Lotus Elise: Real Owner Comments:
From: Jon Pippard
Subject: Rattles, knocks and the Elise
Date: Thu, 12 Mar 1998 13:19:40 +0000
Having waited 18 months for my Elise I was disappointed to discover the front suspension knocked. This has resulted in three months of investigations, the results of which I would like to share with you.
The Elise is a noisy car because of what it is....you have to live with some noise. However, many cars seem to have noises which exceed reasonable expectations. The noise in my car suggested a major structual problem was about to occur!
Light knocking noises. The antiroll bar was fitted dry in early cars and this contributes a light knocking. Later cars have the bar assembled with thick grease and the problem goes away. It is also possible to lap the mounting blocks to make a tighter fit on the bar. The grease is preferable.
If I had a hammer!! Heavy knocking (which actually may appear to be under the middle of the car) is caused by trapped air in the dampers. This would appear to be a manufacturing problem. Because the dampers are inverted the problem is made worse because the air is now trapped in the valve assembly. If you have a good set of dampers you don't get the problem, but on my car it was like someone hitting the floor with a hammer!
Wow...what was that... The front damper allows only about 15mm of travel before its on the bumpstop. The suspension can thus be bottomed very easily, recognised by an earthshattering bang!
Conclusion Lotus are currently working with Koni to fix the problem(s). It looks like it will be a couple of months yet before we see a solution. If you are not happy talk to your dealer.
An alternative. If you can't wait for Lotus to fix the problem then Peter McEwen of Raceline Cars, UK, has developed a spring/damper kit for the Elise. The springs are substantially uprated and the dampers are specially made to suit. They are not fitted inverted, but the increase in unsprung weight is negliable. Raceline are on (44) 1 483 811978.
And finally Apart from the dampers the car is really nice to drive, its a shame that these minor problems spoil what is in many ways a world class design. I thought the days of Lotus getting owners to complete their development were over but it appears not. More exciting than owning a Z3 though!!