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1998 Kia ELAN
2 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Its a beautiful rare car. It was owned by a friend family, and being used as a daily driver. I bought it for almost nothing with a severe blown head gasket, 125000 km. I was told it overheated on a highway drive and they didn't stop. Someone in the past replaced the KIA emblems with Lotus ones, although the one on the steering wheel is still the original KIA.


It is in a reasonable good condition (besides the engine). Also looks like they used tap water instead of coolant as the reservoir had a deep rust color.


I like to work on my cars, but for the head gasket I thought it was better to just bring it to the mechanic. After unbolting the head and looking deeper, we saw that the crankshaft had excessive lateral movement. The pistons and cylinders were fine, with just some minor scoring.


We ended up sourcing a good condition Kia carens engine and decided to replace the engine.



I wanted to replace the clutch but the mechanic didn't find the part so we ended up resurfacing the clutch plate with new friction material. He also did some minor wiring fixes and timing belt. Everything fitted perfectly.
I don't really know where the power difference comes as the original engine was rated at 151 Hp and the Kia Carens one at 110 ish. We thought maybe intake, camshaft and ECU. We are running with the stock intake and ECU, but we didn't replace the camshafts. The mechanics scantool didn't connect properly to the car ECU. He was able to read an airbag code (open circuit), but not read engine codes.

The car now works fine, but it idles a little bit rough. No check engine light. I replaced the ISC valve with and it didn't improve. It might be a minor vacuum leak.

Now that I have some more free time I want to fix the following:
  • Front left headlight motor
  • Replace CV joints, ball joints and all 4 shocks
  • Fix the AC (the AC circuit has no pressure)
  • Replace the radiator (is really rusted but no leaks), coolant hoses, reservoir and water pump
  • Brake job
  • Change the tires
  • Fix the airbag wiring
Right now I only have a parts catalog scanned by the Korean Elan forum. It looks all engine parts are KIA, and the rest of car parts are exactly the same on the Lotus, so they should fit. Any help and info would be great. Thanks!

Super Moderator
99 Kia Elan 1.8L, 17 Ford Edge Sport 2.7L V6, 15 Mustang 3.7L V6, 08 Harley Nightrain
10,992 Posts
Welcome - looks like you got a great deal.

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