I wanted a reliable,simple and
economical vehicle.Instead,I bought a 4.0 litre petrol Range Rover
Changing the front air bags,repairs
to the air suspension and other jobs.
The P38 range rover uses a electronic
control unit to operate its electronic air suspension system (AES)
this has to be reset after a failure or after any repairs. Every
time the ignition is turned on the system checks for faults,a serius
failure can lower the vehicle on to the bump stops,the pump turns
off and a warning message limiting speed is shown on the
Although the reset can be done by
a Land Rover dealer or some other workshops equipped with the
necessary equipment it is possible to do the job with a lap top,a
special cable and commercially available soft ware. It is also
possible to do the same thing with jumper wires although this
is considerably more difficult.
Changing the front air springs is an
easy job needing just two spanners,a screwdriver and pliers plus
jacks,axle stands and some wood blocks.
My P38 range rover was suffering
from a common problem.Over a few days the suspension would
settle,eventually getting so that leaving it any length of time
would result in the car lowering itself down to the bump stops. The
vehicle would raise,over time this took longer and longer
and soon it got to the point where the vehicle could almost be
watched going down at one corner.
Spraying the pipes and bags with soapy
water revealed a leak (just above the bolt head in the picture) The
leak was not contstanr sometimes raising the vehicle made things
worse and sometimes it would almost seem to stabilise this was a
result of the rubber flexing making the leak vary.
The vehicle was jacked up using
jacks,and axle stands with heavy baulks of timber until it was
approx at the height it would be when on its maximum height setting.
A door was left open to stop the AES
self levelling mechanism from cutting in,the tailgate was also left
open just in case someone shut the door.The wheels were removed with
jacks lifting the front axle slightly. It is possible to access the
springs,clips and pipes with the wheels on and the plastic wheel
arch liners in place but these were removed. They covers are held by
cheap plastic clips that break and distort easily,new ones cost
pence and are much easier to fit.
With the shield off access is so much
The spring on this side has already
been removed,with the wheel and shield removed it takes ony a couple
of minutes. Check there is no air pressure left in the bag by
squeezing ,if it feels firm drain air either by using a computer/AES
device or by undoing the drain valve on the tank a half turn. Then
using the jaws of a small spanner or adjustable set to slide easily
over the air lines press down the collet on top of the air bag
turret and pull out the pipe.
There are two pins at the top of
the air bags they poke up through the support and each has the clip
illustrated to hold it in position.
With the body supported on jacks
and no air in the bags it should be possble to move them
A fairly wide bladed screwdrive can be
used to lift the clip until the top clears the pin ,the clip can
then be pushed forward and removed. New clips only cost a few
The top and bottom of the original
springs and the replacements are made of a dense plastic.Although
some are I believe alloy,the plastic is obviously up to the job. A
13mm headed bolt is screwed into the plate on which the bottom of
the bag rests,towards the centre of the vehicle and close to the
outer rim of the bag. (See picture there is a notch in the bottom
close to where the bolt is found) This bolt is removed,it holds a
stiff piece of wire that goes under the notch in the plastic and
under the plate through a hole in the base to secure it. The pin is
simply wiggled out pulled towards the vehicle centre
Replacement is simply a reversal of
removal.The bags are inserted the clips fitted and the air lines
pushed in carefully. With mine I started the engine with the doors
and tailgate shut watching as the bags inflated.When they had gone
hard with air pressure I replaced the wheels which with the axle
jacked up were only just clear of the ground,I carefully removed the
jacks and axle stands in a few stages and then allowed to suspension
to raise to its correct height.
This is one of the air bags removed
from the front. Unless the suspension was raised to its top setting
most of this damage was unseen. The bags are original land rover
parts, I used Dunlop made replacements on mine.
When finished the range rover sits nice and
proud,even after a week or so it hasn't dropped a mm.
Changing the the fresh air
At the base of the windscreen is a
panel with a foam filter held underneath that admits air for the
heater etc. This foam breaks up and bits fall into the air inlet
along with leaves etc. Three screws under the rubber hold the
windscreen side trims,the windscreen bottom trim can then be slid
out with one trim lifted away. Screws (that are normally rusted)
hold the panel,which is here seen laid on the engine.
I replaced the rotten foam with a fine
mesh semi rigid plastic grid.It stops leaves and twigs getting into
the intake.It is held by the original clips,the range rover filter
seems over priced for what is simply a piece of thin foam very much
like that used as a filter in ponds etc.