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The L322 models of the popular Range Rover SUV line represent arguably the most beloved generation of Jaguar Land Rover’s premium brand. Produced in almost 300,000 units between 2001 and 2012, they’re also the most widespread among all Range Rovers. The Range Rover L322 is the first luxurious model of the lineup that’s now synonymous with opulence, and as such, represents a turning point in the nameplate’s history. However, even the beloved SUV doesn’t come without issues of its own, hence we’ll focus on some of the Range Rover L322’s common problems.
Although considered one of the finest models in its class, the Range Rover L322 retains a reputation for being one of the most breakdown-prone SUVs of its time. A myriad of electrical and mechanical problems have plagued the L322 from the onset to the end of production. Most common are the differential issues in early models and timing chain issues in the later-production units. Land Rover’s notorious air suspension is another common problem in Range Rover L322s, and so are numerous electrical system failures.
In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the Range Rover L322’s common problems. Whether they’re of mechanical or different nature, it’s important to be informed about them. Especially if you’re looking into buying a used L322.
Air Suspension Problems
The adjustable air suspension is one of Range Rover’s most prized assets. However, it’s also one of its potential shortcomings at the same time. It helps the L322 maximize its off-road potential while simultaneously providing cushioned on-road dynamics.
The problem is that the L322’s air suspension is complex and over-engineered. In such cases, something often goes awry, and Range Rover’s adjustable air suspension is no different. Typically, you’ll get the “air suspension inactive” sign on the dashboard, but that doesn’t necessarily have to mean the suspension is faulty. It can be a weak battery, and the problem can be rectified by rotating the steering wheel full circle and driving a bit.
If you’re not that lucky, however, any single one of numerous parts of the air suspension system might be failing. Whether it’s the air springs, height sensors, valves, air reservoir, or air compressor, fixing the problem won’t be cheap. If one of these subsystems fails, your Range Rover won’t be able to adjust the ride height, and you can forget about off-roading. It might even enter the “limp mode” to protect itself from further damage.
Front and Rear Suspension Wear
Aside from the adjustable air suspension components, Range Rovers typically have issues with the conventional suspension components like control arms, bushings, and joints. Weighing over 6,100 pounds (close to three tons), it’s not surprising that these exact components often give out before their time.
If you hear a rattling noise that can also be felt in the steering wheel, then one of these components is giving out. Up front, the most likely culprit is the lower ball joint, but worn-out stabilizer bar bushings are another common problem. Sadly, it’s easier to replace the entire control arm than just the bushings, which can make this a more expensive affair than it should be.
At the back, you can be unlucky enough to lose the rear hub bushes which are extremely hard to replace. These require specialist Land Rover tools and quite a bit of effort. Then again, suspension components are expected to wear out over time. Only not as quickly as they’re known to in Range Rovers.
Typical third-gen Range Rover is riddled with electrical faults, and the older they are, the worse things get. One of the most common Range Rover L322 electrical problems is associated with the vehicle’s radio unit. Many Range Rover L322 owners have reported that their radio simply gives out. The problem can be a weak battery, a blown fuse, or any of numerous infotainment-related modules such as the Bluetooth module, for instance.
Dashboard gremlins are another story. From flickering lights to dead pixels, you’ll likely just give up relying on its full functionality at some point. Some of the dashboard issues can be caused by a faulty alternator which isn’t a cheap fix in its own right, but the dash itself is prone to failure as well.
Parking sensors that detach inside the bumpers and effectively become unusable, failing ignition switches that refuse to cooperate, incorrect fuel gauge readouts – the list goes on and on.
Faulty Fuel Gauge
Incorrect fuel gauge readouts in Range Rover L322s are more common than they probably should be. The fuel gauge might stop working entirely, which can be problematic given Range Rover’s thirstiness. Some owners even suggest that their L322s have run out of fuel with the gauge still showing a substantial amount of fuel left in the tank. Running out of fuel can damage the catalytic converter, which is why this problem shouldn’t be ignored.
