Warning to all elise/exige/europa owners/potential owners

Warning to all elise/exige/europa owners/potential owners

Author
Discussion

piquet

Original Poster:

566 posts

226 months

Monday 21st December 2009
quotequote all
Guys

just as a warning, get this checked as soon as possible and talk to your dealers, the front suspension mounts on your car may well not be safe

When lotus built the elise and subsequent models they chose to use steel wishbones and to adjust the suspension steel washers as spacers, this is a practice no other manufacturer of aluminium cars has used, all going to aluminium suspension components

The steel washers rust when wet this then sets up an electrolytic reaction with the ali in the chassis, this causes the suspension mounts to corrode, this is most obvious at the upper mounting where the aluminium is thinnest, which results in what has happened to me, the suspension mounting point fails, at the edge of the mounting bush



This is not just one side, when they checked the other side they found the same problem. For reference i am the only owner of this car, it has never been crashed or even tracked.


The chassis is not repairable, so when this happens your car is dead, unless you want to spend 5k on a new chassis and the time and expense of changing all the components over, which will cost more then the car is worth, so not cost effective. If you just replace it, the replacement will have the same potential problem.

This is of coarse worse when the car gets wet, but the suspension mounts are exposed so they're the first to get wet and the last to dry out, i would be amazed if anything short of keeping it in a heated dehumidified garage would keep them dry.

Lotus of coarse have washed their hands of the problem, the cars are too old, they have your cash now, it's not their problem, they seem unwilling to explain the use of materials and why their own advice about the contact between steel and aluminium as outlined in the handbook has been ignored

The result of this, is that the unrepairable chassis is in effect a consumable product, when the suspension points have corroded the car is gone

The suspension point ripping out is a common cause of the cars being written off, the question that must be asked is if these failed because they had already partially corroded converting what would have ben a repair into a write off. The mounting points themselves are under most load when cornering, if they failed pre crash, the change in geometry may well be the cause of the crash itself.

I would implore you to get the points checked at your dealers, and to at least change the washers, the bad news is if the corrosion is there, there is nothing else that can be done, despite a repair solution being offered to lotus, they have decided it would not be safe, as you can't have stainless steel and ali in close proximity ( except when they do it, with mild steel)

If you are looking at buying one, get this checked beforehand as it dwarfs head gasket or any other problems, sorry but this is going to have a serious effect on used values. Mine is 11 years old, but knowing what I know now i wouldn't touch one that was 10 years old or older, and i would seriously question buying one more then 5 years old

I think the fact they they seem to have been aware of this, but choose to use mild steel rather then stainless steel washers on the suspension destroys any myths about "lotus engineering" this is a case of them saving a few pence per car....

Conian

8,030 posts

170 months

Monday 21st December 2009
quotequote all
Epic news. So your car is dead? Man, sorry to hear/read that.

noodleman

827 posts

182 months

Monday 21st December 2009
quotequote all
That has got to be repairable.

Mr Sea

4,586 posts

194 months

Monday 21st December 2009
quotequote all
You could try 'Watchdog' but I think they've got bigger fish to fry!
Knowing me knowing you..............

Edited by Mr Sea on Monday 21st December 17:19

mrdemon

21,146 posts

234 months

Monday 21st December 2009
quotequote all
S1's are getting on a bit and like you say steel on alloy is not a good thing, add to this 10 years of road salt etc etc, you can see why this might become a future problem if not kept clean.

Edited by mrdemon on Monday 21st December 17:17

Scuffers

20,887 posts

243 months

Monday 21st December 2009
quotequote all
there's something not right here...

I have NEVER seen anything like that, and I get to see plenty of old S1's with zillions of road miles on them.

the bit that's wrong with that picture is the way it's pealed back with a tube sticking though? that part of the mount is not the one that takes the lateral load (relative to the bolt), the front part is, and that looks un-touched?

yes, steel against ali will have corrosion issues, however, the steel inserts are plated, then bonded in to an anodized ali section, there is NO metal to metal contact here.

All I can imagine here is that something has been done to damage the plating on the steel insert or some crude installation of wishbone bushes has stresses this insert (like missing out the camber shimm's and then crushing the insert to the bush tube?)

Basically, I would want to see a LOT more about this car before outright condemning all of them.

TIPPER

2,955 posts

188 months

Monday 21st December 2009
quotequote all
I stripped my suspension down last winter and there were no corrosion issues at all after 70k miles.
Plenty of others have done the same and reported no issues and there are plenty of older cars which take racing stresses in their stride.
Sorry to hear of your problems but something isn't right; I have to wonder if the wishbone and bush have been allowed to bear directly onto the chassis? That would lead to the anodising on the chassis being worn away by the movement of the wishbone and bush crush tube with resultant corrosion.

Scuffers

20,887 posts

243 months

Monday 21st December 2009
quotequote all
thinking out loud, looks more like something has been used to clean the tub some years earlier that has striped the anodising off? (like wheel-cleaner etc)

what's odd is that the insert has detached from the ali, and having tried to separate them before, it's all but impossible without destroying the ali under them, leading me to think it's the result of a chemical attach of some sort?

