1994-2002 Land Rover Range Rover P38 4×4 Review

Read our concise review of the Range Rover P38 4x4...

1994-2002 Land Rover Range Rover P38 4x4 Review

by Calum Brown |


Here are our top tips on things to consider when buying a Range Rover P38. Discuss prospective buys on our message boards and for the definitive view, get an LRO buying guide. See below for details.


V8 liners. These can slip, making the block porous. The cooling system pressurises – look out for rock hard hoses. A replacement reconditioned engine is usually your best option.

Cracked blocks. This happens after overheating, but if V8 liners are good after 60,000 miles, they should stay good.

Cylinder head gasket. If the engine has overheated, you may suffer problems. Look for loss of performance and oil in the coolant.

The hose off the top of the radiator to the expansion tank can get blocked, causing the cooling system to pressurize, which can be enough to finish off a head gasket.

Poor starting when cold might be caused by old glow plugs or a weak lift pump. If both hot and cold starts are troublesome it'll be a confused sensor – bypass it with a hot-start kit.

Battery. What you think is battery-drain could just be a battery that is too small. It should be about 1200 cranking amps, but it is not uncommon for people to buy whatever battery's convenient. When cold, a small batter might mean there's not enough power to run all the electrics and turn the engine.

Water pump. The plastic impeller on the diesel is prone to breaking up. No heating in the car is a clear sign. It can lead to overheating and serious engine damage.

Radiator. Check that the temperature remains stable when the car's idling, and check the coolant reservoir for oil stains or suspicious newness. Shine a torch through the grille, looking for anti-freeze stains and loss of radiator finning, then check for leakage after your test drive. Leaks may indicate system pressurisation.

Don't buy a gas-converted P38 without an LPGA certificate, or you may struggle to find insurance.


Gearbox ECU. The ZF four-speed autobox is generally trouble-free, but suspect a problem if sport mode won't select.

R380 manual-box. Check the third-to-second downchange for roughness – a sign that the synchromesh is failing, which will mean a new gearbox eventually.

Two-speed Borg-Warner transfer box. Engage low range to make sure it's good. Check clutch operation while you're at it: if the gears grate, it's worn.


Wheel bearings. Usually give out at around 130,000 miles. Watch out for vibration through the steering wheel.

Air suspension. Air springs perish. It has five height settings; send it up to its highest setting – if the air springs (bags) are cracked around the base, they probably won't last long. Whilst testing, make sure it rises quickly and goes to all settings. If it's slow to rise, the compressor pump is on its way out. Leaking bags cause the compressor to work overtime and burn out, so they need replacing promptly.

Pump filter. If it's clogged then the pump runs hot, which is a cause of compressor failure.


ABS. When you switch on, there will be five to ten seconds of buzzing – that's the ABS pump priming. If you press the brake pedal four times, it will kick in and prime itself again. If it primes every time you press, that's an internal leak. To fix, change the accumulator.

If the ABS light won't go out, check the sensors – sometimes they'll push up, which means the air gap is wrong. It may just need pushing back in.

Pistons. If you need a lot of pedal pressure, the pistons could be stuck.

Discs. Check that there are no brake vibrations as this could be warped or rusted discs.


Steering. Turn the wheel. If it's graunchy or notchy, that may be the joints in the collapsible steering column, or the power-steering pump is low on oil, or the power-steering belt is slipping.

Ball-joints. These are often worn, leading to a vague steering feel.


Heated seats. It's not uncommon for these to have problems.

Make sure the vehicle comes with its original radio and immobilizer codes. Get two keys for the car and make sure both work, because they're expensive to replace.

ECU. Avoid a P38 that's been wading. There are ECUs are under the front seats, as well as under the bonnet.

Battery. Many diagnostic error messages simply come down to a weak battery.


Accident-repaired areas can rust. Chassis have held up against corrosion pretty well, but budget for undersealing underneath.

Rear wheelarches. They corrode; most commonly on the outer sill on the right-hand side. However, this can be hard to see, because plastic panels cover it.

Frame. Check that the gaps between the doors are even, and inspect the frame under the bonnet for signs of crash damage.


Pollen filters. These get forgotten, so they'll likely need changing. You'll find them in the right/left corners, behind the rubber back-of-bonnet seal.

Aircon motors. If they're dirty, they'll struggle and the fusebox relay will fry.

Aircon temperature. It should be very cold – if it's not, the system drier (black canister, below the left-hand headlight) could be your problem.

Climate control air-intake filter. Can break up, allowing debris to get in. Shine a torch behind the bottom-of-screen plastic grille and check its condition.

Windows. If they bang when they get to the top, it's worn window regulator teeth.

Heaters. Base models have a simple heater; others have HeVAC (heating, ventilation and air-conditioning). Three blend motors, for mixing hot and cold air, are behind the dashboard centre. If one fails, Land Rover recommends changing all three. Check each side goes from hot to cold and back to hot.

Footwells. Check the right footwell for coolant drips – that's a faulty heater matrix. Damp in the left footwell is likely to be caused by blocked sunroof drain tubing; blow it out with compressed air.


£410 to £3795

For detailed pricing info see the latest issue of Land Rover Owner International magazine.



FASTEST: 0-60mph 9.3sec, 4.6-litre petrol

SLOWEST: 0-60mph 14.3sec, 2.5-litre diesel

FASTEST TOP SPEED: 118mph, petrol models

SLOWEST TOP SPEED: 105mph, diesel models

HIGHEST POWER: 225bhp at 4750rpm, 4.6-litre petrol

LOWEST POWER: 134bhp at 4400rpm, 2.5-litre diesel up to 1996

HIGHEST TORQUE: 235lb ft at 3000rpm, 4.6-litre petrol

LOWEST TORQUE: 197lb ft at 2000rpm, 2.5-litre diesel 1997-on

BEST FUEL ECONOMY: 28.8mpg, 2.5-litre diesel

WORST FUEL ECONOMY: 14.1mpg, 4.0-litre petrol

FUEL TANK CAPACITY: 22 gallons/100 litres


LENGTH: 185.5in/4713mm

WIDTH: 87.5in/2228mm

HEIGHT: 71.5in/1817mm

WHEELBASE: 108in /2745mm

WEIGHT: 4607lb/2090kg to 4740lb/2150kg

LOAD SPACE: 520 litres, 1640 litres seats down


APPROACH ANGLE: 31º, 35º air suspension raised

DEPARTURE ANGLE: 24º, 26º air suspension raised

RAMP BREAKOVER ANGLE: 156º, 151º air suspension raised


TOWING CAPACITY: 3500kg, braked trailer


CO2 EMISSIONS: Cars up to 2000 n/a; cars 2001-2002 304-398 g/km

VED RATE: £215 (2.5-litre DT) to £260 (4.6-litre Vogue)

INSURANCE GROUP: 13 (2.5-litre DT) to 16 (4.6-litre models)


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