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Discussion Starter #1
Well I'm thinking of taking the dive. I currently own a 1997 Disco that I service myself so am somewhat familiar with LR's of the vintage.

The P38 seems to represent a value niche in the market though I'm sure some will disagree.

If you had to purchase your P38 again, what the main items you would want to make sure are in good order?

Also, I'm having difficulty understanding if a 4.0 Bosche was ever used, or was it 4.0 GEMS and 4.6 Bosche?

Thanks in advance for all the advice, tips, warnings, and encouragement!
 

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Both versions of engine were fitted in all years, so up to 99 it will be 4.0 or 4.6 GEMS, after 99 will be 4.0 or 4.6 Bosch. Make sure the engine is good, no coolant leaks, no pressurising of the cooling system, no misfires or running on 6 or 7 cylinders. Make sure the gearbox shifts smoothly and it changes from high to low ratio properly. Get at least two working key fobs and make sure they do work. Everything else is easy and relatively cheap to repair, and you almost certainly will have to repair it at some point, but the major bits are those that will cost big money to repair.
 

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If you have a vehicle with the DSP amplifier system then check it works. If the EAS doesn’t work it can usually be sorted out at reasonable cost - the threads here cover everything you will need to know about it and its rectification. Check it has the latest RF receiver unit otherwise battery drain can become a problem. Check the small coolant return to the header tank pipe on the radiator is intact. Check the aircon works properly and that all blend and directional motors for the system work correctly.

You need to be handy with spanners and soldering iron.

Treat the following as maintenance items:

- EAS valve block rebuild - I suggest every 5 years
- EAS compressor rebuild - again, every 5 years

Perform the following as preventative maintenance or be prepared to do them when (not if) they fail:

- Replace the RF receiver unit with the latest version.
- Replace the scuttle panel (below the windscreen) foam filter with a more permanent solution - threads on here show how.
- Replace the water pump.
- Replace heated seat cushion elements and solder in a higher temp thermal switch for toastier buns when you do it.
- Retrim the headlining when it sags.
- Replace the driver’s door lock unit and keep a new/repaired one as a ready use spare.
- Find out and test the EKA procedure for your particular vehicle and test it works - you will need it at some point in time.
- Replace the heater matrix O rings or, better still, replace the actual heater matrix itself with a suitable non OEM replacement that does away with the O rings.
- Fit the HeVAC unit with a ‘proper’ connector for the LCD screen.
- Replace/refit the subwoofer speakers.
- Replace (if fitted) the DSP amplifier - expensive, if you can even find one. They are not repairable so you may need to swap out the complete ICE system for a more modern version!
- Read up about the ‘three amigos’ and understand the possible fixes required - usually the ABS sensors or ECU (see below)

Keep the following as ready use spares:

- A known good ABS ECU.
- A spare front and rear ABS wheel sensor.
- A drivers door lock assembly (see above)

Regarding the EAS valve block I acquired a second hand one on the bay of e together with an O ring rebuild kit and rebuilt it and kept it nicely packaged with a dessicant pack ‘on the shelf’ and then swapped it on the vehicle (takes less than half hour) at the first sign of trouble. I immediately rebuilt the one swapped out and kept that on the shelf and swapped it around at the five year point even when everything was still working. Rinse and repeat.

Compressor rebuild takes under an hour and I do it each time I swap the valve block out (new cylinder, piston seal and filters).

Parts for these vehicles are not overly expensive (except DSP amp) or can be refurbished/repaired at reasonable cost and most fixes are within the competence of an enthusiastic DIYer.

Remember, The P38 is a hobby! It takes a lot of time and effort to keep one running in tip top condition.
 

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Here is what my list would be for a must have check list:

Coolant must not be getting into the cylinders
 

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Sorry pressed "enter"

Here is what my list would be:

1. Coolant is not getting into cylinders (easier said than done when buying a vehicle)
2. Transmission shifts correctly
3. Working fobs
4. EKA code is known

Number 4 may be an issue if you have a North American P38. The EKA code is a must. It can be taken care of later by sending out the vehicles main computer but if you have all the of 4 in my list everything else can be fixed with not too much cost
 

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Its going to be hard to find a P38 that is thoroughly sorted out these days. Most that have gone to that much work have done it to keep it since the market is crap for P38's. But if you are buying that's a bonus. If it were me, I would research the items in Garvin's list but I certainly wouldn't go after most of them as preventative until you address immediate issues. Personally, I don't do paint or body work so I would find something garaged with the paint good enough to live with. Interiors are incredibly durable (at least the leather is) so that's not a huge concern. I had a '95 4.0 Gems and then went to a '99 Bosch 4.6. That wasn't an accident, a '99 is prior to DSP amps, useless GPS, and air injection to the cats which can be problematic but new enough to have a little more power than early 4.0. Have a couple thousand available for maintenance issues. I would skip anything converted to coils unless you want to build an expedition vehicle. Did anyone mention confirming its not overheating and consuming water? I would prioritize a 4.6 over 4.0 more than Bosch vs. GEMS.
 

