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This blog by Graeme Cooper Automotive addresses solutions to customer problems. Please search the entries for issues similar to your own, OR post a new message to obtain answers from the GCA team and/or expert contributors

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Reasons to use a pro Land Rover specialist

When your Discovery or Range Rover needs engine work, you will need to get it done correctly, or risk further trouble soon thereafter. As the author of this article found out to his cost and considerable inconvenience, taking the vehicle to your “friendly local mechanic” might just NOT be the right solution. (See the full article on the GCA website)

The main reason for going to a specialist is the need for specific knowledge of Land Rovers. True, they are merely variations of similar vehicles, but a Land Rover specialist will very likely have come across the problem before and will know what is required. He will also have the equipment and parts needed to do the job. Not knowing the specifics and/or ordering the wrong part will inevitably cause delays at best and potential future failures at worst when the replacement part does not quite fit or is damaged under load.

Certainly when it comes to appropriate equipment, the average mechanic is most unlikely to know that a full body lift is needed to perform any serious work on the engine of a late-model Disco or Range Rover

The best solution is to engage in a serious dialogue with a workshop with proven practical experience in modification and upgrade work – certainly available from the specialists at Graeme Cooper Automotive

3.5 & 3.9 petrol engine swap options

This is an extract from an article on the main GCA website – (accessible from a desktop, tablet and not from a mobile phone) The article is mainly directed at owners of Classic Range Rovers and Discovery 1 and 2 models.

The simplest “fix” for a 3.5 V8 is to change it to a 3.9 litre engine or even a reworked 4.6 engine. Vehicles already fitted with 3.9 engines can also be upgraded and/or have reworked 4.6 engines installed.  Neither are cheap options, but the results are frequently outstanding. Additionally, the work is usually less expensive than replacing the vehicle, by the time all associated costs are taken into account – like insurance, financing etc. The outcomes are also predictable, whereas replacing one vehicle with another may not always be the better option.

Arguably, the best option is to change the power unit wither to a 4.0 litre or 4.6 litre engine taken from the P38 Range Rover. The major problem will be finding a suitable donor engine.  If they were any good, they would probably not be available in the first place but regardless, complete reliability will only be achieved by a thorough rebuild that will include the fitting of “top hat” liners, cross-bolted mains, reworked heads, filters, gaskets, and so on

The best solution is to engage in a serious dialogue with a workshop with proven practical experience in modification and upgrade work – certainly available from the specialists at Graeme Cooper Automotive.

When all else fails – read the directions – twice

Range Rover Classic – Swapped the main battery for a new one. Very simple job yes?  Well it is if you do not disturb all the relay wiring hanging off the clamps. Tested it – no high beam or driving lights. Low beam is OK.. Must have shorted something  F*#&k!

Start with the simple things -the fuses. The book says fuse A2 – nothing wrong with it. Removed the battery again, Checked the wiring and switch with a multi-meter, changed the relay, Can’t find the fault. Did it all again

One hour later, went back to the book and this time, read down the whole list of fuse functions. Well, well, the A2 fuse is supposed to power only the LEFT side  headlights but there is also an A8 fuse that powers the RIGHT hand headlights.  You guessed it – blown!  It appear someone had previously run both sides together.

Now fixed – and the moral of the story – read the directions!

Website content updated

We constantly update the content on the Graeme Cooper website.  Most recently, pages dealing with both petrol and Diesel engine history, performance and tuning have been revised.  Also, we have updated the LPG conversion page due to recent difficulties in finding filling stations.

Please use the menu on the website home page to access the new versions

Land Rover LPG conversions

Although LPG injection gas systems provide the optimum balance between cost and effectiveness where conventional fuels are concerned, its use has largely been superseded by hybrid systems, meaning a combination of electric motors and small petrol engines. This especially applies to taxi and other fleet operations. In new vehicles, even automotive Diesel engines are being superseded by hybrids.

There are several reasons for this but the main one is the cost of maintaining the retail LPG delivery systems. As the use of hybrids increases, the volume of LPG sales declines, so the cost of retail tank inspection and replacement cannot be justified. This is why many servos previously selling auto LPG no longer do so. As tanks fall due for inspection and/or replacement they are removed from service.

There is also the belief the electrical power is more environmentally friendly – a nonsense when the electricity is usually created by coal-fired power stations in the first place.

A real dilemma occurs for a vehicle owner where LPG is already fitted. Perfectly content both with performance and economy, it is increasingly difficult to obtain gas when and where needed. Fortunately, most systems are duel fuel, so switching over to petrol will usually get the vehicle to the nearest filling station.

A bigger potential problem for the owner is the 10-year inspection. The cost of inspection alone can approach $1000 (depending on the location and integrity of the inspector) because the tanks must be inspected internally as well as externally and many have to be removed and replaced to do this. Also, that cost does not include replacing a failed tank and/or valves.

