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Looks like I'm done driving this year

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I've had an oil leak for quite some time and even paid quite a bit this year to have it fixed. Well, it's not fixed and in fact the leak has gotten worse. I'm lucky not to have had an exhaust manifold fire.

So, all the Lotus and other car events I'd planned to attend this year are going to have to be done without my Esprit. At least I was able to make my 2000-mile trip to California and back without mishap.

So, despite new battery, new tires, and fresh oil, the car is going in an enclosed trailer on a 1000-mile trip to someone who I trust (more) to fix its problems.

Photos are of the underside of the manifold and of the top.


Edited by mr50bmg

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Looks a bit dangerous, you have been lucky it hasn't started a fire :)

What kind of fix they do in 1000miles away? I have also some oil leak (near sparkplugs), when the car is stored a longer there's lot smoke when it started.

I have heard Esprit is healthy if there's some oil, better some than oil at all :)

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It's better not to drive it like that. If you have to for another repair, keep the turbo off boost to keep the manifold temp's down.

If you've paid a professional to repair it, take it back and ask for it to be done correctly. I thought it was only us Brits who suffered shoddy work, I always had the impression you Stateside guys didn't have that problem often and didn't tolerate it when it happened. Have them check the breather isn't blocked causing the crancase to pressurise and force the oil out. I doubt it is but it's worth checking. It looks like they didn't get the repair right.

"If everything seems under control, you're just not going fast enough."

- Mario Andretti

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I had the same problem earlier this year, fault traced to a stipped thread in the head (i probably over torqued it when the engine was last out two, years ago!!). to fix it i had to take off the cam carrier and helicoil (put a thread insert in) the stripped thread. Not a very easy job but possible with the engine in the car.

If you clean the area with a helthy dose of brake cleaner then start the car while looking up from under the car you should be able to see it bubbling out by the offending bolt!!

Good luck.

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Looks messy. Try checking the grub/blanking screw that sits right between the exhaust manifolf & the cam pully. located towards font of engine. Not sure if it would be fitted to US spec car, but the HC engine has a hexagon head grub screw, where as the S3's have a standard size 10 headed bolt & only an O ring to seal it. Mines been dribbling ever since I have the manifold changed. I think the thread is damged on mine hence the leek. I just keep an eye on it. This has something to do with the Cam, I think. & it is subject to constant oil pressure.

The need for speed can be found with a Lotus

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Dave Im presuming its not a simple fix as your mechanic would have probably stopped the sizable leak present.

The easy fixes are the Cam cover gasket, and the cam cover screw washers (the brass hex headed plugs).

That leaves the most likely culprit ,the cam tower to cylinder head joint.

This is sealed by an anerobic gasket compound, Lotus spec. Loctite Gasket Elliminator 504, but Ive heard Permatex Anerobic Gasket Elliminator works OK too.

To do the job, the whole cam tower has to be removed and the mating faces cleaned and inspected for damage.

Hopefully your mechanic didnt try to fix the leak by tightening the Cam tower bolts, as these are only supposed to be torqued to 14 to 16 Lbs ft, and if overtightened can strip the aluminuim threads in the cylinder head and or warp the cam tower mounting face itself (hard to fix)

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  • 2 weeks later...

My cam tower bolts, nearest the turbo, were stripped by SPO. Took the cam tower off and you could see where someone had tried to drill and resize the hole (probably couldn't get the drill bit in straight with the engine in place). So we drilled it out, plugged it, then drilled and tap new bolt holes. The car also had no turbo heat shield so I fabricated one. No more leaks.

My exhaust manifold looked just like yours before the repair so I'm in agreement with Wayne.

Good luck,


'83 Turbo

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  • 2 weeks later...
That leaves the most likely culprit ,the cam tower to cylinder head joint.

Was going to suggest that too. :(

TBH the cam tower leaking seems so common that it was a quick (and easy)

check i did on every Esprit i looked at second time around. A quick glance down

the sparkplug holes shows them filled with oil if the top tower is leaking.

The lower cam tower leaks straight onto the manifold so if the car is hot it will

have burnt off and be harder to spot. Mine had it, and if i left the car for more

than a week then i got a plume of smoke from the engine grill for a couple of

minutes while this patch burnt off, must stress mind it was not as big a patch

as shown here and even the two inch round patch on my manifold was enough

to give off some smell and worrying (albeit the cause known) smoke.

The covers on the end of the camshaft can leak onto the manifold too.


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