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Discussion Starter #1
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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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?
 

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Discussion Starter #3
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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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.
 

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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.
 

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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......
 

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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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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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Discussion Starter #11
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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Discussion Starter #12
Six weeks later, and still no luck...mind you, I've been a bit busy.

Been through the Electrical sticky (or the bits that I can without it starting) and everything seems fine. Thought I had found the problem with Relay 6 which was burnt out, but replaced it and still no joy. Everything else seems to be working as it should. Tried re-syncing and still nothing. It's got fuel, a spark and compression. What more do you need to start, for heaven's sake?

Can't find a mobile mechanic locally who will touch it, so it's going to be down to me. Need to re-insure in two weeks, so it's crunch time - is there anything else I can try before I contact the local LR owner's club and allow the vultures to peck away at its carcass in front of my very eyes?
 

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"To peck away at it's carcass in front of my very eyes" ??? Ewww....I can just picture a bunch of farmers in frayed tweeds with screwdrivers!8-0= You Jersey Islanders are truly the Poets over there!8-|=

Of course there is more to try........
You can place a jumper wire in the starter relay socket between pins 30 and 87 to power the solenoid
You can run a jump lead down from Battery positive to the main post on the starter motor to see it she spins.
You can (and should!) get under there at the starter and assure yourself that all the wires are intact, clean, and tight.
If the key is on, and you are sure you have fuel and spark, and no go it would most likely be down to either the starter being duff, or possibly the XYZ switch playing up? (Or it's plug / wiring)
Does the gear selector and dash indicator match in all gears especially P and N?
As your original post says starter was struggling, it could have shot brushes. Have you had it checked?
If you have a friend hold the key in the starting position and you give the starter a good solid thump with a blunt object like a Lead hammer or lump of wood it may attempt to start....If so, renew or replace starter.
 
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