Despite all of this bad news, LPG continues to be a viable choice for many owners especially where change to a Diesel is unaffordable or changing to a hybrid drive is not feasible. When many Km are traveled, the cost of installation and/or inspection can be recovered within a reasonable time. Additionally, LPG has a lower level of noxious Oxides of Nitrogen than petrol. Emissions are lower than petrol or diesel. LP gas engines are up to 50% quieter than diesel and can be as much as 70% cleaner and 30% less noisy than a conventional diesel engine. LPG also provides the benefit of much-reduced engine wear

Most petrol-powered vehicles can be converted effectively to either dual-fuel or dedicated gas operation but for the reasons stated above, dual-fuel arrangements offer considerable advantages.

Due to the decline in demand, Graeme Cooper Automotive no longer install LPG systems but can certainly advise on maintenance issues.

Tuning Land Rover petrol engines

The following is an extract from the full article dealing with the history and tuning of Land Rover petrol engines.  To view the full version, see https://graemecooper.com.au/petrol_performance.htm (available only on the desktop/tablet version of the website)

There is much misunderstanding about “tuning.” Essentially, this means making whatever adjustments / enhancements that may be needed to maximise the power output. The fundamental rule is that no amount of tuning will improve an engine that is not running correctly in the first place, so basic maintenance is an essential prerequisite. Additionally, delivering additional power means putting more strain on other vehicle systems, especially the drive train, steering and brakes so these MUST be up to acceptable standards before attempting to gain power. Also, power and torque are two different things and the objectives must be made clear before commencing.

Remember too that the engine typically delivers less than half of its power to the wheels. Every related system robs power so the more gadgets are running (like air-conditioning) the less power there is getting to the wheels.

There are, of course, many different stages of “tune” from relatively simple improvements to power and/or economy, through to tyre-shredding increases to power at the wheels. Money is the essential ingredient.

Graeme Cooper Automotive will provide advice on performance tuning to suit your particular needs and budget

Coolant Confusion

This is a short version of the article on the website. To view the full version, please use a desktop or tablet computer:  https://graemecooper.com.au/articles/coolant_confusion.htm

A coolant additive is fundamentally designed to reduce the boil-point of the cooling medium in the radiator, hoses, engine and other related parts of the vehicle cooling system. It also contains some form of corrosion inhibitor and may deposit fine particles onto metal surfaces to repair minor damage.

Coolant is available from parts stores either as concentrate OR as a pre-mix. The former should be used as a mix with clean (preferably demineralised) water in proportions stated in your vehicle manual. (Usually between 25% and 50% coolant concentrate to water) Never use 100% coolant instead of a water/coolant mix.

Contrary to information on some websites/forums, do NOT mix red and green coolants because they can create sludge in the cooling system. Also the beneficial long-life properties of the higher-priced OAT orange coolant will be significantly reduced.

Green Coolant  contains phosphates and silicates as pH buffers for corrosion protection in an ethylene glycol base. The corrosion inhibitors have a fairly short life, so the coolant needs to be changed about every 50,000 Km.

OAT coolants are based on organic acids and do contain silicates to offer protection for aluminium engines.

Orange coolant is based on 2-ethylhexanoic-acid or 2-EHA and other organic acids. It does contain corrosion inhibitors that form a thin coating on metal components, These typically last up to 5 years or 200,000 Km. Orange coolant may NOT actually be orange. Some brands may be pink, red, blue, yellow or a very dark green so care must be taken because they are NOT generally compatible.

Hybrid coolants may comprise variants of any/all of the above but generally do NOT contain the phosphates that may cause unwanted deposits in modern engines.

Using isopropyl alcohol instead of proprietary antifreeze is definitely NOT recommended. Not only will it be more expensive, it lacks the essential inhibitors.

Graeme Cooper Automotive use PENRITE coolants exclusively. This brand includes ALL of the variants described above and the experts at GCA will know precisely which option best suits your vehicle.

New articles on the website

New articles covering various aspects of Land Rover maintenance are added regularly – but please remember that due to the amount of detail, these are only accessible on a desktop/tablet and NOT on a mobile phone.

Here are a few extracts – read the full articles at https://graemecooper.com.au/articles.htm (lots to choose from)

More is not Better

Topping-up your radiator – or the brake reservoir – or the engine or transmission oils?  Do not fooled into thinking that the more you add the better will be the result.

Sensors built into virtually every vehicle system are designed to measure fluid level relative to a specified range. Outside that range, whether too low or too high is likely to be read as a fault and depending on how critical it is to system performance, at best it may trigger warning lights, but at worst can shut down the system completely.

Emulsified Oil in Coolant

Either engine or transmission oil entering the cooling system is not good news and if not rectified promptly will block cooling passages, cause the engine to overheat, destroy the transmission and /or other things that may conceivably upset your day as well as your bank account.

Threads ain’t threads

Just like the old ad claiming “Oils Ain’t Oils” just try matching an existing bolt or stud with a suitable nut.  Anyone attempting to do this is in for an interesting time.

UNC, UNF, Metric, Whitworth. BSF are just the starting categories and there are variations even within each category. Also, we have not even started to think about the variations in the threads that apply to tubing and whether you need brass, steel or high-tensile. The choices will be daunting.

The moral of the story is (as usual) do your homework first by identifying the model, year and VIN of your vehicle before contacting a specialist Land Rover shop to obtain the correct part you need..

