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Alternator trouble?


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  • Gold FFM

I took to car for a spin today. Just a trip into town to buy some DIY gear from Wickes. All was well, giving it a little bit of a blast, when I suddenly got a high pitched metallic squealing sound from the rear of the car, this was soon followed by a burning smell. I backed off and dipped the clutch, and the engine cut out.

To cut a long story short, the AA man tested the battery, which was only reading 12 volts, so he attached his jumper pack, and managed to get the engine started, it was reluctant to run, and sounded like crap. At this point, there was a little smoke and a bad burning smell from around the alternator belt.

Best guess is the alternator has seized up. Is this a common problem? Or does anybody have an alternative theory? It's pretty hard diagnosing these things at the side of the road.

I can't say I'm impressed with the AA on this occasion. I only broke down a mile from home, and it took 5 and a half hours to get the car back here.

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Sounds like an absolute rare event, no record on any forums regarding alternator issues. 

If you have the choice between a Stairway to Heaven and a Highway to Hell don't forget the Nomex®!

Captain,  Lotus Airways. We fly lower! 

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • Gold FFM

Hi Ryan. Yes, it does now seem that the AC was the most likely culprit. The garage that investigated the problem found that the battery was partially failed, but the alternator was working fine. After a little more work, they found that there's no gas in the air con system. As far as they could tell, the AC compressor didn't seem to have seized, but they couldn't properly test it as the lack of gas in the system prevents the compressor from running.

 

As Lotus Silverstone have done a few repairs to the air con over the past year, it seemed best to pass the car over to them for further investigation. They can't fit me in until the 16th of Feb, so I'll just have to wait until then for more information.

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Is it under warranty? If not the lotus part is fortunes. Ryanmt and I have both fitted items from the state's for a lot less money. I don't know if it's true but sure I read somewhere the evoras don't have low pressure sensors! That might explain the issues we are suffering.

Gav

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  • Gold FFM

Yes, I saw your previous posts about getting compressors from the US. That sounds great, but when I did a quick search recently, I was only finding second hand units for a reasonable price. New ones weren't looking much cheaper than Lotus by the time you add shipping and import duty.

 

If you can suggest a reliable source, that would be really helpful.

 

I've found a local company that says they can recondition my compressor for around £250, so that's another option.

 

For now, I'm going to have to wait until the guys at Lotus Silverstone have taken a look at the car before making any more progress.

 

The garage that looked at the car previously said they couldn't test the compressor because it wouldn't start up whilst the low pressure sensor was active. I have no idea whether the car actually has one, or not!

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Mine from memory was £270 ish delivered Inc tax but wasn'oem. Ryanmts was oem but he was in the states and he carried it back, genuine Toyota. I just got mine from eBay! I don't think it's a low pressure sensor more a speed sensor thing. I just reset my fault code with my torque pro app but as it was seized it just stalled the engine when I tried. If I had to guess I would say it's Goosed. I will have a look where minecame from.

Gav

Edited by 21gg_
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  • 4 weeks later...
  • Gold FFM

Well, it's been confirmed the culprit was the AC compressor. I've had the old one rebuilt rather than import a new replacement. It was slightly cheaper, and means if I have any problems with it, I have a warranty with a local company so it will be easier to resolve.

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  • 4 years later...

Sorry if reviving this post is not appropriate, but think I might have the same issue as the OP.

Went for a drive today, then all of a sudden high pitched squealing, smoke from the engine bay and then it cut out.
I have been recovered home as its Easter weekend, but the AA will be collecting it to take to Lotus Silverstone on Tuesday. Whats interesting is, I had my 3 year service 139 miles ago, so out of warranty by 4 months now, but when I took it in I said my aircon wasnt working, and apparently it was out of aircon fluid, so they sorted it, but told me to always leave aircon on to avoid future issues.

So if this is the same issue, and with such little mileage, I hope I have chances of fixing as a good will gesture. Car has only done 8000 miles.

.:: Lotus Evora 400 - Red ::.. | ..:: Tesla Model S - Midnight Silver | Renault Twizy - Brilliant Black ::..

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Generally all cars have a high and low pressure cut out.

The problem when they loose gas be it through the input glandseal usually through lack of use or else were as the oil in the system is misable with the refrigerant you loose that as well.

Now there's proberbly only about 700grams of refrigerant in the system and only a few fluid Oz of oil so it doesn't take much to loose the oil charge.

Now as the compressors don't have a sump they rely on a mist of oil returning with the refrigerant for lubrication.

Now unfortunately 2 things are against you when you loose refrigerant 

1 with any loss of gas a certain amount of lubricating oil will also be lost 

2 if the system is running low on charge the velocity of the returning gas from the evaporator (cooling coil within the car) decreases and leads to oil starvation to the compressor as it leaves it behind in the evaporator.

So golden rules 

Always run the A/C to keep the input shaft glandseal lubricated. It requires a thin film of oil on the carbon and polish steal faces to seal and stop refrigerant loss.

