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The mechanism was only ever intended as an emergency way of unlocking the car if your fob fails for whatever reason, it was never designed to be used all the time so is pretty flimsy. At least one working fob and decent latches are a must if you want to be able to use the car whenever you want to and not have it lock you out at the most inconvenient time..
 

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MY02 Vogue
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I just bought a MY02 Vogue after threatening to buy a P38 for many years. When I was last looking at the P38 (about 5 years ago), I thought they were too expensive a risk (for me) in terms of purchase price when there was a long list of potential problems to deal with. I was not as confident of fixing things myself back then as I am now either.

So basically there are three things about owning/maintaining a P38 now as I see it: they are a 20 year-old luxury vehicle, and like almost any other such vehicle, they will cost you a fortune to keep on the road if you want it perfect and send it to a mechanic to fix. S-Class 'Benz, BMW X5 - whatever - they all are expensive if owned/maintained in this way. Maybe a Japanese luxury vehicle like a Lexus would be the exception, I don't know.

The second thing is that after 20 years in other people's hands, it can be a lottery what you get, no matter what you buy. A P38 that has been treasured since new, has been lucky enough to never been in a crash, flooded, overheated, hailed upon etc is basically a unicorn. They don't come up for sale very often and when they do, often at an unrealistic price. You still don't know just how loved the car is until you've owned it a while and started to take things apart to see how it was maintained. I'm not saying you can't find a good one, just that it will likely need something fixed.

The third thing about a P38 is that the model was developed when Land Rover was owned by British Aerospace. The company had no money as so many corners were cut. So some components don't last as long as they should, or cause problems when if they were engineered or made to a higher standard, they would not. Arguably the later P38s are better than earlier ones.

P38 maintenance parts are in the main very cheap. Sure, if you want an brand-new parcel shelf, it's $600. A new front bumper? $1000. OEM Land Rover packaged blend motors? $1000. But there are many, many non-OEM parts available now much cheaper, as well as a fairly good stock of used parts.

In short fixing it yourself using cheap aftermarket parts (although I'm getting the impression you have to be careful with some parts to spend the money to get good quality) is the go, and in respect of basic maintenance parts the P38 is one of the cheapest cars on the road to maintain.
As for all the 'issues', I enjoy the challenge and while the P38 is a work tool for me, it is much more rewarding than any other brand I could have (and maybe should have) bought.

There is plenty of reading material on the P38 online that will give you a good feel for what to keep an eye on. Personally I feel that the biggest (most expensive) potential problem is slipped liners due to overheating. The cooling system is something to keep a close eye on, and you have to pay attention when working on the system to, for example, bleed it properly. The HEVAC and EAS systems are well documented as potential problem areas, as are door latch and key fob issues. Someone will correct me, but I think they're the major ones.

There are so many work-arounds and fixes now, all carefully documented on the web by kind fellow P38 owners, so you can fix almost anything on a P38 with guidance from people who've done it before and are willing to show you the easy way.

My car had 139,000km on it and two owners before me, the 2nd owner for 15 years. While the service book has a stamp for almost every interval (maybe one missing) and overall you can see the car was not abused or played around with, it became a 2nd, 3rd or even 4th car in recent years. Accordingly the last owner started to let things go, but luckily not so much that it became a basket case. I've had to get new tyres, replace rear brakes, a window regulator and now because the HEVAC blend doors were not attended to properly (new blend motors fitted it seems, but not a dash-apart fix the sticky blend doors) I'll have to replace gears in one motor and take the dash apart to fix the blend doors. The paint will need work here and there, although most if it can be saved. The roof lining needs replacing. All easy stuff, and things I'll enjoy working on.
 
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