Leaks and water ingress

Lotus Excel - leaks and water ingress

Excels are not supposed to have water in the cabin, but over the years poor maintenance, lack of attention, and just old age and wear can result in leaks. Here are some of the most common symptoms, their causes and some cures:

  1. Water in the rear footwells and damp/mold appearing on the rear seats: This is usually caused by corrosion of the seat belt mounting brackets that sit under the bodywork that forms the rear seats. The original brackets are mild steel and rust away to nothing, leaving a poor seal where the mounting bolts go through the bodywork and letting water in when the car is motion. Replace the brackets and seal them properly with silicone and the problems should go away. (Missing or corroded brackets are, of course, dangerous as the seatbelts aren't fixed properly and could tear loose in a crash - they should also be an MOT fail, but most testers don't seem to know about them.)

Another possibility is that the sealant/bonding agent on the rear side windows has started to break down and is allowing water in. The best solution is to remove the windows and rebond them if possible. Failing that, very careful application of fresh sealant around the glass may work temporarily.

  1. Damp rear parcel shelf carpet and/or sagging headlining at the rear: Check the rear window seal, particularly the large black "band" at the top. This can crack and allow water in, especially when the car is parked in the rain. Seal it with black silicone or use something like Captain Tolley's Creeping Crack Cure to fill the gaps.

  2. Damp front footwell carpets and/or wet relays: there are 4 common causes for this, and one less common:

    1. The door seals have become compressed or aren't properly sealed to the body work and water is getting in over or under them when you drive in wet conditions. Fit a new seal and/or use silicone sealant to bond the seal to the bodywork - especially at the bottom and leading edge. If you can't get a new seal, you can "re-inflate" & reinforce the original by pushing some windscreen washer tubing into the old seal until the whole seal is filled with the tubing.

    2. The A pillar trim isn't properly sealed to the windscreen. Water can get in under the trim from the windscreen and work its way round inside the trim and down into the cabin. Pop the trim off and seal it to the windscreen with windscreen adhesive or silicone sealant.

    3. The speedo cable grommet, on the scuttle panel, in the engine bay isn't properly seated, and is allowing water through the opening & down via the pedal box. Refit the grommet and make sure any gaps in it (there shouldn't be any, but a PO may have cut it) are towards the bottom.

    4. The windscreen wiper spindle hasn't been sealed correctly, or the seal has failed. Water pools in the recess and can leak through - also causing corrosion in, and seizure of, the wiper wheelbox eventually. Take the wiper off and check the condition of the rubber boot and the washer that should seal to the bodywork. Replace or seal with silicone if necessary.

    5. Windscreen isn't properly sealed, or the windscreen adhesive is failing (rare).

  3. Damp front carpets and/or a "rushing" sound from the heater & a/c unit:

    1. A couple of possibilities here - check the heater intake plenum (the black bit between bonnet and windscreen) and make sure that both drains are clear - any water dropping into the plenum should flow down and out of a hose below the car. Leaves and other debris can clog the drains (one on each side) allowing water into the heater and a/c.

    2. Secondly, check that the a/c drain hose is clear - condensation is supposed to drain away through another hose on the left hand side of the bellhousing and out through the bottom of the car. If the hose is clogged, the water stays in the a/c unit and finds it way out via the heater vents. It is *just* possible to clear the hose by reaching down behind the engine to grab it and then use a flexible rod to persuade the blockage to come loose. You will need small hands, or to not be too fond of your knuckles.