CV Join failure

I had to stop a track day yesterday because the car was jumping up and down under engine load. The left rear cv join failed. The failure likely occurred during a high speed spin a few weeks ago…

I understand that going reverse at 90mph+ on slicks is not great for the transmission however, I was was wondering if there was any CV join upgrade available for the Exige/Elise?

Thanks for any info.


2000 Lotus Elise Motorsport #43

I watched the video, and thought it was extremely impressive, and you were really reeling him in - as far as I could see he seemed to cut across your line…

Did you get him later???

Probably worth checking that the bottom engine mount is not also broken.

Got to agree with Mike’s comments

Which track were you driving - it’s obviously not in the UK?

…and you were really reeling him in

Bet Jonathan Woss can’t say that

This happened at Buttonwillow raceway in California. After the spin I had to pit in order to follow the track regulations. The Viper gave me a point by but then somewhat closed the track. The thing is most drivers expect our little cars to have a lot more torque… I wasn’t sure if the Viper driver was expecting me to pass in the turn, hit the brakes during some cornering causing an enjoyable instant snap…

Oh well, avoiding car contact is a #1 priority at a DE

I’ll check the engine mount as well.



… The thing is most drivers expect our little cars to have a lot more torque…

That’s because it looks the dogs bollocks!


Are you sure it was a raceway in California ? - looked like the M40 on a Sunday

Nice sound though - is your induction all standard ?

The induction is standard for a motorsport elise, meaning there is no air box. Just an air filter. The exhaust is custom with a supertrapp tip to reduce noise when needed.

So is it common for a CV join to break following a spin? Any upgrade available? Anything else breaks? So far I changed:

  • engine mount
  • alternator
  • transmission bushings
  • coil to distributor cable
  • engine oil pan
  • oil temp sensor



PS: Here is a clean lap.

Glad to hear your brakes squeal like mine!!! I have the Motorsport brake package on my Exige.


Good to see you enjoying your car!! I have had similar issues with Vipers and Vettes not wanting the “little Lotus” to pass them on track. I just started passing them in the “illegal” passing areas, typically braking into corners:) Fortunately the instructors know me and look the other way…

Get him next time:)


Cant really see why that spin you had would break a CV joint… Exact what do you mean by break anyway ? - as in the balls all fell out or what ?

You did hit that kerb quite hard though ???

I’m not sure what is broken at this time. The car is jumping up and down in 3rd and 4th gear. When I turn the rear left wheel I can feel that the wheel is no longer properly connected. My mechanic will look at it early next week.

I have no idea whether the spin is what caused this. That is the only logical explanation I can find.


It did look like quite a tap on that kerb but I would like to think that it wasn’t sore enough to break a CV joint.

The spin itself looked fairly routine and I’d doubt it would break a CV unless already weak fo rsome reason.


Do you mean the CV joint (as in the wheel end of the drive shaft) or the tripod joint?

CV’s only fail if they either (1) get cooked or (2) the boot splits and the greese runs out.

I have seen them cook on MS cars before when using Lotus MS brake kit, this disks are crap and overheat the drive flange and then the CV joint, normally what happens is that the bearings will fail first, but not always.

I’m not sure what a tripod join is. This is the join that connect the rear wheel axle to the transmission. There is a black rubber around it.

The “cage” part of the CV join. The other side is cracked. There was some grease near the join but the rubber was still in place.

We’ll treat these as wear item in the future. They probably need to be replaced every 1K track miles or so.

What disks are you referring to? You mean the brake rotors?



Tripod joint is on the gearbox end of the driveshaft.

Un-like a CV it alowes the shaft to move latterally so taking up the change in driveshaft lenght as the suspension moves.

from your comments, it does sound like the CV.

Are you saying that the casing has brocken though?

Only ever seen this happen when the joint had seriously overheated, the balls then flat-spot, jam up etc etc.

from a drivers perspective, you can tell it’s comming becuse there will be a power related vibration.

This should not happen, if it is, then you need to look for what is causing this, the joints themselves are well strong enough (I have only ever had to change one and that was after the boot gave way).

The brake disk (or rotor as you call them) are not good, they are vented backwards and thus don’t cool too well, what then happens is the heat soaks into the drive-flange, then the CV and bearing causing them to exand, run out of clearance, then fail.

If this is your problem (and it will be if you running the car for more than 20-30 min stints) you need to change the disks. (Eliseparts have a kit specifically for this)

Are you saying that the casing has brocken though?

I haven’t seen it yet but that’s the way I understand it from my mechanic. There was definitely some power related vibrations. It felt and I believe it was some rubber compound stuck on the rear slicks.

I have a hard time to believe this could be caused by brake disk heat since I have yet to change the rear brake pads after hours of track time. I run the brake bias center or 1 position forward.

However, the engine mount was allowing the engine to move lateraly (from left to right) excessively. This has now been fixed but I suspect this may have caused this??

On a related note, lotus cars US does not want to sell a cv join alone. They want me to buy the whole “uprated” driveshaft!! Is this normal?