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It's not always a good thing to meet your idol

It's a sad sight to see your new pride and joy be taken away by the AA. A snapped throttle cable I thought, seeing as the right pedal no longer made it go paaaaarp. Nope, it's drive-by-wire on the Toyota engines. So back to Lotus it went to receive a new ecu map and some other bits. When it came back it was as good as new, apart from it had now developed a tremendous rattle from the rear diffuser at idle. I suspect that's the slightly lower rpm idle it seems to have now.


My brother's Elise, 11 years old, working perfectly at Spa
(I was in no mood to take a picture of mine on a recovery truck)

No sooner did I get it back then the heater stops working. By this time I'm becoming really glad that the car came with a 1 year warranty, not to mention that I'm really quite a patient human being, to a point... I'd accepted that the heater was a bit asthmatic in comparison to the old MX-5 (which was like opening a duct directly to the pits of Hell). Actually it was because it was about to expire. After fishing around in the passenger side access panel I found the fuse blown. I replaced it but to no avail. Whatever had taken the fuse out was well and truly FUBAR.

Dropping it off once again at the dealers I'm informed that the resistor pack had gone and that the warranty company treat this as a fuse so it's not covered... Hmmmm. Thankfully the dealers did the right thing and covered the cost. Considering I think they'd had it more than me at this point I thought that was a fair gesture and I'd have been more than a little pissed if they hadn't, so good on them for doing the right thing. Anyhow, that warranty comment bugged me. Knowing how much insurance and warranty people like to wiggle out of paying for anything I thought I'd look into this resistor pack.

Lo and behold, it's another common Lotus fault. It is certainly not a fuse, that's for sure. It's the speed controller for the fan on the heater matrix. In fact there is no way in anybody's book could this be described as a fuse. A fuse is designed to blow when a fault occurs. In blowing it is performing it's function. The resistor pack is designed to change the voltage provided to the fan dependent on the position of the fan switch, thereby changing the speed of the fan. It expiring is very much not it's function, nor is it in any sense of the definition, a consumable. In fact it's expiry has a lot to do with where the resistor pack is.

Coming from kit cars I'm pretty used to heater matrix's (and the removal of them). They usually sit behind the dash or on the scuttle, usually a nice dry environment. Lotus however fit it under the front clam exposed to the elements. Moisture gets in, the contacts erode, you eventually get a short and the resistor pack expires. This is not a function of design, this is a function of piss poor weather protection. If you're going to stick electrical components where they'll be exposed to moisture, you protect them from it! Oh don't get me wrong, the packaging is probably genius in terms of weight distribution and centre of gravity, but FFS does no one there ever think about actually using one of these things outside?

So, what is a cheap component on a car that's hardly been used, becomes a clam off job to replace and a 600+ bill for labour. Again, I'm thankful of JCT in Leeds picking up the tab, but that's potentially 1200+ worth of maintenance required on a 11000 mile car that I'd only personally driven 300 miles. That this is souring the ownership experience is an understatement. I expected it not all to be plain sailing, sure, I'm not naive enough to believe that Lotus can build a car as well as Porsche or Honda, I know that's simply not possible. But I expect above-kit car quality!


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