1989 Range Rover - project help


New member
I bought this Range Rover about a year ago on this forum. All internet, phone, email. Not banging on seller but as we see lots of times the risk of buying that way has some risks. When the car hauler says "let's see if this will start" and the rover mechanic where it was picked up from told them the same thing you know uh oh, this will be fun.

original listing:

Pretty much no end change from then. 1 year, fair amount of money all at a rover specialty shop i had used before with pretty good results. Blame covid, or whatever you want but pretty much finally on the second or third firm deadline (shop 2.5 hrs away from me) my schedule allowed me to go get it. They weren't making any real progress and the 100th lie was enough. Give me what i got and I will go from there.

So upon initially, 1 yr ago, receiving it it semi ran. ran rough. after less than 10-15 miles it seemed to lose all power. rough idle. So let's take to shop. Outside of my skill set.

Really pretty good body and previous had done some important work but more of a yard ornament that i would like to be able to drive.

Current. My shop replaced, so i am told. the 3.9 with a bottom 4.2 from a lwd that they were doing swap on (i did see the top off and most of motor out on one inspection). To make hook ups easy they said they kept the same 3.9 top. So we do have some carry over of parts that may/may not have been worked on. They were cleaned :). As per the original listing the 2nd motor (now the 3rd) was a swap. Good learning note - when mechanic owned and is broken that is an issue (maybe time, money, who knows). Kind of like the carpenter house that needs carpentry work. Maybe a clue, but i digress.

As or right now below the Y pipe intersection the muffler is cut off right before cat. 2-4 inch gap, so nothing to cat or such. Could this be a sensor problem????

Seems to idle fine (loud b/c of above muffler unhooked so can't hear everything). But as soon as in gear it sounds like it bogs down.

more clues: i was there picking up. Still helping them for 2 hours to get it to run. fuel pump they said pushed into the tank vs push to engine. Changed the wires, it worked??? can a reversed wire do that? or is that a clue to someone that knows their stuff?

clue: at shop, trying to start, and it wasn't. checked piston, seemed timing issue. guy seemed right on that. they "flipped" the dist cap, i think, to basically reverse the timing?? Then it started. Almost like firing in reverse order or the compression vs exhaust stroke. Yes i am not a mechanic but trying to give as much info as i can.

Since home. one mechanic friend thought emissions issue? Does a rover have an EGR? I did just now replace the MAF body/sensor (cleaned connection with spray). I replaced both O2 sensors. Air filter too - good job me!

So that is where I am at. The above maf and 02 sensors had no measurable impact.

Hmmmm. brakes were rebuilt pretty much all around by previous owner. granted sat for a year but does have fluid. I have not bled. But they are soft/mushy??? my mechanic thought maybe a vacuum issue possibly? had me clamp off the brake booster. Think i did that, just used a vice grip. no impact.

Thoughts, opinions, suggestions? All very much appreciated. I have the FSM for it. like to try to do things myself so haven't taken to my friend yet but about ready to.
I'm in NW Arkansas if anyone has good rover mechanic in this vicinity.

Possibly first post. been around multiple years. Pitchblack racer guy in mitsu forum has my wanting to post about my pretty good 89 montero. He has really good skills. hopefully winter project for me, have parts car i've been taking apart. need to post on my 87 isuzu, flat fender or 09 3/4t suburban. no project but a 96 disco with appx 50k orig miles. Ok, now you can see too many toys and projects. tackle a little here and there.

Thanks a ton for any help.


I’ve not owned a RRC, but generally, engines are engines.

Yes, you can install a distributor “180 off”. It is quite common, and not harmful. Even experienced mechanics can accidentally align to top dead center exhaust instead of compression. Once flipped it shouldn’t matter.

Always start with the basics unless you sleep every night in a nest made from cash and you like throwing it at stuff.

You said it idles?

Timing light, check and set the timing.

Compression test.

Fuel filter and pressure.

Report results ... Then go from there.

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Buy a quality cap and rotor. I’ve had luck buying my 1995 RRC for $500 bucks and it was a ignition rotor issue. Get the red rotor one from Atlantic British. Cover all your grounds by checking your grounds and cleaning connections. Pun intended.

As previous post stated check your fuel pressure. And also check your MAF connections I’ve seen some bad connections there over the years. Idle stepper valve is crucial to idling.

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