Oil, Oil Coolers, Spark Plugs, Head Gasket, Throttle Bodies




Click here for the Engine Oil Bible - all you could ever wish to know about engine oil!

It's generally accepted that a decent semi synthetic oil is fine for normal day to day road driving, and that perhaps a fully synthstic oil would be of benefit on track

The elise suffers from ventilation problems in the engine bay which tends to result in higher than ideal oil temperatures, especially on track. A synthrtic oil may resist breakdown for longer but ultimately the only real solution is an oil cooler.

Oil Coolers


Two prinipal types exist, an oil to air cooler and an oil to water cooler.

The oil to air cooler is basically identical to a small radiator, problem with this kind on the elise is that in order to get sufficient air flow over the cooler you must locate the cooler at the front of the car, and this reaults in a lot of difficult to install pipework, siting the oil cooler in the engine bay air inlets simply heats the engine bay further and it's debatable whether sufficient airflow flows through the side vents in any case. An air to oil cooler should always be used with an oil thermostat to prevent overcooling and to minimise oil warm up time.

The oil to water cooler is perhaps better suited to the elise, as it requires only a supply of coolant and oil to operate and can thus be fitted in almost any place that a coolant pipe runs. Further benefits are that the oil to water cooler will actually warm cold engine oil during warm up, which gets the oil to operating temperature faster and results in less wear and better fuel consumption (like people care ?).

Some pics of an oil/water cooler installation here.

Customised oil/air and oil/water cooler kits are available from EliseParts.

Spark Plugs


This link provides some information about examining spark plugs to give an indication of the running state of your engine:

Head Gasket


The K series engine that powers the Elise is somewhat marked by it's passion for blowing head gaskets (HGF).

Many believe that there is a thermal cycling problem with the rear engine, front radiator configuration of the Elise (and MGF), this configuration means that the engine coolant quantity is very small compared to the cold water circuit in the front of the car, and that this can cause repeated thermal cycling, hot, cold, hot, cold, etc at higher powers and speeds.

To avoid HGF, avoid using full throttle or revs over around 4500 until the temperature is registering about 80 on the gauge.

The following is not of my (Dot) invention, but I forgot to note the source, if you recognise it, please let us know:

Checking for a Blown Head Gasket

If your head gasket has gone there would be loss of coolant, true - it is unlikey however that it would be dripping under the car.

However to check for a blown head gasket...

  1. Check your coolant levels, has the level dropped - it is very likely that you will get steam out of your exhaust if this is the case and the gasket has blown.
  2. Is there oil floating (significant)on top of the coolant? - this again could point at the head gasket.
  3. When you check the oil level is there any mayonaise like stuff on the inside if the filler cap. This is caused by oil from the engine mixing with the coolant which has got into where it shouldn't via a blown head gasket and then emulsifying. If you only use the car a little this effect can somtimes occur however.
  4. Check over all the hoses with the engine running (the cooling system is then hot and under pressure) this will show up any leaks. A leaking pipe isn't a blown head gasket and should be easy to fix (cheap). Unless of course there is steam coming out from between the head and the block!
  5. Engine overheating - extreme situation caused by any of the above when the cooling system really dries out.

Changing the K-Engine Head Gasket at an MGF is shown here:

Maintenance: diagnosis and prevention of HGF is covered in detail here:

Upgraded Gaskets

Dave Andrews
Posted 23 June 2002 at 16:20:02 UK time


The Eliseparts, Mike Satur and Motobuild gaskets are improved versions of the standard gasket, better material, better forming of fire rings, thru-pinning of the waterway rubber seals (rather than just surface bonding) snd steel dowels instead of plastic more or less cover the improvements. The Raceline gasket is a multi layer steel gasket which uses a formed upper and lower thin steel layer to seal the water / oilways and a central steel sandwich to seal the bores, with these gaskets liner height has to be just right. The improved standard pattern gaskets all represent a better quality standard pattern item which proves itself more reliable in service. The Multi Layer Steel gasket should be absolutely bullet proof provided liner heights are carefully measured/set.

The Raceline gasket is considerably more expensive than the alternatives and is targeted at high output (race tuned) engines, it's also only really useful if you get the liner heights set very accurately.

Throttle Bodies


The standard part is 48mm and has a plastic valve that can be prone to sticking. For a straight replacement throttle body see Note that there have been problems trying to fit the Opel part - I don't know of anyone with an Elise that has managed that.

Nick Adams has confirmed on the Lotus board that the standard TB is the most restrictive part of the induction system (although he will not (of course) recommend any replacement TBs).

The Trophy 160 Metal (Rover Part MHB000261) is 52mm and has been fitted by a number of people with very nice results. RNLI did a before and after rolling road test and noted a 4 BHP and 4lbs of torque increase on average across the whole rev range. There have been reports of the engine running lean on some S2s and some 111Ss (not seen that on my 111S though). My car does seem brisker and although the throttle response is sharper, it is still nice and smooth.

Bruce, Teesside
Posted 30 March 2002 at 11:03:22 UK time


It's very easy to fit.

* Remove cable
* Remove the 2 small pipes
* Remove the huge pipe to the air filter
* Remove the four screws - hex type screws - the ones underneath are quite fiddly - watch you don't drop them
* Remove throttle cable* Chuck old TB away! ...after compairing the two (of course)

* Do the same as you did to remove the old TB, but in the reverse order to fit the new one.

* Make sure the throttle cable is adjusted correctly. So there's no (or little) play in the cable when the TB is closed, and make sure that it is closed. Mine wasn't at first.

* Also ensure that the TB opens all the way when the peddle is pressed to the floor.

* Once everything is back in place your best off reseting the ECU. ie. ignition on (but don't start the engine) and do 5 full pumps of the accelerator peddle. (this lets the ECU know the new settings for open/closed on the TB)

* Test drive

Disclaimer : All information is supplied as a guide only.
No Guarantee as to its reliability can be issued.
You use this information entirely at your own risk.

No Reproduction or Reuse without prior written consent.

© Elise FAQ Team 2002