Don't start...
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Thread: Don't start...

  1. #1
    FRESHMAN ROVER
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    April 27th, 2015
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    Don't start...

    1996 P38 4.6HSE, owned for 14 years, 88k miles...

    Over the years I have experienced all of the usual problems (suspension, door latches, bits dropping off, etc.) but the engine itself has never given me any issues. It's not exactly concours condition - it's used as a workhorse, but has done well so far.

    Several weeks ago, I jumped in the car and it was struggling to start - not battery, which is fine (a relatively recent heavy duty addition), but turning over strongly and simply not firing up. Eventually it did, but after a mile or so I got a "Gearbox Fault" message. I decided to head straight home and then the engine stopped and I ground to a halt. Managed to start it again and got it home. Later I checked all the simple bits and couldn't find any obvious problem. The car still took a few goes to start from cold (fine when warm), but the "Gearbox Fault" message had gone. It ran for a few short journeys like that. However, it seemed to be taking longer to change gear than previously, so I thought I would take it to a friend who has 4 of the things (glutton for punishment) to see what he thought. However...

    Now it just turns over strongly but won't fire up. Everything is moving that should except the engine itself.

    I wondered if it could be linked to the gearbox problem, but everything seems to move smoothly, including the transfer box.

    So, my question is: is there something I should try which might get it to fire up? And if I do get it to start, should I drive it to a mechanic to get the gearbox checked over?

    Or do I simply bite the bullet and give it a Viking funeral?

    Any advice welcome.
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  3. #2
    SENIOR ROVER Bolt's Avatar
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    Re: Don't start...

    The Gearbox fault message comes up 99% of the time due to an electrical fault / low battery. Not Gearbox issues
    Just because the battery is new does not, these days always mean Good. Test it for voltage drop.
    Your issue is most likely to be related to a bad earth or some other corroded wire bits.
    "Not Concours" tells me that there could be a wee bit 'O crud unner the Bonnet?
    Download the electrical troubleshooting sticky at the top of this forum, and run through it.
    Check all the major earth and B+ terminals especially as they apply to the engine block and ECU.
    Have a good look at the connector under the expansion tank for corrosion. Also the connections to the ECU.

    With the problems you have described, and this being a Gems, The ECU and BECM may have lost sync, thus crank but no start.
    Does the Check engine light come on with the key in pos. 2?
    1952 Austin Champ (Hawaii)
    1953 Austin Champ (Australia)
    1985 Classic w/ Tdi300 (Australia)
    2002 4.6 HSE, White "Bolt" Hawaii Daily driver. Now the "Boat Car" here on the West Coast
    2002 4.6 HSE Borrego Yellow "Digby" Wife has absconded with Borrego as the Dog Taxi
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  4. #3
    FRESHMAN ROVER
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    Re: Don't start...

    Thanks Bolt, that's really helpful.

    Battery was OK when I tested it, but i will go through the sticky (as far as I can when it won't start). I did have problems about a year or so ago when the lights were coming on when it was parked and draining the battery - replaced the remote receiver with the updated version which solved that and then replaced the battery.

    Check engine light does come on OK in position 2. If the ECU and BECM lose sync, would that not just "click" in the same way that it does if the engine is disabled or in gear? On mine everything is spinning but just not firing up.

    I will try to go through all the other checks as you describe at the weekend, hopefully with some assistance. Under the bonnet isn't too filthy but a bad earth is not out of the question for a car left out in all weathers for 14 years.

    I am just wondering now, from what you are saying whether the gearbox is actually fine and it is just an electrical fault? Trying to think if there is any way that an electrical problem could affect the timing of gear changes?

    I was thinking that the original breakdown was gearbox related due to the message, but now reading through the forum I am wondering if that's a red herring. Given that it was suddenly troublesome starting, died shortly after, then restarted and got home, then was troublesome starting again but managed a couple of short journeys, then wouldn't start at all - logically that all sounds electrical.

    I may as well investigate all of the electrics since, if that's all it is, it's (probably) recoverable. If it is gearbox, then realistically it will have to end its life as a donor so that others can live.

    Thanks again.
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  6. #4
    JUNIOR ROVER
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    Re: Don't start...

