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Discussion Starter #1
Have a 2001 P38 that's exhibiting all the signs of bad head gaskets...overheating, bubbling coolant, burn off coming through the vents. Happens after about 15 min of driving. The temp gauge pegs red and then falls to normal over and over. Had the thermostat replaced which kept things under control for a while but symptoms are back.

As everyone here knows, costs for HG replacement is in the 2-2.5k range (at least here in Portland, Or) whereas valve cover gasket replacement is less than 1k. I've read both can cause these kind of problems. I only paid 2.5k for this rig but would love to get another year or so out of it.

Wondering if anyone has experienced the same issues and solved with a valve cover job. Thanks for any advice.
 

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Valve cover gasket leaking won't cause the temperature gauge to rise (although it shouldn't cost more than $50 and two or three hours work) so you may have a head gasket problem. Equally you could have a, failing water pump, clogged radiator, etc. Do some diagnostics. Overheating is caused by only one of two things, a lack of coolant or a lack of flow. Do you have to keep topping it up?
 
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Discussion Starter #3
Valve cover gasket leaking won't cause the temperature gauge to rise (although it shouldn't cost more than $50 and two or three hours work) so you may have a head gasket problem. Equally you could have a, failing water pump, clogged radiator, etc. Do some diagnostics. Overheating is caused by only one of two things, a lack of coolant or a lack of flow. Do you have to keep topping it up?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Thanks for the reply Richard. My mechanic checked the water pump and says it's fine, and he put a new thermostat in which seemed to resolve the problem for about 6 weeks.


Yes it goes through coolant pretty quickly. I drive it probably 50-75 miles a week and top it off once a week. It leaks alongside the passenger side frame when it cools.

I need to find out what additional diagnostics he did so I can have a more informed post. I can say that he said the HG would likely be the problem if the thermo fix didn't work. In my own research I saw that valve cover problems may present in a similar way so am researching that.
 

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If it only needs topping up every 75 miles then it isn't blowing the coolant out. You can't properly check a water pump without taking it off as that is the only way to see if the impeller has corroded away and if you are taking it off, then you may as well replace it. I'd be looking at a clogged radiator. Have you been running it with coolant or filling it with water? Have you put any magic potion head gasket repair in it?
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I've been running it with coolant and no, I've always heard mixed things about additives but will try anything at this point!

I'll ask if he checked the radiator. Thank you.
 

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Another possibility I can think of is a faulty expansion cap fault. Easy DIY and a $10 part.
 

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Yeh, "leaking from passenger side" sounds like it could be blowing through the overflow. I'd also be making sure the air gap has been done correctly. The solution may be less traumatic than you think....
And then, if the car is new to you the PO cd easily have put magic gunk in it (as Richard alludes to) or if you changed coolant colour without draining the original - a reverse flush wd help that, but not completely reverse it
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks everyone for the feedback. I'm going to circle back with my mechanic and see if he in fact checked the water pump, expansion cap and if the radiator is clogged. Fingers crossed!
 

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Also check the engine block core plugs. They do tend to rust on all cars as they get older. My project P38 had head gasket issues, but tracked the original fault down to 3 leaky core plugs. Got these replaced while the block was being re-faced.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Hey everyone, just wanted to circle back after talking to my mechanic and close the loop.

He's diagnosed the problem as a pressure containment issue due to leaky head gaskets. It can't hold pressure and so it's coming out of a couple of hoses and mainly the expansion cap when it overheats, path of least resistance as he put it.

His quote for the repair (which includes the usual list of related parts...water pump, hoses, timing cover, radiator, valves, resurfacing etc) is in the $2,800-$4,200 range including parts, which apparently are getting pricier lately. Really reputable shop and it sounds like they do these jobs to last. I've been looking around for someone local and indie who might be able to do it for less but no luck so far.

Sadly that's more than I paid for the rig so I'm going to have to let this one go. Love this truck and super bummed.

Appreciate everyone's time and expertise. On to the next Rover!
 

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If I'm in your position, I would at least try a brand new expansion cap as well as do a complete coolant flush. These two are relatively cheap and easy DIY.

I'm sure reputable shops are out there, but I have been screwed by a supposedly reputable shop in the past. So, I totally don't trust the diagnostics you were given.
 

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I'm with TheoR. And even if the HGs DO need changing... you can DIY, there aren't so many specialist tools you need, as long as you have time and patience
 

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Slipped liners? Been there. Replacing the head gaskets won't help if one or more liners have slipped. I had top hat liners fitted.

Replacing head gaskets isn't that hard on the P38A - it's a simple engine. Admittedly, the GEMS engine is easier than the Bosch engine which yours is. The GEMS has a much simpler intake manifold system.

If the head gaskets are done, then you'd need new head bolts, too. They are stretch bolts. I replaced mine with ARP studs.

What's the radiator like? This was mine:

286611
 
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Hey everyone, just wanted to circle back after talking to my mechanic and close the loop.

He's diagnosed the problem as a pressure containment issue due to leaky head gaskets. It can't hold pressure and so it's coming out of a couple of hoses and mainly the expansion cap when it overheats, path of least resistance as he put it.

His quote for the repair (which includes the usual list of related parts...water pump, hoses, timing cover, radiator, valves, resurfacing etc) is in the $2,800-$4,200 range including parts, which apparently are getting pricier lately. Really reputable shop and it sounds like they do these jobs to last. I've been looking around for someone local and indie who might be able to do it for less but no luck so far.

Sadly that's more than I paid for the rig so I'm going to have to let this one go. Love this truck and super bummed.

Appreciate everyone's time and expertise. On to the next Rover!
Know how you feel im in NZ & just had my SEMs done $3500 inc full heads recon & skim new pump rad & t stat . Ithought of getting rid of it but could get another one with same problems . Seem to be common on them once thye get older
 

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Discussion Starter #17
Had the truck checked out by another shop who tested the HGs (chemical test) and they didn't show any leakage.

They found a leak in the heater core which I asked them to bypass. Truck is now holding coolant and not overheating.

Won't need heat in the cabin for at least 6 months so that's a fix for another day!
 

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Nice one. Replacing the heater core will be much more pleasant in decent weather tho... dash off and do it properly
 

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Had the truck checked out by another shop who tested the HGs (chemical test) and they didn't show any leakage.

They found a leak in the heater core which I asked them to bypass. Truck is now holding coolant and not overheating.

Won't need heat in the cabin for at least 6 months so that's a fix for another day!
286778
 

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No shame in bypassing the heater core. That's how mine's been ever since my heater core started leaking, too. Make sure the hose is not kinked, though. You want unobstructed flow.

Also, make sure the hose is rated for automotive cooling system use. You don't want the hose from bursting and causing a whole lot of other problems. You can easily purchase proper spec hose from any auto parts store like Autozone or Pepboys here in the US.

For reference, a picture of how my bypass looks.
286780
 
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