2013 Land Rover LR2 – Intake Camshaft Gear Replacement
Mark: Hi, it's Mark Bossert here with Mr. Bernie Pawlik of Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver, 19 time winners of Best Auto Repair in Vancouver and we're talking cars. How are you doing this morning, Bernie?
Bernie: Doing very well.
Mark: We're talking about a 2013 Land Rover LR2. We've seen quite a few of these over the years. What was happening with this Land Rover?
Bernie: This Land Rover, well, this is a different issue than we've discussed before. The owner's complaint was the check engine light was coming on and off. No performance issues with the engine, but he'd scanned it himself or had someone scan it, there was a few trouble codes for a few things, so he was concerned about it, wanting to make sure it's in good shape.
Mark: You did some diagnosis, and what did you find?
Bernie: Well, we found there was a number of stored trouble codes. A number meaning that there was about four or five codes, but the main one, some of them were EVAP system codes, but the main code of concern was a P0341 which is a cam shaft position sensor code. Our diagnostic procedure, it's different every time, but in this case we cleared the codes, road tested the vehicle to see what would come back, and that code returned pretty quickly. We also noted, there's a bit of a rattle noise in the engine on many startups. You know, it would last for one or two seconds, so doing a little further diagnosis we found that that issue was generally related to the cam shaft actuator or the cam shaft gear having a problem, and that causes both the rattle and the check engine light because it puts the intake cam shaft out of time where it's supposed to be.
Mark: This sounds like a lot of work.
Bernie: Well, it's a fair bit of work. You know, the timing chain cover has to come off, the cam shaft gear has to be replaced, so that's a valve cover, timing chain cover, there's a fair bit of work involved in this. I just think back in the days of the old V8 American engine where you could pull the timing cover off the front of the engine in a matter of a couple of hours. On a simple one, you could have it all done. These are way more complicated. There's variable valve timing. There's special locking tools you have to lock all the different shafts in position, because nothing is keyed. It used to be everything was keyed. Now, pretty well every engine you need special tools to lock the cam shafts and crank shafts in place, and you put the chains in, you set the tension, you pull all the things out and away you go. It's easy with all the tools. Without them, pretty much impossible.
Mark: When you opened up the engine, what did you find?
Bernie: Let's get into the picture show portion of the show. What we found was this. You can see the picture here? Yeah, this is the valve cover off. This is the exhaust cam shaft back here. This is the intake cam shaft here. You have two solenoids here. These do the variable valve timing. The variable valve timing system works through engine oil pressure. One thing, this is the gear here, called an actuator, sometimes called a cam phaser depending on the application of the vehicle. You have your exhaust gear, you have your intake gear here.
You'll notice this big hole here, I'll show another picture that will illustrate better, but variable valve timing system, they all have a lock pin and what happens is it actually locks the fear in a fixed position until the engine starts and there's oil pressure. That allows the base valve timing to always be in the right spot. What happens with this, and there's actually a Technical Service Bulletin from Land Rover about this particular issue, this code and this particular problem, is that this lock pin actually breaks and doesn't hold it in place, so the timing chain will rattle around and of course it causes that code.
I'm getting to our next picture here where you can see, this is the new gear, this is the old one. You can see this plate here is missing. There's also inside here a spring, and then there's a pin. Now, I'm not even sure if the pin's still in there, kind of difficult to tell, but nonetheless, without the spring and the plate, it's lost its functionality. Of course, that's basically our issue. What else do I have to say here?
Mark: Did you find anything else as you went further into the engine?
Bernie: Well, we did actually. That's sort of the main problem and we'd ordered up the gear. I also found, interesting enough, when we took things apart further that, there's a guide rail on each side of the timing chain. One of them's fixed, the other one works with the timing chain tensioner. You can see on this particular one here, this is basically an aluminum guide rail with a plastic plate on it that the chain rubs against, so it keeps it noise-free. Part of this had broken, you can see where the chain was actually rubbing right against the metal. Again, that's part of our noise. Whether this was caused by the actuator, it's hard to say, or whether it just wore out because these things do happen, they do wear out.
The other interesting thing, so this is the bottom end of that guide rail, that's not in the picture I show you. That actual broken piece was further up, and you can see the plastic piece rubbing against the timing chain here. This little spring here is not supposed to be there. This is the spring that was actually inside the cam shaft actuator, it's basically just broken out. It broke apart, and of course it had to go somewhere. Where that little metal plate is, hard to say. I assume it's probably sitting in the bottom of the oil pan somewhere out of harm's way, which is good, because they have a strainer that prevents those things from being sucked into the oil pump, which would certainly seize it up.