 

Hoses and clamps – don’t risk a big bill by overlooking the simple things

There is a separate article “Cooling System” on the website covering how to check most components.  This is a short version dealing just with the hoses and clamps

The motto here is:
Check regularly and fix small problems before they become major ones

A $2 hose clamp or any failed hose is perfectly capable of stopping your vehicle dead with potentially expensive consequences so beware  Also, a failure will inevitably occur a) out of any mobile service areas b) away from any mechanic c) in the dark and/or d) in the rain.  A multi-$$ tow truck bill can spoil your day – big time!

Although the best service shops will check such things at regular service time, it will never hurt to lift the hood yourself to look for oil or coolant in any place it should not be, namely running out of hose junctions and so on.  It is also smart NOT to clean up too much. Just do what is essential to get you home, because the removal of “tell-tales” or “witness-marks” may only make it harder for a mechanic to identify the source of the problem.

Tools

As a minimum:

  • A couple of cross-blade screwdrivers may be needed to access the heads of clamps. (Why Philips/Posidrive heads are not used exclusively is beyond my simple mind).
  • A small adjustable wrench to suit 6 and 7 mm nuts on the clamp-heads may make for easier access in difficult places
  • Assorted ring/open-ended spanners.
  • A sharp cutting knife
  • Some cable ties of various lengths to hold your temporary patches in place

Spares

As noted in other articles on the website, what you carry will inevitably not be the item you need. However, some basic items might just get you out of trouble, namely:

  • A few hose clamps of various sizes
  • A roll of self amalgamating “rescue” tape might bind a leaking hose sufficiently to get you home.
  • Container of water
  • Engine oil

Electrical gremlins – make your mechanic’s job easier and save money

A significant component of the cost of fixing faults is the diagnosis of the problem, namely which of many possible components is the culprit. A trained mechanic will invariably find the cause fairly quickly because he/she will have encountered something similar beforehand but some preliminary work by the owner will achieve several things:

  • It helps to make the driver aware of possible similar problems in the future, many of which may be very simple in origin
  • It allows the owner to describe more precisely what is wrong, so saving the mechanic’s time.
  • In many cases, the fault may be rectified by the owner, eliminating the inconvenience of having the vehicle out of action.

Start with the simple stuff

Most of the time, a broken fuse is likely to be the cause of a simple electrical failure. Of course, there will be a reason why that fuse blew but it may be as simple as vibration or water ingress in or near the failed component.

Look in the vehicle’ owner’s manual (yes it should be kept permanently in a side pocket of a door or in the glove box). The index will refer to the pages where all of the fuse numbers and their functions will be listed.  Remove the cover and locate the relevant fuse, Remove and examine it. If the internal wire is broken, just replace the fuse and test the item that had failed to work. Most of the time, it will now work correctly.

If the fuse blows again

It will be necessary to investigate what caused the fuse to blow. Again, check the simple things first, starting at the electrical item that has failed to work.

  • If this is a lamp, check the bulb (LEDs will rarely fail but incandescent or halogen bulbs are prone to failure). Remove any covers or clips to get at the bulb, look at its colour – if it is cloudy or black, that pretty much identifies a failure. If it looks OK, remove it carefully (use a tissue or latex glove – not bare fingers that will deposit acid onto the surface)
  • First use the multimeter switched to ohms to check if there is a a circuit between the fitting and any earth point (any metal part of the body should do). If you cannot get a zero reading, you have a bad earth – generally requiring nothing more than abrading the surface of the contacts. Check again to see if the lamp is working.
  • LOOK carefully at all of the wiring between the failed item and any relay or the battery. If there is a burnt or frayed wire, you have found the source of your problem and can probably fix it temporarily with nothing more complicated than some electrical tape. However, do NOT assume this is a permanent solution – the defective wire MUST be replaced properly
  • If that has not eliminated the problem, fit a new fuse if necessary and turn on the relevant switch. With your test probe (see below) check to see if there is power to the bulb. If so, you have identified the bulb as the culprit. If not, you will have to work your way up the wiring until you get a live power supply. The problem will then almost certainly be a worn or broken wire.
  • Remember that many circuits only become active when the ignition is ON (the horn may be an exception). For this reason, put the ignition into the “accessory” position before making this test and/or start the vehicle and turn the headlights on. It may be necessary to check with the lights both on “high” and “low” depending on how the failed lamp becomes active.
  • WARNINGS – Do not probe any wires connected to the air bag or the ECU to avoid creating further damage. Also do not touch any wire with your fingers OR “short” any two components. All you want to do is determine if there is power. This is the advantage of the test probe over the multimeter because it requires only a single point of contact for the test. With a meter, you need to put one probe onto the “hot” wire and the other onto ground (an earth point)

Please remember. Reading this article will NOT turn you into a professional auto electrician. Stick with simple stuff to make jury repairs to get you home. Then take the vehicle to an expert as soon as possible.

The complete version of this article, with suggestions on what tools are suggested, also more on relays and wiring is available on the main desktop version of the website – note that a mobile phone version of the site does NOT have links to articles or other high-content material