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+1 on Cooling & heating system, Gearbox all modes. For ABS & Traction find a gravel road to test both.

In addition to above check every electrical switch works as expected, and make a list of what doesn't. Most failures are usually easy to fix (if sometimes fiddly), and can be used to reduce the price.

Pete
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Great help. Thank you very much.

It is sorta funny....from what I can tell, a 4.6 Bosch P38 is basically the same truck as a 4.6 DII. Same axels, ABS, engine. Xfer case is different, EAS, and fancier electronics.

When you ask about a DII at this age, it always starts with head gaskets. Meanwhile P38 discussions are much less frequently about head gaskets.
 

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Head Gasket issues are usually caused by lack of coolant flow, leakage or air-lock issues in the cooling system.

Previous owner of one of my P38's tried gaskets, bodged thermostat, water pump, and never actually resolved it. He advertised it with "misfire", so I got a good condition genuine Autobiography with LPG for £800. The real issue was actually leaky core plugs.

Proper engine rebuild still in progress, but it's looking good after all new core plugs, head & block skimmed, everything cleaned as it goes together.
 

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It is sorta funny....from what I can tell, a 4.6 Bosch P38 is basically the same truck as a 4.6 DII. Same axels, ABS, engine. Xfer case is different, EAS, and fancier electronics.
So the same engine and axles make it basically the same? Drive the two, not very similar at all.
 

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Biggest difference is the EAS on a P38 but air assisted springs on a Disco. Similar but very different and the P38 ride and articulation off road is what sets it apart.
 

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So the same engine and axles make it basically the same? Drive the two, not very similar at all.
From a wrenching perspective, yeah.

I'm not saying they are equivalent trucks. I mean no offense. Simply that they share many mechanicals which I view as a positive for me, a guy that knows Discos fairly well.
 

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I have had several P38s and agree that they represent value. Having said that, the only P38 that will likely ever have any "collector value" are the Holland and Holland variants owing to their spectacular interiors (I have owned

2). Things I believe ALL P38s will have issues with are 1) head gaskets which is well known issue along with liners. Also block porosity as the dies were pretty much shot by the time they were done using them. One P38 I owned needed new gaskets @ 5K miles! IF the head gaskets have been replaced properly that's a good sign as the blocks will have heat cycled a bunch of times and may be more stable. 2) melted/distorted main fuse box. Not the end of the world. Check and replace FIRST before you have a lot of electrical problems.

3) HVAC damper motors. A weak spot. If they are not broken now at some point they will be. Real bear to change, but there are tips on the forum to minimize hours needed.

4) LCD HVAC screen. Repair/exchange units available. Not a big deal 4) heater O-rings. Not a huge deal, but go bad.

5) Power lock mechanisms that will automatically trip the alarm. Not a horrible job to replace

6) suspension bushing wear: normal as on all Rovers

7) air suspension: replacing with Bilsteins and coils is not a big deal.

Coil packs fail but again, not impossible to replace, but not a lot of fun either.

Get the later 4.6L Thor Bosch engine. One of the best features of the P38s I've found is the bodies do not seem to have any corrosion issues. If this was the case on my RRC's, life would be much easier. Like any Rover, buy the best you can afford and "overpay" for the right car as it will prove the cheapest in the long run.
 

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From a wrenching perspective, yeah.
I'm not saying they are equivalent trucks. I mean no offense. Simply that they share many mechanicals which I view as a positive for me, a guy that knows Discos fairly well.
No offense taken I just think they are very different. I'm larger than average and find DII to be really small feeling. The insides are really different and the feel going down the road is very different. Classics have the same basic engine and axles and feel different again.
 

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They are very different cars but from the point of view of working on them, they are very similar. Same engineering, similar design so much the same to work on.
 

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They are very different cars but from the point of view of working on them, they are very similar. Same engineering, similar design so much the same to work on.
That's true, the Land Rover way is alive in them both. I think that is true of most brands. If you can work on a VW, you can work on an Audi. There's just more stuff in the way.
 

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I have had several P38s and agree that they represent value. Having said that, the only P38 that will likely ever have any "collector value" are the Holland and Holland variants owing to their spectacular interiors (I have owned

2). Things I believe ALL P38s will have issues with are 1) head gaskets which is well known issue along with liners. Also block porosity as the dies were pretty much shot by the time they were done using them. One P38 I owned needed new gaskets @ 5K miles! IF the head gaskets have been replaced properly that's a good sign as the blocks will have heat cycled a bunch of times and may be more stable. 2) melted/distorted main fuse box. Not the end of the world. Check and replace FIRST before you have a lot of electrical problems.

