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The only place for a coil spring is up Zebedee's arse.
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Joined: Jan 03 2020
Posts: 22

Hi guys,
Well, just about getting to the point where I need to do a little more to my 2000 4.0. 77k miles.

One of the small mental obstacles has been: how do I get underneath safely without any risk of the car collapsing on me? I did read one thing about blocks under the axles, or something like that - harder to understand without pics - but I almost took it to mean that I would need to fit wooden blocks above the axles, between them and the bodywork.

I certainly don't think I'd be happy relying on the car's systems itself (locking with the switch, or with a door open) so looking for the practical but sensible methods that experienced owners use. I have a concrete floored garage, hefty axle stands, a big (3 ton?)trolley jack, and a 'little' trolley jack. Well used to using all of these on the 110 Defender, so not a complete novice, but it's one of these things that you don't know until you know. I've tried searching the web, but not found anything.

Why? I have a nasty wobble which I need to investigate. It feels like a wheel's about to fall off. (I've been there before with another vehicle). It used to be very occasional - i.e. happend on a longer trip back in March, barely happened again until last week.

I used to think it was speed related - if I pootled about at 50, then no bother; if I went up to 70+ then it would kick in, but ease again once I'd slowed. Now I'm not so sure - it happened on a short run home last Friday (and I haven't used it since - because I don't want a wheel to fall off!) and on that occasion it seemed to be present even down to lower speeds.

My thoughts are - in no real order - a duff propshaft UJ which is getting worse; a diff missing it's damper thing; or a wheel bearing that's on the way out. On a Defender I'd also be wondering about the front swivel tension.

Any help you can offer on safely getting underneath, and pointers on likely wobble candidates would be very gratefully received.

(off out now to replace a timing cover on a 1.2 Clio!)

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 4560

Unless I'm going to be doing a lot of work and just need to get under it to have a look or do a quick job, I just put the suspension on high and get under there. The suspension has never just dropped to the bumpstops while parked any other time so why would it do it while I'm under it? Worse case, the body will drop but unless the tyres suddenly go flat at the same time, the axles will still be the same height above the floor. If you are really worried about it dropping on you, put the suspension on high then put a jack under the towbar and another under the crossmember just in front of the radiator.

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Joined: Aug 19 2019
Posts: 158

I've had 2 air springs (Arnott's) fail. When they did the car dropped to its bump stops almost immediately. Richards idea of a jackstand under a crossmember is a good one.

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 4560

Arnotts do that, Dunlops don't. In 10 years and almost 200k miles, my car has never dropped to the bumpstops unless I've told it to.

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Joined: Mar 22 2016
Posts: 1193

You say bad wobble, are you sure it’s not the tyres, death wobble ( as it’s known ) is awful, try putting back wheels on the front.. otherwise it’s my favourite, ball joints, or radius arm bushes, it’s worth doing both if you intend keeping for any time.
As for jacking the car, I’m like Richard, I put on high and shimmy under,, I understand concerns, but Richard has covered it..

Member
Joined: Jan 03 2020
Posts: 22

Thanks guys, I appreciate that.

I think I'm still slightly unsure of the EAS, hence why I'm nervous. It drops overnight in my car port, but it could be because the ground isn't entirely level, so the corners could be chasing each other.

Two jacks as described sounds nice and simple and worth it for my peace of mind alone.

Once I get it up, and the front wheels off ( I do think it's roughly from the front) I'll have a poke around and, fingers crossed, find something obvious. When you say balljoints, I assume you mean track rod and drag link? Or is there something else in there I'm not familiar with?

I've recently put superpro bushes all round on the Defender, and I've bought a spare set of rear arms for the P38 with the idea of prepping them for a straight swap - hoping the superpro bushes will be as easy to install this time around as they were on the 110.

