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1995-2002 Range Rover P38A
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Discussion Starter #1
I was not sure if I needed to start a new thread ( I posted on TheoR thread from 8/2016, who had the exact manifestation as I did). So here it goes.

I had a VERY similar problem to TheoR on my way to the airport (go figure, right?), needless to say I missed my flight and got towed to my repair shop, my mechanic checked the transmission fluid level (yes I have an earlier version with a dipstick) then drove the car and confirmed the disconnect between the purring engine and the wheels, so he consulted with a transmission "specialist" and the estimate to overhaul the transmission came to $4K.

I decided to bring the car home and ponder (1996, P38 4.0 with 220K on the odometer) so I brought a quart of transmission fluid with me just in case ( after reading an earlier post here regarding the proper way to check the fluid).
And upon checking the dipstick with the engine running, the cold level was not readable, so I poured the one quart and drove home (12 miles) without a glitch.

Now this is my dilemma; what is next? accept that I solved the mystery and move on? will this happen again and I will be left stranded? have the transmission looked at? check for leaks? is there a way to do a "preventative maintenance" without an overhaul?

Any input is appreciated.

Rod


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1995-2002 Range Rover P38A
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Your 4.0 will have the ZFHP22EH gearbox. A quick check on the Ashcrofts website (a well regarded L/R transmission specialist in the UK) shows an exchange unit is £725 to give you a price comparison.


Your quote of $4K is well over the top even with fitting costs. I would doubt that the gearbox is completely wrecked due to just a low fluid level.

I would crawl underneath and check for leaks first. You may have got away with it if the level has not been checked for years. Nearly all p38's drip from somewhere so it may have been gradual.

If all is good I would double check the level again and do a few test drives, checking underneath regularly. If the gearbox works as it should and there are no leaks then that is enough.

If no maintenance has been done on the gearbox for years, change the filter and put fresh Dexron III fluid in. Do your transfer box as well with the same spec fluid.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Your 4.0 will have the ZFHP22EH gearbox. A quick check on the Ashcrofts website (a well regarded L/R transmission specialist in the UK) shows an exchange unit is £725 to give you a price comparison.


Your quote of $4K is well over the top even with fitting costs. I would doubt that the gearbox is completely wrecked due to just a low fluid level.

I would crawl underneath and check for leaks first. You may have got away with it if the level has not been checked for years. Nearly all p38's drip from somewhere so it may have been gradual.

If all is good I would double check the level again and do a few test drives, checking underneath regularly. If the gearbox works as it should and there are no leaks then that is enough.

If no maintenance has been done on the gearbox for years, change the filter and put fresh Dexron III fluid in. Do your transfer box as well with the same spec fluid.
Thanks a bunch, will do.
 

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In my case, the torque converter spline was completely worn out so topping up the ATF didn't solve my issue. As such, I bought a new torque converter for around $150 and did the replacement. It took me a few days to fix the problem myself, but saved quite a bit on my repair bill. There's no way it should cost $4K. However, getting a quote like that is pretty typical. The transmission work that I did was the second time my P38 got a transmission job. The first time was done by a shop, and I paid something close to $5k for the repair.

Going back to your issue, if topping off ATF solved the problem, chances are you just had a slow leak somewhere and run low enough on the ATF to no longer be able to operate the oil pump properly to propel the torque converter. You might have lucked out and may not have any issue after the top off. However, pretty certain you have a leak somewhere, so go through all the area ATF flows to pinpoint the leak.

Telltale sign if you have done any further damage to your transmission is whether you had any gearbox fault come up on your instrument panel. There is a temperature sensor attached to the transmission oil cooler that triggers the fault if the ATF doesn't cool down sufficiently. I saw the warning couple of times, but didn't do anything to address the warning as the fault was not coming up on a constant basis.
 

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1995-2002 Range Rover P38A
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As noted, if topping off the ATF resulted in the problem being solved, and the transmission now works, then that might be problem solved.

Where did the ATF go? A few things to check:

Oil leaks around the pan, obvious enough.
Check the oil cooler hoses from the transmission to the oil cooler for leaks at the joints. These are under pressure so even a small leak will mount up over a short time.
Check the oil cooler itself for weeps or a leak. Once again, it is under pressure whenever the engine is running. To that end, start the car, cycle the gears and then check with the engine running.
Have a look at the little inspection plate on the bottom of the bell housing. Pull out a bolt and see if fluid comes out. If so then there might be a leak on the input shaft.

