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Whats that smell?

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Hi Guys,

Yesterday when getting into my V8 I noticed a really strong smell of fuel inside the cabin, which seemed to be emanating from behind the driver’s seat. I immediately got out, lifted the bonnet, and stuck my head into the engine bay giving it a good sniff but could detect nothing? This morning I removed the quarter panel and the ECM and looked around but there were no obvious defects and the smell was much weaker than that inside the cabin??

I got underneath the car and looked through the inspection hole under the right hand tank and again could see nothing wrong? I have checked the filler hose, the breather hose, the fuel pump mountings and there were no ldetectable leaks. There was another small hose diagonally opposite the braether hose on the filler neck, (not sure what its called) which is connected to a rigid poly pipe running up the butress towards the cabin, though I was unable to trace its point of termination.

Any ideas on this one would really be appreciated.

Thanks in advance

Edited by G4RTHV8
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It's likely the the fuel tank has corroded. Not an uncommon occurrence on esprits 10+ years old. I had mine replaced this year. The smell gets drawn in via the seatbelt holder hole (well it did in mine). If you take the panel off that covers the tank and get your nose right in you will smell the fumes. Sometimes it can be the breather pipe that goes from the tank and up and round the rear window behind the carpet trim if it cracks/splits where it goes into the tank. There are good independents around that can swap a tank as well as dealers and they are a good deal cheaper. I can recommend Andy at Northwest lotus, in Wallasey, he sorted, mine out.

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POR15 for the tank, or even aluminium replacements ..

..and for the suspected hoses/pipes:

there are ordinary rubber fuel-pipes, clear soft PP/PE and pneumatic pipes (hard black plastic) available in the open market (you can find all those pipes for example in the truck service, labeled as fuel resistand/oil resistand or as pneumatic pressure line for brake systems..)

as for the notable difference in intensity of the smell, there is not only the seat-belt hole:

..also on the top end, RH/LH side of the roof line, viewed from the engine bay side, if you use your finger and get under the carped that surrounds the rear window (to find for example where the black plastic pipe and/or the clear hoses from the filler necks go from side to side..) -there is a gap in the resin body, that marks the laminated body sections and the window frame/rear body, this was not allways closed well by the factory worker ..therefore the smell of fuel can also enter the cabin there and fills up the cabin over night, whereas the enginebay is more under steady ventialtion ...

Edited by Günter


to name the things if I see them, that's what I call integrity..


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  • 3 months later...

Belated Happy New Year to all,


You may recall the issue with the smelly fuel tanks (thanks Gunter POR15 is fantastic)!!! You may also recall the problem ‘Sticky Starter Motor’ which actually turned out to be a worn ring gear.

Well I’ve had the engine out and repaired the fuel tanks (thanks again Gunter), replaced the flywheel with a resurfaced unit from SJ Sports Cars (great value, great service), part exchanged the starter motor with a reconditioned unit from PNM (also great value great service), put it all together again and turned the key.  The engine turned over with convincing solidarity and I am left with a mixed feeling of relief and achievement. The battery is a little low so before putting on the tricle charger I turn the engine off; however just to reassure myself I flick the key again and….click. Oh no!! this can’t be happening I say to myself, so I flick the key once more and….click. I try a 3rd time and  it jumps into life, this time as well as starting I hear an over-spin on the starter motor. Clearly this is not good as it would suggest that I am on my way to another worn ring gear. A mechanic friend is nearby and suggests that any of the following might be the cause:-

  1. The dog gear is jumping out too far so as not to properly engage with the ring-gear and sticking.
  2. The starter motor requires an enhanced earth strap to better preform its function.
  3. The low charge in the battery is providing insufficient power for the starter motor to properly engage the dog gear with the ring gear and it is clicking rather than jumping out.
  4. It might be the wrong starter motor (though PNM really know their stuff, so in my opinion this is least likely).

The car will start but I continue to hear the over spin, so any advice on this one would be greatly appreciated as I am stumped.

My thanks in advance,


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thoughts to your questions:


as for binding in the ring gear:

do you know what happend there on the 'recondition' process of the flywheel, does it have sharp edges on the ring gear itself -or was the ringgear changed/undone on the process and not fit into right position after this ?


as for 'click' & slow spin:

do you know what 'reconition' mean for the starter ?

-as it is not only an *clean & regrease* of the dog gear and planetary system, the most important part is the brush contact to the armature itself ..and that's just an Mitsubishi derivative part, valued 9.90€ in the aftermarket   ..been there-done that :D

the contact to the magnet-switch is the same thing, it can be inspected and reworked in DIY can additionally measure the current drop while starting, if the starter uses to much energy I would say inspect for the mentioned point on those internals.


I've used 'handbuild' contact-brush replacements for years, until I found the cheap Mitsubishi equivalent (that saved me 400 € already for a new starter -as I sold my *spare* to Mike S. for one of his cars some time ago)   ..and my engine is now started by the Amp & current of only an small 44Ah-Elise Battery ..even Monday after an cold freezy weekend


see *parts cross reference section*


other point to mention:

watch out for the condition of the mounting face on the engine block -if there is damage done from working hard with not usefull tools the starter can mabe sit angled, so not in the right position..   -or is thee one of the screws not done correct, as one fits into the starter-body itself, the other into the engine block on the rear.



So the easy things first

-just recharge the battery over night, and start again with charger still on the battery ..with this you have done the maximum to 'help' the battery on *start* ..if the lights inside the ar dim to much, or the starter (the magnet switch to be exact) still only does 'click' the battery is shot or the starter needs to much enegy  -refer to the points above

Edited by Günter


to name the things if I see them, that's what I call integrity..


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Beans? :blush:

All we know is that when they stop making this, we will be properly, properly sad.Jeremy Clarkson on the Esprit.

Opinions are like armpits. Everyone has them, some just stink more than others.

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:thumbsup: mean he should not smoke a cigarette after a meal  in his car


-as for his highly explosive farts !


to name the things if I see them, that's what I call integrity..


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