Fuel Vapour Charcoal Trap Purge Valve, Brakes, Gearbox, Tappet Noise On Startup, Door Rattles over bumps S2, Rear Suspension Clunks when Hot, General Suspension Clunks, Whines or Rumbles, Drivers Side Sill Rattle S1


Compiled by Fd


The Elise is a car with little soundproofing, this means that many normal noises can be heard where is a more soundproofed car the would not be, this can be a cause of concern to new owners.

Of course, like all cars, the Elise may make noises when all is not well.

The following list is a non exhaustive list collated from owners comments on the BBS.

Note : If you are genuinely concerned about a noise your car is making, STOP. If you are not familiar with car noises it's better to be safe than sorry, and to get someone to check the car for you.

Fuel Vapour Charcoal Trap Purge Valve


A soft ticking noise during warm up coming from over the drivers left shoulder, this is almost always the charcoal trap purge solenoid operating. This solenoud operates under part throttle during warm up to remove trapped fuel vapour from the vapour trap so that next time the car is parked up the trap can stop fuel vapour escaping the fuel tank.

It's normal. Some cars purge solenouds are louder than others.



General Brake Noise in the brake section here.

Squealing brakes can often be cause by new pads, especially if you are using more 'race' orientated pads sich as Pagid RS4-2's or RS14/15s, ultimately for these pads the only solution is some hard use, as this seems to stop the squaling noise better than any solution . . . take it to a track day :-).



All gearboxes make some noise, the PG1 gearbox in the elise being no exception, however the lack of soundproofing makes the noise very prominent, and this is a very common query.

Gearbox whine in higher gears under power and gearbox 'gating' on overrun in higher gears, is generally perfectly normal.

Tappet Noise On Startup


A tappet noise on starting the engine, perhaps for the first time in a while can, not surprisingly, be cause by the tappets in the engine, or rather the hydralic cam followers, these can drain of oil when the engine is stopped for long periods of time and cause the cam to followe clearance to be excessive. The followers will fill with oil in time and the noise should disappear.

Door Rattles over bumps - S2


The S2 was initially released with door striker pins that were of too small a diameter, this caused the door and door locks to rattle when the car was going over bumpy roads. This is a recall issue so you should seek a cost free repair (!!!) from your local Lotus dealer. Immediate releif can be had by wrapping some insulating tape round the striker pin, how much is a matter of trial and error, however be carefull, too much and the door may not shut correctly.

Rear Suspension Clunks when Hot


If you get a clunk from the rear suspension when the car is very hot (eg. a track day) then this may well be the inner balljoints on the rear toe control links.

These balljoints sit close to the exhaust system. On later cars small metal heat shields are fitted to try to keep these balljoints cool, they are not 100% effective.

If the noise disappears when the car is cooler then it is likely that there is nothing wrong with the balljoints.

General Suspension Clunks


Many people comment on the clunking noises that the suspension makes. There are a number of sources, some more likely than others.

S1 - Original Koni dampers, these dampers seem to have a relatively short life if used hard, and in time they all seem to make terrible 'billiard ball' type clunking noises when going over small/intermediate bumbs at low speed. The only solution is to replace the dampers.

S2 - the Billstein dampers on the S2 seem (at the moment) to be much quieter.

S1 - Anti Roll Bushes, the earlier type of anti roll bar (large aluminium retaining bracket) can make a terrible squealing noise in even very small bumps, this is cause by the ARB bush (a thin nylon like strip inside the ARB mount) wearing, it can be adjusted, but it requires disassembly of the ARB mounts.

Balljoints. There are many balljoints in the Elise suspension system, if any of these are worn then the resulting noise will be heard.

Whines or Rumbles


Whines that relate to road speed alone are either wheel bearing or gearbox final drive (diff/mainshaft) problems. Wheel bearings can make a large amount of noise for quite a while before the bearing shows any signs of play. Determine whether the bearing is at fault by jacking the car and spinning the wheel - listen for a roughness.

Whines that relate to engine speed are either the engine or gearbox input side. Occasionally people report cam covers fouling the cam belt, this may cause a cam belt failure, and the resulting destruction of the engine, check it out. Alternaor bearing/water pump bearing failures can also cause engine whines, but are not very common.

Drivers Side Sill Rattle - S1

Bruce - Scandal S160


There is a 'design issue' with one of the coolant pipes that runs through the sill fouling a rivet in the sill, this can cause rattles from inside the sill . . .

right...rivet in sill scenario a few quotes:-

"knocking noise turns out to be a design fault in the chassis coolant pipe that results in it chaffing away on a chassis rivet, eventually holing. Lotus do not regard this as a manufacturing fault"

"If it's a pre 1999 model then it could be the coolant pipe rubbing on a rivet on the chassis (the coolant pipe runs along the chassis on the driver's side)."

"I had this problem with mine, after the pipe has warmed (15 mins or so) it made a terrible squeaking noise on any uneven road surface (sounded like it coming from behind your right ear)."

"If this is the problem, then you should get it sorted ASAP as if it continues it may rub a hole in the pipe! In any case, i'd get someone to look at it just in case."

On later models this doesn't happen as the pipe has a kink in it.

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