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Range Rover P38 mystery – no power when put into gear


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Range Rover P38 mystery – no power when put into gear

I hope you can help me with this. Someone must have had the same experience or a good clue as to what is going on!

Our beloved P38, 1995, HSE 4.0 petrol, 90000 miles, looks as if we need to scrap it. Just 4 weeks ago it started to have problems, it starts up and revs in Neutral fine, but as soon as it is put into any gear, the power drops and it hardly moves and easily stalls.

Since then, I had licenced Range Rover mechanics trying to sort it out. They checked absolutely everything they could with their computers: Airflow, Petrol pressure, compression, they even fitted a new ignition coil and a new petrol filter, all seems to be in good order. After installation of the ignition coil, the car started easier but still has no power when put into gear. Apparently, they cannot get a reading from the transmission sensor, but don’t think it’s a transmission problem as such. They are now at their wits end and tell us the only options left is either to give up or really take the engine apart at a cost that could be several thousand pounds, but without any guarantee that they will find the fault. According to the mechanic, it could be the crankshaft worn down or the BECM has a fault or the cylinder is cracked and so forth.

Obviously, the car’s value does not really allow me to throw that much more money at it just for fault finding and so it looks like we better get rid of it. But I cannot believe that nobody knows what is going on!

So, any ideas or experiences that you can share would be highly appreciated.


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If the engine starts and revs freely in Neutral and oil levels and coolant look ok I would suspect the auto box. If you ring Ashcrofts they may be nice enough to advise you if so.

David is a top bloke and spent 10 minutes on phone with me describing first a vcu fail then months later when auto box had no real power until it had warmed up. Both were run of the mill faults for him and his diagnosis was spot on. Needless to say we got the parts from him for transferbox then gave the work to them to fit a new autobox.

No links apart from a happy customer twice over.

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I vote transmission too - either an actual mechanical fault, or an ECU or sensor not properly detecting that you're not idling in neutral anymore, although I'd very much hope the experts would've noticed that (and yet would be entirely unsurprised if they hadn't, knowing how to work a computer is not the same as understanding what it tells you...)

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  • 3 weeks later...

You got this sorted yet? I can see the power concern to maybe be the gearbox but what really makes me tick is the stalling of the engine, I have a feeling that is where to look, it is hard to try and diagnose just like this, but when selecting gear and the engine runs poor and stalls it can give a false sense of the gearbox being at fault.

Just my 2c.

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