I mentioned in last week’s COAL that if the 2013 Audi A8 L 4.0T didn’t behave itself after another transmission-drain-and-refill, I’d sell it. Well…I decided to just go ahead and get rid of it. With VW Group cars, especially old prestige ones, you’ve got to know when to cut and run. I sold it to the dealer I bought it from. Its replacement—because you knew there’d be one—is exciting, because I’ve wanted one for a long time. I’m actually currently in the Detroit area, about to go and pick that car up. After that, it’s a 15-hour drive back to Oklahoma City. You’ll read all about that car in a couple of weeks. But for now…
I wrote a pretty in-depth article about the L322 Range Rover, and also wrote here about my first one. There were three phases of the L322. My 2006 Supercharged was a one-year transitional model; it had the facelifted exterior and the Jaguar engines (instead of the BMW ones), but still had most of the BMW-era interior and modules. The 2010 in this article was part of the final era and was quite an upgrade.
Despite its maladies, my 2006 had been a project, so I was impressed with it. I’d always wanted to try a 2010-2012, and the opportunity came in early 2022, when my client (a Land Rover independent shop) mentioned he had one and asked if I wanted to buy it. Well, he didn’t have a working one. A customer had gotten their 2010 towed in with a bad engine. Apparently, it had overheated, and it had warped the head. Not an uncommon issue with these cars.
About the 5.0-liter Jaguar engines
Between 2005 and 2009, Jaguar had what were perhaps its most reliable engines ever, both within the AJ-V8 series and in general. These were the 4.2-liter naturally aspirated, 4.4-liter naturally aspirated (for Land Rover use only) and 4.2-liter supercharged engines. I had the 4.2-liter N/A engine in a pair of Jaguar “X350” XJs, and the 4.2-liter S/C engine in the prior Range Rover. The contemporary Aston Martin 4.3- and 4.7-liter V8 engines were also based on the AJ-V8 architecture, and the word is that they’re pretty good, too.
That all changed when Jaguar introduced the third-generation AJ-V8s in 2010. There was a N/A 5.0-liter V8 good for 385 hp and 380 lb-ft, as well as a couple of versions of the 5.0-liter S/C V8. The lesser of them had 470 hp and 424 lb-ft, while the uprated one had 510 hp and 461 lb-ft. These were deployed across the entirety of the range, from the XF all the way up to the Range Rover.
(Later on, in 2013/14, Land Rover replaced the N/A 5.0-liter with a 3.0-liter S/C V6. This engine was entirely the AJ-V8 block with smaller bores, an unused cylinder area at the rear, shorter heads and balancing shafts to make a 90-degree V6 work. This odd arrangement was probably to save on tooling costs.)
On the L322 Range Rover, the HSE model had the N/A V8, while the Supercharged and Autobiography models got the 510 HP S/C V8. Along with it, all of them got an uprated ZF 6HP28 transmission, replacing the prior 6HP26. Great, right?
Well, not quite. These 5.0-liter engines had some pretty major teething issues, literally. The big one is the timing chains and associated gear. At the time, Jaguar and Land Rover’s official maintenance stance was to have owners wait for the computer to tell them to change the oil. And the computer was specifying oil change intervals in excess of 14,000 miles. Whether that was a nefarious act on J/LR’s part because it was picking up the tab for maintenance within the first few years, or whether it was a mistake, we’ll never know. The problem with that, apart from the obvious, was that the new 5.0-liters used oil-driven timing chain tensioners. Naturally, as the oil got old and gunky, it would cause the tensioners to become ineffective and allow the chain to slacken. On top of that, the engines used plastic chain guides that would get worn out over time. This would eventually cause an audible amount of chain slap, but a lot of owners weren’t informed enough to notice that something had gone wrong. Eventually, the chain would skip a tooth or several, and the pistons would get really chummy with the valves.
The other big issue with the 5.0-liter units was that J/LR decided to use a plastic coolant crossover pipe, where the one in the prior engine range had been aluminum. Naturally, being in the valley of the engine, this part is subject to intense heat and eventually hazes and cracks. It’s especially detrimental on the Land Rovers because a lot of them have underbody cladding that catches coolant before it can drip onto the driveway, where an owner would notice. If this issue escapes anyone’s attention, the engine will start to overheat. And, oftentimes, by the time an owner gets a message in the instrument cluster that it’s running hot, it’s too late. Warped heads.
