Range Rover Classic Remedies:
Common Mechanical & Electrical Problems and Fixes

White Cloud Canyon, Nevada
Introduction
ABS Sensors
Air Conditioning
Alternator
Battery Drain, Mysterious
Clonks (Drivetrain/Suspension)
Cooling System
Cruise Control
CV Joints and Axles
Distributor Rotor Stuck
Door Locks
EFI Light
Fog/Driving Light Wiring
Fuel Leak/Smell
Fuel Level Sender
Fuel Pump
Heated Seat Failures
Heater Core
Heater/Vent/AC Fan Switch
Heater Fan Resistor Pack
Hood Support Bracket Grommet
Idle Air Bypass Valve
Ignition System
Mass Air Flow (MAF) Sensor Dirty
Misfiring
Muffler & Cat Rattles
Neutral Safety Switch
Oil Leaks
Oil Level/Pressure Light On or Flashing
Power Steering Box
Radio Code Problems
Rotor Arm Stuck
Rust
Seat Switches
Sensor Failures:
         ABS, Coolant Temperature, Coolant Level,
         Oil Pressure, Oil Level, EFI light
Shock Mounts, Rear                       Photo: "Now, let's see, what does that light on the dash mean?
Speedometer Failure
SRS Fault
Stalling
Starter Motor Problems
Starting Problems/Hard to Start
Steering Box
Steering Shakes
Surging
Suspension Bushes and Springs
Sunroof Problems
Tailgate Rusting
Track Rod and Trailing Arm Bends
Transfer Case Stuck in Hi
Transmission Service
Transmission Stuck in Park or Neutral
Transmission Sticking in First
Transmission Shifter Won't Select 3, 2, 1
Transmission Seal Problems
Warranties (Extended)
Other Information Sources

 

Introduction
getting down to workLike any great vehicle, the Classic Range Rover has its share of mechanical peculiarities. Here we attempt to address some of the idiosyncratic mechanical and electrical problems commonly encountered, based on the personal experiences of the author as well as information gleaned from other owners -- particularly those on the "rro" Internet list. It is hoped that passing on these experiences may make it easier for future enthusiasts to deal with them without going through the same learning curve as I had to! More complex repair, overhaul and upgrade operations are covered in the Repair Operations How-To and Mechanical and Electrical Upgrades sections. I do assume you have access to the shop manual -- a good investment no matter how expensive. See the books and manuals page for discount sources.

 

Air Conditioning

British cars in their homeland have little use for air conditioning, and the Range Rover designers' lack of experience with it is reflected in the arcane and generally impractical system operation and controls -- especially in earlier models. The instructions in the owner's handbook sound good in theory but the practice usually falls short -- with ice cold air leaking from the dash vents during cold weather and hot air blasting from the windshield vents in hot weather even with the air conditioning on. If you notice these symptoms, it indicates your HAVOC system is functioning normally.

Apart from the usual compressor-related problems encountered in any air conditioning system, a likely failure point is the air conditioning thermostat connected to the heater temperature control lever so you can theoretically adjust the amount of cooling to suit the conditions. A sensing tube connects the thermostat with the evaporator unit located in front of the passenger seat. I have had the thermostat itself fail twice, and the initial adjustment of the sensor tube was such that the coldest setting was the only one worth using. By burying the tube less deeply into the evaporator, I managed to achieve a condition in which adjustment of the amount of cooling by varying the temperature control lever is actually achievable and useful.

 

Alternator

At about 100,000 miles many Range Rovers experience alternator problems. Symptoms include tachometer failure, the ignition light coming on when it shouldn't, and even engine misfiring, stumbling and cutting out, or weird transmission shifting. You can probably get the alternator rebuilt locally for about $100 if it is in good shape except for the diode pack which usually fails. Rebuilt Lucas units can be obtained through many parts houses for about $250. You can even rebuild the alternator yourself -- details of this operation are given on the alternator symptoms, diagnosis and rebuild page. The Land Rover recommended replacement is a Magnetti Marelli that costs $400-600 depending on source.

Recently, a number of people have replaced their Lucas Alternators with Delco units which are less expensive and more readily available. The downside is that a special bracket has to be fabricated to mount it. For detailed instructions and photos of this operation, see John Lewis's installation.

To ease the alternator belt tensioning procedure on 87-90 models, Kent Christensen notes that you can fit the later model belt tensioning bracket (Sept 90 and later). On earlier models this bracket is just a length of metal with a slot in the
end for the alternator bolt.  This means you have to pry or lever the alternator to the position you want. The newer bracket (ERR1574, cost approx $17.31) is like a jackscrew and you just turn the screw to adjust the belt tension.

Battery Drain, Mysterious
Some people have found problems with the battery dying over the period of a few days when the vehicle is left alone. This problem is much more common on the 4.0/4.6 (see Battery Drain, Mysterious) than the Classic, but late model Classics are also prone to it. Tyler MacConnell reports "I have found (and have been told by the dealer) that at least on the Classic Range Rover the problem with the battery dying due to sitting is because of the CD-Changer, which with the engine off and the key out continues to "remember" the position on the CD which was last played. (e.g. "disc 2 track 4 2:13 time") This is so the next time you turn on the radio again, you can pick up exactly where you left off. It will drain a large battery in 3 days. The best way to deal with this is if you know the car will be sitting for a few days, eject the CD magazine and reinstall it, leaving the radio off. It now has no position to remember." 

 

Clonks in Drivetrain & Suspension

The full-time four wheel drive system in Range Rovers, combined with the supple suspension with many rubber bushings, make for many possible sources of  "Clonks" emanating from below when components start getting worn out. (Even when new there is a certain amount of free play in the drivetrain). Many if not most Range Rovers have a built-in drive train "clonk" due to slack at the diff and transfer case. Larry Michelon says his '89 has a lot of slack due to the stretched transfer case chain, but this leads to a "softer" clonk than slack in gearsets etc. Another source that can sound like a drivetrain clonk is a bad ball joint on the rear "A" frame that sits on top of the rear axle.

Clonks during axle articulation (going over bumps etc) are usually due to worn or loose suspension bushings. I found the main culprits were the Panhard Rod and front radius arm bushings, which can get loose (or in bad cases, worn out). I found they needed tightening well beyond manufacturer torque specs to avoid clonking. The rear A-frame link ball joint is another source of clonks. Kent Christensen informs us that a new ball joint was introduced in 1993, incorporating a one piece body which eliminates the need for an end cap, and introduces a fully encapsulated ball joint which is sealed for life.  The new part number is ANR1799 (replacing NTC9932).

To isolate the source of clonks, Larry Michelon suggests lying under the truck with it in park and have someone rock it back and forth and side to side. Look at all the suspension parts to see where there might be play. Also try this with the parking brake set; since this locks the rear drive shaft it should take out some of the slack in the transfer case to rear and may help isolate the problem.

 

Cooling System

First sign of any cooling system problem is usually the flashing of the low coolant level sensor; if the temperature gauge rises instead the temperature sender probably needs replacing, or, less likely, there is a genuine problem like the radiator fins being plugged up with debris or the water pump or thermostat failing.

The rubber hoses in the cooling system do wear out on schedule, so it's worth replacing them about every 3 or 4 years as preventive maintenance. Don't forget the heater hoses and the small diameter hoses which go to the filler reservoir and to the air intake manifold to maintain the incoming air mixture at the right temperature. These leak too if neglected.  If you discover coolant in the valley between the cylinder banks, the causes, in order of likelihood, are:
1) Thermostat gasket or top hose. Coolant flow is from intake manifold to top hose so a leak in the hose may not show until warm, but  a leak in the thermostat housing/gasket might show earlier.
2) The numerous small hoses which connect the heater and the intake plenum de-icer.
3) Intake manifold gasket: usually shows as dribbles down the front and back of block but under extreme conditions can flow into the valley.

To avoid most of these problems, replace ALL hoses when you do a routine belts and hoses job every few years. This includes the very small ones that don't usually come in hose kits. Also replace the heater core at about 100,000 miles, especially on pre-1990 models on which it is very prone to failure.

If you go off-road a lot, especially in the desert, it is worth unbolting the radiator periodically and cleaning out the debris accumulated in the cooling fins. There is a very small gap between the air conditioning condenser and the radiator, and this acts as a granary for all kinds of plant seeds. A cleanout can do wonders for the cooling system.