If you’re lucky enough, the problem can simply be rectified by reconnecting the wires to the fuel-sending unit. Otherwise, the entire fuel sender might need replacing, and that’s not as cheap as mere wiring reconnection. Furthermore, if the ECU gets the wrong readout, it might decide to stop the engine altogether in an attempt to protect it. Needless to say, you’d probably want to avoid such an inconvenience as it might happen at random and leave you stranded in an unpleasant situation.
Everyone who’s ever had the displeasure of dealing with transmission issues knows how nightmarish it can be. Sadly, the Range Rover L322’s transmissions are one of those sensitive and unreliable units. All the L322’s transmissions, including the older 5-speed and newer 6-speed and 8-speed ZF automatics, are notorious for their poor reliability.
Range Rover L322 transmission problems typically start with transmission slippage and reluctance to shift into one of the gears. If the problem remains unaddressed, a clunking noise will develop over time, and the symptoms will worsen. Once that occurs, you’re already looking at a hole in your wallet measured in thousands.
The best course of action is to take your Range Rover to service as soon as you notice the awkward transmission behavior. It’s better to salvage what you can than to rebuild the gearbox from the ground up. Especially since the latter can cost more than the value of your Range Rover, depending on the model year and its current state.
Loss of Power
A loss of power in a Range Rover typically means one of two things: either the intercooler hose is cracked, or the EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) valves don’t provide sufficient flow. In the case of the former, the engine won’t be getting enough boost pressure as some of it will always leak through that crack. Not enough pressure means the air and fuel mixture will be incorrect. In other words, your engine will choke. As simple as that is, the remedy is even simpler. You just need to replace the intercooler hoses, and you’re good as new.
Choked EGR valves can be equally inconvenient for your engine’s smooth operation. If a loss of power is accompanied by a rough idle and excessive smoke from the exhaust, chances are, it’s the EGR’s fault. While not an expensive repair, reaching the EGR valve inside the engine bay can be frustrating, which is why this job is better left to a certified mechanic.
Early Range Rover L322 units were notorious for their inadequate differential design. Front differentials in all models before MY 2006 were so weak that they often failed without prior warning at low mileage. Not only were they putting the entire driveshaft at risk, but the drivers too, as failures typically occurred at highway speeds. Once the differential gives out, a driver has a limited time to pull over on the side of the road, which isn’t always easy to do in high-frequency traffic.
If you’re on the hunt for an early L322 Range Rover, you’ll probably be glad to know that most of them have already had their differentials replaced. However, if they were replaced with another original unit, then they’re probably ticking bombs waiting to ruin your day. This is one of the early Range Rover L322’s most common problems.
Timing Chain Problems
It’s no news that the timing chain needs a service at regular intervals, but in the case of the 2010-2012 L322 Range Rovers, that interval could never be established. The 5.0 L V8 engines used during this late L322 period are notorious for their timing chains that wear out prematurely. Typically it starts with weakened tensioners and timing chain slapping the guides. Once the timing chain guides wear out, the timing chain is free to wreak havoc inside the engine bay, and if left unchecked, rest assured that it will do just that.
Early signs of a timing chain going bad are knocking or thumping noises from the engine bay. If you own a Range Rover and experience these, don’t hesitate to take it to a mechanic. No matter how expensive the repair might be, it’ll be even more expensive if you don’t since a worn-out timing chain can easily total your entire engine. The replacement unit can cost as much as $5,000, but that’s still better than catastrophic engine damage.
As capable, comfortable, and beautiful the Range Rovers are, their poor reliability records should be enough to fend off most unsuspecting buyers from embarking on a used L322 ownership adventure. Common Range Rover L322 problems are numerous and diverse, and buying one can easily put you in a rough spot. Even if they were cared for, some deficiencies are too unpredictable and can rear their ugly head when you least expect them. Then again, passing up on an opportunity to own a classic such as the L322 Range Rover on a budget isn’t easy. Just remember that there are no cheap luxury cars.