It’s unclear when these issues were fixed. I don’t think the coolant crossover pipe ever was, though several aftermarket manufacturers offer aluminum ones that are supposed to be direct fit for the official J/LR plastic ones. The timing chain issue was allegedly fixed around 2013, but I’m still seeing people on the forums with J/LR cars as recent as 2018 claiming to have had to replace the chains and associated hardware (a roughly $6,000 job at an independent).
Back to My Story
It was that second issue that had done in the engine on this Stornoway-Grey-over-Jet-Black 2010 Range Rover Supercharged. But, because these issues are so common, engines for these—even used ones—have become fairly precious. The Land Rover dealership would sell you a factory refurbished unit for a princely $19,000, but even my independent struggled to find good cores to rebuild, or wrecked cars with good donor engines at auction, and he could scarcely get them for less than $7,000. As such, he decided to experiment with this car: could he have the engine and head re-machined and rebuild it?
He let me know that this would be the plan and asked if I wanted to buy it. I told him that if he could get it running—and running properly—I’d buy it. We agreed on a price of $15,500…which was excellent at the time, considering 2010-2012 Supercharged models with dubious history were still going for $18,000 to $20,000. And this one would be picked over by a Land Rover expert, plus it would essentially have a new one. I paid him 1/3 as a deposit to motivate him, and then waited.
By June, 2022, frankly, I’d forgotten all about it—it’s not like I didn’t have plenty of other things keeping me occupied—when he texted me one day and said, “Kyree, your car is ready.” In fact, I remember the specific day. I’d just given up on trying to put an air strut on the A8 L and sent it on a trailer to the Audi dealership and so was feeling a bit defeated.
When I got to the shop, there sat the Range Rover, looking far better than it had when I’d last seen it, in the back of the independent’s garage. I immediately took it for a test-drive and loved what I experienced. First off, there wasn’t a warning light to be seen—rare for an older Range Rover—and second, the power was intoxicating. It was notably faster and torquier than my prior 2006 (which still had a generous 400 HP). It was like…like driving a castle.
I went back to the shop, gave the owner a check for the remainder, and took off for home.
Over the next few days, I got to know the Range Rover better. The interior was much higher quality than my 2006, and nothing you touched felt cheap or was prone to excess wear. The seats were all-day comfy, and the driving position made you feel invincible. This one also had blind-spot monitoring, not necessary on a vehicle with so much glass, but still a nice convenience.
Drawbacks—there were a few. For one, Land Rover fitted all 2010-2012s with keyless start, but not keyless entry. At least, not in the US. So, you had to pull the key out of your pocket and unlock the doors, but then put it back in your pocket and press the start button to crank up the engine. This was the only such product in the J/LR stable; everything else (even the lowly LR2) had keyless access and start. Allegedly, this was because Land Rover was still using the BMW-era door handle mechanisms on the L322, which dated back to 2002/03. If Land Rover had included keyless access, it would have needed to fit new door latch mechanisms with a quick release, which would have required crash recertification in the US. Still, this was J/LR’s flagship vehicle, so they had no excuse.
In addition, the lovely, full-LCD instrument cluster was…pointless. When certain buttons and dials were pressed, like the one that changed the Terrain Response mode, it would briefly flash an intuitive graphic in the center, but then go back to being entirely a simulation of a traditional dial-faced instrument cluster, with a big blank area. If this was all they were going to do, I would have preferred a regular instrument cluster with a screen in the middle. If the German automakers would have done something much more useful with that technology…and they did, when they introduced LCD instrument clusters of their own a short while later. And the infotainment was pretty terrible, but it’s not like I needed the sat nav or anything.
Since I like to listen to Bluetooth audiobooks and music, I got on the forums and found out there was a device called a Bovee that plugged into the factory iPod 30-pin cable and then allowed you to control your Bluetooth-connected phone like an iPod through the factory radio, including the ability to see song titles and change tracks. I ordered that and a special dash clip that would allow me to specifically mount my phone at eye level on the L322, to the right of the steering column.
Finally, this car was on mud tires, and they were noisy. I resolved to replace them…and did. I went to Discount Tire and bought a full set of Michelins—including for the full-size, matching spare at the back. Those were $1,300, with coupon. Then, I sold the mud tires for $600 on the local Land Rover group.
