labor

10, Turn signal bulbs. $30.00 plus $115.00 labor.

11, Gearbox and Clutch inspection. $369 labor.

12, Rear hatch struts. $126.

New additional work: $1752.50

With the original $7000, it is well past $8700+

Wait. Harry just told me that I need

1. New clutch and pressure plate: $631.15

2. New fuel filter: $10

3. Don’t need new clutch line (already has stainless steel line and new clutch hose): -$285.

New total: around: $9100+

(Wow! I can almost buy another Esprit with the money).

I guess the Esprit Fact File is right, you got to be infected with the “Lotus virus” in order to own and keep the car. Time to file request to increase the loan amount paper work. Why should they approve it? It is because the Esprit S4 will worth a million bucks (at least that’s how I feel) when it is done.


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It's money well spent I think. After you get the call to collect it and drive it for the first time the smile on your face will be worth every dollar you paid Viking. Just don't do what some of the guys do and sell it 6 months later. Then you really would of wasted your money.

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I don't think that is necesarily odd. It may have been something that was requested by the owner not knowing he already had one. And from the laundry list of repairs, it sounds like he's asked for a list of all repairs with worst case scenarios. Like the bulbs for instance, he may find out the connections are just corroded and the bulbs are fine but he hasn't taken them apart and looked yet.

Whatever happened, at least he corrected it right away...

1995 S4s

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