    You are correct, on a GEMS (pre-99) car, lost sync will not allow the starter to turn the engine rather than on the later cars were it turns off the sparks and fuel but still allows the starter to spin. If the voltage to the gearbox ECU drops below 10 volts, either during cranking or when running, it will give the Gearbox Fault message and put the gearbox into limp home mode. In limp home, it will only use a limited number of gears and will inhibit the Sport button and kickdown functions. So what you are experiencing are all symptoms of low voltage. Check the main feed from the battery to the underbonnet fusebox first as a bad connection there will allow full voltage to the starter but not to anything else.
    96 4.6HSE
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    and a number of others I maintain for the owners.
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  7. #5
    JUNIOR ROVER
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    Re: Don't start...

    I still find it hard to believe you can have a partial electrical connection, its always seemed to me that you should have all or nothing. But I had an obvious example two days ago with a tractor. Was replacing the battery with a new, fully charged version. I was in a hurry and had to remove some panels for access. I thought I was done and hit the key - ru, ru, click, click, click. Initially I wondered about the spanking new battery then I realized I never tightened the ground strap bolt to the frame. The bolt was on, making contact, but not tight, that was enough. If your Rover has the original positive and negative battery cables, I think its worthwhile to change them out regardless of how they appear. I had some heavy versions made up at a Interstate Battery store with the OEM type lug in the middle. Noticed an immediate increase in cranking speed after the change. Even if its not the issue, its good preventative maintenance.
    '99 Range Rover HSE
    '02 Audi S6
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  8. #6
    FRESHMAN ROVER
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    Re: Don't start...

    I don’t suppose the fuel pump has died or there is a fault with the inertia switch.
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  9. #7
    FORUM MODERATOR RRToadHall's Avatar
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    Re: Don't start...

    Bolt is dead on as usual! thanks for the GEMS lost sync.
    When dealing with yourself, act with your brain
    When dealing others, act with your heart.
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  10. #8
    SENIOR ROVER Bolt's Avatar
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    Re: Don't start...

    Oh, and have a really good look at the fuse box under the bonnet. They do fail, and any number of odd things can happen, especially if they get wet......Old ones do leak......
    1952 Austin Champ (Hawaii)
    1953 Austin Champ (Australia)
    1985 Classic w/ Tdi300 (Australia)
    2002 4.6 HSE, White "Bolt" Hawaii Daily driver. Now the "Boat Car" here on the West Coast
    2002 4.6 HSE Borrego Yellow "Digby" Wife has absconded with Borrego as the Dog Taxi
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  11. #9
    SOPHOMORE ROVER
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    Re: Don't start...

    Did not read any off the replies.

    Does your alternator charge properly?
    Mine has sometimes a gearbox fault, usually when it's cold weather, battery is new, but my alternator only puts out 13.8 volts.
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  12. #10
    SOPHOMORE ROVER
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    Re: Don't start...

    Quote Originally Posted by Bolt View Post
    The Gearbox fault message comes up 99% of the time due to an electrical fault / low battery. Not Gearbox issues
    Just because the battery is new does not, these days always mean Good. Test it for voltage drop.
    Your issue is most likely to be related to a bad earth or some other corroded wire bits.
    "Not Concours" tells me that there could be a wee bit 'O crud unner the Bonnet?
    Download the electrical troubleshooting sticky at the top of this forum, and run through it.
    Check all the major earth and B+ terminals especially as they apply to the engine block and ECU.
    Have a good look at the connector under the expansion tank for corrosion. Also the connections to the ECU.

    With the problems you have described, and this being a Gems, The ECU and BECM may have lost sync, thus crank but no start.
    Does the Check engine light come on with the key in pos. 2?
    My GEMS does not crank when ECU and BECM lose sync
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  13. #11
    FRESHMAN ROVER
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    Re: Don't start...

    Thanks guys, all very helpful.

    Richard G, I think you are definitely onto something as those are exactly the symptoms, thank you.

    Increasingly sounds electrical rather than mechanical, so that's my weekend sorted.

    I did replace the alternator a couple of years ago (OEM replacement) and that seemed OK too, but of course what is being put out at one end may not be what is received at the other if the wiring or fuses are shot, so I will work my way through logically and see what is happening.

    It is increasingly looking like a Frankenstein's monster of a Rangie, so perhaps it just needs a bolt of lightning...
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