3) HVAC damper motors. A weak spot. If they are not broken now at some point they will be. Real bear to change, but there are tips on the forum to minimize hours needed.

4) LCD HVAC screen. Repair/exchange units available. Not a big deal 4) heater O-rings. Not a huge deal, but go bad.

5) Power lock mechanisms that will automatically trip the alarm. Not a horrible job to replace

6) suspension bushing wear: normal as on all Rovers

7) air suspension: replacing with Bilsteins and coils is not a big deal.

Coil packs fail but again, not impossible to replace, but not a lot of fun either.

Get the later 4.6L Thor Bosch engine. One of the best features of the P38s I've found is the bodies do not seem to have any corrosion issues. If this was the case on my RRC's, life would be much easier. Like any Rover, buy the best you can afford and "overpay" for the right car as it will prove the cheapest in the long run.
Afraid I've got to disagree with most of this. Any all alloy engine will blow a head gasket if allowed to overheat, so looking after the cooling system is more important than anything. The stories about slipped liners and porous blocks affected only a tiny minority of cars and the failures are largely amplified by companies that have a vested interest in selling you a new engine.

HEVAC blend motors do fail but not until they are around 15-18 years old. What do you expect from a low voltage electric motor driving plastic gears and using a standard variable resistor for feedback? Replace them when they fail and they will last another 15-18 years. The same goes for the HEVAC LCD screen, the heater O rings and the door latches, don't forget most manufacturers design for a service life of 10 years, so by the time they fail they are well beyond their design life.

What car doesn't wear the suspension bushes? It isn't something that only affects a Land Rover, in fact, considering most owners take them off road they last far better than if you tried that with most other makes.

Air suspension, FIX IT or buy a Defender rather than destroying the ride, handling and off road articulation by bodging it with 19th century technology.

Coil packs fail on anything, they are no worse or better than any other car.

My comments are from my own experience of owning what is possibly the highest mileage P38 in existence with 376,000 miles on it. It did almost 4000 miles in a week and I am ashamed to have to admit that it developed 2 faults in that trip. The rear washer nozzle blocked and the drivers side heater blower motor developed a grumbling noise but considering the car is 21 years old, I don't consider either fault particularly serious.
 

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As someone who's employed a lot of people over the years, the only relevant question about staff is simply whether or not you would employ them again.

With a P38, the question is: Would you do it again?

I've owned two and the answer to the above question is definitely yes.

Most saliently, a P38 is a hobby. If you are like me and work on mechanical things to relax, then go for it. I do it because it's therapeutic; I think that's a very male thing. There's a great satisfaction in solving issues too.

I started out knowing little about them. You can read up all day on RR.net but still not have any practical feel for it all until you start to tear into them to fix or maintain. It's a big car so it's pretty easy to work on. I would not be scared by anything now except for the greasy mechanical stuff; I don't have a garage so I work on it outside my factory.

It should be clear that not all P38s will have all faults. Mine came with a pile of receipts an inch thick; the owner had bought for $13,000.00 and spent over $20,000.00 on it over some years. THAT'S the one you want to buy. I bought it for $14,000.00 and have spent a bit on it but mostly maintenance items, fixing all the trim, getting bits from the wreckers.

But I'm fussy. I hate broken and missing trim, bodged repairs, dodgy fasteners and the like.

Mine's never had the heads off as far as I know. The cooling system is perfect, and that's saying a lot in our scorching climate.

It's amazing to me now how much more I know about these cars now than the average mechanic here. At least about the electronics and ancillaries. I don't know too much about the mechanicals but they're pretty simple. RR.net will tell you everything. The knowledge is here.

Consider the EAS and HEVAC and heater O-rings etc as maintenance items. These cars are getting old and collectable too. Rubber parts and small items wear out.

They're super cool, and the best looking RR ever I think. The tailgate folds flat; it's superb to sleep in.

Remember the simple maxim: the cheap ones are expensive and the expensive ones are cheap.

Here's my list of absolute essentials:

Get two working fobs. I have only one and it worries me.
Get the EKA and make the seller demonstrate it himself.
Buy the Bosch engine, post 99. I've owned both and the update is streets ahead.
Coil springs are an abomination; they're as bad as the arrival of sheep in Colorado in the 1850s or the extinction of the Passenger Pigeon. The P38 air ride is like the cosseting arms of one's lover, only better.
Install the manual pump up system for the EAS. You will need it! And don't use those plastic t-pieces; use the brass compression t-pieces; they're set and forget.

Yes they're very thirsty but they're cheap to buy! I wonder for how long?

The biggest cost in any car is depreciation and the interest on finance. A P38 can be bought for pocket money!

Fun times ahead

Tom
 
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