Lotus Elan

Starting Problems after basic service

PostPost by: fatal3rror » Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:35 pm

After giving my new (to me) Plus 2 a basic oil change, new spark plugs (NGK BP6ES) and adjusting the contacts in the distributor, the car has been struggling to start.

First the starter motor for stuck but after a bit of back and forth which freed it up, I now hear a metallic sound after 1-2 seconds of (unsuccessfully) trying to crank the car.

Not sure if this is an electrical problem but my immediate thoughts are either the spark plugs or the starter motor.

Any thoughts?
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PostPost by: fatal3rror » Mon Aug 03, 2020 8:58 pm

Just put the old spark plugs in and the car started fine!

Only thing I can think of is that I used the torque wrench for the new spark plugs to the factory settings that maybe meant that they seated further below than before? Or that something has come unstuck in the starter motor!

Ah well, I can sleep well now...
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PostPost by: StressCraxx » Tue Aug 04, 2020 12:53 am

fatal3rror wrote:After giving my new (to me) Plus 2 a basic oil change, new spark plugs (NGK BP6ES) and adjusting the contacts in the distributor, the car has been struggling to start.

First the starter motor for stuck but after a bit of back and forth which freed it up, I now hear a metallic sound after 1-2 seconds of (unsuccessfully) trying to crank the car.

Not sure if this is an electrical problem but my immediate thoughts are either the spark plugs or the starter motor.

Any thoughts?


Have a look at the two 9/16" bolts that hold your starter to the bellhousing. Make sure they are tight... Loose bolts can cause some awful noise and tear up your pinion and ring gear... Been there....
There is no cure for Lotus, only treatment.
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PostPost by: Chrispy » Tue Aug 04, 2020 1:28 am

Did you check the plug gaps? I've found the new plugs have much larger gaps than what the factory specs are.
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PostPost by: 2cams70 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 3:22 am

Sounds like you may have adjusted the points gap without checking the ignition timing afterward. Change the points gap and you change the ignition timing.

Note the standard NGK recommended plug for the LTC is BP7ES and not BP6ES. This shouldn't affect your starting though.
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 9:56 am

2cams70 wrote:Sounds like you may have adjusted the points gap without checking the ignition timing afterward. Change the points gap and you change the ignition timing.

Note the standard NGK recommended plug for the LTC is BP7ES and not BP6ES. This shouldn't affect your starting though.



While the BP7ES is the equivalant of the original twin cam plug Weber specification. Times have moved on. So unless you are a boy racer or use your Elan on long very high speed motorway trips or your Elan is still covered by the original Lotus warranty the BP6ES plug is more suitable for normal use in a road specification engine.

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PostPost by: 2cams70 » Tue Aug 04, 2020 11:37 am

All I can say is that BP7ES is the plug NGK currently recommends for the LTC engine. I've never had a problem with it. BP6ES is what they recommend for the regular Ford crossflow engine. Original specification according to the workshop manual was Autolite AG22 for both crossflow and LTC engines. I've found NGK plugs to be the best across many different types of engines and less subject to fouling than plugs of equivalent heat range from other manufacturers.

But then again yes maybe I'm a bit younger than you Rohan and drive like a boy racer!
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PostPost by: fatal3rror » Tue Aug 04, 2020 10:28 pm

2cams70 wrote:Sounds like you may have adjusted the points gap without checking the ignition timing afterward. Change the points gap and you change the ignition timing.

Note the standard NGK recommended plug for the LTC is BP7ES and not BP6ES. This shouldn't affect your starting though.

Yes, ignition timing is next!

I went for BP6ES based on what I read on the some older threads. Will see how I go with them, easy to change if need be.

Chrispy wrote:Did you check the plug gaps? I've found the new plugs have much larger gaps than what the factory specs are.


I did set them with a feeler gauge but will check again.

StressCraxx wrote:
fatal3rror wrote:After giving my new (to me) Plus 2 a basic oil change, new spark plugs (NGK BP6ES) and adjusting the contacts in the distributor, the car has been struggling to start.

First the starter motor for stuck but after a bit of back and forth which freed it up, I now hear a metallic sound after 1-2 seconds of (unsuccessfully) trying to crank the car.

Not sure if this is an electrical problem but my immediate thoughts are either the spark plugs or the starter motor.

Any thoughts?


Have a look at the two 9/16" bolts that hold your starter to the bellhousing. Make sure they are tight... Loose bolts can cause some awful noise and tear up your pinion and ring gear... Been there....


Good shout, it looks firmly in place but no harm in checking again.
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PostPost by: rgh0 » Wed Aug 05, 2020 12:11 pm

2cams70 wrote:All I can say is that BP7ES is the plug NGK currently recommends for the LTC engine. I've never had a problem with it. BP6ES is what they recommend for the regular Ford crossflow engine. Original specification according to the workshop manual was Autolite AG22 for both crossflow and LTC engines. I've found NGK plugs to be the best across many different types of engines and less subject to fouling than plugs of equivalent heat range from other manufacturers.

But then again yes maybe I'm a bit younger than you Rohan and drive like a boy racer!


Yes certainly younger but I use BP8ES in my Elan you need them colder at 8500 rpm -- so much for Boy racers :lol:

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PostPost by: Matt Elan » Wed Aug 05, 2020 6:22 pm

My Plus 2 will run happily on b6s but will foul b7s really quickly. The engine is a vegantune big valve spec and I suspect it’s running rich, and the carbs need a good tune but the difference between the two grades of plug is chalk and cheese.
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PostPost by: fatal3rror » Sun Aug 16, 2020 8:58 pm

Just to close this thread out, the starting issue were the incorrectly adjusted distributor contact gaps.

The horrible cranking sound has been diagnosed to the starter motor, or specifically, the bendix. One of the mounts for the starter bolts was also broken which I think led to the demise of the bendix. New thread now to discuss the replacement!
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