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Lotus Exige, first start of 2019.....

Will she start without issue?......

The weather was a little milder today and the garage surprisingly warm for the time of year so I decided today so was the day I was going to fire up the Lotus Exige which had been sat hibernating in the corner of my garage since the end of October 2018. I was mostly concerned that the lack of use over an extended period would result in the engine oil drying up from critical areas and hence potential damage on first start. Running the car for 15 to 20 minutes in the garage would at least help circulate oil around the system even though its probably another month before its going to get used again.

Before proceeding, I posted on a couple of forums to gather advice on any pre-start techniques I could use to recirculate oil around the engine. I did receive a mixed response, some recommending removing plugs etc, whilst others recommended just starting it. Apparently, modern engines such as the Toyota V6 in the Exige have non-return values which ensure oil is stored in critical areas even during extended storage. Even so I wanted to do something to help reduce risk. I spoke to the helpful team at Oakmere Group, and decided with their support to remove the fuel pump relay, crank the car over for approximately 5 seconds, add the relay back and then start the car. The theory here being that oil pressure would be safely built during the 5 seconds, without stressing the engine with ignition.

Having been helpfully guided by Oakmere as to which relay to pull, I carefully removed it and then cranked the car over for 5 seconds or so. The car turned over and of course didn't make any attempt to start. The relay was then added back, and the big moment followed. I turned the key to start, and the Lotus fired up like she been used only yesterday. Perfect, well not quite, the dashboard showed an Engine Management Light or E.M.L. The car certainly sounded fine, the engine was running as normal so I wasn't too concerned.

I've a cheap OBDII reader which is handy in these situations, as it can help diagnose such codes, so I went digging around my tools to find it. I left the car to warm through following the first start, even with the E.M.L. as I knew I'd need to turn the ignition off to connect the OBDII reader, starting stopping and starting probably wouldn't be great. Having let the car warm through for 15 minutes I cut the ignition via the key and then connected the reader to the OBDII port placed centrally under the Lotus dash. The OBDII reader was then power by turning the key to position two, but not starting the engine. The reader successfully read the ECU fault code which had resulted in the E.M.L, code P0628 Fuel Pump Control -Circuit Low was shown on the reader's display.

Lotus Exige fault code P0628 fuel pump control
Fault Code - Lotus Exige fault code P0628 fuel pump control

This seemed sensible given the fact I'd previously removed the relay from the Fuel Pump. Using the OBDII reader I cleared the code, disconnected the reader and restarted the engine. The car started fine once again, and this time no codes were shown. Problem resolved. The car was then left to warm through, and once reading nicely over 90 degrees centigrade on the dash I blipped the throttle and changed drive modes to Race which raised the RPM slightly, just to help warm the car through. She barked through the exhaust as normal, sounding amazing to be honest. I probably annoyed the neighbours a wee bit, blipping the throttle, causing her to pop through the exhaust.

Hopefully in the next month I'll have the 7 built and on the road, which will also permit the Exige out of its corner of the garage, it needs to be driven! Roll on the Spring, Summer, and some cracking track days!

Lotus Exige and Caterham 7
Lotus Exige and Caterham 7 looking smart today

Take care for now.

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