In this guide, we take a look at common problems that trigger the check engine to come on and how to diagnose the problem yourself.
Most Land Rover automatic transmission problems such as limp mode, not being able to go over 30mph, slipping or erratic shifting are casued by low transmission fluid level. Other more serious problems that affect Land Rovers include faulty valve body and torque converter.
Common problems that affect Land Rover vehciles with automatic transmissions:
- Low transmission fluid level - Low transmission fluid level can cause a number of issues including erratic shifting, no shifting at all, delayed shiting, grinding noises, limp mode, and even check engine light to come on.
- Faulty Torque Converter - Can cause Land Rover transmission to slip in any gears, shuddering, and can lead to transmission fluid overheating.
- Worn Bands - Can cause delayed shifting, shifting at high RPM, harsh shifting, no gear at all and no reverse.
- Shifter Module - A faulty shifter module or shifter cable can cause the transmission to get in stuck or not go in the selected gear.
- Defective Valve Body - The valve body is very complex and can fail in a number of ways. Depending on the competent that fails it can cause limp mode, the transmission may not shift at all or harsh shifts between gear or specific gear.
- Faulty Vehicle Speed Sensor - If your Land Rover has developed a harsh shift or is stuck in emergency mode (limp mode), the vehicle speed sensor (VSS) may be the problem. Sigal from the VSS is sent to the Powertrain Control Module (PCM).
- Brake Light Switch - A faulty brake light switch can prevent shifter to move out or back into Park.
- Low Battery Voltage - In rare cases, the low battery voltage can cause the automatic transmission to get stuck in limp mode.
- PCM / TCU / ECU Software Issue - Software glitches in the transmission control unit (TCU) can cause erratic shifting issues. Land Rover transmission may shift too late or change gears unexpectedly.
- Wire harness - Damaged wire harness to the transmission can cause shifting problems and limp mode.
- Steering angle sensor - Steerring angle sensor input is used by the ABS module but the input is used by the transmssion control module as well. Carrying steering angle sensor fault code should be presend along with ABS and traction control lights.
Transmission stuck in 1st gear
Older Land Rovers and Range Rovers that use a ZF4HP 4-speed automatic transmission can get stuck in 1st gear. When this happens, the transmission will shift from Neutral to Drive or Reverse without problems, but it will not upshift from 1st gear. The problem can be sporadic or constant. In most cases, this will be more present while the vehicle is cold and might go away as it reaches running temperature. Sometimes, the upshifts will happen only when the engine reaches the rev limiter.
- Faulty or clogged governor valve, which makes gearchanges impossible. In most cases, this is caused by disintegration of clutch plates or other moving parts, which contaminates the transmission fluid. In addition to a fluid flush, the valve needs to be removed and thoroughly cleaned or replaced with a new one.
- Stuck kick down cable, which acts as a mechanical link between the throttle and gearbox. If it gets stuck in a wide-open position, the transmission will behave as if the driver is pushing the throttle to the max.
No Reverse or Torque Converter Clutch engagement
Range Rovers that use a GM5L40E 5-speed automatic transmission are known to have issues when trying to engage the reverse gear. In most cases, this is an intermittent problem that happens out of sudden and usually goes away after several repeated attempts to shift into reverse. There can also be an issue with the torque converter clutch that fails to lock-up. Both of these scenarios will trigger the check engine light.
- Worn bores inside the valve body or worn solenoids. Resulting leaks will cause a loss of transmission fluid pressure, which has a negative effect on gear-change performance. Doing a leak-down test with compressed air on the valve body will reveal any leaks.
- Broken pieces or debries within the solenoid, as a result of contact with the valve. The small fragments will get inside the valve body, where they can block solenoids.
Higher mileage or neglected Land Rover Freelanders that use a JF506E 5-speed automatic transmission can develop issues with hard and rough shifting while acceleration. Also, there might be a noticeable lurch when going from Neutral to Drive or Reverse. In initial phases, the problem is only present while the car is cold. In most cases, this will not trigger a check engine light.
