Maintenance. Is this normal?

Esprits, as with most supercars, are built mostly for performance, not reliability. It takes patience and very deep pockets to keep one of these machines running properly. Do not be fooled by the low price you can buy a used Esprit for. If you can't afford to maintain it, you can't afford to own it. The purchase price is only half the story. I won't lie to you: parts are very expensive.

When I owned my SE I was often accused of owning the "perfect" Esprit. To which I responded: Do you mean "perfect' in the sense that it falls within the typical range of high maintenance and unreliability? In the short time I owned my SE, I had to replace the steering rack, tie rods, ball joints, clutch, timing belt, suspension bushings, Fuel filter, TPS, MAP sensor, flywheel sensor, ECM, and the list goes on and on... Other things I experienced include: 

  • My front tires getting "chopped" from steering rack problems. 
  • Oil dripping down the side of the rear left shock. 
  • Numerous Check Engine lights. 
  • Freon needs recharging about once a year. 
  • The passenger window has a mind of it's own. It gets "tired" during its travel, comes to a stop, only to continue closing or opening a few seconds later even though the switch is no longer being pushed (?!?) 

This is what happens when you get the fever and you buy a car that doesn't have all the service records and history. When buying a used Esprit, try to find an example that was:

a) Owned by only one individual. Not like my SE which I didn't know how many hands it had been through. Remember that the more unknowns, the more likely you will feel the wrath of the DPO (Dreaded Previous Owner).

b) Has all the service records so you know what work has been done.

Either that or buy a brand new one. The first time I ever saw my SE it looked sad. It was almost begging me to take it home and take care of it at it deserved. I couldn't resist. I did. During my years of ownership, I have been very kind to it. On a 1 to 10 scale, I think I've brought it back from about a 5 to about a 8.5. Maybe it would be easier if I started with one that was already a 8.

Newer Esprits from 1995-on are very reliable. My mechanic tells me that they hardly ever break and my personal experiences with my car seem to verify this. They are no more likely to leave you stranded on the side of the road than a Ford or Chrysler. But you can improve the reliability beyond that of these more mundane vehicles by simply making sure that you follow all the recommended maintenance.

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How much money should you set aside for maintenance?

My general recommendation is that you budget approximately $3,000US for maintenance of an Esprit. The Esprit is covered with a 2 year, unlimited mileage warranty when new. During this time, repair costs should be non-existent, but regular maintenance will still cost you. The Esprit maintenance schedule is categorized into A, B, and C services with the A being the simplest (fluid changes, inspections, etc) to C being the most extensive (timing belt replacement, valve clearance inspection and adjustment). Service intervals are generally about every 6,000 miles. Expect an A or B service to cost about $600-800US. A full C service will cost between $1,500 and $2,500US, depending on the dealer. Of course, you can save a lot of money if you do some of the work yourself. If you decide to do this, all I ask is that you don't try to cut corners in the name of cost savings. If you bought an exotic supercar, please treat it with the respect it deserves. If you can't afford it, buy a Hyundai.

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