Esprit

6,369 posts

252 months

Monday 21st December 2009
quotequote all
No evidence of that on my chassis for sure, and we've all seen how bad some of the corrosion on that was in places.

Looks to me like something's amiss. The bonded in steel spreader is epoxied in, it doesn't make direct contact with the metal as there's a layer of anodising on the alloy, a layer of plating on the metal and a membrane of epoxy separating them.

The fact that this is missing may mean water has gotten in behind it and started attacking the alloy. The fact that it's corroded around the outside of the washer suggests that maybe something's been contacting here that shouldn't have been.

As for the steel wishbone components, these are isolated from the aluminium chassis by the bushes themselves. There should be no electrical contact between the chassis and the wishbones.

TIPPER

2,955 posts

188 months

Monday 21st December 2009
quotequote all
Appreciate your point about the bushes George but the circular fracture/corrosion looks like it could have been caused by the wishbone bearing directly on the ally iysiwm. I know it shouldn't but........

Esprit

6,369 posts

252 months

Tuesday 22nd December 2009
quotequote all
TIPPER said:
Appreciate your point about the bushes George but the circular fracture/corrosion looks like it could have been caused by the wishbone bearing directly on the ally iysiwm. I know it shouldn't but........
That would assume incorrect assembly at some point.

If you look at the image, the back of the bonded in insert has been removed. I assume this was to get at/inspect the problem.

You can see the thin circle of epoxy where this is bonded into the hole in the chassis. The corrosion happens maybe 5mm away from this.

On the other side (the side we cannot see), this is about where the outer edge of the bonded insert is. This insert should have been protected from metal-on-metal contact by:

- Anodising on the aluminium.
- Coating on the insert (paint or Zinc)
- A thin membrane of epoxy.

There's no relative movement here so it shouldn't be a wear problem.

What I'd guess has happened is that when it was bonded on, the epoxy membrane wasn't smeared all the way around and it left a small cavity between the insert and the chassis where water could get to. This water hen sets up crevice corrosion, the like of what you see there.

Given the arc of corrosion, this must have been over a significant sweep of the washer. On my car it's easy to see the bead of epoxy around these (as you can clearly see on the insert on the other side, near where the finger is pointing).

Rather than a systemic failure, I'm guessing the corrosion here is more than likely due to a simple assembly fault. It's not like the floor mats or firewalls where EVERY car exposed to wet/salt will fail eventually... it's more than likely the sort of thing where you'll see a few chassis here and there fail over time.

Francelise

186 posts

200 months

Tuesday 22nd December 2009
quotequote all
I can see your point as I have a car that has slight pitting around this part.The epoxy is done perfectly aswell. However, I also have a 12 yr ago Elise and no sign of that at all. The one in question has 62k on the clock and is in very good condition.

I think If I buy one again, I may well check that as I would not feel happy if it was as bad as yours.

I would try all I could to save the car. I am sure a specialist would do a proper repair. Maybe Kelvedon in Spalding would help, he has been repairing/racing them for years.

If you get stuck I may buy it off you.

Roy


piquet said:
Guys

just as a warning, get this checked as soon as possible and talk to your dealers, the front suspension mounts on your car may well not be safe

When lotus built the elise and subsequent models they chose to use steel wishbones and to adjust the suspension steel washers as spacers, this is a practice no other manufacturer of aluminium cars has used, all going to aluminium suspension components

The steel washers rust when wet this then sets up an electrolytic reaction with the ali in the chassis, this causes the suspension mounts to corrode, this is most obvious at the upper mounting where the aluminium is thinnest, which results in what has happened to me, the suspension mounting point fails, at the edge of the mounting bush



This is not just one side, when they checked the other side they found the same problem. For reference i am the only owner of this car, it has never been crashed or even tracked.


The chassis is not repairable, so when this happens your car is dead, unless you want to spend 5k on a new chassis and the time and expense of changing all the components over, which will cost more then the car is worth, so not cost effective. If you just replace it, the replacement will have the same potential problem.

This is of coarse worse when the car gets wet, but the suspension mounts are exposed so they're the first to get wet and the last to dry out, i would be amazed if anything short of keeping it in a heated dehumidified garage would keep them dry.

Lotus of coarse have washed their hands of the problem, the cars are too old, they have your cash now, it's not their problem, they seem unwilling to explain the use of materials and why their own advice about the contact between steel and aluminium as outlined in the handbook has been ignored

The result of this, is that the unrepairable chassis is in effect a consumable product, when the suspension points have corroded the car is gone

The suspension point ripping out is a common cause of the cars being written off, the question that must be asked is if these failed because they had already partially corroded converting what would have ben a repair into a write off. The mounting points themselves are under most load when cornering, if they failed pre crash, the change in geometry may well be the cause of the crash itself.

