Frequently Asked Questions

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What is the proper (n)etiquette for posting a message to the TurboEsprit Mailing List?

It has always been good netiquette, when responding to a message, to edit down the original message until only minimum relevant portions remain.  There is no reason to quote an entire 3, 5, or 10 page original message when you're only going to add four or five lines, particularly for the benefit of those people who receive this list as a digest and have to look at every page to find the start of the next message.

Please, once you've composed your reply, look it over. As a rule of thumb, less than half of your message should consist of lines quoted from the message you're replying to. Obviously there are going to be times when that doesn't work, but most of the time you can set the right context by including only a paragraph or so.  Cut away extra headers and signatures that contribute nothing new to the discussion.

How do I unsubscribe from the TurboEsprit Mailing List?

Some people sign up for the TurboEsprit Mailing list and then become overwhelmed with the volume of email they receive. You can expect to get approximately 50 to 100 mail messages per day. If this becomes a problem, you might first consider switching to the digest mode. In digest mode, you will only get one email per day. To do this, go to the Yahoo Groups web site, at, and select the User Center link from the menu bar on the left. This menu will let you change your subscription between digest and normal mode.

If you decide you that this is still too much for you, you may unsubscribe from the list. Instructions on where to go to do this are included at the footer of every text message sent to you by the list. Essentially you send a message to and the system will ask you to reply to a confirmation message.

What engine oil should I use on my Esprit?

This is one of the questions I get asked most frequently. Here's the official recommendations from Lotus:

4-cylinder Esprit
Refill Capacity (including oil filter) 6.7 US qt (6.3 litre)
Difference from low & high dipstick marks 0.9 US qt (0.85 liter)

Product Viscosity Grade
Mobil 1 5W/50
Valvoline Racing Oil  20W/50
Agip F1 Super Motor Oil 15W/50
Castrol Formula RS 10W/60
Elf Competition 20W/50
Elf Competition 15W/50

Esprit V8
Refill Capacity (including oil filter) 6.7 US qt (6.5 litre)
Difference from low & high dipstick marks 1.0 US qt (1.0 litre)

Product Viscosity Grade
Mobil 1 5W/50 or 5W/30
Agip F1 Super Motor Oil 15W/50
Castrol Formula RS 10W/60
Elf Competition 20W/50
Elf Competition 15W/50

You may have problems finding some of the brands or viscosities in your particular market. In the USA, many owners (myself included) choose to use Mobil 1 RS 15W/50.

What transmission oil should I use on my Esprit?

When it comes to transmission oil, Lotus has only the following recommendations: use Castrol TAF-X 75W/90 (Lotus part number A082F6552S). If the car is operated in continuously very low ambient temperatures, you can use Mobil SHC 75W/90. However, if you talk to members of the Esprit community, they unanimously recommend that you use Redline MT-90. Many owners claims that it feels that it feels like they have a new transmission and that the shifts are a lot smoother when they use this oil.

By the way, the transmission oil capacity is 3.2 US qt (3.0 litre).

How reliable is certain Esprit Model year?

Esprits, as any new car (especially from a small car company) started out having many reliability issues. During the many years of its development things have gotten progressively better. The most dramatic improvement in reliability was arguably the introduction of the GM/Delco Engine Management system for the 89MY. Year after year, Lotus took the lessons learned from the past and applied them to newer models culminating with the Esprit S4s which is generally regarded as the best example of a 4-cylinder Esprit.

Starting in the 96-97MY, Lotus took a small step back in reliability due to the introduction of the brand new 918 V8 engine. Common problems involved the faulty clutches and cracked exhaust manifolds. Lotus retrofitted all of these cars with new twin plate clutches for free and many manifolds were also replaced under warranty. Still, this small step back is to be expected and happens to any major car manufacturer at the introduction of a new model. As the years have progressed, the reliability is back up to where it was before with the S4s if not better. Furthermore, software improvements to the ECM have brought on more low end torque and responsiveness to later V8s. (Note: These changes are available as upgrades to prior V8s.)

The key here is that, generally, the newer - the better when it comes to reliability. However, as with anything else in life, there are exceptions. How reliable a particular Esprit is stems directly from how well the vehicle is maintained and how often it is driven. As I have mentioned before, "use it or lose it". Contrary to popular belief, a 10 year old, 3,000 mile "garage queen" may not be the most reliable Esprit you can buy. 

Always follow and document your Esprit maintenance and you will find that the Esprit is actually one of the most reliable exotics available.

How much money should I set aside for maintenance?