If the A/C is under preforming don't run it untill it's repaired/re gassed

And try not to engage the A/C at high engine revs as it puts undue strain on the magnetic clutch and the compressor as it's forced to match the engine revs instantly 

Although I understand this directly does not help your situations it may help you in the future 

 

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  • Gold FFM

That certainly does sound similar to my failure. Good luck getting it repaired as a goodwill gesture. My reconditioned compressor is still working well over 4 years later. Do let me know if I can answer any questions. 

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10 hours ago, philcool said:

Generally all cars have a high and low pressure cut out.

The problem when they loose gas be it through the input glandseal usually through lack of use or else were as the oil in the system is misable with the refrigerant you loose that as well.

Now there's proberbly only about 700grams of refrigerant in the system and only a few fluid Oz of oil so it doesn't take much to loose the oil charge.

Now as the compressors don't have a sump they rely on a mist of oil returning with the refrigerant for lubrication.

Now unfortunately 2 things are against you when you loose refrigerant 

1 with any loss of gas a certain amount of lubricating oil will also be lost 

2 if the system is running low on charge the velocity of the returning gas from the evaporator (cooling coil within the car) decreases and leads to oil starvation to the compressor as it leaves it behind in the evaporator.

So golden rules 

Always run the A/C to keep the input shaft glandseal lubricated. It requires a thin film of oil on the carbon and polish steal faces to seal and stop refrigerant loss.

If the A/C is under preforming don't run it untill it's repaired/re gassed

And try not to engage the A/C at high engine revs as it puts undue strain on the magnetic clutch and the compressor as it's forced to match the engine revs instantly 

Although I understand this directly does not help your situations it may help you in the future 

 

Cheers for the info Phil. I guess all I was mentioning is the potential coincidence, and also I have never had any aircon issues on any of my cars up until now.

.:: Lotus Evora 400 - Red ::.. | ..:: Tesla Model S - Midnight Silver | Renault Twizy - Brilliant Black ::..

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  • 2 weeks later...

Seems the AC compressor is a common issue: I found in the documents which I got with my Evora that the AC compressor was changed 4 years ago at a milage of appr. 20.000km.

=> As I learned the compressor is out of an Toyota RAV4. But is there a difference in the system as it seems to fail often in the Evora but is reliable in the RAV4?

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I still not heard from the Lotus garage yet about my car, so still only guessing at the issue.
I will update here once I know the issue, costs, and what I do etc etc.

.:: Lotus Evora 400 - Red ::.. | ..:: Tesla Model S - Midnight Silver | Renault Twizy - Brilliant Black ::..

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  • Gold FFM

I suspect the problem is that the Evora’s pipes are more susceptible to leaks. When there’s a leak, you inevitably lose some lubricating oil as well as gas. If the system is not correctly serviced when leaks are fixed, the compressor will be subject to more wear. 

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Sounds like a reasonable explanation as the Lotus handcrafing is involved in piping the AC System. 😂 In fact the bill of the former owner sates beside the AC compressor also the Position "sealing the Climate condensor connectors"

Are there any indications that there is a leak? Is the AC maybe less cold in max. or any other sign to be aware before the compressor is gone?

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  • Gold FFM

As far as I’m aware, there are only two indicators of a leak: Aircon becomes less effective -air is not cooled much. Secondly, IF the system has had dye put into the refrigerant, you might see a tell-tale bit of colour around your leak. Neither is very obvious, unless the weather is very warm of course!

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Generally the main place for refrigerant loss is the compressor gland as it requires a thin film of oil on the polished faces to seal and lack of use means the gland dries out.thus resulting in refrigerant loss.

To counteract this my Mercedes runs and pumps the system down every time the cars started even if the A/C is turned off.

Unfortunately I suspect that Lotus has not configured the system that way certainly not in my S2 Exige.

So you must remember to run the system at least every 2 weeks and if the outside temp is to cold usually below 5'C the A/C is usually disabled as there's not enough air temperature across the evaporator to boil the refrigerant from a liquid to a vapour and you risk getting liquid back to the compressor and you cannot compress a liquid so it usually brakes the valves.

To get round this run the car up to temperature and place it on recirculation and warm the cabin up then leave it on recirc and place the A/C on and run for a few minutes 

Also try to remember not to engage the A/C at high revs as the poor old compressor doesn't like going from 0 to say 6k revs in an instant dip the clutch or wait till your at a set of lights 

Hope this helps as it does seem the Evora. A/C does seem a bit fragile 

Also it's worth remembering that car A/C only holds around 700grams of refrigerant so you don't need to loose much to start haveing issues.

Unlike the systems I work on that can require a top up if 400kg at a cost of  around £20k depending on refrigerant used.

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Still waiting for more information, but the current update is they believe the AC Compressor seized which is what caused my issues.

.:: Lotus Evora 400 - Red ::.. | ..:: Tesla Model S - Midnight Silver | Renault Twizy - Brilliant Black ::..

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