- Leaking or sticking solenoid valves, as a result of normal wear or because of neglected fluid changes. The lack of smooth and controlled solenoid movements causes harsh gear shifts. Replacing all solenoid valves at once is the best solution.
Clunk when downshifting from 2nd to 1st
Land Rovers Discovery and Range Rovers with a ZF6HP 6-speed automatic transmission have a fairly frequent issue that only appears during downshifts. When coming to a stop, there will be a noticeable clunk while shifting from 2nd to 1st gear. There will be no other mechanical symptoms, but this might trigger a check engine light.
- Worn and cracked mechatronic sleeve, which connects the valve body assembly to the transmission itself. As this part is made out of rubber, it gets brittle and cracks with time. Replacing the sleeve assembly together with the harness connector solves the issue.
- Low or deteriorated transmission fluid, which results in excessive aeration or foaming. This causes a loss of transmission fluid pressure.
Slipping when shifting into 4th gear
Land Rovers Discovery and Range Rovers that have a ZF6HP 6-speed automatic transmission can develop a strong gear slip that occurs while shifting from 3th to 4th gear. This causes extensive delays in gear changes, which can also be harsh. In more extreme cases, the transmission will go into limp-home mode. As this triggers a check engine in most cases, there will be a corresponding trouble code stored in the DTC memory.
- Excessive wear inside the E-clutch assembly or damaged E-clutch drum. This is a component that engages the 4th gear, excessive wear will cause delayed and harsh engagement as a result of mismatched gear speeds. Rebuilding the E-clutch assembly will solve the issue.
- Sticking solenoids or worn bores inside the valve body. This causes drops in hydraulic pressure and upsets gearchanges. Unless the fault is electrical, this will not trigger a check engine light.
Troubleshooting Land Rover Transmission Problems
Here are a few tips that can help you bring your Land Rover automatic transmission back to normal operation.
Transmission Adaptation Reset
If you have a newer Land Rover resetting the transmission adaptation (shift points) to factory setting can help. Use an advanced Land Rover scanner and go to Reset Automatic Transmission Adaptation.
This procedure is not recommended for high mileage Lan Rovers.
Check Transmission Fluid Level
- When possible drive the vehcile for 15 minutes to warm up the transmssion fluid. If the transmission is sliping skip this step.
- Park your Land Rover on level ground.
- Set the parking brakes and shifter in Park.
- Pull the hood release and open it.
- Locate the transmission dipstick.
- Remove the dipstick and clean it with a clean cloth.
- Reinsert the dipstick in the transmission. Ensure the transmission is fully inserted then remove it.
- Look carefully at the dipstick to determine the current transmission fluid level. The level should be between MIN and MAX marks for the COLD (lower) markings. Or the HOT range if you were able to warm up the transmission.
- If the level is low add transmission fluid level.
- Drive vehicle for 15 minutes making sure to manually select all the gears.
- Repeat the procedure once the transmission warm-up but this time, the level must be between the MIN and MAX marks for the HOD (higher) markings.
Not all Land Rovers will have a transmission dipstick. If the dipstick is not present, the vehicle will need to be raised on a lift and the level can be checked via the fill hole.
Read Transmission Fault Codes
The next step is to read fault codes from the transmission control module or what is known as the TCU. To read these codes you will need an OBD-II Transmission Scanner. Basic code readers are not recommended because they will show a generic code or may not show a fault code at all.
- Park vehicle and turn off the ignition. Set parking brakes.
- Locate diagnostic port under the dashboard, driver's side.
- Plugin your OBD-II scanner then turn on ignition without starting the engine.
- The scanner will turn on. Allow it to communicate with the vehicle. Select MAKINA then your particular.
- Select Control Units then Transmission.
- Select Read Fault Codes from the main menu.
Check For Recalls
Check if any open recalls or Technical Service Bulletin (TSB) exist for your Land Rover that affect the transmission.
Recalls if they exist are performed free of charge by any Land Rover dealer. To check if a recall exists on your vehicle, visit our Check Recalls page.