My general recommendation is that you budget approximately $3,000US for maintenance of an Esprit. The Esprit is covered with a 2 year, unlimited mileage warranty when new. During this time, repair costs should be non-existent, but regular maintenance will still cost you. The Esprit maintenance schedule is categorized into A, B, and C services with the A being the simplest (fluid changes, inspections, etc) to C being the most extensive (timing belt replacement, valve clearance inspection and adjustment). Service intervals are generally about  every 6,000 miles. Expect an A or B service to cost about $600-800US. A full C service will cost between $1,500 and $2,500US, depending on the dealer. Of course, you can save a lot of money if you do some of the work yourself. If you decide to do this, all I ask is that you don't try to cut corners in the name of cost savings. If you bought an exotic supercar, please treat it with the respect it deserves. If you can't afford it, buy a Hyundai.

How much is insurance going to cost me?

This is an extremely difficult question to answer, yet it gets asked all the time. The reason I can't give you an estimate is that insurance costs have too many variables. Your age, gender, marital status, driving record, distance from home to work, number of cars owned, state, city and neighborhood of residence and a myriad of other factors will influence what you will pay. If you are contemplating the purchase of an Esprit, my recommendation is that you call your current insurance company and a few others and get some quotes. One thing that is in your favor is that, being an extremely limited production vehicle makes the Esprit undesirable for thieves in the car parts market. This is one advantage that the Esprit carries over much more common cars such as a Honda Accord, Toyota, Camry, or Chevrolet Camaro, all cars that consistently rank high in the most car stolen lists. 

If you still are hung up on getting a number, I can tell you that it costs me only $800US a year with State Farm to insure my Esprit S4s. This is for 100/300/100 coverage with $500 deductible, clean driving record, multi-car discount, and a home, hurricane, and flood policy by the same company.

How do I increase the horsepower or performance of my Esprit?

The first question you really need to ask yourself when looking at increasing the Esprit's horsepower is "Why?". You need to examine your motives. If you're simply looking to fulfill some testosterone-driven ego trip, forget about it. The Esprit has plenty of horsepower - much more than the average driver can handle on the street. All the horsepower in the world won't fully compensate for lack of driver skill. The best performance upgrade you can invest in is to attend one of the many fine driving/racing schools throughout the world. Compared to other upgrades, it is a cheap investment, and it has the benefit that it's one that easily transfers to any car you happen to be driving.

If you are racing or auto-crossing your Esprit, there are upgrades you can do varying from free-flow exhausts, straight pipes, new air filters, larger turbos, blow-off valves, larger intake valves, larger brakes, different suspension setups, Larger wheels, better tires, etc. If you decide to go with any of these approaches, remember that upgrades need to be looked at as part of a complete system. Improvements in one area will necessitate improvements in others. 

Also, remember that there are limits to the amount of horsepower you can safely and reliably add to the Esprit. For example, if you decide to increase boost on a 4-cylinder Esprit beyond 1.2 bar, you're likely going to blow up your engine. Additionally, it is widely recognized that the Renault-sourced gearbox in the Esprit is one of its weakest links. If you exceed 400hp, you can easily destroy the box or split one of the output shafts.

What aftermarket sources supply parts for the Esprit?

Several businesses have come and gone in the pursuit to create an aftermarket for the Esprit. In addition to dealerships, you might also consider these sources JAE (which sponsors the Esprit Fact File), Dave Bean Engineering, Sanjaya Vatuk, Moto-Concept, and Hybimars.

Why does my Esprit engine rev so high when I cold start it?

Many people panic the first time they start certain 4-cylinder Esprits with the engine cold. Usually (but not always ) the RPMs climb rapidly to 2,500 or higher. Relax. This is normal behavior. In order to meet federal emissions regulations, the Esprit engine management system contains two components called the Exhaust Back Pressure Valve (EBPV) and the Throttle Jacking Capsule. The purpose of these two items is to bring the catalytic converter up to operating temperature as quickly as possible. This is done because converters don't work well at removing pollutants from exhaust gasses until they are warmed up.

In the simplest terms, this is what occurs: When the engine is being cold-started, the engine management computer (ECM) sends a command that closes the EBPV. This valve is located within the exhaust pipe, at the union between the rear of the catalytic converter and the pipe going to the muffler (silencer). Closing this valve essentially blocks the exhaust, trapping heat which causes the converter to warm up more quickly. While the EBPV is closed the ECM is referred to as running in "open loop mode".

The problem with closing the EBPV is that it has a tendency to cause the engine to stall. If you have seen the movie Beverly Hills Cop, you undoubtedly have heard of the "banana in the tailpipe trick". In order to prevent the engine from stalling, the ECM also sends a command to the Throttle Jacking Capsule which causes the throttle plates to open up (similar to pressing the accelerator pedal). This causes the RPMs to rise and prevents the engine from choking itself. Note You can force the ECM to drop the idle by quickly and briefly stabbing the accelerator pedal at least halfway.

