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Clutch Hose Upgrade

The original clutch hose on an Esprit is made of Red Plastic and runs from the Master cylinder under the bonnet, through the length of the chassis (if you look under the side of the Esprit you can see the red hose running the length of the car) to the slave cylinder mounted on the engine not far from the chargecooler pump. The problem with this hose is that heat builds during the use of the car which expands the plastic hose and heats up the clutch fluid, in turn reducing the performance of the clutch pedal. This is more of a problem in hot weather as more heat is retained and the Hose's capabilities are reduced further.

The symptoms are normally selecting gears. Personally I found it difficult to select first from neutral when starting (normally selecting third), second and third when down changing and a general notchy feel (worse than the normal notchy feeling). Others have had problems with grinding gears, which is a little embarrassing.

The cure is simple! Replace the Red Plastic Hose with a Braided Stainless Steel Hose costing around £38 (SJ Sportcars Tel: 01363 777790). PNM Engineering also do a version with a bigger bore (PNM Engineering Tel: 01516306101).This is a one man job (you may need help bleeding) taking from 3hrs upwards, depending on how good you are at working on your car (I won't tell you how long it took me!).

I also used a Heat Shield to protect the hose in the engine bay. A braided hose will not expand like the plastic one, but it won't stop the fluid heating up. Orchard Dealership (Tel: 01604 403040) supplied mine along with advice on this upgrade. The Asbestos Heat Shield is only used to cover the braided hose in the engine bay, as this is where the majority of the heat is picked up.

You will need the following parts:

Braided Hose
Heat Shield
Clutch Fluid (dot 4)
Cable Ties

You will need the following tools:

Jack & Axle Stand (or ramps)
Container (for old fluid)
Spanners & Sockets (10mm, 11mm, 12mm, and a imperial half inch)
Bleeding Kit (optional)
Kitchen Towel (I make lots of mess)

One of the most important things to remember when performing this upgrade is Clutch Fluid will strip your paint. Please be careful and make sure you keep everything clean, especially your hands when touching the bodywork.

Read this guide in full before starting as it will save you time in the long run.


Time to start, I used Andy Whittaker's guide on his website to help with my Hose Replacement. I also go a bleed kit (both brakes & clutch) but didn't use it in the end.


You'll need to work from underneath the car as the Slave Cylinder is located on the side of the gearbox, easy access from below. I jacked the Esprit up via the centre of the rear chassis box and used the axle stands on the jacking points. I'm sure there's a better way of doing it, as I could have done with the car being higher, but was restricted by my jack (not the Esprit's one).


The Master Cylinder is located under the front bonnet to the offside. The Slave Cylinder is located under the engine, again to the offside. You'll need to get right under the car to see it. It should be easy to spot as it has a red hose going into one end and a rod coming out the other.


Undo the two 13mm bolts that hold the Slave Cylinder. You may find the higher bolt hard to get to. I used an extension on my ratchet and could only turn it one-eight of a turn, so it took a while. A bit of WD40 might be needed here! You can now detach the Slave Cylinder leaving the rubber cover and rod behind.


Now it's time to empty the system of clutch fluid. Loosen the Bleed Nipple (11mm) and get someone to depress the clutch pedal, which in turn will push the fluid out of the cylinder into your container. Personally, I just chopped the Red Hose close to the Slave Cylinder (see above) and drain the hose into the container. Doing it this way also allows you to undo the Red Hose from the Slave Cylinder in more comfortable surroundings. Which in my case meant in a vice as everything was a little stiff! I found mine needed an imperial half-inch spanner.


Back under the car, snip off the cable ties that hold on the plastic covering and remove it. You'll now see the Red Hose along with two other hoses (brakes I think!). Andy suggest tying a piece of string to the hose as you pull it out, so it can then be tied it to the braided one and pulled it back through. I found this difficult because I'd chopped off the hose and found the string slipping off through the tight bits. In the end I pulled the hose out and fed the string through as I went.
Underneath the car, passed the engine bay the Red Hose disappears under a black plastic covering. Under this are two clips holding the hose to the bottom of the car. As I'd chopped off the fixing I just pulled the hose through these, but you'll need to unclip the hose if you leave the end on the hose.


You can now pull the hose through the length of the car, with the string following closely behind. There's two grommet's in the front box section, you'll need to remove them if again you've left the end on the hose. If not you can pull the Red Hose straight through. You'll see the Red Hose disappear up into the car near the front. Now disconnect the Red Hose from the Master Cylinder and pull the Red Hose up from under the car. Remember to keep any Clutch Fluid from the cars bodywork.


Untie the string from the Red Hose and dispose of the nasty thing! Tie the string to the braided hose, I also taped around it for extra strength. Then feed the Braided Hose back through the car, using the string to help pull it back through the car.


I found the Braided Hose went easily through the grommet in the front bonnet and the first one in the box section. But I had to remove the second grommet to get the Braided Hose through. Now fed the Braided Hose back through the underside of the car.


Reattach the clips and fed the Braided Hose back into the engine bay. You can now place the Heat Shield round the Braided Hose. Replace the Bleed Nipple and new connection to the Slave Cylinder. The Bleed nipple needs to go at the top when mounting the slave cylinder so you can bleed the system.


You can now reconnect the Slave Cylinder to the Braided Hose. Now it's time to bleed the system. Make sure the Bleed Nipple is tightly done up. Fill the Master Cylinder with Clutch Fluid and replace the top. Depress the clutch pedal twice to force the fluid into the new hose. Open the Master Cylinder and refill if needed with clutch fluid, and depress the clutch again. Now attach a piece of tubing to the bleed nipple (I used the piece from the bleeding kit) and open the Bleed Nipple a little until fluid start to fill the tube. Get someone to depress the clutch while you watch to see that the tube fills with fluid with no air. Once this is achieved, depress the clutch and hold while the bleed nipple is tighten back up. Check the Master Cylinder is topped up with fluid.

Note: I'm no expert on Bleeding, so take further advice.

Now reattach the Slave Cylinder to the car replacing the rod into the Cylinder and reattaching the rubber covering then the two bolts. Replace the plastic covering over the two hoses (include the new Braided Hose if you're not using a heat shield). Then cable tie the new Braided Hose and Heat Shield to the plastic covering. Make sure the new Braided Hose doesn't run close to the timing belts, I used an extra cable tie to fix the hose away from the timing belts.

Finished. Now test drive the car to make sure everything's working.

LEW's Verdict

You should now have a much better and smoother gear change, especially in hot weather and shouldn't have any problems selecting gears. This upgrade won't fix all your gearbox problems, but should make it easier to live with, and all for around £50.


If you try this, feel free to e-mail me with your Verdict at kato@lotusespritworld.com

June 2013
Bleeding the slave cylinder when it is NOT attached to the clutch housing (depressing the clutch pedal) will fill the cylinder with hydralic fluid. When refitting it and the rod goes back in and you've just topped up reservoir and replaced cap, you will spray your front compartment with brake fluid through the tiny hole in the cap. It will get all over your paintwork and this is BAD! I know because I did this myself. Water and lots of it is the cure for break fluid on paintwork. I recommend refitting of slave cylinder FIRST, then topping up, then bleeding the system with hose to bleed niple the usual way.

Hope this can save some serious cursing!


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