Land Rover Range Rover – Key won’t turn, steering column

The Range Rover is a car I truly love. Just sitting in it, makes me smile. But turning the key, firing up that V8 and having pure luxury while being able to tackle any road, or off-road situation, is truly something special. Until the key won’t turn.

My rover is an L322, which is the model from 2002 until 2012. These years and even some of the older Discovery models have been plagued with the steering column issue.  If you google it, you’ll find tons of information. But, I found lots of the information not to be accurate.

The issue:

You put your key in, but it won’t turn.

Trouble shoot first:

  1. Ensure the battery has a full charge – if not, charge it or replace is. Still have the issue? Proceed.
  2. Is the steering wheel locked? Meaning, can you turn the wheel or is it in the locked position? If locked, it might not be the column (so I’m told). If it’s not locked, proceed.
  3. Remove the key from the ignition.
  4. Disconnect the negative on the battery, wait a few seconds, connect back. (You can remove a fuse, but I found this to be easier for me).
  5. Put key in ignition, key turns and it starts.
  6. Now you know it’s the column issue and not the ignition switch. You might find local shops wanting to replace the ignition switch, but demo this to them, to eliminate that from being an issue.
  7. As long as you keep the key in, it will continue to start. If you remove the key, you will need to repeat the process. I drove it like this for a bit, until I got the parts needed.

The fix:

My goal is to keep my rover like it was the day it came off the assembly line. So, I want to avoid work-arounds. However, I do realize at some point, I might need to employ such tactics. One of the cheap/simple fixes is to rig up something that will kill power to the fuse, wait 30 seconds, car starts. You can put the button under the ignition or somewhere along those lines.

In my case, I read a ton about how to fix this and ultimately it was to replace the steering column.

I elected to buy the column from a gentlemen based in California. He was very helpful to figure out what I needed. The kicker, it’s $1,200 and you must return your core or get hit with $250 and no warranty. But, a part from the dealer was like $4k .. so this route made the most sense. You can find his website here, Range Rover Steering Columns.

Once we had the part, a friend of mine who owns a body shop did the install. Here are a few pictures:

Old column, meet new column. You will reuse the steering angle sensor .. very important.

Back on the road

Important learning:

Once we got the new steering column installed in the rover, I tool her for a spin. Yikes! Mission control on the dashboard went nuts. Air suspention inactive, HDC inactive, brake ABS fault, and a horrible noise when I drove and the suspension started to lower.

The noise was from the hill descent braking, with all the errors being thrown. I never used this feature (Yet) and told sometimes they make noise. Since it was engaging with all the faults, that was the cause. All the other errors, why?

The culprit:

The steering angle sensor, often referred to as SAS, was off. As a result, it was throwing all the errors. It has to be re-calibrated. I had no idea this would need to be done, but learned something new. The guy that sold the part told me, “It doesn’t always have to be re-calibrated, but on some rovers, it does, after all, it’s a rover and each one is unique.” I chuckled and hoped I could get this done. The local shops wouldn’t do the column and the dealer is a nightmare. My buddy, who owns the body shop, came back to my house tonight with his snap-on Solus Ultra diagnostic tool at a shocking sticker prices of $3,995. Thank goodness he does this for a living at his shop and had the tools. He was able to re-calibrate it in a few seconds and all has been good since.

Good luck and happy rovering.

Update: 3 years later it failed again. Read what I did here and the backup fuse switch I installed.

About the author

Jason Miller

Enterprise software guy, Land Rover collector, and real estate investor.

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