With the nearest Lotus dealership being hours away I knew it’d be up to me to repair my own failure-prone oil lines on my own. I enlisted the help of Mike, a fellow Elise owner, to help me this past weekend and it was a larger undertaking than we initially expected. I had access to a two-post lift which made things tremendously easier than if I hadn’t had one to use. I purchased the Sector 111 ONEcoolerLINES last month and have been waiting for the right weekend to be able to do the swap. Here’s some tips I have for people who are wanting to do this.
The instructions call for the front clam coming off but I can vouch for the ease of doing this with the clam on. The only difficult thing of having the clam on is access to the front of the oil cooler on the driver’s side where the oil flows out from the cooler and across the front to the joint (or second cooler if you have the Sport package) on the passenger side. I was easily able to get in there and with one hand gently bending the front bumper lip down, reach in with a wrench and loosen the oil line fitting (and then reattach the new fitting).
The other difficult part was where the stock fittings join with the sandwich plate. There’s not a whole lot of room and the nut on the sandwich plate will turn with the nut on the oil line fitting if you don’t have something to hold it still with. The instructions called for a 22mm and a 24mm wrench which is fine and dandy, but your 22mm wrench needs to be as thin as possible. I decided to cut the lines at the stock fittings, remove the sandwich plate, and work on it in a less cramped space like my workbench. Using a set of needle-nose vice grips I was able to hold the nut on the sandwich plate still while I removed the oil line fitting. When I reassembled it with the new lines and fittings I tightened them snugly before reinstalling the sandwich plate in place (while it hung there), reinstalled the sandwich plate, and then tightened up the new fittings. This made for an easier time and less bloodied knuckles.
Pulling The Lines
If I can give anyone advice going into this – it’s not to underestimate the amount of force you will probably need to apply to pull out the old oil cooler lines (while snaking in the new ones). One person on LotusTalk said that they nearly pulled their car off of the jack stands it was sitting on. I knew that we were going to have to pull hard but I had no idea it’d be as hard as it was. We threw the wheels back on and lowered the car from the lift. It took two of us pulling the hose as hard as possible to pull it out. We used a pair of vice-grip pliers on the hose to give us a better grip/hold. When you say to the guy helping you “pull until you think you’re going to break something… and then pull harder” you know you’re in for a workout. I used wire and duct-tape to hold the new hose to the old hose. If they were to come apart half-way through I’m not sure what you’d have to do… it’s possibly one of the most difficult strength-wise modifications I’ve done on a car.
I’ll throw some pictures of the ONEcoolerLINES kit on here as soon as I can find them… In the meantime, just follow the instructions that came with your kit and if you’re going to attempt this without the Sector111 kit, BOE has a great write-up on the fittings you’ll need as well as a few pointers on how to change them out that you can find here.