I think ( as with another recent thread ) that I'm still in two minds whether it's a long term keeper or not. There's a good enough list of stuff to do, and that's before I've even had a good look underneath:

  • Shocks - all round probably - wallows unpleasantly if I corner too enthusiastically;
  • Handling generally is sloppy, hence why I'm considering a superpro bush set;
  • Sunroof seems to be disconnected from the mechanism - presume there's a good reason for that, which I'd need to fix;
  • There was an advise on brake pipes at the last MOT;
  • HEVAC book alarm symbol on the display (which Marty has just fixed, so I know it's not the display itself) - probably means dash out;
  • SRS/airbag warning light on the dash (was told that's a dodgy connection under the front passenger seat - maybe);
  • Beginning to see some corrosion on the rear wheel arches, and the bottom of the O/S read door;
  • No audio from the rear doors;
  • No idea if the Air con works at all.

One the one hand, once I'm more comfortable with the basic systems of the car - i.e. confident that I can work safely around it, then none of the list above really bothers me, financially or technically.

On the other hand all the electrical control systems are not my strong point. Basic agricultural electrics, like my 300Tdi-era Defender are no bother; ECUs not so much.....

But its baby steps for now. I don't want to drive the car at all at the moment for fear of something falling off, so I need to get underneath and figure this one out.

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Joined: Aug 19 2019
Posts: 158

Richard, I went back to Dunlops after the 2nd one blew.
Don, I think most of what you're describing is mechanical, not electronic. I'm also much better with mechanics than electronics, but the electronic issues on the P38 don't seem insurmountable. There's a lot of good help on this forum for anything you need help with.

Member
Joined: Jan 16 2016
Posts: 346

I have got Arnott Gen III's fitted to mine and it rises up +4" on the off road setting !! One of the few benefits.
I have never had a sudden failure to cause the suspension to collapse. I have confidence in it and I admit I do crawl underneath for inspections, not for jobs as such. The worst that would happen is that it would drop down to the bump stops and the car would be on its wheels. I might get injured but I wouldn't be crushed.

When I do need to do some serious work underneath particularly with the wheels off, I use substantial axle stands.
Also be aware that like other Landrover models with the handbrake on the back of the gearbox, the car can rotate and twist off the stands even with the handbrake on. It is therefore essential to chock a couple of wheels both sides of the wheel to stop it twisting.
When it is on the stands I give it a rock backwards and forwards to make sure it is stable.

Your wobble ........ tyres first. Swap them over as mentioned. Costs nothing. Check steering damper.
Are you in the UK? Did it get through the MOT ok?

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 4560

Don't fit poly bushes to a P38, they are either crap or wear out in no time (or both). OE rubber are cheaper and better but you need a press to fit them. If you are taking wheels off, axle stands under the axle and it doesn't really matter what height the air suspension is at. I changed the exhaust, including dropping the crossmember to change the Y section, with it on the ground on high.

As to your faults,
Shocks, Boge were original but Boge rears are no longer available so Boge front and, dare I say it, Britpart rear (they are cheap, easy to replace and have a 2 year warranty if they don't last).
Handling may be down to the shocks but more likely ball joints. These are the top and bottom ones that the hub swivels on, cheap to get replacements but you ideally need the proper press tool for pushing the old ones out and new ones in. Often missed on the MoT as you need to get the wheel off the ground then try to lift it with a crowbar under the wheel.
Sunroof is easy enough to drop the motor off by dropping the interior light. If you can hear the motor turn but nothing happens then likely the cable. Not an easy repair, better to get a complete unit from a breaker.
Brake pipes do rust, the two that run from front to back and a couple of little short ones on either side at the rear (assuming post 97), easy enough to make up new ones in Kunifer although you'll need a crows foot spanner to get to the upper unions on the little rear ones.
Book on the HEVAC needs diagnostics to see what the problem is but even if it is blend motors, no need to take the dash out, you can get at them with the instrument cluster out and the glovebox dropped.
Again, diagnostics needed to see why the SRS light is on. If post 2000 could well be a connector under one of the seats, just unplug every Yellow connector you find and give it a squirt of contact cleaner, 2000 and on had side airbags so have connector under the seats, earlier cars didn't but there is a connector under the dash on each side that will benefit from contact cleaner. On a later car the SRS light will go out once the fault is cleared, earlier ones need diagnostics to reset it.
Rear arches and front lip of the bonnet are about the only places you will notice corrosion on a P38 as they are both steel but not not structural and pretty normal on many.
If it is a later car with the DSP amp, it may well have died (as they do) and been swapped for one from a Discovery 2 which works but only on the front doors.
No gas in the air con system could well be the cause of the book symbol on the HEVAC as it will detect that the compressor clutch isn't engaging when told to as the circuit goes via a pressure switch. If you poke the AC Off button on the HEVAC it won't try to engage the clutch so you won't get the book showing.

