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Thread: Newbie

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2007



    Ive had older RRC's, series, defenders and a percentile but now am interested in a p38.

    Does anyone have any advice on particular things to look for? good and bad variants?

    Anyone have one for sale (preferable white)?


  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2016
    Hi Russ and welcome to the P38 madness

    Depending on what it is you are looking for in a P38 and how mechanically and electrically inclined you are, I would suggest looking at the following well known things:

    1. When buying the petrol engine, most of them have the "slipped liner" problem at one point or another.
    2. the EAS (electronic air suspension) is one of the key perks of this vehicle, the magic carpet ride. This is a maintenance item and most people will have neglected it
    3. HEVAC issues arise with the crappy valeo motors, fixable but a helluva lotta work.

    If you go the diesel route, the BMW 6 cylinder in the P38 is reasonably well built but underpowered for the P38. The petrol engine comes in two guises; the so called GEMS and BOSCH systems, referring to the ECU brand. In general the BOSCH type ECU/engine is bit more thought out, more efficiently built and the MY's that had this engine also came with 4 wheel traction control and 4 pin diffs. Also cosmetically you get the clear indicator lenses. Overall the GEMS system is more forgiving and has better tuning options. (tornado chip for instance)

    Some vehicles might have been converted to springs instead of air bags which is a shame because a well working and maintained EAS system is an absolute blast! The variable suspension height and unsurpassed ride quality are very nice! In general due to the perceived complexity of the system and the associated cost when having a paid mechanic doing this work the system is neglected or ripped out. Long term leaks have worn the compressor out, the bags could be old and cracked and thus leaking and the o-rings in the valve block will have perished. All these items can be rebuilt by yourself and are not difficult. They just require some time and patience.

    The HEVAC is a bit a b*tch. It's french, go figure... The blend motors tend to wear out and you get the dreaded maintenance book on the display. New motors are no longer available from valeo but chinese replica's do exist. Since the valeo ones were crap to begin with, they are not that bad in comparison... Replacing them is again a pretty easy job but GETTING to them, is a whole different story. The proper way to do it, without hacking into the dashboard is to completely remove it and that'll take the better part of a day.

    Rust is not a real problem with these vehicles but the tailgate is metal and that is a weak spot, lift the black flap thingy up when the tail gate is down and look beneath it.

    Other than that, the usual: check oil changes, everywhere. a LOT of people cheap out on oils. Diffs that don't see fresh oil in 100K k's are not uncommon and the wrong type of saving. They take only a bit more than a litre of oil The engine is old skool 60's design US V8 technology. Due to emission and all that kinda crap oil change intervals have risen and the oil has gotten thinner. I find that keeping to the OLD recommendations is a whole lot better then sticking to the new recommendations. It fits the car (engine) a lot better! ie. change every 5k and fill with a ticker oil. Personally I only use valvoline VR1 20W50. I has a high ZDDP content for the flat tappet design of the vehicle and the thicker oil works a lot better with the "large" tolerances the engine has been built with. A rover V8 needs not a lot of pressure but volume of oil.

    That's about it from the top of my head Oh, regarding the slipped liner: a V8 that has overheated is suspect, loosing coolant ever so slightly is suspect and a ticking noise from usually between cylinder number 1 and 2 is also suspect. They are rebuildable just fine, but that's going to run into work/numbers

    Hopefully I have not scared you off!


  3. #3
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Townsville, QLD
    Gíday mate,

    Ill second the above comments, and add my 2c.

    The key to purchasing a reliable P38 is to buy one that has been maintained well. Being as old as they are, service books donít mean much these days, so if buying from an enthusiast, there should be documented services. Buying from pop up the road will at least have a few receipts in the glove box, and buying from someone who doesnít care, youíll find nothing (and itíll show in the presentation and subsequent issues you may see on a long test drive).

    The EAS is the main reason to buy a P38, apart from the stunning good looks! If youíre not into the air springs, a Disco 2 can be had for similar money and wonít cost the conversion fees (but will also come with its own unique issues).

    Personally (and D2 boys are bound to kick up here), I believe P38ís are more reliable and capable out of the box than D2ís. A good set of tyres will get you much further than you think in a P38.


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