This, by the way, is the timing chain tensioner, so this is basically the plunger, the piston that holds the tension arm tight against the chain and it's also fed by oil pressure to keep it tight. Of course, if it didn't have a spring and a lock mechanism, it could spring back when it was cold or when it lost oil pressure, which is every time you shut the engine off, so they put a lock piece in here and this is like a little ratcheting mechanism.
Every manufacturer has a different piece, but this prevents the tensioner from slipping backwards when it loses oil pressure. It'll always move out to wherever it needs to be, and if the chain wears or stretches, it'll push it just that much further. Of course, there's a limit to everything, but this mechanism keeps the chain from rattling. Sometimes you get an engine where the chain will rattle on startup, and that's because this tensioner has failed. That is our picture show for the day.
Mark: Is the rattling on startup, is that a common issue on this two litre Land Rover engine?
Bernie: Well, as I mentioned, there is a TSB from Land Rover for this particular problem, for the code P0341 and also the rattle on startup, which is-
Mark: Just to remind us, it was a TSB is?
Bernie: Technical Service Bulletin. These are put out by the manufacturer. They're not recalls, they're just, perhaps sometimes they should be recalls but in this case they're not. The Technical Service Bulletin basically it's a common problem that a manufacturer has identified, so their repair department and fortunately we, anyone can get access to them, can get access to proper repairs that have been found out. Nobody's perfect in the manufacturing business. Everything has problems, so I don't know if they try their best every time, but I like to say they do and then they find out over time, "Okay, this particular part's wearing more commonly than others and this is what the issue is." It helps us in the auto service industry more quickly diagnose and accurately repair problems.
Mark: Having a TSB issued means it is a more common issue or is always occurring, whatever the case may be?
Bernie: I would say it's not an always occurring thing, but it's obviously common enough that they see them. Once a TSB comes out, you can be sure that it's a common problem.
Mark: If I was a conscientious Land Rover owner, is there anything I can do to prevent this from happening?
Bernie: Well, a couple things. First of all, as far as that cam sprocket or that lock pin breakdown, no, there's probably nothing you can do. That's just a manufacturing issue and there's nothing you can really do to be preventative. However, that wear on the timing chain, it's hard to say whether that happened because the sprocket, that piece came out, maybe it lodged itself in something, caused something to break, or whether that was just something that happened over time. Oil changes, we've talked about, are critical, and especially with timing chain engines. A lot of cars have very long oil change intervals, I think too long for many of them. For people who follow that really long interval, I think sometimes that can cause wear and things like these plastic parts can wear over time. Again, being the conscientious owner, just get your fluids changed regularly, probably more often than recommended by the manufacturer. The manufacturer's recommendations are the bare minimum. Of course, if you go longer than that which we see some people do, well, you're really treading out into, on thin ice.
Mark: There be dragons.
Bernie: That's right, exactly.
Mark: The LR2 is also known as a Freelander in some markets. How are these newer models for reliability?
Bernie: Well, a hell of a lot better than the old ones, I'll say that. The earlier generation Freelanders were, I don't like to put any vehicles down, but to me, that was one of the worst vehicles made in the last couple of decades I've seen. The engines were just horrible, and they don't sell the diesel versions in Canada or the US, but I've talked with people from England and Australia who have worked on these things, they say the diesels are just as horrible as the gas motors. Yeah, the newer ones, I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them. They're a good vehicle. I mean, here's a little defect that we're talking about here, but every vehicle has them. I mean, sometimes you get lucky and it won't have anything, but for the most part, they're way better and they're serviceable. The thing I really don't like about those older Freelanders is the engines were so badly built and designed, that you couldn't really do anything but replace it with a complete unit. That's, to me, absolutely ridiculous.
Mark: Older, what kind of time frame are we talking about?
Bernie: We're talking early to mid-2000s. They were kind of a roundish looking, in Canada anyways and probably the US is says Freelander on the vehicle, whereas once they changed to the next generation, which I think was '07, '08, I can't remember the exact year, then they called them LR2s. If you have an LR2, I say it's a decent vehicle. If it says Freelander, we don't even like to work on them in our shop, because I just know, the end game with them is just so, it's an engine replacement. It's kind of ridiculous to spend any money on a vehicle that's that badly built.
Mark: There you go. If you have a newer model Land Rover LR2, the guys to see to get your repairs are Pawlik Automotive in Vancouver. You can reach them at 604-327-7112 to book your appointment or check out the website, pawlikautomotive.com or our YouTube channel which is Pawlik Auto Repair, hundreds of videos on there as well. Thank you very much for listening to the podcast. Thanks Bernie.
Bernie: Thanks Mark, and thanks for listening.