You haven't got anything there that isn't normal for a P38 that hasn't been looked after by someone that understands them and they are the ones that don't get sold. Whenever a car is being sold there is usually a reason for it and in the case of a P38 it's because the seller has been told it's going to cost him lots of money because he doesn't do it himself and has to pay someone else to do the work.

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 1911

I'm nervous under cars too, so I put the suspension on wading height and axle stands under the chassis rails near to where I'm working with one on each side. They don't need to be touching, and I can get mine within an inch or so of the chassis by adjusting the height and then sliding them in from the side. I'm very unlikely to shove them out of the way without knowing about it and the car physically can't drop more than the gap.

I can quite understand why Richard isn't worried - he has the build of a racing ferret where I'm built on more generous lines :)

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 1911

And poly bushes are crap.

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Joined: Jun 08 2020
Posts: 123

Anything is truly possible especially with a bit of guidance

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Joined: Jun 17 2018
Posts: 543

I've had a car fall on me, a MK2 Shogun the axle stand failed..

I was pinned under it, twas lying on my side so my shoulders were wedged between the chassis and floor.

Luckily "for me" i had stuck the Tyre under the axle and it landed the full weight on that with just some on me..

That wasn't a fun 45mins i tell ya!!

As for the P38 I stick it in wade mode and Stick and axle stand under the chassis.

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Joined: Nov 16 2016
Posts: 993

I've been on the floor under many thousands of vehicles for extended periods including hundreds of P38s.

If I'm doing 'on the floor' and not working on wheels/suspension my favourite method for raising a vehicle is to drive it onto concrete blocks.

But with Rangerover's it's so handy to be able to press a button and have the car lift itself up, no driving onto concrete blocks necessary.

With most of the Rangerovers I converted I just pressed the button and crept underneath, loads of headroom. On only a few of the Rangerovers I've been under have I felt it necessary to prop the body (including a few P38s I converted that were on bump stops when they came in...).

If I have to jack anything I'll try to leave both jack and axle stands under the vehicle sharing the weight and adding stability. Still, if a spring failed... But considering the vehicle has been driving around for years/miles and the spring hasn't failed it would have to be 'my time' and a freak accident for anything that untoward to happen. Although electronics on Rangerovers may decide to vent air from airbags at anytime, or airbags might suddenly blow, I've come to trust that won't happen.

But I do sometimes push the risks a bit... some of you have seen (on forum) pics of the Nissan I had resting on gas tanks while I dropped it's engine out from below..

After addressing all the obvious crush safety concerns my biggest worry under cars is the amount of crap I'll be getting in my eyes. I get loads of bits in eyes, mostly very minor issues but around 3 times per year I'll get something in an eye that messes with my eyes for several days. Can't wear goggles etc, can't see well enough through them.

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Joined: Sep 14 2016
Posts: 459

I have my doubts about modern Boge dampers. Put OEM Boge, the right numbers at half the Land Rover cost, on mine and got perhaps 10,000 miles out of them. Maybe less, usually I'm anal about recording servicing and spares costs but that one slipped through. Front ones gave up worst wth bump steer symptoms close to the death wobble. Changed everything else first 'cos I knew it wasn't the dampers!