 

Thermostat: Thermostats can fail open, closed, partially open, or intermittently. You can tell if the thermostat is opening by feeling the top radiator hose when the engine has warmed up from cold; it should be warm, indicating coolant is flowing freely through the system. On startup, if the top hose starts off mildly warm and only heats up slowly, it may be a clue to a stuck open thermostat. Normal operation is to start cold, stay cold, then rapidly heat following thermostat opening. To replace, use a 12 mm socket with a wobbly extension. Make sure the new thermostat is installed with the bleed hole at the top. All Classic RRs sold in the US use the same thermostat (see parts section).

 

The radiator will eventually leak, most likely around the joints between the core and the sides. New original equipment radiators are expensive, but worth the money. I have tried having a local radiator shop replace the core (about half the cost of a new radiator), but the repair only lasted a year. The cost of new radiators has fallen since I had to replace mine and I would recommend putting in a new one immediately upon observing any signs of trouble.

 

The viscous fan clutch is not serviceable and has to be replaced if it is not functioning. It should show much greater resistance to turning by hand when the engine is very hot than when it is cold. To remove it, figure out whether yours is a left or right hand thread (this is obvious from the direction the fan blades are oriented -- remember the engine will turn to pull air in and tighten the fan). Michael Slade suggests the following method: "Get a rag, stuff it between the water pump/fan pulley and the belt, put a wrench on the nut, give it a couple of whacks with a rubber mallet (usually to the right of the vehicle as you are facing it from the front).  Might take a couple a good hits, but it will come off."

 

Head gasket failure can also cause cooling system symptoms and problems; see the head gasket diagnosis section of the repair details page. See also the head gasket section of the 4.0/4.6 Commpn Problems and Fixes Page for temporary cures. .

 

Cruise Control

If the cruise control malfunctions it is worth checking to see whether the brake lights are working; if both bulbs are blown the cruise control system becomes open circuited and ceases to operate.

Another failure point was experienced by Brad Crittenden  on his 1990 Range Rover. A vacuum pump controls the cruise control diaphragm (simply a rubber bladder with a spring in it) which hooks up directly to the throttle linkage.  If the diaphragm cracks it won't hold vacuum and the cruise won't work. The diaphragm (black and a little smaller than a tennis ball) is mounted on top of the engine toward the rear with one vacuum hose leading to it.  To test, remove the vacuum line, compress the diaphragm, and place your finger over the vacuum line input.  If it holds the vacuum (stays compressed), the diaphragm is OK;  if it reinflates, it has a hole in it. A replacement is about $80; patching the hole, if one is found, might be worth a try.

 

CV Joints and Axles

If your RR has been maintained by a non-Rover mechanic, chances are he will not know about the need to keep the swivel pin housings full of oil. Running them dry for too long will cause CV joint failure. Jack Sullivan found his 1991 RR had this problem when he bought it. A year later, with no off road time, the right front halfshaft broke in half, while driving at about 55 mph on highway!  I have not heard of this happening often, but Jack has heard that it is not uncommon.

For maintenance, in the last years of Classic production Land Rover introduced a special grease that can be used in teh swivel ball housings instead of oil. Theoretically this eliminates the need for periodic replacement of the oil. However if you use your Range Rover for water crossings, water will still get in and it is much harder to drain them with the grease in them than with the old fashioned oil. Brad Tottman uses Morey's engine oil stabilizer known in the US as Lucas oil) in his swivel balls and his CV joints have lasted 500,000 km.

Door Locks, Electric

The Range Rover's electric door locks generally cease to function after a few days of desert dirt road dust. The expedient of lubricating the hand operated slides will often ameliorate this situation. Other typical problems include weak actuation, and the doors bouncing back to unlocked when you are trying to lock them (or vice versa).

Kevin Kelly  reports that many such  problems can be solved by removing the door trim and adjusting the locking actuator. It is held on to a plate with two screws, and the plate is held to the door with four screws. The plate has oval holes allowing adjustment  up or down (remember the rod going to the actuator moves in the opposite direction of the door lock). Kevin found more adjustment range was needed on one of his, so he enlarged the oval adjusting holes with a rat tail file.

 

Winfried Schoepf reports that when the rear doors stop locking or unlocking, another possible cause is a stiff linkage due to old grease becoming like chewing gum after many years. Because the actuators are "only just" up to the job under normal conditions, the cure may require cleaning off all the old grease from the joints and hinges, and re-lubricating them (eg with silicon spray lubricant). Also, the locking knobs at the window sill must run freely within these plastic bezels, especially with 1989 models and later when larger locking knobs of a square shape were introduced.

Another thing Kevin advises checking is the plug between the actuator and the wiring harness. If the connections are corroded the actuator may not get a strong signal and will not extend all the way. If the door drains are clogged the plug can sit in water in the bottom of the door.  Kevin recently had a rear door lock that would always lock, but it would just move a little bit and not fully unlock). Filing down the metal on the connectors and dabbing on some dielectric grease solved the problem.

 

If these measures fail to do the trick, Kevin has found a low cost generic power lock actuator that fits the Range Rover. It is available for $6.39 from Parts Express Electronics and More (1-800-338-0531) as item number 330-010.

Failure of the door lock control module can be another cause of inoperability. John McClure reported (when he locked the driver's door and when driving over rough pavement) an anemic 'click' like the locks were trying to work but didn't have enough power to actually move. The cause was a 12 year old boy locking and unlocking the doors repeatedly. The owner's manual warns not to lock and unlock the doors more than 3 times within a minute to prevent overheating the control module. The fix was simply to replace the module; fortunately John was able to find one  in a junk yard, avoiding the $200 cost of a new one.

Fog/Driving Light Wiring

The lights on the Range Rover Classic's spoiler have an identity problem -- they are confused as to whether they are fog lights or driving lights. Different vehicles seem to be wired differently -- my 89 had driving lights but they were wired so they only came on when the headlights were on low beam -- acting as fog lights! Callan Campbell reports that the '87-88 US models are usually wired in the original UK manner, so that the auxiliary lights only come on with the high beams. In 1988, the wiring was changed so the lights could be used with Low Beam only, but Callan has worked on early '88 Rangies that were still wired the old way. Rover put out a Service Bulletin when the '87s were still new, suggesting moving one pin/wire at a fuse in the passenger side fusebox to work the fog lights off the Low Beam circuit if the customer needed that type of wiring.

Larry Michelon reports that it is possible to easily rewire these lights so that they will work on low beams, hi beam or any beam, so you can choose whether to put in fog lights or driving lights. If you pull out the driving light switch from the dash, there are  extra leads back there. There is a lead for low beam, high beam and parking lights. Connect the desired one to the switch and you are in business. On Larry's 89 Range Rover, he used the parking light lead so he can turn them on when ever the parking lights are on. The correct wire can be identified with a voltmeter.

Fuel Leak/Smell

Range Rovers are not paricularly more susceptible to fuel leaks than other vehicles, but the smell of fuel is not an uncommon problem and tracing it down can sometimes be tricky. The following are some examples of places where owners have found fuel leaking from.

If the gasoline smell is only encountered when the tank if full or nearly so, the problem could just be the fuel filler cap, especially on Classics up to 1990 on which the filler neck and cap are hardly above the level of the top of the fuel tank (In 1991 the filler neck and cap were raised). Leakage at the connections between the tank and the short rubber hose to the fuel cap mount and at the cap mount itself is possible as well. Another possibility is the seal between the fuel pump and the tank which is at the top of the tank) see fuel pump replacement page).

If the fuel smell seems to be coming from the front of the vehicle, it is worth checking the purge line going from the charcoal canister to the intake plenum, to make sure it is not  blocked. Also check all fuel line connections, and make sure the injector o-rings are not leaking. A more unusual cause found by one owner was a pinhole leak in the rubber fuel supply line leading into the fuel rail near the back top of the engine. The leak was hard to spot until he removed the protective sheath.

Fuel Level Sender Problems
Many owners have experienced the fuel gauge needle not rising to the "full" mark when the tank is filed up. A discussion of this problem appears on the fuel pump replacement and rebuild page.

Fuel Pump Failure

The most common reason for Range Rovers to be towed into a shop is failure of the fuel pump (see the Fuel Pump Failure Modes section for complete information on diagnosis and repair). Kevin Kelly's mechanic Philippe at Roverland says the most common reason the pumps stop working seems to be the wires and epoxy at the top of the pump going bad due to overheating. Many towed Range Rovers could have been driven in if the owners had pulled the fuel pump access panel in the loadspace area of 91 and up models, and spliced the wires back on. Other electrical culprits include the fuse, relay and inertia switch.

I was stranded by fuel pump failure several times in my Classic, and the problem turned out to be a blocked vacuum relief/rollover valve in the evaporation tank in the rear quarter panel. The vacuum caused the tank to collapse and crush the fuel pump. If you experience engine cutout that may be due to this problem, loosen the gas cap to relieve the vacuum til you get back into port.