A few weeks later, I had an issue. I noticed the L322 appeared to be sitting crooked. It was like the right side was lower than the left. It was only somewhat perceptible, but just in case I wasn’t seeing things and fearing an air suspension issue, I went ahead and dropped it off with the mechanic. He called me back that same day and let me know the yaw sensor was bad. $800, including labor, but he’d cover half, since he sold it to me. Very good. While it was in his care, the left HID headlight bulb gave up the ghost, and he replaced it with one he had on hand, free of charge. When I got it back, it was sitting properly.
I though the Range Rover, with its 25-gallon tank, would make an excellent road trip car if it had adaptive cruise. That was pretty rare on HSE and Supercharged models, but standard on Autobiography models. I found a guide in the forums on how to retrofit it. You needed a long- and a short-range sensor, the different button pack with the extra buttons to lengthen/shorten the following distance, and (for 5.0-liter engines), a separate ECU that would go in the cargo hold to control it all. Finally, the tool everyone was using was GAP IID, a Bluetooth-enabled OBD2 module that was specifically for J/LR products and whose interface was your phone. Among other things, it could change the car configuration files (CCFs) so that the car would know it had the additional equipment and recognize the adaptive cruise hardware and functionality.
Believe it or not, the hardest part was the button pack on the steering wheel. The part was out of stock at Land Rover parts distributors. I found one on eBay, but the seller was only willing to part with the entire center airbag assembly with both button packs, and not just the one I needed. I didn’t know what I’d do with the extra stuff, but when it arrived, I harvested the button pack I needed and then threw the rest in an anti-static bag and stored it in the attic. The radars were dearly priced, at $600 for both, but not especially hard to find. The body computer with a code that matched my model year wasn’t hard either.
I got the steering wheel off after disconnecting the battery and letting it discharge in order to not have the airbag deploy, and was amused to find a BMW logo on the clock spring (there were plenty of BMW parts still left in the L322 even at the end of its run. I surmise the entire steering column was a BMW component). But it was straightforward to add the new button pack. While I was in there, I also retrofitted some paddle shifters, off of a kit I’d gotten from a UK specialist dealing in Land Rover upfitments. It was child’s play getting it all back together.
When I got to the part where you needed to plug the adaptive cruise ECU in at the back of the cargo area, that’s when I ran into trouble. Unlike the Germans, J/LR didn’t always have the money to develop fifty-leven separate wiring harnesses for vehicles with different configurations, in the name of cost efficiency. Oftentimes, they’d do one harness for major configurations (like engine and vehicle type) and then cap off whichever connections weren’t used. That’s how it was for the radars at the front. All late-run L322s had the connectors on the harness, but those that didn’t have the radars just had those connections capped off. And that’s how I thought it’d be for the ECU. Not so. My car had neither the mounting bracket nor any connector back there that plugged into the ECU.
This would require more work.
Thankfully, the person who’d sold me the ECU had provided part of the plug along with it. With a factory wiring diagram, I could splice into the existing harness and make the connections I needed to truly retrofit this, and I was all about to do that, when…
Late at night, on November 2, 2022–a year, to the day of this writing–I was on my way back home from visiting my godchildren. For whatever reason, I decided to take the poorly lit backroads instead of the usual highway to get back home, about 30 minutes away. And that was my undoing. I was in the aptly named Deer Creek area, when a deer jumped out in front of me. I panicked, swerved, caught a rut, and became very intimate with an oak tree just off the roadside. It smashed the Range Rover’s front end in, deployed the steering wheel and knee airbags (thank goodness I’d plugged the airbag back in correctly), and triggered the inertia cutoff switch that killed the fuel pumps.
I immediately called my insurance company, who dispatched a tow truck. I left the key in it and took an Uber home, since they said it could be three hours until the truck arrived. As predicted, within a few days, they let me know the car had been totaled, and offered me $14,000 for it. After I provided some receipts of recent maintenance and repairs, including the new engine and the new tires, that offer went all the way up to $18,000…which was more than I had in it. I gratefully accepted, and that was that. The only thing injured was my pride.
I was sad that this well-sorted Range Rover had met such an untimely demise and considered buying it back for $2,500…but decided I didn’t need that sort of project and let it go. Alas. Fortunately, the insurance company declared it a not-at-fault accident, and even lowered my rates the next month. And hopefully, someone got a good donor engine.