Bilsteins all round now. Including the steering damper. Paddock were doing them at acceptable prices so I went for the name and reputation. A little stiffer than standard but I'm happy. Monroe would have been about half the price but we already knew they are OK so I figured first hand experience with another brand might be interesting.

I've got a set of fully refurbished front radius arms sitting around. Factory bushes and a half decent coat of paint. I really need to do something with them.

Made up the gubbins to convert one of the small "12 ton rams" used in import puller sets and hydraulic ball joint splitters to a look-alike of the Sykes Picavant 18771100 tool officially recommended by Land Rover. Got one of the big G-clamp style first but it wasn't up to the job. Only managed two out of four. The Laser version will be a waste of money. Seriously under strength. But after discovering Lasers version of the radius arm bush tool doesn't actually fit the P38 despite what it said on the box I'm done with their stuff. Flat out refusal to give a refund for a tool that doesn't, and cannot, work is no way to win customer loyalty.

Clive

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Joined: Jun 17 2018
Posts: 543

I bought a set of Terrifirma shocks, being the ignorant bastard i am didn't realise they were extended ones!!

However the ride is quite good, she had a set of Boge shockers fitted in 2007 according to the history and after around 40k they were dead, i hope the TF ones last a good while..

I was tempted by Britpart cellular dynamics, however nothing in the blue box tends to not work or last any appreciable amount of time.

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Joined: Dec 30 2015
Posts: 4560

You've put extended shocks on with standard air springs? Don't jack it up on the chassis or try any offroading, you will pull the air springs apart. It's the shocks that limit the amount of axle articulation you have.

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Joined: Jun 17 2018
Posts: 543

I offroad it but don't lift wheels, i use it across fields.

And yes extended shocks with standard dunlops I was going to get Arnott's but the reviews and frankly ridiculous price put me off.

If i wanted to be an idiot i'd engineer up some spacers for the stock setup..

However that seems overkill considering what she does day to day..

As for jacking on the chassis I've never needed to, usually on the axles with a bottle or floor jack..

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Joined: Jan 16 2017
Posts: 708

I put some Terrafirma shocks on the back of the Disco, and one of them managed all of 7000 miles and started showing signs of leaking. Standard ones on there though. I found the ride on them to be a bit too firm if anything, though maybe different when on air rather than coils of course.

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Joined: Jan 03 2020
Posts: 22

So.... back on topic a bit, like I said "baby steps". I got the car on one axle stand tonight, and took the NS front wheel off! Yay!

I had the "wrong clothes" on to go much further, and it was a Friday evening so I had better things to do....

But first thoughts:
Def going to need new air springs on the front. The one I was looking at, on its extended setting, was pretty heavily crumbling away at the bottom. Something to get parts for and look forward to.

There's no obvious play on the wheel top/bottom or side to side, so it's not really about to fall off. I'll see what the other one's like tomorrow.

None of the ball joints look anything close to 'fresh' - drag link/track rod etc - so probably as well just to swap out all of that.

Been watching videos on the steering knuckle ball joints. That looks like a whole lot of fun... not. And an expensive new tool to buy unless there's a workaround?

radius arms - hmmm. It almost looks as if it's the wrong radius arm for the axle. There must be about 3/4 to 1 inch of clearance between the radius arms and the axle brackets. I didn't have a camera handy. I'll post pics later. I've looked online for pics and haven't found anything which shows the same area. Can't really say about the bushes... maybe Ok.

Happy to get any observations on the above, but specific questions
1) Gwyn Lewis does a sumobar set for the drag link and track rods incl. ball joints. Just fitted a set to the Defender and I love them. Can't see any reason they'd be different on a P38? Any thoughts?

2) OK - I'll open the can of worms... I know there's a huge OEM vs 'polybush' debate for Defenders. So I've gone for superpro all round - polyurethane bushes, yes, but not 'Polybush'. Has anyone used them on the P38? I don't have a press, so OEM are a bit tricky.

3) Front propshaft - no rubber dougnut; rear propshaft does?? Is that right?

Many thanks.

Donald