The fuel pump has a finite life, as it uses a conventional electric motor with carbon brushes that eventually wear down to nothing. The lifetime usually quoted for the pump is about 100,000 miles in normal service. If the brushes are the only problem, they can easily be replaced at very low cost -- see the Fuel Pump Access, Replacement and Rebuild page.

 

New genuine fuel pumps are expensive -- about $325. However, low cost generic parts can be used to repair it -- see the Parts Sources page which lists several low cost ($60) units that can be kept in your tool box for an inexpensive "fix" just in case. (As just one example, Chris Velardi  suggests going to any auto parts store and getting a 1989 Cadillac Seville in-tank fuel pump. If your fuel pump dies, drop the tank -- or if yours is a 91 or later, remove the access panel in the loadspace -- and put in the replacement. The only difference is you have to take off the plastic electrical connector and just use the standard female clips. See the Generic Parts page and the Fuel Pump Replacement page for more details).

 

Complete Information: For complete information on fuel pump diagnosis, access, removal, replacement and rebuilding, or replacement with non-genuine replacement fuel pumps, see the Fuel Pump Access, Replacement and Rebuild page. For detailed information on brands, part numbers, prices and fitting of low cost aftermarket and generic fuel pumps see the Parts Sources page.

Heated Seat Failure
On later model Classics, Heated seat cushions were added as a luxury feature. The elements in these often go bad, causing the seat heating to become inoperative. See teh Heated Seat Repair page for details on how to fix these problems without replacing the expensive seat cushion.

Heater Core

On 1989 and earlier models, the heater core has an unnerving tendency to blow out sometime around 100,000 miles. This happened to me, and I can assure you the mess it makes of the carpets and everything else in the front of the car by pouring hot engine coolant all over everything is worse than the trouble of replacing the unit early as preventive maintenance. Failure can be due to corrosion or excessive system pressure due to a faulty thermostat.

(The replacement unit, costing about $120, has a composite plastic construction on the end pieces where the leaking occurs, evidently improving reliability). In order to replace the core, however, a complete disassembly of the under dash area is entailed, so allow plenty of time. You can try getting the old core repaired at a radiator shop, but it is doubtful if the cost would be much less than a new one -- and for the number of hours required for a repair I would not take any chances. 

If you ignore the preventive maintenance idea and, like me, find yourself stopped on the side of the road with a blown heater core, you can get home by replumbing the rubber coolant hoses to bypass the heater, and topping up the radiator with coolant. I always carry some coolant in the vehicle as part of my emergency preparedness; with an aluminum engine it is not a good idea to take chances with cooling.

Heater/Vent/AC Fan Switch
When the heater blower fan fails, it could be the motor is worn out, but more likely (especially if it works at some speeds but not others), Ron Beckett notes that it is due to malfunction of the 4-position switch that controls it. (If the blower only works on high, another possibility is the control resistor pack -- see below).  Dissassembling the switch and cleaning the contacts can sometimes do the trick, but more often than not a new switch is called for. For example, in Geoffrey Tolsdorf's case, dis-assembling the switch revealed that the low and medium speed contacts were worn down to the point that they weren't making an adequate connection. The high speed continued to function since it still had some material remaining. Replacing the switch (about a 30 minute job) soon fixed it.

Heater Fan Resistor Pack

A common problem is for the fan to only work on high (III) setting. The most likely cause is the blower speed control resistor going bad. David Corcoran reports that the part looks like a cigar and you can see it if you look through the plastic grills on your hood (or take them out to see). It sits on the firewall and you can't get to it unless you remove the decker panel which is a lot of work. (Accordingly, it can cost several hundred dollars of labor to get the dealer to fix it). The part itself is inexpensive (on a 1990 RR the part number is PRC 8010, and costs about $40).

Hood Support Bracket Grommet

Has your rubber/plastic grommet in the hood bracket where the support rod attaches disappeared or disintegrated?  CHad Manz found his had on his 89 model -- so he went to Checker Auto Parts (Checker/Shuck's/Cragen) to see if they had a replacement and sure enough.  In the section by all the Fram filters they had something that would work in the red Help! boxes that contain all sorts of semi-universal parts.  It's Help! part number 49450.  And it's called Wiper Motor Bushings.  There were three of them in my package.  And if you remove the metal center you have the exact size rubber grommet you can use to replace the hood support part. Chad removed the hood support rod from the hood bracket, then cut the rubber grommet (imagine an O becomeing a C) to make it easier to get it in the hole of the hood bracket. He felt he probably could have used some grease to squeeze it in there instead of cutting it in retrospect.  He put the support rod back in and was done. Works great! One tip:  Remember how you take the support rod out, as it will need to go back in the same way to line up with the bottom bracket where it slots into.

Idle Air Bypass Valve

This little beast is a stepper motor that opens an air channel bypassing the throttle, for those occasions when the engine needs a bit of extra respiration -- such as when you are running the air conditioning while idling in the desert. Unfortunately it has a mind of its own, especially after you have driven a couple of hundred miles on dusty desert dirt roads. The symptoms are a fast idle of about 1,500 RPM, and an annoying oscillation in engine speed when descending steep hills with the foot off the throttle. The device can be easily removed by unscrewing it from the back if the air intake plenum -- right hand side facing forward. (After removing mine a few times, its crush washer is broken so you might want to get a spare one). The problem can usually be cured with a squirt of WD 40 or carb and choke cleaner, and a clean out of its seat in the plenum. Care is needed not to try and force the shaft to move; it is plastic and fairly delicate. (A new one costs $140, so it's worth trying to revive the old one. However see the EFI section of the parts and service page for lower-cost substitutes).

 

Ignition System

The Ignition Leads need replacing at regular intervals; failure to do so results in noticeable misfiring. The stock leads seem to deteriorate rapidly. Some people have had success replacing them with certain higher quality aftermarket leads.

 

The Ignition Amplifier Module (on the outside of the distributor) can give trouble. It converts the magnetic impulses from the distributor into a larger signal to fire the primary circuit in the ignition coil. Dean Sonneborn found the heat buildup under the hood when his 1990 RR was not moving (eg stopped at traffic lights) caused his amplifier module to fail intermittently, stalling the engine. The faulty unit was so sensitive to temperature that even a minute or two of cooler air provided by opening the hood got it working again.  Land Rover has since superseded this part with a more robust amplifier module with a remote mounting kit. Details on this unit appear in the Ignition Amplifier Module section of the Repair Operation Details page. Joel Mahoney found a loose connection on this module on his LWB caused intermittent stalling, bogging and poor gas mileage (see "stalling" section below).

 

The Ignition Pickup Module inside the distributor (replacing the "points" on older systems) can cause intermittent starting problems as well as hesitation. When Mike Lenaghan's RR wasn't starting, there was no output from the ignition amplifier. (Normally, he could read 1.5 volts across the coil + and - terminals on the AC scale of a digital voltmeter while cranking the engine). A new ignition amplifier did not cure the problem, but dismantling the distributor and replacing the pickup module did. The old module looked fine and intermittently gave the correct 3K ohm reading across the output terminals, but could be made to go open circuit by wiggling the wires where they went into the rubber seating in the distributor into which the ignition amplifier plugs. Removing the insulation, he found the wires inside had snapped and were making intermittent contact. Movement of the base plate by the vacuum advance mechanism causes the wires to bend to and fro against the rubber seating, and eventually they can break. This could be the cause of a number of mystery hesitations and stumbles that people experience -- Mike was getting such behaviour as well as intermittent idling problems for a few weeks before the starting problem.

The Mechanical Timing Advance Mechanism in the distributor can get stiff or seize up due to lack of lubrication. This can cause a variety of effects, including the Check Engine light coming on. See the Ignition Mechanical Advance Mechanism section for details on diagnosis and repair.

 

Rotor Arm Stuck: More than one RR owner has found the rotor arm stuck fast to the distributor shaft when trying to replace it during routine maintenance. Pulling up too hard on the rotor can break the plastic C-clip that holds the upper and lower parts of the distributor drive shaft together. Then you will have toi take the whole distributor out to put it back together. If it is stuck, break the old rotor off by hammering DOWN with a screwdriver or chisel and break it into pieces to get it off the shaft. Or use a center punch instread of a screwdriver.
.
The screws holding the vacuum advance module to the distributor have often been known to work loose. Kevin Kelly now uses Lock-tite to hold his in.

