March 18

2008 Range Rover Sport Engine Smoking

Land Rover/Range Rover, Podcast


Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert, producer of the number one automotive podcast in Canada, the Pawlik Automotive Podcast, here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik, and we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?

Bernie: I'm doing very well.

Mark: So 2008 Range Rover Sport Supercharged, a little hard to get the engine started, because it was trying to start that to smoke it was tough, was that what was going on?

Bernie: Well actually, it started fine, but what was happening was there was an awful lot of smoke coming out of the tailpipe. And how much smoke, you might ask? There was like a ton. You start the engine, it was just clouds of a white-ish colour smoke just billowing everywhere. It was pretty serious. And my first thought was, "Okay, this engine is done." You know, like it's got a severe ... just my first look at it, the head gasket must be blown somehow, it's just pumping coolant through this thing. Because of the colour of the smoke, so that was kind of the initial, that was my initial thought on it.

Mark: And how did you diagnose the problem?

Bernie: Well we started, of course, you know, looking at things, removing the spark plugs, looking at the condition of the spark plugs. Pressure testing the cooling system. We actually did a compression test on the engine with the spark plugs out as well. Compression was good, all even all across, which was a good sign for the engine. And the spark plugs didn't have any sort of coolant fouling, so but they definitely looked like things had been running rich, and there was a lot of oiliness on the spark plug. So put the spark plugs back in, fired everything back up and really looked at the smoke again and realized it actually had more of a bluish hue to it than white, even though you know, it was still pretty light colour, but not that typical kind of blue you'd normally see.

But definitely after a while, going, "Okay, it's definitely an oil burning issue, and not a coolant issue." So digging a little further, I mean I'll just cut to the chase. What we found was a crank case breather valve was blown, causing oil to be just sucked into the engine and burnt up, really not a huge problem in the end to fix, but what probably would have led us to diagnose that a lot sooner would have been some code, maybe a check engine light on, and some lean condition codes, which happens in a lot of other European vehicles. But that wasn't the case with this Range Rover.

There was one stored code in the vehicle computer, and it was only a ... it was an Evap system code for a purge valve problem. And the purge valve, like a purge valve probably never cause a smoking issue, and it was kind of, I say a minor code because the check engine light wasn't even on, so it was a code that was kind of stored in the background. So you know, it took a little bit to get to it, but we basically found again, I say we found the purge valve is the issue, so let's ...

Mark: Crank case breather valve.

Bernie: Crank case breather valve. Thank you. I keep confusing that. I always rehearse these podcasts, and think about it, and I keep saying purge valve. Crank case breather valve, thanks Mark.

Mark: So what's involved in replacing that valve?

Bernie: Well it's basically the valve is bolted onto the right valve cover, really not a lot of work to do, it's pretty straight forward. And I'll just get some pictures, we'll have a look. So there's our 20, sorry, 2008 Range Rover Sport. Also behind is another, a 2013 Range Rover Sport, we're doing some other service on, so it looked kind of similar, just a little subtly different. So as far as the vehicle, so there's the purge valve, this is the piece that was defective.

2008 Range Rover Sport Engine Smoking
2008 Range Rover Sport Engine Smoking
2008 Range Rover Sport Engine Smoking
2008 Range Rover Sport Engine Smoking

Mark: Crank case breather valve.

Bernie: Crank case breather valve, thank you Mark. I'm glad I got you here today. There's the Crank Case Breather Valve located in the right valve, of course. This is the new unit put in. This is the hose that actually goes to the back of the intake system, where the fumes that come out of the crank case are sucked in. And that's the new valve, which is basically bolted into the right valve cover. And after of course, I'm most curious to see what happened with the part, why it failed. So we broke the top of the valve off, and this is basically, there's a large rubber diaphragm. Underneath it, there's a little valve and a spring.

And there you can see a tear in the diaphragm, and this is where the oil is being sucked through the valve and into the engine. So that tear should not be there, it just basically happens from old age, there's a lot of ... crank case fumes are very toxic, it's obviously a very special rubber, but they don't last forever, so 11 years was about all this one got.

Mark: So is this the same piece as a PCV? Or PC valve?

Bernie: PCV valve? Yeah. PCV stands for Positive Crank Case Ventilation Valve. And it's basically essentially the same thing, although I tend to think of the more old traditional type you'd find on American V8 engine, or a lot of four cylinder Japanese type vehicles, where it would be just a little cylindrical valve, about the diameter of a large vacuum, it would clip into the valve cover. And some engines still use a valve of similar type, but it's basically the same thing. For some reason, a lot of European vehicles use these large diaphragm breather valves. And these actually tend to fail more frequently, like the old PCV valves would tend to carbon up and sludge up over time. And you'd actually have restricted breathing, whereas these ones here, they just tend to rip after time, and cause other issues like lean condition codes and blue smoke burning.

Mark: So why does the crank case need to breathe?

Bernie: Okay, so when, in an internal combustion engine, when it's running, of course there's an explosion in every cylinder, every piston. And with that, every time that explosion happens, 99% of the exhaust goes out the exhaust valve, the waste products of the explosion. But some of it escapes past the piston rings, it can't be sealed 100%. And that gas that escapes past the piston rings is called breathe blow by gases. Now if you were to have an engine completely sealed, that engine would probably run for 30 seconds, and then you know, explode due to the pressure. So in the olden days, going back, many decades, there would be a road draft tube. And this road draft tube would basically be a breather tube, and those blow by gases would just breathe out onto the road and into the atmosphere.

Think about those gases, they're about the worst pollutants generated in a combustion engine. They're just horrific, you know, the polluting gases are just the worst. So when they started developing emissions equipment on vehicles, the first thing they developed was a breathing system called a PCV system. Positive Crank Case Ventilation, where it would actually suck those vapours back into the engine and re burn them again, and essentially clean things up. So that was a huge step forward in vehicle emission reduction and really, really good for the environment for smog removal. Started in California, you know, way back in the 60s and then just eventually every car has it. And they've just gotten more and more sophisticated on a lot of European vehicles. But that's basically what the system does.

Mark: And was there anything else that you replaced on this vehicle?

Bernie: Yeah, so on this Range Rover, like I mentioned earlier when we were diagnosing it, we looked at the spark plugs, they were quite fouled from all the oil that had been sucked through the engine, so we replaced the spark plugs, and it was also due for basically an A service, maintenance service so we did an oil change and filter, and yeah, everything ran really well. The owner was really happy with it. No more smoke coming out the tailpipe, and really not a huge cost repair, considering when you looked at the smoke earlier.

Mark: Absolutely. So if you're looking for service for your Range 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 call and book ahead, they're busy. Or check out the website,, YouTube channel: Pawlik Auto Repair. And of course, thank you so much for listening to the podcast. Again, number one automotive podcast in Canada, number one in Korea, varying between one and two in the United Kingdom, and we thank you so much for listening. Thanks, Bernie.

Bernie: Yeah, thanks for listening and watching. And thanks, Mark.

About the author 

Bernie Pawlik

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