After approximately 2 minutes, the ECM switches to "closed loop mode". It sends the opposite command to the EBPV to force it to open, and tells the Throttle Jacking Capsule to stop holding the throttle open.

The problem with the whole concept of EBPV / Throttle Jacking mechanism is that if you attempt to drive during this warm up cycle, the car will perform like crap because the exhaust is blocked. Furthermore, because the EBPV is spring-loaded to remain normally closed, any failure in the system (like a disconnected vacuum line) will cause the car to drive terribly. Due to this, many Esprit owners have chosen to wire EBPV to remain constantly open, or have removed the valve altogether. To help prevent the annoying high RPMs (which are much louder once the EBPV is wired open), many have also removed or disconnected the Throttle Jacking Capsule. There is nothing wrong with doing this. Remember, this mechanism is only there because Lotus needed it to meet EPA laws in the USA. In fact, when Lotus built the Esprit GT3, it also removed both these components. They were able to do this because the GT3 was never intended for the USA market. Besides, removing these items also reduces vehicle weight which is part of the Lotus religion.

Refer to Technical Service Bulletin #3 for more info on this topic.

Where can I get the history on a particular Esprit?

If you're buying a used Esprit, it is very important that you look into the service records of the car. This will help you decide if that good deal is really such a good deal after all. The first place to get the history is from the seller. He/she should have complete records of all service and repairs done to the car. If they don't, be very wary of the purchase. If you can't get in touch with the previous owner and your looking at an Esprit in the USA, you might consider giving a call to the wonderful folks at Lotus Cars USA (800-24-LOTUS). They can at least tell you all the services done to the car under warranty.

What should I look out for when buying a particular Esprit?

Be wary of cars without service records or with salvage titles. These cars can turn out to be nightmares and money pits. Remember the old adage: "If it looks too good to be true, it probably is." Always get the car thoroughly checked out by a competent (and preferably Lotus certified) service center. Participate in the TurboEsprit Internet list discussions to build up your knowledge of what to look for in a car and learn what is normal and what is not. Finally, study this Esprit Fact File from front to back. If you do, you will be armed the knowledge and information to make a wise purchase.

Is there a monthly magazine for and/or about Lotus cars?

There are two main publications available to Lotus enthusiasts. The first is Lotus Life which is the magazine of the Official Lotus Club. This is a nice, color publication with about 20-24 pages per issue. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to come out with enough regularity. Also, it seems that the main focus is on the Lotus Elise and its variants, as these are the current bread and butter for the company. Subscription is included with membership to the Official Lotus Club. To join, go to:  the Lotus site at: and click on the link to the Official Lotus Club.

The other publication is ReMarque which is the newsletter published by the Lotus Limited club. The newsletter is in black and white and is usually about 8 pages long. As with the Lotus Life, subscription to ReMarque is included as part of membership to the Lotus Limited club. To join, visit their web site at

What colors is the Esprit currently available in?

The 2002MY Esprit is now available in the following exterior paint colors:

Metallic Colors

Monochromatic Colors

Mustard Yellow

Azure Blue Calypso Red

Metallic Green

Chrome Orange Monaco White

Deep Purple

Gunmetal Gray Black

New Aluminum


The most popular colors being sold in the USA market in the past few years are Mustard Yellow, New Aluminum, Calypso Red, and Black. These are then followed by Inferno, Chrome Orange, and Azure Blue. New for the 2002MY are the Metallic Green and Gunmetal Gray colors.

Lotus, Porsche, Acura, Corvette, Ferrari, Lamborghini, etc. Which should I buy?

This is a totally subjective matter, but then you wouldn't be reading this if you weren't at least a bit of an Esprit fan.

The limited production of the Esprit puts it in the company of a select group of exotic supercars. Try as they might, the folks at GM can't really consider the Corvette an exotic. Sportscar yes. Supercar, doubtful. Exotic, not a chance. The Corvette is a very competent sportscar - especially the 2002 Z06 which has 405HP and does 0-60 in under 4 sec. Indeed this is faster than most Esprits.  However, Corvette annual production is in the tens of thousands, versus under 300 for the Esprit. This means that the exclusivity enjoyed by Esprit owners is something Corvette owners will never experience. Furthermore, over 70% of all Vettes are sold with automatic transmissions - not a very sportscar-like option.

Such is also the Porsche's failing. How can you take a sportscar seriously when most are built with the Tiptronic automatic transmission? Also, while the 911 Turbo, GT3 and GT3 are incredible performers, the standard 911 and Boxsters are a dime a dozen. Another unfortunate aspect is the stigma usually associated with Porsche (and BMW) owners. Unlike other car brands, these cars have built a reputation for snobbery that is often unwarranted. It is a shame, but I have met many Porsche owners who have had their pride and joys keyed by envious people.

The Esprit's most common rivals are the Acura NSX and the 8-cylinder (3xx series) Ferraris. The NSX is a hand built exotic whose excellent reputation for performance is exceeded only by its reliability. The problem with the NSX is that  it is often accused of lacking a soul. That reputation was partially earned by having Honda build a supercar that "even your grandmother" can drive. Many believe that a sportscar should demand much from its driver. If you don't have to work it, then it's not worth it. Ironically, companies like Ferrari and Porsche have recently been accused of "going soft" by building cars that are now more user-friendly like the NSX. Suffice it say that many Esprit owners used to own NSXs.

The Ferraris, in particular the 308, 328, 348, 355 and 360 have always been the Esprit's other natural competitor. Throughout the long histories of these cars, performance has usually been matched with a slight edge going to the Italian marque. The Esprit is often referred to as the poor man's Ferrari. While it is true that the Esprit costs between 1/2 to 2/3 of an equivalent Ferrari, at close to $100,000US, I would hardly consider the Esprit a poor man's anything. One area where the Italians win flat out is badge recognition. There is a certain panache that comes with Ferrari ownership. Everybody knows what a Ferrari is. By contrast, Lotus owners know all too well that the most common questions asked about their cars are: "Lotus? Who makes that?" and "Is that a Ferrari?". One area where Esprits excel over the Ferraris is reliability. Although the Italians have improved much over recent years, they are not still up the level of reliability of the Esprit. The other area where the Esprit leads is in lower maintenance costs. You might think a timing belt or other service is expensive for an Esprit. However, these costs pale in comparison to those paid by Ferrari owners for their 15K and 25K mile services. All those expenses seem to be worth it though when you experience the magic of that classic Ferrari sound. There's something special about the melodious buzz-saw sound of a Ferrari engine that seems to replicate the music of a Formula 1 car. Compared to this, most people seem to think a 4-cylinder Esprit sounds like a sewing machine while the V8 Esprit sounds remarkably like two sewing machines.

Lamborghinis are cars that are in another category beyond the Esprit known as the Ultra-Exotics. This category includes cars such as the McLaren F1, Ferrari F50, Vector M12, and Bugatti EB-110. Although annual production of the Diablo actually exceeds the Esprit's by a substantial margin, the performance of these cars puts it in a totally different league. Also in a different league is their price (over $200K US) and maintenance costs. However, if you can afford them, get them. There is nothing else like them in the world. I know I'm saving my $$ for a new Lamborghini Murcielago (and a 360 Spider).

One of the things that has always set the Esprit apart from most of its competitors is its outrageous "doorstop wedge" look. With its low, wide stance, wings, spats, and spoilers galore it is a shape that screams supercar and yells to the world "look at me!" This is both a good thing and a bad thing. Although the Esprit is truly a car to admire, when you drive one you feel like you're on display. Every time you're at a stoplight or walking to your car in the parking lot you will be greeted by stares, pointing fingers, thumbs-up , waves, cheers, and whistles. Total strangers will walk up to you at the gas station to ask you about the car. Some of them will even be brazen enough to ask you how much it costs - a very personal question to ask a stranger. People who don't know you will judge you based on the car. Individuals you've never seen before in your life will brag that they know you to their friends. Every teenager with a Mustang, Firebird, Camaro, or one of the myriad of "Fast and the Furious" cars out there will chase you through city  streets or challenge you at every stoplight. People on the highway will prevent you from switching lanes as they drive alongside to look at the car. Be forewarned - the Esprit is not a car for the timid. Only cars in the Ultra-Exotic category command more attention. If you're more of the conservative type, perhaps you should consider a more toned down car such as a Corvette, 911 or NSX. These cars, and even some of the Ferraris have have a more toned-down appearance that allows them to blend more into the scenery of  traffic.

All in all, the Esprit offers the perfect combination of exotic car looks, exclusivity, high performance,  reliability, and great customer service at a "reasonable" price. It is fitting that the Esprit's slogan is "For the few who know the difference...". Are you one of the few?

Which radar detector do you recommend I buy for my Esprit?

Say what you will about magazine tests, sensitivity, price, etc. most owners will tell you that the best money spent on a radar detector  is for the Valentine 1. You've probably seen the ads in Car & Driver and other magazines. Well it's all true. This detector is in a league all it's own. It's expensive. But once it saves you from even one speeding ticket, consider that it has paid for itself. This should be one of the first investments you make for your car. I could tell you more about this outstanding detector, but why not simply go to the Valentine One web site and read all about it. 

Note: I have no affiliation with this company other than being a very satisfied customer.

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