I would implore you to get the points checked at your dealers, and to at least change the washers, the bad news is if the corrosion is there, there is nothing else that can be done, despite a repair solution being offered to lotus, they have decided it would not be safe, as you can't have stainless steel and ali in close proximity ( except when they do it, with mild steel)

If you are looking at buying one, get this checked beforehand as it dwarfs head gasket or any other problems, sorry but this is going to have a serious effect on used values. Mine is 11 years old, but knowing what I know now i wouldn't touch one that was 10 years old or older, and i would seriously question buying one more then 5 years old

I think the fact they they seem to have been aware of this, but choose to use mild steel rather then stainless steel washers on the suspension destroys any myths about "lotus engineering" this is a case of them saving a few pence per car....

TIPPER

2,955 posts

188 months

Saturday 2nd January 2010
quotequote all
Just thouht I'd add a note here that someone with considerably more experience and knowledge than me has posted on the equivalent thread on Seloc that the issue has probably been caused by the wishbone bearing diretly on the chassis due to incorrect assembly/re-assembly.
If the car was assembled at the factory like this then it surely would have been picked up during a service (spannering of wishbone swivel joints is routine) which suggests to me that at some stage in its life this car has had this part of the suspension stripped and incorrectly re-assembled or perhaps a botched attempt to alter castor has been made.




randy

539 posts

245 months

Saturday 2nd January 2010
quotequote all
That doesn't look like impact damage... No deformation around the failure, just corrosion.

TIPPER

2,955 posts

188 months

Saturday 2nd January 2010
quotequote all
Chris, I'm not (and nor is Yvo) suggesting impact damage.
I think the outer corrosion ring has been caused by the wishbone bearing directly on the chassis (no castor washers where they should be) causing gradual wearing of he anodised layer and hence corrosion. The flare in the centre I think could have been caused by the crush tube of the bush.
There's certainly corrosion but I reckon its been caused due to incorrect assembly.
I've asked Paul (op) for more pics.

Incidently, I wouldn't dream of arguing with your engineering knowledge and experience. Just asking questions particularly as my 70k mile and ten year old car was in excellent condition in these areas when I stripped it last year. (Surprising condition really when you consider all the road much etc that gets thrown into the arches).

Edited by TIPPER on Saturday 2nd January 23:55

TIPPER

2,955 posts

188 months

Sunday 3rd January 2010
quotequote all
Just seen you post on the Seloc thread Chris: think I've got it now.

For anyone else following this http://forums.seloc.org/viewthread.php?tid=245485&...

Russ H

252 posts

177 months

Sunday 3rd January 2010
quotequote all
Just read the Seloc thread. WTF is it to do with Lotus what you do to your own
car anyway? As someone said cars are repaired and welded etc every day at any
age, do you have to ask permision from the maker? Or indeed the insurance
company! Only the other week a front spring snapped on my van, no problem, I
just fitted a new one from Autovaux. Shall I inform my insurersrolleyes

Russ smile

Scuffers

20,887 posts

243 months

Sunday 3rd January 2010
quotequote all
Russ H said:
Just read the Seloc thread. WTF is it to do with Lotus what you do to your own
car anyway? As someone said cars are repaired and welded etc every day at any
age, do you have to ask permision from the maker? Or indeed the insurance
company! Only the other week a front spring snapped on my van, no problem, I
just fitted a new one from Autovaux. Shall I inform my insurersrolleyes

Russ smile
slightly different situation though...

if you bodge repaired this, then it went on to have a smash that could be then blamed on said repair, somebody is in a world of trouble.

there have been cases of this with counterfeit parts (Vauxhaul lower control arms anyone?).

now, I am not saying it can't be fixed safley, but I am not sure where this would leave you..

Erich Stahler

2,878 posts

239 months

Sunday 3rd January 2010
quotequote all
Surely you could go to a fabrication specialist and have a replacement wishbone bracket made, after all its only an off cut of aluminium box section, if it was welded onto a rectangular plate this could be bolted/tig welded/bonded on to the chassis, talk to one of the specialist engineering companies that work on racing cars, wouldn't be peanuts, but it could be a lot cheaper than a new chassis from Lotus?

Scuffers

20,887 posts

243 months

Sunday 3rd January 2010
quotequote all
Erich Stahler said:
Surely you could go to a fabrication specialist and have a replacement wishbone bracket made, after all its only an off cut of aluminium box section, if it was welded onto a rectangular plate this could be bolted/tig welded/bonded on to the chassis, talk to one of the specialist engineering companies that work on racing cars, wouldn't be peanuts, but it could be a lot cheaper than a new chassis from Lotus?
the problem is welding near any of the existing bonding, it will not survive the heat and ali conducts heat rather well.

If it was me, I would look at bonding a sandwich around it with a new hard point.

that side of the bush mount is only there to support lateral (to the car) loads, the front side deals with the longitudinal loads (from the brakes etc), hence why it's re-enforced with a sandwich plate.