Problems With Lotus Cars? (6 Most-Common Issues)

The British car brand Lotus has been around since the 50s and comes from engineering partners Colin Chapman and Colin Dare. Since then, it has made its way into commercial space and Formula One racing.

The company has had a few name changes in its history but has managed to release reliable cars. They have a range of well-designed vehicles in their arsenal and seem to be keeping customers happy.

With that said, Lotus had had its fair share of consumer complaints and a few recalls in its history.

In this article, we’re looking at some common problems with Lotus cars and how to deal with them.

1. Air Conditioning Failure

Owners of the Lotus Elise have reported a failed air conditioning system after only a few years. They noted that the AC would only blow room temperature air or completely stop working.

The 2005 Elise is notorious for this problem and it often has owners confused as to what the problem might be. It is not a typically difficult to fix the AC unless it points to a larger issue.

AC issues are usually due to low freon levels or blown fuses. A quick freon refill and replacing blown fuses should do the trick.

If the issue persists, owners were able to track down the problem to the compressor. The compressor is controlled by the ECU and should be at 12V when it closes.

A good mechanic should be able to track down the problem and fix it. If the issue is a low level of freon, you can simply buy it and refill it again.

Air con issues are not an immediate problem but can be inconvenient in extreme heat or cold temperatures.

It is best to get an aircon issue sorted out so that you know that it is not indicating a more serious problem.

2. Loud Screeching Noise When Starting

There can be a few issues to look at when you experience loud squealing noises in a Lotus car. They can range from worn-out belts all the way to alternator and battery issues.

The Lotus Evora has been known to make a screeching sound on a cold start. The noise gets even louder when the car gets into 3rd and 4th gear and when decelerating.

Serpentine belts or drive belts help with components such as the water pump, air conditioning, alternator, and power steering pump.

If the drive belt gets worn out, it can cause a loud squealing noise when you start the car. A serpentine belt that’s worn out has no tension and ends up slipping when the car starts.

An alternator that is going bad can also lead to a noisy starting engine. It mostly starts on Lotus cars that have over 50,000 miles on the clock.

Replacing the alternator is usually a better idea than trying to fix it. Typically, the alternator and the serpentine belt have to be replaced together.

Symptoms of a failing alternator are flickering lights and electronics, and an engine that cranks slowly.

It can cost over $1,000 for an alternator replacement.

3. Dead Key Fob Issue

The Lotus Evora and Lotus Elise both have a problem where the key fob suddenly stops working to unlock the car.

A failing key fob can be frustrating because it locks you out of the car and needs to be reset before it can be used.

There are ways to synchronize the remote to the Lotus if it fails and you don’t have access to a spare key.

Steps to Re-Synchronize a Lotus Key Fob

  • Hold down both fob buttons for 10 seconds until LED goes off
  • Release the buttons and the LED will stay on
  • Press the large button once and the key fob and LED will flash

After these steps, your key fob should be re-synchronized with your car. You might have to call Lotus customer care and they’ll walk you through the process to reprogram the key.

The first thing to check with a failing key fob is the battery because it is the most accessible. The car battery also needs to be checked because it is required for unlocking the doors remotely.

Many Lotus Evora owners who faced the key fob issue had to either re-synchronize their key fob or reprogram a new key. Owners also had to check the car’s fuses after having checked all the batteries.

Re-synchronizing an existing key fob will be easier and much cheaper than buying and reprogramming a new key. It is a good idea to not only carry an extra key fob and an extra battery.

Owners that reported this issue to a dealership were supplied with a new set of key fob batteries.

The new set of batteries from the dealership usually doesn’t last very long before the problem reoccurs.

4. Footwell Floor Corrosion

The Lotus Elise models were plagued by reports of floor corrosion in models from after 2004. The floor panels that are made of aluminum start to corrode after a few years in a Lotus Elise.

Corrosion is one of the most annoying occurrences in the car because you’d want to keep your investment as pristine as possible. Corrosion affects the resale value of your vehicle and should be avoided wherever possible.

A few Lotus Elise models have a problem where the footwell surface or floor panels corrode after some time. It affected models of the Elise that were fitted with synthetic mats that wore out quickly.

Footwell Cleaning Procedure

  • Remove all the mats to reveal the alloy surface
  • Wash the floor thoroughly
  • Allow ample time for the floor to dry
  • Refit the mat to the floor
  • Use double-sided tape to stick the mat on the floor

It is important to change the mats for a breathable carpet that will allow enough air to flow through. It will keep the area dry and allow regular cleaning.

