1999 Range Rover Plugged Engine Oil Pickup Tube
Mark: Hi, it’s Mark from Top Local, we’re here with Bernie Pawlik, Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. Vancouver’s best auto service experience, 38 years repairing and servicing, maintaining cars and trucks in Vancouver and 18 time winners of best auto repair in Vancouver as voted by their customers. How’re you doing Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well this morning.
Mark: So we’re going to talk about a Range Rover, 1999, a little bit older one that had a plugged engine oil pickup tube, I keep thinking pickup artist on this thing, pickup tube, oil pickup tube. What was going on with this SUV?
Bernie: So this vehicle came to our shop, the owner had, the problem he was having was the engine was making a ticking sound and the oil warning light on the dash, the red oil can like looking light, which is very serious, light was coming on and he’d had a similar issue in the past. So anyways, that’s what was going on with the vehicle. Low oil pressure and obviously a pretty serious concern.
Mark: And so how did you diagnose that it was a plugged oil pickup tube?
Bernie: Well this one was a little bit of a different diagnosis, you know, we work on cars for a long time so generally when you hear an entire engine going tick tick tick tick and the oil light on, it’s usually a pretty good indication that there is in fact little to no oil pressure in the engine. We could of hooked a gauge up and verified that, but in this case, the owner of the vehicle had the vehicle for a long time, had the same thing happen in the past a few years ago, and the oil pickup tube was plugged. And in fact, this is actually not an uncommon issue on a 4.6 litre Land Rover engine. So we opted to just simply pull the oil pan off and inspect it, figuring the pickup tube was probably plugged, as he’d mentioned. And it’s actually surprisingly easy job to remove an oil pan on this engine, which is kind of rare. Usually on a 4x4, it’s a complete pain to remove it, but this is actually a rare treat, very simple to do. So I’ll just share a few photos. 1999 Range Rover, beautiful vehicle in its day, you know, getting pretty aged now but you know again, top of the line SUV in its day. There’s our oil pan underneath the vehicle. Bit of a weird angle of a photo, but there’s actually a lot of space. This is the front differential, it’s a solid differential, I’ll get into that in a minute which is interesting and unique, but it’s not like a new Range Rover or even a lot of older American pick up trucks where you can, it would take you hours to get the oil pan out. This is a really simple, very accessible job. Let’s get right into the heart of the matter, there is the plugged oil pickup tube. So the oil pickup tube is basically, it’s a big long tube about a foot-18 inches long, thin you know half to three quarter inch diameter metal tube with a pickup section on the front and a strainer. It’s got a screen which you can see, this is black carbon sludge that’s being sucked into the strainer and blocked it, so when the engine is running it can’t pick up any oil. It just sucks on this and thats not a good thing. Here’s a view in the bottom of the oil pan. This is some more sludge we found on the bottom of the oil pan. So the repair job consists of cleaning the tube out, cleaning the sludge out, washing the pan, getting rid of it all and getting it all back together. Just while we’re looking at photos, a couple of unique things I found on this vehicle. It’s old school. This is the rear differential and it’s a solid differential, like the front, so it’s a pretty simple vehicle compared to a lot of newer pick up trucks and especially Range Rovers where they have all complete independent suspension and a lot of complexity. The vehicle still have air suspension which is you know, give it a nice ride and some adjustability, but it’s a benefit of the solid axles which are very durable and if you want to take this out in the bush, this would be a really, really good vehicle to do that kind of thing in. I think that kind of covers our photos. Yep we’re all good.
Mark: So the sludge is what blocked the pickup tube and where does the oil sludge come from?
Bernie: Well if comes from, it’s formed from combustion gases reacting with the oil. Now how that occurs, I mean mostly I would say it’s due to either a blocked crankcase breathe system, we’ve talked about PCV valves in an earlier podcast, you know, a plugged crankcase breather system will cause that kind of thing to occur and we actually did do a little more investigating on this. We actually found that one side of the crankcase breather system was blocked in this vehicle. So that’ll cause the sludging to reoccur quite easily but a lot of it can be lack of maintenance too. And in the olden days, this is a lot more common. I think the older formulation oils, newer oil formulations don’t seem to sludge up as much, but a lot of it is due to the crankcase breather system and lack of oil changes. And really you know, if you change your oil religiously, regularly, it’s important to prevent this. Also people think, oh I’m driving around the city, I don’t need to change all that much. It’s like when you live in a cooler climate like Vancouver, you don’t drive a lot of highway drives, just city drives, it’s the worst thing for the oil because it never gets to warm up fully, a lot of times and that causes the sludge to occur.
Mark: That’s really disappointing. I was thinking it was something like those old dinosaurs are trying to re-form their bones and grow again in the motor.
Bernie: Well it could be, it could be the beginning, you know.
Mark: So is this just something that happens with Range Rovers or is it common to all vehicles?
Bernie: Well this is actually, if you look on some Land Rover/Range Rover forums, you’ll actually find that a few threads and posts about this. So it’s not an uncommon issue on this particular engine but you know, over the years, in the past, I’ve seen it happen on a lot of different engines. A lot of times it happens, mostly sludging and oil occurs from lack of maintenance and lack of oil changes. So biggest thing, we always talk about changing oil regularly because that’s the biggest thing that causes this. And the moment the crankcase breather system has an issue and then that’s an often neglected part these days, again we talked in the past you know, PCV valves used to be replaced a lot because they’re easy, they’re just, a lot of older, I’m thinking of an American V8’s, they just used to clip in the valve cover. You could pull it out and change it in a matter of 30 seconds so why not do it. Now that isn’t really a full crankcase ventilation service because it could still be a blocked hose, but at least if you look, change the valve, a lot of times it would solve a lot of your problems, but nowadays, they’re largely forgotten. I mean, this vehicle has a PCV valve, it’s screwed into the intake manifold. People tend to forget about it, they just don’t service them.
Mark: And how are these older Range Rovers for reliability?
Bernie: They’re pretty good. I mean, we work on a lot of Range Rovers and Land Rovers, and they all seem to have their sort of quirky problems, for every generation has a certain problem with their engines and the next one doesn’t have engine problems and overall these are pretty good. You know, it’s a complex vehicle. It’s got air suspension, so there’s a lot of things that can go wrong, and do, so be prepared to be spending a lot more money owning one of these vehicles than you would on a simpler type of vehicle. But overall, they’re pretty good. I mean I like things when you have a repair like this where the oil system is sludged up, we can actually remove an oil pan quite simply and make a repair. That’s a good thing. So I often say, you know, every car has its positives and negatives, sometimes some cars have simple things to fix and sometimes they’re complicated. In this case, the oil pan was a nice simple fix.
Mark: So there you go. If you need some service on your Range Rover or Land Rover in Vancouver, the guys to see are Pawlik Automotive. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment, you have to book ahead, they’re busy or check out their website pawlikautomotive.com, hundreds of videos on there or our Youtube channel Pawlik Automotive Repair or our new Podcast. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark.