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


Always get a pre-purchase check

This is a cut-down version of the full article.  Go to https://graemecooper.com.au/articles/reasons_for_prepurchase_check.htm for the full version

Get a pre-purchase check .

Do NOT get this done by a mate, or the local friendly service station.Go to a Land Rover expert shop and pay the money. The cost might seem like a lot, but it is nothing compared to the potential cost if you buy a heap of junk. However, be warned that even the best of specialists cannot diagnose every problem, even if potentially major, so be sure to drive the vehicle in as wide a range of conditions as possible in order to detect potential faults.

Things to do yourself:

Check for obvious rust. A physical check of the door bottoms and frames, also under the carpets for rust is essential. A vehicle that has been driven on sand can be an absolute rust bucket and will literally be un-roadworthy.

If the vehicle has been set up for extensive cruising or bush driving, that can be an advantage for you. However, be suspicious of massive suspension lifts, ultra wide tyres, roof-bars with a zillion driving lights and so on. That is not a reason to reject the vehicle if it has been well maintained, but assume the worst.

Test-drive the vehicle and be sure to observe any noise, vibration or engine misfire. Also be sure to identify any steering vibration or wandering.

Drive the vehicle as hard as possible and/or sit with the engine running to identify any tendency for it to overheat. Some overheating problems may not be detected until the vehicle is pushed hard. This is especially true of early diesel engines that take a long time to get to normal operating temperature. Be sure to test it yourself under these conditions.

Look at the exhaust for smoke –blue smoke means oil is burning. In a petrol engine, it probably means worn rings and/or bearings. In a diesel engine, that may be caused by an intercooler or intercooler hose. White smoke will generally be caused by coolant in a cylinder  or low compression.

Be sure that braking is smooth and the vehicle does not pull badly to one side. This may not be a deal breaker but it may help on the price negotiation.

Look under the bonnet for burned or loose wiring, badly worn belts and hoses, coolant and oil leaks. These can serve as indicators of poor maintenance.

Test all of the lights as per a rego check. This will identify any blown globes, but it may also point to bad wiring or switches.

Test the air conditioning to be sure it gets cold and that the fan switches work properly.

Never kid yourself that the purchase price will cover everything that is needed.

Things the workshop will do:

A good workshop will do more than the absolute basics. This is another reason to deal with a workshop with proven experience in servicing Land Rovers. They will know precisely where to look and what to expect.

  • They will identify any problems with the steering and suspension, examine the exhaust for fixing and leaks, inspect the drive train and the source of any oil, fuel or coolant leaks.
  • Loss of coolant means trouble. It can only go a few places –from a busted hose, leaking radiator, worn water pump etc OR through the engine. Water on the floor of the car may be rainwater coming through a sunroof or window but more likely, a blown heater hose or heater core.
  • A full electronic diagnostic test will be conducted to identify any problems with cylinder pressures as well as many other faults
  • Engine overheating could mean many things, from a viscous coupling on the fan, a blocked radiator, defective thermostat or a blown head gasket (plus several other causes).
  • Heater hoses will be examined for hardening and coolant hoses for softening. These will be minor but necessary repair jobs.
  • The vehicle will be test driven by a professional who will identify any noise, vibration or misfire for attention. The same applies to vibration or wandering steering that could be tyre damage, a bearing, worn bushes or a cracked universal joint.
  • Brakes pulling one way might be a worn pad, but it might also be a leaking hub seal or ball joint. The disks (rotators) may need replacing or maybe a calliper is broken. If the vehicle has ABS, the workshop will check to ensure the motor, pump and relay all work correctly.
  • If the vehicle has air suspension, the workshop will check for a leaking air-spring or seal, the valve block, compressor or EAS computer.

This article is one of many written by ASPAC Consulting,in collaboration with the technical experts at Graeme Cooper Automotive.

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.