 

Misfiring
The most common cause of misfire is the ignition system -- see above. However alternator problems can also cause misfiring -- see the Alternator Rebuild page
 

Muffler & Cat Rattles

When a rattle develops in the mufflers or catalytic converters, the time for replacement is nigh. However as a temporary fix to delay the inevitable expense, Kevin Kelly has had good luck drilling a small hole in cats and mufflers and screwing in a big drywall screw with a cordless drill to stop rattles.  If a heat shield comes loose he screws four big hose clamps together to make a real big hose clamp and wrapped it around the cat and cranked it down so the clamp crushes the heat shield stops it rattling. More details and pictures of these procedures are provided on the Exhaust Rattle Repair Page.

Neutral Safety Switch
The later Classic models come with a so-called "neutral Safety Switch", also known as a starter inhibit switch. This is to prevent you starting in anything other than park and neutral. Jonathan Stehn  reports that in the 1991 automatic transmission electrical diagram the reverse light switch is an integral part of the start inhibit switch. If the switch fails closed you would be able to start in drive. If it fails open you would not be start at all. If the reverse part goes out then the reverse lights don't come on. It was mentioned by someone once that if you can't start the truck to check the reverse lights with the transmission selector in reverse. If there are no reverse lights, then consider the start inhibit (neutral safety switch)/reverse light switch as the source of the problem. The start inhibit switch is on the left hand side front of the transmission about half way up. There is a single bolt holding it in place and it is fairly difficult to reach and especially disconnect the wiring for.The instructions and a small exploded diagram are in the electrical repair section of the manual. Unfortunately the manual does a poor job of actually showing you where to look. However, if you look at the automatic gearbox assembly exploded diagram at the beginning of the automatic gearbox section you can get a good idea of where to feel for it. Also note that failure of the switch can activate fault code 69 on the display under the back of the front passenger seat. 

 

Oil Leaks

The most famous defects of all British vehicles are their leaks -- the British have never mastered the design of gaskets and seals. The most common leaker on Range Rovers is the power steering box, closely followed by the swivel pin housings. Land Rover dealers now suggest replacing the oil in the swivel pin housings with a specially developed grease which sidesteps the leaking problem. Most other oil leaks are relatively minor and usually not threatening to the well-being of your Rover.

For the engine oil, Trevor Easton recommends Lucas petroleum-based Oil Stabilizer (no, not THAT Lucas!!), to eliminate dry starts and reduce friction, heat and wear. It safely blends with all automotive lubricants, even synthetics, ATF and mineral oil. In gear oil it stops leaks, reduces temperatures and increases oil life. Trevor's 150,000 mile RR is now using only an ounce of oil per thousand miles -- ie no top-ups needed between oil changes. Lucas also make a Stop Leak for the steering box.

 

Rubber Oil Hoses: These should be replaced after about 8 years as preventive maintenance. Jim Spencer was driving down the street in Phoenix, Arizona when a great cloud of white smoke burst from under his '90 RR Great Divide. The no oil pressure light came on immediately, so he stopped, finding oil pouring from under the vehicle. The culprit was the upper oil pressure hose that leads to the oil cooler.  After years of temperature cycling, the rubber in these hoses turns to stone; replacing the hose cost Jim $126.00.

 

Crankcase Breather: Darryn points out that if you find your Range Rover has a major problem with oil leaking out of everywhere it could be that your engine is pressurising due to being unable to breathe. To remedy this problem unscrew the breather located on top of the left hand tappet cover. Inside there is a gauze spark arrestor which will most likely be clogged with muck. Remove, clean in petrol then reinstall. Your Rangie will love you for it!

 

Oil Pressure/Level Light
See Sensor Failures below

Power Steering Box

(For more detail see the Steering Box  Removal, Replacement, Rebuild page)

This is a notorious weak spot on Range Rovers; if yours doesn't leak it is probably empty! Even if the box is in good condition, periodic adjustment is necessary to prevent the steering from becoming too loose. A seal kit for rebuilding can be had for about $80, but even the rebuilding process offers only a temporary palliative; according to parts sources with whom I have talked at length, the box is subject to wear on its shafts for which the new seals can only temporarily compensate. However as a temporary palliative the individual leaking seals can be replaced; I had my input shaft seal replaced (it stopped the leaking for a while), and Dave Brown replaced his leaking output shaft seal (see the Steering Box page for instructions).

New boxes used to cost about $1,000 but are now about $600 to $900 depending on source. Eric Burr obtained a remanufactured box  from Meridian Auto Parts in San Diego (authorized rebuilder) with upgraded bushings in it for $299, and never had another leaking problem. Others have since reported success with this source.

Ron Beckett  found salvation by installing a Discovery steering box. However, he found that the steering shaft and universal joints wouldn't reach; the input shaft design on the box was different. Fortunately, the top splined end of the steering shaft had a milled flat, not a groove, so he was just able to tap it down enough to connect it all up. Also, the drop arm that came with the new box was a different shape, and the Disco uses a different ball joint on the drop arm to the older Rangie.  He hired a puller and swapped the drop arm from the old Rangie box to the new box, renewing the ball joint.  Ron reports that where the tie bar bolts to the 4-bolt Disco box there is a slight difference from the earlier 4-bolt Rangie box.  The mounting flat on the Rangie box is thicker.  This means that the tie bar mounts slightly further forward and fits centrally into the hole of the chassis bracket. With the Disco box, the tie bar doesn't fit centrally into the hole.  If a bush is supposed to be installed into the hole, he would need to make a spacer for the tie bar-steering box face.

I have tried various power steering stop leak products to little avail; however Trevor Easton discovered Lucas Stop Leak (no, not THAT Lucas!). Usually he doesn't believe in Snake Oils, but the man at the parts counter said the trade swear by Lucas products and he has trouble keeping up with the demand. Also it was "No cure, no fee". It certainly did the job for Trevor. Another satisfied user of this stuff is Jeff Moore, who reports he had a 'graunch' in the pump when steering with car at rest, a squealing belt (new), a hard spot coming off center, a substantial leak at the pump, and steering wander with occasional judder in sweeping turns. He evacuated the reservoir and added the Lucas product. It IMMEDIATELY ended every one of those problems!  

(For more detail see the Steering Box  Removal, Replacement, Rebuild page)

 

Radio Code Problems
All Range Rovers have a unique radio code that needs to be punched in after the battery has been disconnected and reconnected. Personally I think this feature, like the entire alarm system, is a total waste of time (who would try to steal an electrical part off a Range Rover given their reputation for quality and reliability?). Inevitably, some owners have reported problems with trying to get the radio going again after battery disconnection. For example, Mike Standing bought a 1995  LWB County which had been lying for 6 months with a dead battery. After installing a new battery the green window on the radio showed "CODE". After entering the correct code, the radio beeped, flashed the "CODE" message but didn't connect, even when he tried leaving the ignition on for an hour and a half before dialing in the code, even though it had been working perfectly before the 6 month downtime. Mike eventually contacted Jim Monaghan of Roverville Radio Repair & Exchange who told him he was doing everything right and if it didn't work (after leaving the radio on for 2 hours and re-entering the code) the radio probably needed to be re-coded.  (Roverville charges $100 for this, a fraction of the dealer price and with a 24 hour turnaround time instead of several weeks). 

 

Rust
As for other vehicles, rust seems to be more of a problem for Range Rovers which live in areas where salt is used on the roads. The most common rust area is the tailgate frame. However, Gary Hamilton found the rear seat belt mount anchor at the wheel well had rusted through & pulled out of the well! He had pulled the rugs out for a major interior cleaning of his '88 Classic. The rest of his truck appeared to have very little rust. It appeared as though the factory had welded a backing plate to the underside of the wheel well for support. The entire wheel well rusted around the edge of the plate & it pulled out. Those who live in rust-prone areas might wish to check this seat belt anchor point on older Range Rovers.

 

Seat Switches, Electric

One of the most common Range Rover annoyances is sticky or malfunctioning power seat switches. The 6-way switches in question, costing about $125 each, are borrowed from Mercedes, and indeed usable replacements can be obtained in a pinch from Mercedes dealers. (Michael Slade reports they are identical to the ones used on his '87 300TD, so one solution is to see if you can get them less expensively from Mercedes suppliers). Each switch contains innumerable contacts, springs, ball bearings and other minute parts which precipitate themselves all over the floor if an attempt to disassemble the switch is made with less than perfect care (I speak from experience on this!). Kevin Kelly  has perfected the technique of carefully disassembling the switches and cleaning the contacts without this happening; click here for a detailed, illustrated description of his method. A quicker, more temporary expedient is to squirt contact cleaner into every available orifice in the switch without disassembling it, then vigorously and repetitively operate the switches to allow the cleaner to do its stuff on the contacts.

Another solution is to make your own replacement switch box. Trevor Easton used eight small single pole double throw pushbutton switches at $3.00 each, a piece of plexiglas out of scrap bin, 6ft of wire and a spot of soldering. Larry Michelon used 4 double pole double throw (DPDT) switches for each seat, mounting them on a thin piece of walnut which fits on top of the switch box. He tried toggle and rocker switches; the rockers look better but may be more prone to dust intrusion. The shop manual has the schematic for the seat circuit including wire colors.

If you get tired of fixing your seat switches, I have discovered that replacements for the defective mechanism (the case is re-used) are now obtainable from Import Parts Bin for $69.

 

Sensor Failures

The Range Rover is equipped with a formidable range of electrical sensors, and a collection of dashboard warning lights that would do Las Vegas proud. The purpose of all these pyrotechnics is to provide early warning for the Electronic Control Unit (ECU) and the driver of potential problems before there is any danger of major engine or other component damage. For example, both low oil level and low oil pressure warnings are provided, so if an oil leak develops (highly unlikely in a British car, of course), the engine can be shut down before there is loss of pressure.

The one flaw in this utopian scenario is that all the sensors are naturally duty bound to keep the proud traditions of Lucas electrics alive. The result is that when one of the impressive array of warning lights on the dash comes on, there is a better than even chance that the corresponding sensor has failed and is reporting a non-existent fault. This does not mean, however, ignoring the light and driving on; rather it dictates that the existence of the indicated problem needs to be checked by some other means. In many if not most cases, I find there is no problem and the sensor itself needs replacing or repairing.

ABS Sensors (Late Model Classics)
On Classics with the Antilock Braking System (ABS) (County model 1990 and up, all models 1993-95) the ABS light will flash until the vehicle has been rolling for a few seconds -- this is normal. It means that your ABS sensor needs to get a "Rolling signal" from one of the pickups. As Craig Ross notes, however, if it remains on longer, you might need at worst a sensor replacement. Try to have the rear ABS sensors re-adjusted. Crawl under the truck and locate them. They look like a spark plug stuck out of the back of the brake mounting plate with a wire coming out of it. Tap them in towards the wheel with a dowel and mallet. Light taps. They will seat against the wheel and reset on the first complete revolution of the wheel. See if that fixes your problem. If its a front sensor, you have to replace it.

 

Coolant Temperature Sender: The first and most scary sensor failure I ever had involved the coolant temperature sender; the temperature gauge needle would intermittently rise majestically off the dial. Stopping and inspecting the engine revealed no other signs of overheating, and the gauge would return to normal for extended periods. But the condition kept recurring -- on one occasion just as I was setting off on a trip to the Black Rock Desert. (Needless to say the trip was postponed). Eventually, replacing the temperature sender which drives the temperature gauge cured the problem. This conclusion sounds simple but was not reached until I had pulled the entire cooling system including the water pump apart to find the mysterious fault! After that experience I realized one should always suspect the sensor FIRST whenever a light comes on. (Note: The same problem recurred recently, giving the temperature sender a life of about 60,000 miles. This time I knew enough to ignore it!)

If you suspect the sender, Richard Atkinson recommends checking it against the other sensor that tells the engine ECU what the coolant temperature is. Warm the engine up, switch it off, removing the leads from the ECU temp sensor and and measure its resistance. There are resistance versus temperature tables for this sensor in the factory workshop manual and the Haynes manual (chap.13). See if the temperature value you get is anywhere near the thermostat's stamped value. If so, the temperature gauge sensor is probably shot.

If in doubt, you can check the gauge itself by pulling the connector off the sensor and measuring the voltage on it (should be about 10 volts). With an 82 ohm resistor to ground in place of the sender, the temp gauge should read about mid range. The thermostast can be checked by heating it in a saucepan of water and measuring the temperature at which it opens (should be around 88 deg C).

 

Coolant Level Sensor: One of the most useful sensors is the one in the radiator expansion/filler tank which detects the level of the engine coolant. When this light starts flashing, it gives early warning that coolant is leaking out of the system, enabling you to stop and check it out BEFORE engine temperature rises a single degree above normal. Unfortunately this little gem has read the Lucas etiquette book too, and is prone to gradual intrusion of coolant which corrodes its internal contacts and sets off false alarms.

The good news is that with a little care and patience this one can be repaired, saving the $50 cost of a new unit. The device can be taken apart with help from a heat gun to loosen the glue, and inside is nothing more complex than a magnetic reed switch whose terminals can be resoldered.

 

Engine Oil Pressure Sensor: Another scary experience for me involved the oil pressure light coming on and staying on; fortunately when it happened to me I was just around the corner from the dealer and was able to pop in and consult them on it. I was assured that this problem is common enough, and if there was really no oil pressure the engine would have melted down by then! I bought a new oil pressure sensor, which cured the problem for about $7 (incidently about the least expensive genuine Rover part I have ever purchased!).

Another potential cause of this particular problem is failure of the logic unit which controls the oil level/pressure light; replacing this costs more like $200. One solution (suggested by a dealer mechanic) is to bypass it altogether. To distinguish between these two causes, Bill Fishel offers the following advice: If it comes on or flashes for 10 to 20 seconds upon starting and then goes out, suspect the low oil probe (or the oil pressure sensor)  in the sump pan. If it continues flashing more than 10 to 20 seconds, suspect the logic unit itself (or, the oil may actualy be low!!). See the Oil Light page for more details.

Engine Oil Level Probe: This device in the sump connects via the logic unit to make the oil light flash for 10 to 20 seconds when the oil level is low. On my own Range Rover it functioned as a cheerful flashing light on random occasions upon startup. Any relation to oil level was purely co-incidental.

 

EFI Light: (See also Check Engine/ EFI/ Service Engine Lights Page) The EFI light is designed to come on when the ECU detects high engine coolant temperature (this uses a different sensor from the one that drives the gauge) or a malfunctioning Throttle Potentiometer, Oxygen Sensor or Air Flow Sensor. Like any other warning light, however, it is not above coming on for no apparent reason at all; I have had this happen when, for example, running the fuel tank very low. Fortunately, in most cases, even if there is a real fault detected, the ECU continues to manage the engine just fine under modified "get you home" software. If the EFI light does come on, it pays to try disconnecting the battery for a few minutes to reset the ECU; if the light comes back on again soon there is a fair chance it has really detected something that needs attention when you get back home. Kevin Kelly has heard from mechanics that  half the EFI light and Check Engine light problems can be fixed by pulling the O2 sensor plugs apart and putting them back together with a little dab of dielectric grease.  Kevin cleans all automotive connectors with spray contact cleaner (and a small rat tail file if there is any corrosion) then uses a dab of Permatex dielectric grease before putting the connectors back together.

Summary: When the warning light comes on, SUSPECT THE SENSOR FIRST, but do stop and check out the problem anyway!

 

Shock Mounts, Rear

On Pre-1990 models, the top end of each rear shock is held in place with a cotter pin. THis design makes it difficult to change shocks as the new bushings have to be somehow compressed enough (I used a C clamp) to get the cotter pin in the hole. Dale Avery even experienced a sheared cotter pin.  Somehow, it had snapped off, and with its loss went the large washer and :one of the two rubber bushings that hold the shock in the right location.  He suddenly starting hearing a metal on metal thunking coming from the rear end. Paul Archibald hypothesized that what probably happened was that a previous owner took out the cotter-pin and then replaced and re-bent it instead of using a new one. Never re-use cotter pins -- besides they are cheap. A re-used cotter-pin is weak and can break and fall out.

Michael Slade got tired of wrestling with the cotter pin when changing shocks; he discarded them and now uses a springclip (about the largest size he could find) with the washer, and hasn't had a problem in over 10k miles (including the infamous Dempster Highway).

Starting in 1990, the cotter pin arrangement was finally done away with in favor of a thread and lock nut. At least one owner has done his own home-made conversion by threading the shock mount stub himself.

 

Speedometer Failure

Many Classic RR owners have reported problems with the speedometer, particularly on the early style of speedo used up to 1989. The reading becomes erratic or quits altogether. The right angle gear assembly at the rear of the unit seems to be the usual problem. Replacement involves, at a minimum, removing the cover from the rear of the binnacle; the shop manual recommends removing the entire binnacle (see instructions in repair operation details).

Sometimes the same symptoms can be caused simply by bad cable alignment -- much easier to fix. Peter Kern's speedometer was erratic at slow speeds and finally at all speeds. Lubing and even replacing the cables, and replacing the right angle failed to fix it. The real problem was that the cable didn't have adequate slack between the speedometer and the firewall -- it seemed to work its way toward the engine causing a "crimp". He pushed it through, toward the speedometer from the engine compartment, and the problem went away.

If the needle ceases to be illuminated, the problem can either be a bad bulb or dropout of the optical fiber that conducts the light to it. Detailed instructions for repair are found at this link in the page on Repair Operation Details.

For all types of speedometer problems, Jeff Rogers reports that many Rover owners have had good service from Palo Alto Speedometer.

SRS Faults
Hardy Neale reports the lighting of his SRS lamp and warning message 'airbag fault' appearing. "Over 3 weeks it only went out 2 times. I thought it may have been the 'rotary coupler' (expensive twisty wiring bit inside steering column) but no - much easier than that. The testbook diagnosis revealed it was the RHS circuit at fault.  This could mean either steering wheel (RH Drive) airbag or side of seat airbag circuits. The SRS wiring connector beneath the seat appeared connected but just needed a squeeze to complete the circut. I had an upholster repair part of the seat some time ago - he must have disturbed the connector just enough for the circut to fail some time later. So even though the connector look connected - it wasn't. What a relief !"

 

Stalling

Stalling When Coming to a Stop:
A common problem on Range Rover Classics is an annoying tendency to stall when you come to a stop after a long run. Kevan Wiser repports his procedure for fixing this periodically recurring problem.

1) Be certain the flame trap isn't blocked--remove it and check the "mesh wad" It just unscrews from the top-front of the PS valve cover.
2) Check the T-piece that connects the vacuum hoses going to the plenum--it's the obvious one central-front behind the distributor.
3)  Clean the stepper-motor plunger and seat. this is easy to do is usually what corrects the problem for Kevan. He uses  "brake cleaner" and a toothbrush to clean the plunger assembly making sure to clean the head that has to mate w/ the seat. Then, he uses a rag dipped in brake cleaner to clean the seat itself. He has read that others have used a bit of white grease to lube the plunger, but he always just gives it a shot of what ever WD40 - like substance is handy. For more on the care and feeding of this pesky and temperamental component, see the section on the idle air bypass valve/stepper motor above.

Joel Mahoney experienced similar symptoms on his LWB. It would stall out at stop signs and red lights and also to bog down (and register horrible gas mileage!) when driving on the highway.  Both of these occurences were fairly intermitant, which made it difficult to diagnose. After replacing many other components he noticed that the problem seemed to worsen over bumpy roads, indicating some kind of wiring issue. He went into the engine and started pulling on various wires, and found the lead from the harness to the ignition amplifier module pulled right out!  After re-wiring the connection with new butt-connectors, and tightening them down properly, the vehicle has run without a stutter ever since!

Chris Boshoff had a similar stalling problem and traced it to a bad battery (he suspected one or more cells were dead). The car would still start and operate - but that the voltage just wasn't right. "With the new battery I am now over this marginal voltage and all the electrickery is doing what they where supposed to. I knew the other battery was on its way, sometimes I heard the the door actuators open a little sluggish - but somehow the engine always started... (Those Lucas guys did something right!)"

 

Cold Stall:
Greg Olma reports that cold stalls may be your coolant sensor or the wiring for it.  He states "My 89 would stall and be hard to start all the time before complete warm up. The sensor is telling the ecu to lean the mix out too soon.  When warm it was fine.  I took to two foot driving to keep up the the idle speed when stopped at lights, etc. I noticed that Saab 900 and VW Golfs from the late '80s had an identicle looking sensor and plug. My plug was cracked, so I pulled a Saab and a VW set up and Voila! it worked perfectly,  No stalling and tough starting when cold again".

Larry Michelon reports that a dirty Mass Air Flow (MAF) sensor has caused stalling upon startup, refusal to idle when hot and excessive fuel consumption on both his RR Classic and his 97 Discovery.  He first discovered it on his Disco when it generated an OBD-II fault code indicating "exceeding max air percentage". Cleaning the sensor solved the problem. On his Classic, he zeroed in on the MAF sensor incorrect air mixture message after his attempts to fix the stalling problem by changing idle air control valve did not work. During his investigations he accidentally disconnected the MAF sensor, and found that it made little difference -- leading him to suspect it might be inoperative. After removing the snap ring and screen, he gave its insides a good lean by injecting the following into the sensor hole: WD-40, diluted simple green, water, and low pressure air (the latter two to flush out any residual lubricant). If he was doing it again he would use tuner cleaner (the TV stuff available at Radio Shack), but would still recommend flushing out the lubricant/cleaner.

Hot Stall:
Hot stalling while while running on the highway has been reported by a couple of owners to be due to a bad coil. Howard Lefkowitz had such a problem on his 92 model several years ago. After plugs, points, distributor cap, plug wires etc. he noticed a white substance coming out of the coil. "New coil and problem fixed." It is interesting to compare this experience with that of Walter Gates on his 4.0 which had stuff exuding from the coil (see 4.0/4.6 coil page).

The ignition amplifier module is a notorious cause of hot stalling and stuttering. Dean Sonneborn found the heat buildup under the hood when his 1990 RR was not moving (eg stopped at traffic lights) caused his ignition amplifier module to fail intermittently, stalling the engine. The faulty unit was so sensitive to temperature that even a minute or two of cooler air provided by opening the hood got it working again. 

James Howard reported another source of stalling problems that turned up on his father's 93 model -- while driving, the engine would occasionally "load up", then quit running. Most of the time you could turn the switch off and then restart it while rolling along at 40+ mph, after which the engine ran perfectly. The problem was often associated with a code 69 "Gear selector switch or circuit" on the underseat diagnostic code readout box. After replacing the switch to no avail, he took it to the dealer. Their tech knew exactly what it was, because he had seen it before. There is some wiring for the gearbox circuit up in the fender that can get damaged. When that happens, an incorrect signal is given to the computer, which confuses it, and causes the running problems and stalling.


 

Starter Problems

The Range Rover is no more prone to starting problems that any other vehicle, and for the most part the same diagnostic procedures apply. One time after leaving mine sitting for a couple of weeks I just got a click from the starter motor. I managed to coax it into action eventually but had to get a new starter (it had done about 100,000 miles).  At 150,000 miles, when the vehicle wouldn't start I found current was not getting through to the starter. I got going with a jumper switch I carry in the tool kit, and my later diagnostic efforts narrowed the the problem to a relay on the firewall that supplies the starter solenoid. It is the same generic relay used throughout the vehicle so carrying a spare for this and other contingencies is a good idea.

John Benham reported a starting problem on his RR that looked like it would require a new starter motor. However, upon inspection, the battery cable was heavily corroded inside - although it appeared perfectly fine outside.  (Hence why the jump start procedure made no difference.)  The original battery cable was 36" in length.  John chose the 42" so he could route it further away from the exhaust downpipe.  It is a good idea to heat insulate the last 10" of the cable near the solenoid.  John used fiberglass insulation packed in tight around a custom cut of aluminum from a soda can, crimped it on the ends so it would not
slide and short out something.

 

Starting Problems/Hard to Start

If the starter motor does not operate., see the starter motor section above. If your RR is just getting a bit tired and takes a lot of cranking to start, Dave Brown says to keep in mind that difficult starting (cold) is NOT an O2 sensor problem.  Oxygen sensors do not come into the engine management circuit until they are warm.  They can, however, be the cause of poor running, stalling, and high fuel consumption. Dirty injectors, however, could cause these symptoms.  Dave finds it very beneficial to run a bottle of Chevron (with Techron) EFI cleaner through the system, about every 3000 to 5000 miles.  Seems to clear up shaky idle.

Also, try cleaning the IAC (Idle Air Controller, or Stepper motor, see above) and its housing, and the rubber tube connecting it to the throttle body.  Make sure the ignition wires are not touching (as much as possible) especially #5 and #3 leads.  Weak coil, maybe???  Old or dirty spark plugs?-Good battery.  It's amazing how an older battery takes so much more cranking before starting.

If you have been working on the distributor, it is easy to reinstal it 180 degrees out of sync, in which case you will get fuel pressure and spark but no starting. (When checking the timing, a piece of masking tape on the pulley at 6 degrees BTDC makes the mark more visible with a timing light). Another trick for when everything seems normal but the engine won't start was discovered by James Howard; he disconnected the ECU for an hour and reconnected it -- then everything was fine!

Another possible culprit that prevents starting on later model Classics (1991 and up) is the Neutral Safety Switch -- if it has failed closed, starting is not possible. See the Neutral Safety Switch section above.

Naturally you should make sure the engine is getting fuel -- the fuel pump relay is the silver one with a brown stripe behind the right hand front seat. Fuel pump failure is not uncommon -- see the fuel pump section. It is worth checking the ground connection on the fuel pump -- this has been known to cause intermittent starting problems.