Worthwhile getting a service kit, pretty cheap, and 11 litres of ATF and service the transmission. An easy, if a little messy job.
 

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Discussion Starter #6
In my case, the torque converter spline was completely worn out so topping up the ATF didn't solve my issue. As such, I bought a new torque converter for around $150 and did the replacement. It took me a few days to fix the problem myself, but saved quite a bit on my repair bill. There's no way it should cost $4K. However, getting a quote like that is pretty typical. The transmission work that I did was the second time my P38 got a transmission job. The first time was done by a shop, and I paid something close to $5k for the repair.

Going back to your issue, if topping off ATF solved the problem, chances are you just had a slow leak somewhere and run low enough on the ATF to no longer be able to operate the oil pump properly to propel the torque converter. You might have lucked out and may not have any issue after the top off. However, pretty certain you have a leak somewhere, so go through all the area ATF flows to pinpoint the leak.

Telltale sign if you have done any further damage to your transmission is whether you had any gearbox fault come up on your instrument panel. There is a temperature sensor attached to the transmission oil cooler that triggers the fault if the ATF doesn't cool down sufficiently. I saw the warning couple of times, but didn't do anything to address the warning as the fault was not coming up on a constant basis.
Thank you TheoR and dave3d for your input, I just finished inspecting the undercarriage; no "major" leaks that I could see, but admittedly it is hard to tell since I DO have chronic oil leaks from the oil pan and the engine block, but the ATF level stayed where I left it after the top-off.

I just ordered the kit including the filter and gasket, and I might as well do the transfer case oil change while at it.

I am counting my blessing with this car, I had a prior close call with the transmission about 7 years ago; while my wife and I were on our way home from a skiing vacation in Colorado (with a car full of kids and dogs) and I was approaching a small town (El Norte if my memory serves me well) I noticed an erratic RPM then a loss of power, at the same time my wife smelled a "strange smell', so I pulled over and found the engine compartment soaked with oily substance, luckily we were less than a couple of blocks from the town center, where the only repair shop was about to close (Friday evening) for the weekend, I pleaded with the mechanic/owner to take a quick look, he stated that he smelled a burning transmission right away and nothing could be done till Monday the earliest (that is if the needed parts were available from Denver). but upon my insistence he took a look and found a ruptured hose in the engine compartment that leaked all the ATF.

So without any guarantee that the car was going to run again, he replaced the hose, filled the fluid and.... we made it home that night ( the smell was nasty the whole way home and for the next few weeks although he pressure sprayed the engine compartment when he was done).
 

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Discussion Starter #7
As noted, if topping off the ATF resulted in the problem being solved, and the transmission now works, then that might be problem solved.

Where did the ATF go? A few things to check:

Oil leaks around the pan, obvious enough.
Check the oil cooler hoses from the transmission to the oil cooler for leaks at the joints. These are under pressure so even a small leak will mount up over a short time.
Check the oil cooler itself for weeps or a leak. Once again, it is under pressure whenever the engine is running. To that end, start the car, cycle the gears and then check with the engine running.
Have a look at the little inspection plate on the bottom of the bell housing. Pull out a bolt and see if fluid comes out. If so then there might be a leak on the input shaft.

Worthwhile getting a service kit, pretty cheap, and 11 litres of ATF and service the transmission. An easy, if a little messy job.
Thank you Dtoyne, I am on it.
 

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1995-2002 Range Rover P38A
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In my case, the torque converter spline was completely worn out so topping up the ATF didn't solve my issue. As such, I bought a new torque converter for around $150 and did the replacement. It took me a few days to fix the problem myself, but saved quite a bit on my repair bill. There's no way it should cost $4K. However, getting a quote like that is pretty typical. The transmission work that I did was the second time my P38 got a transmission job. The first time was done by a shop, and I paid something close to $5k for the repair.

Going back to your issue, if topping off ATF solved the problem, chances are you just had a slow leak somewhere and run low enough on the ATF to no longer be able to operate the oil pump properly to propel the torque converter. You might have lucked out and may not have any issue after the top off. However, pretty certain you have a leak somewhere, so go through all the area ATF flows to pinpoint the leak.

