Remove The Oil Coolers And Lines on a Lotus Exige
Everything you need to know to successfully remove the entire Lotus OEM oil cooling solution in preparation for a different (better) solution. Many just leave the lines in place full of oil and capped off on both ends. Why would you want that when removing them is simple and can be completed in an afternoon?
Why remove the OEM cooling solution?
The issues with the Lotus oil cooling solution are no secret. First there is the failure prone fittings on the oil lines which Lotus issued a recall for. Then the general complexity of the solution, over 16 feet of oil lines circling the car, drops in oil pressure, and the inability to change ALL the oil as ~2 qts always remain in the lines and coolers. To top that off the OEM solution over cools the oil preventing it from reaching a safe target range and let's not forget about the weight, over 20lbs of it.
Lift your Exige on jack stands or with a hydraulic lift.
Follow the instructions here to learn how to safely lift your Lotus Exige / Elise.
Release oil lines in door sills
Remove the door sill cover inside the passenger door.
- Open the passenger side door.
- Remove the two Phillips screws (A, B) where the sill cover meets the front dash. Removal of the rubber pad is needed in the tiny storage area to access the screws.
- Pull up at the rear of the sill cover to break the adhesive tape (C) loose and remove.
- Set the sill cover aside and remove the double sided tape. It will be replaced later.
Remove door alarm sensor
- Use a Phillips screwdriver to remove the screw (A)
- Pull the sensor out as shown
- Disconnect both electrical connectors. The purple wire connector pulls directly off, while the other has a locking mechanism (B). In the center use an awl or a punch to release it.
- Set the sensor aside somewhere safe.
- Pull the wiring harness up out of the sill and tape to the side out of your way.
Front foam block removal and line release.
- Remove the large foam block from inside the sill by folding the top of it back toward you, you'll have to roll it out a little ways until it won't come any more. Basically, it will only go so far until it pinches it self in there. Then pull up on the back portion (by the door alarm sensor), then repeat the cycle... you should have it out in a few cycles.
- Vacuum up all the wonderful dust and nasty that comes out with the foam block. You don't want to breath that stuff.
- Reach inside the sill and disconnect the clip securing the oil line.
Middle foam block removal and oil line release.
- Reach into the sill and remove the foam block. This foam block is about half way back and hard to reach. A long screw driver, long hose removers, and very long needle nose pliers are helpful here. Accept the fact your hands will never reach it and you'll have to devise a way to get it out. Expect to spend at least 30 minutes on this the first time.
- With the foam block removed pull up and wiggle the oil line to unsure it is free and not secured to the other lines or frame. Some cars have a reusable plastic clamp in there securing the oil line to the A/C lines or the frame itself. On my car the clamp was installed but not in the closed position on the passenger side, drivers side was closed. The long hose removers make reaching the clamp easy and a little tug on them is enough to open it up.
Note: You could try to skip this step and pray the clamp is not connected. If it is return to this step and follow it.
Use a Flathead screwdriver to pry out the front gasket sealing the oil line entry port (A).
Disconnect oil lines from sandwich plate on the engine.
- Use a 28mm open end wrench and break the oil cooler line loose on the TOP of the FRONT oil coolers (both of them). Do not disconnect, just loosen a few turns. This greatly helps keep the oil mess down during removal. Breaking the nut loose takes enough force to flex the crash structure, stick your foot against it to counteract flexing.
- Place an oil drain pan below the sandwich plate on the engine. About 1-2 quarts of oil will need captured once the following steps have begun.
- Optional: Remove the oil filter, cover with something clean and set aside. This increases the area you have to work. As long as it remains clean you can resuse it.
- Use a 28mm open end wrench to break the oil cooler lines free from the sandwich plate. Start with the drivers side line first (A).
- Drain as much oil from the line as possible and let it hang down into the drain pan.
- Cut the line (B) to remove the fitting. Cut anywhere it doesn't matter as both will go in the garbage.
- Repeat steps 3-5 for the passenger side line (C).
- Ram a rag, paper towel, or something into the end of the lines to block additional oil from draining once you most of it out.
- Clean the exterior 8" or so of the both lines near the end with brake cleaner, denatured alcohol or equivalent.
- Use duct tape to seal up the line. This is critical as the line will be pulled through the door sills and you don't want oil leaking out.
Do not yank on the oil lines pulling to the front of the car for removal. Inside the frame by the wheel well there is a fairly sharp aluminum support bracket the line will rub against, which may cut into it causing a leak.
Remove the oil cooler lines.
- Reach into the door sill and start pulling the lines forward a little at a time.
- Then pull the slack through to the front by the wheels.
- Repeat this procedure until the lines are completely removed from the sill.
Disconnect oil lines from coolers.
- Place an oil drain pan under the front oil coolers.
- Get some rags ready to clean up oil drips and running.
- Disconnect the TOP oil line from the coolers and set aside. Be prepared for oil to run out of the oil cooler and line.
- Once disconnected hold the line up in the air and drain as much oil out as possible into the drain pan.
Disconnect the oil line connecting both oil coolers across the front of the car.
- Cut the zip-ties securing front oil line to the crash structure.
- Place an oil drain plan under the front oil cooler.
- Use a 28mm open end wrench to break the oil cooler line free from the oil cooler.
- Drain the line and cooler into the drain pan.
- Repeat for the other side.
- Discard the oil line.
Remove the oil coolers.
- Use a 1/2" socket to remove the two bolts (A,B) securing the oil cooler brackets to the crash structure.
- With the bracket free and oil lines removed the oil coolers can be removed from the front.
NOTE: The driver side brackets also support the Cobra alarm siren. You'll need to remove the bolts, remove the oil cooler and then reinstall the bracket to support the siren.
Congratulations you're done!
Below is a picture of all the stuff you just removed in case you forgot something.
Start at step 5 and work to step 1 to put the car back together.
Don't forget, DO NOT START YOUR ENGINE! The sandwich plate is still installed and wide open, it will spray oil everywhere if the engine is started.
Now is a good time to install a BOE rear oil cooler, other solution, or remove the plate and just install the filter.