The following list of additional things to check was mostly supplied by Ali Ashfaq based on experience with his 91 model. .
-Run two #4 gauge copper wire from the alternator to the battery - pos and neg. Negative wire lands on the alternator housing.
-Occasionally buy a STP gas drying agent and dump it in the tank to get rid of excess moisture
-Check your spark plugs and wires. They need renewing frequently. Ali's plug gaps opened up quite a bit in two years.
-New cap and rotor
-Renew the coil.
-Clean all earth grounds.  They're hard to find but worth it. Don't forget the one under the coil!
-Replace the wire between the battery and the stud on your firewall (pass side).
-Clean or renew the Idle Air Bypass Control/stepper motor.
-Check the timing.  Running around 9deg helps.
-Check the fuel pressure.
-Make sure your wife has AAA plus!

Hard to Start when Hot:
Starting problems when hot can be due to wrong information from one of the sensors telling the ECU to use the wrong mixture. For example,
Mike Kinkade had intermittent hot starting problems on his '95 RR LWB. Each time it was after he had driven it, went into a store, and then came out to restart it. It started initially and then sputtered and died. Then it just turned over for a while and would not start. One time it took ½ hour of trying to start it. Once it starts again it runs fine. Mike Lenaghan suggested it was either the fuel or coolant temp sensor and supplied the following range of allowable resistance values:

Temp F                     Resistance
 14                         9100 - 9300 ohms
 32                         5700 - 5900
 68                         2400 - 2600
104                        1100 - 1300
140                         500 - 700
176                         300 - 400
212                         150 - 200

Mike checked the fuel and it was in the allowable range, but the coolant sensors was not. He replaced the coolant temp sensor and so far it has always started. So hopefully that was it!!

 

Steering Shakes

 A very common symptom in Classic Range Rovers is a very bad shake in the steering when hitting road bumps on curves.  It often goes on for several seconds. When this happens, you need to check a number of possible causes in the front end. Culprits include the Panhard Rod bushings, steering ball joints, swivel pin preload setting, steering box adjustment, and steering damper. The first time my RR got the shakes, I found a loose ball joint. The next time I suspected the steering damper, which had received considerable denting on off road expeditions due to its poorly designed location below the axle. I replaced the steering damper with an aftermarket model, only to find the vbration got much worse! I refitted the stock damper and tightened the steering box adjustment to cure the problem. (This is a simple operation described on the steering box adjustment page)

Jason Urban's experience with the steering shakes after purchasing his '95 RR is typical. He knew the left swivel ball was leaking, so he went to to the dealer and found that besides needing a new left swivel seal, the front swivels also needed the preloads reset.  After this work, 2 drag link ends, and an alignment, the steering felt better, but still not right. In the meantime, he received a new Bilstein steering dampener.  After a 20 minute operation to install it, the steering felt great, and he almost felt like he had a new car again.

Sunroof Problems

Range Rovers from 1987 to 1990 had a solid sunroof; this was superseded by a glass version in 1991. The earlier version was prone to various problems such as sticking open, scraping on the roof and intermittent operation. Mine jammed open one day (fortunately in the summer) and had to be entirely taken apart to be repaired. John Benham had problems with his being intermittent, then it finally quit. He changed both relays, checked the switch contimuity, took the motor out (it worked on 12V), checked the microswitch on the motor, etc.  Finally, he found a bad ground on rocker switch contacts #2 and #4, which go to ground at a hidden spot in the roof area. He simply cut and spliced the wires from them to a solderless lug which he connected to a better ground on one of the three sunroof holding screws. This cured the problem.

Jack Sullivan had similar sunroof problems on his 91 Range Rover to those he had heard of from other owners: the sunroof would open, but not close.  He took the motor out, and took it apart. He found it to be a standard DC variety, with permanent magnet fields. Jack finds this type of motor lasts almost forever, but the brushes wear out. The correct brushes can be found at some hardware stores or hobby shops. To replace them, all you need do is match the brush size, and solder them in place. (Jack also found bad electrical contacts similar to John Benham's experience; he strongly suggests that anyone having trouble with sunroof opening and not closing, or reverse of that, should firmly crimp electrical contacts).

Note: The sunroof fuse and relay may be worth checking if your sunroof malfunctions. Probably because the sunroof is something of an afterthought in Range Rover design history, its fuse and relay are not located logically together with the rest of the vehicle's fuses and relays. The fuse is mounted on the back of the relay, and the combination is mounted on its lonesome on the left side of the steering column support bracket under the dash.

Surging

One of the Classic's most irritating habits is a surging of the idle speed when slowing down with closed throttle. This is most evident in lower gears and can be dangerous on steep descents. It usually happens after traveling on dusty roads for a few hours, and the culprit is usually the idle air bypass valve/stepper motor, which needs cleaning. For details see the section on this part above.


Suspension Bushes and Springs

The Range Rover's supple suspension is held in place by rubber suspension bushings. These wear relatively rapidly; more so if you use your Range Rover off-road in conditions requiring substantial and rapid axle articulation. When you hear loud "clonks" as you proceed over terrain irregularities, the bushing fastenings are probably coming loose or else the bushings themselves are worn out. Both conditions are exacerbated by the constant flow of lubricating oil leaking onto them from such components as the steering box. The Panhard Rod bushings are usually the first to go, but the front radius arm bushings at the axle are also good clonkers. In both cases, I found the nuts need considerably more than the torque specified in the manual to keep the bushings from clonking. If you notice differences in straight line steering bias between accelerating and decelerating, wear on the radius arm bushings on the chassis end of the arms is a likely cause.

 

There are numerous aftermarket manufacturers offering substitute polyurethane bushings which provide longer life and "improved handling". This is merely a code word for stiffer suspension, translating to reduced traction and a harsher ride off road. I recommend replacing worn bushings with original equipment rubber bushings to restore the Range Rover's authentic off-road magic carpet ride and invincible traction. Remove the old bushings with a hacksaw and push in the new ones with a large vice or a hydraulic bench press. Replace the fastenings at the same time. More details are given in the Suspension Bushing Replacement section.

 

To correct the usual lean to the right suffered by most pre-swaybar Range Rovers in the US, you can replace the rear springs with two left hand units (the left spring is slightly longer than the right). The springs also sag after a few years of service; there are lots of aftermarket companies offering "heavy duty", "upgraded" springs or "handling packages" containing replacement springs, bushings and/or anti-sway bars. Unless you wish to degrade your Range Rover's off-road performance, don't buy them. If you want a racetrack burner, don't buy a Range Rover.

More advice on springs and suspension components appears in the sections on Suspension Details and Upgrades, and Mechanical and Electrical Upgrades. Bushing replacement is covered in Repair Operation Details.

 

Tailgate Rusting

The most notorious rust spot on Range Rovers is the tailgate -- especially its upper half. (The tailgate is one of the few body parts made of steel rather than aluminum).  The lower tailgate can rust too, along the bottom, possibly due to water getting inside it and not being able to get out. If this happens to you, most of the well known parts suppliers can get you a new one.

To prevent rust forming on the upper tailgate, Jan Eggers of Denmark tells us what everyone should do the very minute they get their RR: "Clean all assemblings between glass, rubber and frame thoroughly and let it dry. Clean out behind the corner clips. Use compressed air wherever you can. Use a good quality boat sealant (black) to draw a fine line to fill the unevitable gap between glass, rubber, frame. Do not use silicone, it doesn't last. Smoothe out the sealant to the point of almost invisibility. If you're not an experienced "sealer" use tape before applying the sealant. Make sure the lower frame corners are well filled with sealant. Corner clips: Even the tiny gaps here must be filled. Use a syringe! This is what I did 6 years ago. I still don't have a single spot of rust on mine. I live right on the water in an extremely rust producing climate."

Alternatively, you can get an aftermarket aluminum upper tailgate frame for less cost, and thereby lick the problem permanently (see details on available frames, suppliers and installation on the tailgate frame replacement/repair page). Another approach is to galvanize the existing tailgate frame before the rust gets too bad. For details on this operation and the installation of aftermarket aluminum frames, see the tailgate frame replacement/repair page.


Track Rod and Trailing Arm Bends

If you go off road a lot it will not be long before you bend your track rod. This item hangs down behind the high clearance section of the front axle and often gets bent upwards or backwards when contacted by rocks. The official solution is to discard it and replace it with a new one, since it is never as strong again after being straightened. After a while I left mine bent upwards permanently to get the extra ground clearance; however this cannot be recommended on safety grounds.