Telltale sign if you have done any further damage to your transmission is whether you had any gearbox fault come up on your instrument panel. There is a temperature sensor attached to the transmission oil cooler that triggers the fault if the ATF doesn't cool down sufficiently. I saw the warning couple of times, but didn't do anything to address the warning as the fault was not coming up on a constant basis.
When you change between forward and reverse, do you make sure your car comes to a complete stand still when you shift gear?
 

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Discussion Starter #9
When you change between forward and reverse, do you make sure your car comes to a complete stand still when you shift gear?
I do, but I am not as careful when going from reverse to drive.
 

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My car is ex police and one of the things they liked about the P38 was that you could slam it into reverse no matter how fast you were going to stop the car almost dead. The gearbox knew they were still travelling forwards so rather than going into reverse, it just locked up until travelling slow enough to select it. So waiting until you have stopped isn't that important.
 

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I guess they were new then and of course the public were picking up the cost of repairs and maintenance, not the driver! :)
 

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nosync, if you have overheated the box in the past, the ATF fluid must be changed. Run some off and have a look at it in a jar. It should be a dark red colour. If it is black it has degraded and will cause damage. Up to 200 deg F is normal running temp. Above 250 deg F change after 10K miles. Above 300 deg F too late damage occurs. I put a gauge on mine to keep an eye the temp.
 
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FYI, my source of leak was the transmission oil cooler. Even under operation, ATF wasn't spewing out of it or oozing out that I could detect visually. The leak, however, was sufficient enough and going on for long enough to layer the overall surface of the transmission oil cooler in ATF. The leaking ATF had the effect of being an attractant of dust on the surface of the transmission oil cooler, completely caking the surface in dust as a result.

I imagine your current leak may be similar to what I experienced, unlike your first time, in that the leak may be very small. Only way to detect the origin of the leak may be to thoroughly clean the surface area around where ATF flows, drive around a bit, then look for surface tainted by ATF.
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
Thank you dave3d and TheoR for the input, My plan is to service the transmission/transfer case anyway ( that will give me a chance to check the ATF color) de-grease the undercarriage and the engine compartment, drive the car while checking for leaks often and go from there ( I wonder if a UV light lamp would help?)
 

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I have only seen a UV light used for detecting aircon leaks when a special UV dye is added. Don't think it would work with ATF fluid.
Wear yellow UV goggles if you are messing about with UV.
 
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I have a 97' P38 with 230k (Previous maintenance Unknown) that wasn't able to maintain a constant speed above 50 MPH without constantly kicking down a gear. I finally changed the Trans Filter, Fluid and added a stronger magnet inside. The issue cleared up. Then a Flexplate bolt backed out for some reason and took out the RELUCTOR Ring, and stopped the engine. I decided I was going to get the transmission rebuilt (In the shop for this now). For $2500 They are rebuilding the Transmission, Changed Rear Main Seal, Oil Pan Gasket and installing the New Flexplate (I bought from Island 4x4 for $500) And an upgraded Flexplate Drive Plate (From Ashcroft for $100). ALL in for about $3100... I am going to keep it for awhile so it's worth it to me...
282186
 

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My car is ex police and one of the things they liked about the P38 was that you could slam it into reverse no matter how fast you were going to stop the car almost dead. The gearbox knew they were still travelling forwards so rather than going into reverse, it just locked up until travelling slow enough to select it. So waiting until you have stopped isn't that important.
Slow is not standing still, causes quite a bit of stress
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thank you dave3d and TheoR for the input, My plan is to service the transmission/transfer case anyway ( that will give me a chance to check the ATF color) de-grease the undercarriage and the engine compartment, drive the car while checking for leaks often and go from there ( I wonder if a UV light lamp would help?)

Reporting back my findings: The ATF is pink in color, no metal flecks, just the fine shavings on the magnet, some sludgy sediment on the bottom of the pan.



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Discussion Starter #20
Happy thanksgiving first of all.

As mentioned earlier I did the service, but when it came to filling the ATF: it was a challenge.

One of the members on this forum said 11 liters ( which I thought was excessive) I looked up my 1996 4.0SE specifications: it said 9.7 liters, but even then I could not fill that much into the transmission case.

So that begs the question: are the 2 liters for the torque converter / transfer case part of that 9.7 liters? Even then I could not put the balance of 7.7 into the transmission case ( it took about 6 liters to be overfilled and had to drain a liter and a half back).

Any input?


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