Lotus Elan

S3 electrics

PostPost by: jimj » Sun Jun 30, 2019 7:53 am

Last night coming home when I stopped at some traffic lights, ticking over, the Elan headlights went out. When I set off, increasing revs. obviously, they came back on. Arriving home, ticking over in the drive, they went out again but came on when I revved the engine. If I increased the revs. gradually, as the lights came on I could hear a gentle rustling sound, not the spitting sound of arcing. It seemed to come from somewhere behind the dash above the steering column but I can`t be sure. Any ideas?
Jim
P.S. Incidentally, with the headlights switched off, engine off, but the light pods up, the lights go to main beam as they should and are bright so it`s not a battery or alternator issue.
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PostPost by: oldelanman » Sun Jun 30, 2019 9:09 am

Hi Jim,
It could be a bad connection or dirty contacts in the dip switch. If it happens again try flicking between dip and main beam and see if the headlights come back on. If the switch is faulty a dose of contact cleaner might help.
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PostPost by: types26/36 » Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:01 am

I had a similar problem with my S2, it was the main headlight relay with bad contacts.
It is situated behind the dash on the driver side usually mounted on the wiper box screw.
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PostPost by: Craven » Sun Jun 30, 2019 10:35 am

If you have an early S3 there is no lights relay, the switch on the column switches the full current and are prone to failure. There is a relay that stops head lights coming on when down this relay is located under dash.
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PostPost by: types26/36 » Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:40 am

Craven wrote:If you have an early S3 there is no lights relay, the switch on the column switches the full current and are prone to failure. There is a relay that stops head lights coming on when down this relay is located under dash.

But it's still a headlight relay fitted on S1/S2's and most S3's.
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PostPost by: billwill » Sun Jun 30, 2019 12:41 pm

types26/36 wrote:
Craven wrote:If you have an early S3 there is no lights relay, the switch on the column switches the full current and are prone to failure. There is a relay that stops head lights coming on when down this relay is located under dash.

But it's still a headlight relay fitted on S1/S2's and most S3's.



With the standard S3 wiring the Headlight & Dipped beam relays serve ONLY to switch off the headlights when the pods are down. As mentioned above the full heavy current for the bulbs flows through the column switch. It's silly really.
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PostPost by: types26/36 » Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:03 pm

billwill wrote:
types26/36 wrote:
Craven wrote:If you have an early S3 there is no lights relay, the switch on the column switches the full current and are prone to failure. There is a relay that stops head lights coming on when down this relay is located under dash.

But it's still a headlight relay fitted on S1/S2's and most S3's.



With the standard S3 wiring the Headlight & Dipped beam relays serve ONLY to switch off the headlights when the pods are down. As mentioned above the full heavy current for the bulbs flows through the column switch. It's silly really.

BUT its STILL a headlight relay and called so by Lotus in the wiring diagram.
BTW. I am fully conversant with its function and operation.
Attachments
relay-copy.jpg and
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PostPost by: Pastapesto » Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:21 pm

Don't know if it helps but my very early S3 (one of the first ten off of the production line -on a "C" registration plate) has the relay on the driver's side wiper box......I had thought that all S3s had a relay there as my 67' S3 has one there too!

I hope that is of some help

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PostPost by: Craven » Sun Jun 30, 2019 2:07 pm

I thought we are trying to help with a problem here, not to get pedantic over whether or not a safety device is part of a driving light switching control circuit.
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PostPost by: types26/36 » Sun Jun 30, 2019 2:09 pm

Exactly.
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PostPost by: billwill » Sun Jun 30, 2019 4:47 pm

Yes, there are one (or two) headlight relays, and the contacts can get dirty and cause the OP's symptoms, but my post was intended to convey that the S3 Headlight relays do not reduce the current through the column stalk switch, so the problem could equally be there. (In fact it is more likely to be the column switch than the relay).

However an equally probable cause is the pod microswitches, since dirty contacts there (and they are exposed to weather) might in turn cause the headlight relay to chatter creating a higher probability that its contacts might get dirty despite it being in a sealed can.
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PostPost by: lotusS2guy » Sun Jun 30, 2019 8:49 pm

When my Elan S2 was brand new, the headlight relay failed and the dealer told me it was a common problem and suggested he could bypass it with a nice reliable piece of wire. It did eliminate the flashing headlight function, but that's no big deal. It's been that way for over 50 years. I have, however, installed this Painless wiring harness (https://www.painlessperformance.com/wc/30815) which has separate relays for high and low beam, fuses for both, and which causes the headlight switch and dip switch to handle milliamps of relay coil current only - not the current for the headlamps. Your lights will be brighter and your dip switch will thank you.
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