(Rob Collingridge provided this early list of problems, along with more Elise information)

Lotus have an unfortunate reputation for producing unreliable cars and the Elise has so far proved to be the exception. From the owners reports and articles I've researched prior to buying one it would appear to be the most solid Lotus yet produced and although a few teething problems have been found, these are no more than experienced with any other new car design.:

Recalls of the Lotus Elise

Suspension Bolts

A recall was made to change some bolts on the rear suspension that could work loose, due to being too short.


Hydraulics 'Red' Hose

The Elise has a problem with the clutch hydraulic hose, which runs from the master cylinder (attached to the pedal) to the slave (attached to the clutch in the engine bay). The infamous 'red hose' was strapped to the radiator return pipe (the radiator is in the front of the car) and on hot days the engine and radiator hose heated up, causing the hydraulic hose to soften. This softening means that pedal effort went into expanding the pipe and not in moving the clutch plates, thus causing difficult/impossible gear changes. Lotus have fixed this on the production line, but cars prior to this fix will be susceptable and need a 'fixing kit' to be dealer fitted. Note that re-routing will improve this, but ideally a steel braided hose should be fitted as a replacement.

A related problem on all cars is that the slave cyclinder fixing plate (in the engine bay) can flex, also causing problems in changing gear. Lotus are aware of this and are likely to offer a fix to it in the near future.

Door Retainers

Earlier Elises had problems with the door retainers breaking and a piece of metal would break off. This has been redesigned and is fitted to all new cars.

Dash Noises

A very few owners have mentioned that the dash fixing clips can work loose and slide to the left or right, then drop into the chassis causing annoying rattles. These can be retrieved and refitted by a dealer. It is advised to check them on delivery.

Thermotstat Failure

If you Elise is running about 20°C below the normal operating temperature then stop! The thermostat is likely to have failed and the temperature sender controls both the fan and the temperature gauge. If you keep driving the temperature reading will eventually return to normal and your head gasket will blow. This has happened to two early Elise owners.


Leaking Soft Top

The roof leaks when the car is stationary. The problem is less visible when in motion. The solution is to buy a hardtop.

Noisy Brakes

The Elise has noisy brakes (which are white) and newer anti-squeeking brakes (which are black) can only be fitted after about 4000 miles. Does anyone know why this is? The downside is much more brake dust is generated.

Squeeky Seats

The solution to this one is to simply tighten the allen key bolts holding the seat to the floor. Also try pushing the drivers seat as far forward as possible and greasing the runners.

Suspension Noise

On early models the suspension is noisy. This is because the gap between the springs and dampers on the front was too small and they made contact over bumps. On later models a wider spring has been used. The car is still not quiet but is much better.

Chassis Noise

The Elise also has an aluminium chassis and floor and this causes a lot of noise when stones fly up and hit the floor. Can't do much about this apart from avoiding newly resurfaced roads or driving slower.

Paint Chips

The Elise is very low to the ground and also tends to be going quite fast. This means that it picks up a lot of stone chips. The solution is to use the transparent plastic guards that are now fitted as standard around the leading edge of the rear wheel arches and to fit a similar material to the front nose. A touch up paint is available from your dealer and is a must on picking up the car.

Headlight Covers

The Elise used to be supplied with headlight covers which had the annoying habit of steaming up. Lotus failed to find a solution to this and the car is now supplied without them.

Window Winders

Some owners have had problems with stiff window winders and this is to do with the alignment of the winder mechanism. If left unresolved the winder mechanism may fail and it is best to get it sorted out by the dealer, since cars leaving the factory are not always correctly adjusted.

Under Tray

Some owners have had problems with the under tray working loose. It is recommeded that this is checked regularly, especially if it gets noisy.

Radio Reception

I've found a few reports of poor reception with the aerial supplied as part of the radio fitting kit. I'm still investigating this one. Anyone have any more info?

Copyright © 1998 by Rob Collingridge - Last modified on 26/10/98