A better solution is to get a stronger or reconfigured replacement. Rob Smith reports that in the UK, sleeveing the rod with steel tube to strengthen it is a very common practice. Find a bit of steel tube that is a tight fit over the rob, about 3mm (1/8 in) wall and push the tie rod into it.  To secure it, drill a couple of holes at either end of the tube, and weld a couple of nuts onto it, so a bolt will go through these holes and grip the tie rod. DO NOT USE CAST IRON - the first lump that hits it, it cracks.

Safari Gard makes strengthened tie rod, and Fabitron makes a strong chrome moly version. However, merely strengthening this part means that when it hits something, the force will be transferred to the steering arms and ball joints which could fail instead. A better solution would be a recontoured rod with higher clearance in the critical area behind the long side of the axle. Rockware now makes such a replacement part. East Coast Rover makes a guard for the track rod, and also has a kit which repositions the steering stabilizer out of harm's way. In the UK, Llamabilt Products now produces a very nice heavy duty  Range Rover track rod (for 75 pounds sterling), made out of 1 inch hexagonal solid steel bar. The hexagonal cross-section also makes for easy adjustment with a wrench.

In 1990, a "new improved" flimsier design was adopted for the rear suspension's trailing arms. These arms have bends in them from the factory so it is hard to tell if you have bent one on a rock. If you bend yours, you can replace it with the earlier, more sturdy part.

 

Transfer Case Stuck in High

On 93 and up Classics, the transfer case shifter can jam in Hi (or Lo). The problem is usually an interlock solenoid added in '93 to prevent the transfer case being moved out of either Hi or Lo range unless the main gearbox is in neutral and the ignition is switched on. The solenoid is powered from fuse E1 (20A) under the passenger seat so you might want to check that first. Mike Lenaghan experienced this jam on his 94 RR. He found no reference to the interlock solenoid in the shop manual, though a circuit diagram appeared in the owner's handbook. The two relays in this circuit are under the cubby box tray in the centre console. Mike found the +12V switched feed was not even reaching the first relay; however, even when he suppled +12V directly to the solenoid feed it still failed to work. Removing the solenoid, he found the plunger was stuck and had to be removed so the transfer lever would operate. He replaced the solenoid, minus plunger (to keep dirt out of the mechanical linkage). Full details of these procedures, including fault diagnosis, component location, disassembly and repair can be found in the Transfer Case Stuck in High section on the Repair Operation Details page.

 

Transmission Service

All the routine maintenance tasks specified in the Range Rover service schedule can readily be performed by the home mechanic, except (in my experience) for one. This is the changing of the transmission filter element every 30,000 miles. The task seems straightforward as described in the shop manual -- just drain the fluid, unbolt the transmission oil pan, and remove the old filter. I found out the hard way that it's actually not quite that easy. I had the fluid drained and the pan unbolted, but and could not for the life of me get it out! A call to the dealer yielded the cheery news that "oh yes, a special tool is needed to bend the chassis out of the way!" (???) What the workshop manual (my 1992 edition, at least) conveniently neglects to mention is that the middle chassis cross member and part of the exhaust system prevent removal of the pan after it is unbolted. In order to get it out, the chassis member has to be detached and the exhaust lowered from the manifold. Unfortunately, simply unbolting the chassis crossmember is not enough; the rails must be spread apart slightly with a special tool to allow enough clearance for the member to drop out of the way.

Those of an ingenious bent can devise strategies involving hydraulic jacks or other forceful means to spread the chassis rails the slight amount needed; those like me who are lazier leave the transmission service to the dealer. On occasion I have even had the dealer do this job using parts supplied by me (sourced from aftermarket vendors). The amount of labor charged seems to vary between one and two hours. This is a modest price to pay for saving the time and frustration otherwise involved! A cautionary note here; it is also necessary to unbolt the exhaust system from the manifold to accomplish this service; I have found that the dealers generally replace the exhaust gaskets but sometimes neglect to tighten the exhaust up again adequately, resulting in exhaust leaks or even lost nuts.

David Martin relates his method of removing the crossmember as follows: "The crossmember on my car was jammed good and tight and, after removing all the fixing bolts, it still wouldn't move. Then I noticed that at each end of the crossmember, on the underside, there are some strengthening plates (triangular sections just below the lower fixing bolts). I used a pair of old welding clamps (the big 'C' type designed for reaching around obstructions) - clamped to the crossmember so that they 'hooked' over the top of the strengthening plates. This gives you a 'loop' underneath the end of the crossmember. You can now position a block of wood against the underside of the main chassis rail (next to the end of the crossmember) and use a crowbar (stick one end into your 'loop') to lever the end of the crossmember downwards. You'll need various sized blocks (or several small ones to pack together) so that you can get suficient leverage as the crossmember is lowered. Working on each end alternately, you can move the crossmember downwards about 1/2 inch each time - it takes about 15 minutes to remove it. Of course if the car has cats fitted (mine doesn't - thank goodness) the front exhaust will need moving too."

Glenn Coffman decided to simply change hios transmission fluid more often to reduce the frequency of needed filter changes. He reports that draining the transmission gets rid of about 4 1/3 US quarts of the 8 US quart capacity, so he drains and fills it several times to get it really clean. Then, he changes the fluid about every 6-7,000 miles on every second engine oil change.

Transmission Sticking in Park or Neutral
See Neutral Safety Switch section above.

Transmission Sticking in First

Some owners have experienced the transmission sticking in first gear. Larry Michelon reports that this is usually due to the governor sticking. Larry had this happen  to his rebuilt ZF transmission (with 50K miles). A fluid/filter change and addition of Lucas Auto Transmission treatment made the problem go away. After adding another 3K miles on it, including one 900 mile trip, it was still performing fine.

Transmission Shifter Won't Select 3, 2, 1
As Daniel Oppenheim found, inability to shift the tranny into 3, 2 and 1 manually can be caused by articles being dropped into the works. He pried off the dress plate, and looking down found that someone had dropped a finger-nail clipper inside the shifter housing !!!! No wonder the shifter wouldn't go into 3, 2 and 1st, and why it had trouble just going into drive. A magnetic screw finder, and the poor little clippers came right out.

Transmission -- Internal Seal Problems
Another owner reported very limited acceleration in D after the car had been driven a bit, and occasional loss of reverse. However if he started in "1" and shifted semi-manually there were no problems. He had his mechanic drop the transmission and replace replace the seals with a kit he got from a tranny shop. This cured the problem -- evidently the seals that had split could not hold the pressure they needed to in order to take off in D. (See the Transmission Seal Replacement Page for more details). The seal kit for the ZF trans cost him $150 versus  $3200 for a rebuilt transmission. (I have seen even much lower prices for these seal kits -- see the Parts Sources page).

Transmission Diagnosis and Repair

See the Transmission Diagnosis and Repair Page for more details of these and othher transmission problems.

 

Warranties, Extended

Due to the considerable expense of proper maintenance and repairs for Range Rovers, extended warranties can be an attractive deal. Click here to find out more about the pros and cons of aftermarket warranties for Range Rovers.

 

Other Information Sources

Repair Operation Details: More detailed information on many repair operations, to supplement the Shop Manual
Maintenance Operation Details
Mechanical and Electrical Upgrades:  (Definitely not in the shop manual!)
Low Cost Replacement Parts Sources: Parts from other vehicles or common US sources
www.dollar.com for an inexpensive rental car while your Range Rover is in the shop!
Air Suspension Problems (RR Classic) Car Electronic Services
Cooling System: Avoiding Problems (Rovers North Tech Tip)
ECU/Airflow Meter Symptoms (Range Rover Register)
Electronic Fuel Injection Problems Diagnostics and ECU rebuilding (Car Electronic Services)
EFI Components ATP Electronics
Extended Warranties for Range Rovers (Pros and cons, and a great deal from a sponsor)
Fording Plug (Rovers North Tech Tip)
Land Rover Springs--part numbers and data.
MAD Mechanic (Motor And Diagnosis) a lot of useful diagnostic info for modern vehicles.
Rough Running Faults, RR Classic (British Pacific Tech Tip)
Rear Axle Leaks (Rovers North Tech Tip)
Recalls for Range Rovers
Rotor Removal (Rovers North Tech Tip)
Rubber Driveshaft Couplings on Range Rovers (British Pacific Tech Tip)
Service Bulletins for Range Rovers (Topic listing by Alldata; contents available by subscription)
Shop Manuals available from www.books4cars.com
Shop Manuals up to 1994, plus engine and gearbox manuals from Brooklands Books
Tech Tips, Miscellaneous RR from Atlantic British
The Care and Feeding of Range Rovers (Andy Dingley)
Wheel Bearing Maintenance (Rovers North Tech Tip)

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Page revised January 2012