The Esprit needs regular servicing. A, B's & C's are all done at different intervals and contain differing levels of maintenance (see service schedule here). The A service is the most basic and can be undertaken at home if you wish. The guide shows you how to do a DIY A-Service. You won't be able to follow the service guide to the letter, so it's up to you whether you undertake this or not. We're happy to leave a few things to the next service or the next time work is done by a Lotus specialist. You may not be.
We'll show you how to change the oil & filter, spark plugs, clean the brakes and check the fluids. Also I'll tell you what to inspect and check. If you find something, then you can take it to a Lotus Specialist and get that problem fix, if you feel unable to do it yourself. Even if you only do a couple of things and then put your Esprit in for an A-Service, you'll have still saved some money and learnt a bit about your car.
The basic A-Service will contain the following maintenance.
engine oil & filter
gearbox oil and inspect for leaks
operation of cooling fans
front trunnions (older models)
You'll need to decide what you can do, what doesn't need doing and what you'll get done at the next service or by a Lotus Specialist. To do the basics of an A-Service
You will need the following parts:
Oil Filter (£11)
You will need the following tools:
& checking under the Esprit
Changing the Oil & Filter is simple if you know what you're doing. First thing to do is to take your Esprit on a short drive to warm the engine oil up. This will make it easier to remove from the engine and also holds all the waste in the oil, so you remove it with the oil. Once the engines warm, you'll need to jack up the Esprit to get at the sump drain plug.
Lotus advise against the use of any flushing oil, so don't use any!
This is how we Jack -up our Esprit (see guide here). You can do it your own way if you want. But make sure you use some form of Axle stand, as you don't want the Esprit coming down on you while you're under it. We've used two axle stands, although only one is shown. Remember safety first while working on your Esprit.
Once you can get under the car, you'll need to remove the sump drain plug. This is a 19mm bolt with a plastic washer. Undo it slowly, as if you just pull it out, you find a wave of oil heading in your direction. Have a container under the plug to catch the oil. I used a reusable can from a local motor parts shop. To help drain the oil, we lowered the Esprit and jacked up the front. This helps to get more of the oil out of your sump. Once the oil stops draining, replace the sump drain plug and washer and lower the Esprit if you don't want to remove the oil filter from underneath.
You can also check for any leaks from the brakes and clutch and check the condition of your Exhaust system while you're under the car. We've recently replace all of these, so checking was easy. If you're unsure, then add it to the list when you next visit your Lotus Specialist.
As for gearbox oil, I will be doing a separate guide to changing this. Checking is a little more difficult, so I've just checked for leaks and will be replacing the oil soon.
Left: Filter from underneath the car. Centre: Filter from above right. Right: with the filter removed.
Now all you need to do is to remove the old filter. This is positioned, deep to the right side of the engine and isn't easily accessible. We've already replaced our filter, so this time it was easy to remove. We could just turn it with our hand (with gritted teeth!). Your filter maybe more attached to your Esprit. You can either use a device to remove filters (there's a few on the market) or do what we did last time. Push a screwdriver through it and turn it, until it's lose enough to take off by hand. Turn it anti-clockwise to remove. You'll find some oil will come out with the removal of the filter, so have a cloth ready to reduce the mess.
Once the filters removed (left), clean up the mounting with a cloth, then rub some new oil on the face of both the mounting and the new filter. This will stop it from seizing on and make it easier to remove next time. Once this is done, screw the new filter back onto your Esprit. Clockwise and only hand-tighten. Only use original Lotus oil filters.
You can now fill your Esprit with new fresh oil. We used Mobile One (see lubricate page here), but we'll leave the choice of oil up to you. Our only advice would be to use the best you can. Use a funnel to put the oil in, as you don't want engine oil all over your engine. Add around 4 litres and then check the dipstick and add more oil, until you reach the maximum on the dipstick. Be careful not to over fill. Give the oil time to spread before checking the dipstick
Now you can start your engine and check for leaks. Then take a short drive and again check for leaks. Remember to check your oil regularly afterwards. On a flat surface and once the engine is cool.
First remove the HT leads from the spark plugs. These should be numbered if you've got original Lotus leads. If they are not, you'll need to note which lead goes where, as they need to go back in the same place. Then you need a plug removal tool, this is basically a socket with a deep head. Remove the plugs by unscrewing anit-clockwise.
