Buying a Lotus Elise or Exige – Signs of Possible Damage you Need to Check


The timelessly stylish Lotus Elise has long been respected for its near-on supercar performance. The two-seat, two-door sports car has a hand-finished fiberglass body shell atop its aluminum chassis to provide a rigid platform for suspension. The compact and superlight sports car, the Elise, and its coupe version, the Exige, can go from 0-60mph in 6.0 seconds. If you are eyeing this mid-engine roadster online auction sites are a source to start your search for affordable deals on salvage options. When buying salvage cars, however, you need to know what to look for. We discuss a few essentials that you need to know when buying a Lotus Elise or Exige at salvage cars for sale online:

Damage During Crash

The Lotus Elise and Exige are not built like your typical cars. A structural extruded and bonded aluminum chassis is used in the making, and if is damaged, there could be major problem with the salvage car. The reason being – all the suspension points bolt to the aluminum and chassis are soft, so you can replace the suspension parts, but Lotus doesn’t recommend repairing the chassis.


If the body of the salvage car has many potential problems, especially paintwork, you need to look at following aspects:

Spider Webs

Spidering paint (one with cracks) could be an indication of damage to the fiberglass underneath. You need to check the front and rear bumpers and doors to see if any area of the car is damaged and spidering, as it could be problematic to repair.

Front Lip Damage

The Lotus Elise and Exige have a low front end that often scrapes on steep driveways, parking stops, and speed bumps. Look for any signs of significant fiberglass damage or scraping underneath the front end.

Vent Damage

Lotus Elise has fragile slatted vents, prone to damage in the event of negligence by the owner. You should, therefore, check the front and side vents for any sign of damage or need for repairs.


Early models of the Lotus Elise/Exige (manufactured before 2006) have a significant cosmetic issues. A design flaw in the headlights magnifies the sunlight, resulting in rays scarring the inside of the headlamp housing. To establish if the car has such a problem, check the headlights for sunburn.


One of the main problems with Lotus Elise is that the shifter feels clumsy when selecting gears. The problem arises due to the frame holding the shifter, hand-brake etc. The frame flexes greatly under track conditions increasing chances of miss-shifts. Lotus replaced the shifter on some of the early models, so you need to check and establish if it has been replaced or not by the manufacturer.

Final Words

Apart from accident damage and flooding, the list of reasons for cars ending up as salvage is long. There are a few essential elements that you need to know and check before buying a salvage car to derive value for your money. Calculate the cost of labor, repairs, parts replacement, and insurance to arrive at the actual price you have to pay to get the vehicle back on the road. Get a mechanic to inspect the vehicle thoroughly, including the checklist provided above. You can also speak with our Salvagebid team to learn more about clean and salvage cars available for sale. To get answers to all your purchase related questions or any assistance related to bidding, payment and delivery of a vehicle call us at +1 (360) 347-1300 or you can email any concern to, and one of our agents will get in touch with you.

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