Lotus was forced to investigate this matter further and even did lab tests on the mats to recreate the issue. After some time, the synthetic mats were exchanged for more breathable carpets.

The company also recommended that the owners of Lotus Elise clean the floor area thoroughly. Drying the area and regular maintenance should can also keep the corrosion away.

5. Engine Oil Leaking

Lotus Elise models from 2006 had issues with engine oil leaks and had to be repaired immediately to avoid damage. Running an engine without oil can cause catastrophic damage and result in thousands of dollars in engine repair or replacement costs.

Many owners who experienced oil leaks had the check engine light come on to warn them first. Upon inspection, they would find oil leaking from the front right side of the car.

What confused a lot of owners is that the oil leak only happened only when the car had traveled for some time. Lotus issued a recall for affected vehicles to resolve the issue.

It is suspected that the oil line fitting was weak and coming loose after some time. Finding the oil line fittings before they start leaking is beneficial for the car and your pocket.

Typically, an oil leak is a simple fix unless the leak has damaged other parts of the engine. It can save you money to repair the oil leak as soon as possible.

Most oil leaks on the 2006 Lotus Elise were fixed by replacing a broken seal or gasket.

The oil filter cap is also prone to leak some oil if not looked after. The dipstick tube on the Lotus Elise is also known to experience some leaking.

Owners who experienced these types of leaks reported that the leaks came back a year after repairs. This means that some mechanics do not use quality parts and materials to seal or replace leaking parts.

You can expect to pay around $80 to $200 for replacement parts and labor to fix an oil leak. A certified Lotus mechanic will be your best bet to make sure oil leaks don’t reoccur.

6. Electrical System Problems

Electrical problems on the 2007 Lotus Elise R have still not been able to be resolved by Lotus. Inspections of many of the electrical problems lead to some sort of short circuit.

A short circuit in the electrical system can mess around the electronics of the car and render parts unusable.

A short circuit is usually the result of moisture or liquid reaching the wiring and short-circuiting the electronics.

Most owners of the Lotus Elise noticed that the car would idle in an uneven way. That is, it seemed to be revving up and down in short intervals.

The issue is hard to diagnose because sometimes the check engine light would not come on to warn the driver. The issues became worse if the car was not checked in time.

A failing alternator is a good sign that you have electrical problems. The battery will not get a sufficient charge and the headlights may start to flickering.

An ECU (electronic control unit) directs all the electric power to the different components in the car. Some Lotus Elise cars have had problems with their ECU, which had to be replaced.

A problem with the ECU, alternator, or battery will typically lead to strange electronic behavior. The lights could flicker, the instrument cluster may turn on and off, or the air conditioning unit may become dysfunctional.

Electrical system problems on the Lotus Elise usually crop up around the 15,000-mile mark if the car was not serviced regularly.

However, with regular service and replacing misbehaving parts, you can expect a lot fewer electrical system problems.

Owners also noticed that if the battery and alternator are fine, then the problem signaled a bigger problem. In this case, it is best to check all the wiring and solenoid leading to the engine’s electrical system.

A replacement ECU solved most of the electrical problems of the Lotus Elise. However, a few other owners were not so lucky and had to pay more for the problem to be diagnosed and solved.

Related: Problems With MG Cars? (5 Most-Common Issues)

General Pros and Cons for Lotus Cars

Here are some pros and cons of Lotus cars:


  • Reliable and fun to drive
  • Popular drivetrains
  • Low maintenance costs
  • Increases in value
  • Cheap car parts


  • Air conditioning failure
  • Loud Screeching when starting
  • Dead Key fob issue
  • Footwell floor corrosion
  • Engine Oil Leaking
  • Electrical System Problems

Related: Problems With Haval Cars? (6 Most-Common Issues)

What Do the Reviews Say?

Lotus cars are some of the smallest and lightest sports cars on the market. They are also very affordable, making them a great choice for people who want a high-performance car but don’t have a lot of money to spend.


The s1 Lotus Elise is a great sports car, with outstanding handling, surprising practicality, and easiness of drive.


What’s the Resale Value of Lotus Cars?

Model Mileage (miles) Price ($)
2021 Lotus Evora GT 4,215 95,878
2006 Lotus Elise 22,585 44,991
2001 Lotus Elise 61,894 41,995
2017 Lotus Evora 10,959 79,998

Related: Problems With Older Cars? (7 Most-Common Issues)

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