You can see above where to plugs were screwed into. Clean up this area with a rag or something. Next you need to set the gap in your new plugs. Our Esprit needs a gap of 0.9mm, you can find this out by looking in your owners manual.
You can now replace the plugs. The same way as you removed them. Once all four are back in, replace the leads onto the plugs. You should feel these clip back in. It's as simple as that.
Cleaning and checking the brakes can be done easily at home. Once you got the wheel off, you can check the wear on the disc and pad. The disc should be smooth with no scoring and you can see how much pad you have left by looking into the caliper.
To clean them we purchased some brake cleaning fluid. All you do is soak the disc and pads and watch the dirty drip off. Easy to do and does make a difference to your brakes (if only for a short time). While each wheel is off you can check the brake lines for any sign of leaks.
While the wheels are off each corner, you can check the steering and suspension for sight of damage or wear. You can also lubricate everything with a grease spray. This will not only lubricate, but protect from rust, which affects the suspension.
Fluids & Lubricating
You need to check and refill all your fluids, we've done the engine oil, you'll need to check the windscreen washer fluid, clutch fluid and radiator fluid. Top all these up if you need to, using what's recommended in your handbook. You can also check for any leaks to these systems.
Brake fluid is under the front bonnet and under a plastic panel. Be careful handling brake fluid as this will damage your paintwork (as will clutch fluid). Top up and check for leaks. If you find any problems, get it checked by a Lotus Specialist. DON'T take any chances with your brake system.
We used some grease spray to lubricate all the door hinges and suspension. Be careful not to get any on your brakes. We also lubricated the handbrake cable at the caliper and the lights have only just been replaced, but we've re-lubricated them.
Inspections can be done without to much trouble, as covered in the oil change section, gearbox, clutch, rear brakes, handbrake and exhaust system can all be check while taking the sump drain plug out.
Cooling fans can be checked, by leaving the car running until the temperature rises enough to start the fans. You need to check all three are running. You can see these from the front wheel arch.
You won't be able to do everything a dealer can on an A-Service. But as we've said before, it's a case of doing-it-yourself and if you want the other bits done, you can either get them done at a Lotus Specialist or wait until the next service. We wouldn't advise waiting to the next service too often, we would have them done the next time your Esprit goes in for some work. Remember to keep a record of what's been done and what needs doing.
Things weI've left for the Lotus Specialist:
cam-belt (next time my Esprit goes in)
Check/adjust V-belts (next time my Esprit goes in)
Check/adjust ignition timing (next time my Esprit goes in)
Inspect brake tell tale (next time my Esprit goes in)
Inspect front & rear wheel toe-in (had all the wheels and suspension setup)
LEW's last service was a full C-Service only 4,000 miles ago, so we're happy to do this A-service and get the other little bits done when the Esprit goes in to have it's new wheels and brakes done in the near future. We'll leave what you wish to do up to you. This is just a guide to how we've been looking after our Esprit.
90% of an A-Service can be done by you at home. We wouldn't advise doing a B or C Service, but we think doing an A-Services yourself is worth the effort and cost saving. It will not damage the history of your Esprit if done properly. Remember to keep all the bills and a list of what you've done and what you haven't. You can then advise the specialist at your next service what needs special attention.
This should take around 3-5 hours, depending on your ability. It's not too difficult and will save you a few quid. But more than that, it's about working on your Esprit and looking after it. You know what's been done and how it's been done. Rather than dropping it off and picking it up, without seeing any work done. If you can't do something, then you can book it in to get it done. The choice is yours!
If you do this maintenance. Feel free to e-mail LEW with your opinion on it and we can add it to this page. firstname.lastname@example.org
Information from an S4 owner
Thanks for the guide, just used it to perform an A service on my S4. This is the first time I have attempted this in 5 years of ownership! must be getting used to the car.
A difference on my car is that I required a 12mm Hex socket for the sump plug. My filter was also a bit stiff, however I found that if I stood in the boot it made releasing it a bit easier! I didn't look at the brakes as I have had them replaced with greenstuff pads and discs. I also noticed that my rear tyres are 245/40ZR 17 which is different from the web page.
keep up the good work.