TVR Tuscan

Common Problems

EFI Warning light and error code on pod display

EFI fault errors normally occur up after washing the car or driving in heavy rain due to moisture getting into the sensor. Sometimes the error will display when the car is first started from cold if all the cylinders aren't firing properly yet, but goes away after the car warms up a bit. There's a list of the EFI fault codes here.

If the EFI error is persistent (i.e. comes back when cancelled) and the car isn't running properly and not idling then it could be an electronic part failure e.g. lambda sensor, or some other failure.

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Steam coming from bonnet/engine bay on start-up

This is usually caused by water on the exhaust manifold heating up and turning to steam. It sometimes occurs after a few seconds of turning the engine on and should stop soon after.

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Stalling on idle when cold after start-up

After starting on a cold morning, until the car has warmed up slightly, the engine will sometimes stutter and stall while idling. This is due to the fact that the Tuscan does not have a cold idle jet that would normally raise the revs to keep the engine turning over. It's best to either drive off as soon as possible to start warming up the engine or if that's not possible, regulate the idle revs to around 1,500 RPM with minimal use of throttle for about 15-20 seconds.

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Engine cutting out after filling up with petrol

When filling the tank, make sure you do not overfill - when the fueling pump automatically 'clicks' off, don't continue to fill to the brim. The car's fuel tank is unable to vent properly and the engine may cut out due to what the ECU perceives as fuel starvation.

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Stalling at idle or low RPM / rough idling

Some owners, especially with pre-2003 Speed-6 engines, can experience low idle stalling, juddering, misfiring or a rough feeling at lower revs. The following things should be checked and the car should be taken to a competent garage to get to the bottom of the issue. They should be able to check the engine with diagnostic software.

  • Throttle Pots and/or Bodies may need changing.
  • Throttle Spindle Bearings may be worn and need re-bushing.
  • Coil pack, easy to change and relatively cheap.

Some owners report that after washing the car (especially with a jet wash) the Tuscan can begin to rough idle. This is due to water getting into various bits of the engine and should hopefully stop once the water evaporates.

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Engine knocking/rattling on start-up

Some owners report that when turning the engine on there is a noise which sounds similar to 'a bag of spanners' or knocking from the engine bay. This can be caused by slack in the tappets / finger followers. They will be wearing more quickly by knocking and you should get this checked out as soon as possible. Another cause could be that the timing chain is tapping the top of the cam cover if there is too much slack in the chain.

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Engine top-end rattles excessively when cold or hot

This could simply be excessive valve clearances or it could be worse...

Common problems, more so with pre 2004 Speed-6 engines, is valve guide wear, valve seat erosion of the head, worn out cam lobes and/or finger followers. The valve guides wear out and the valve literally rocks around in the worn oval valve guide. This is purported to be because there is excessive side loading on the valve stems at near max valve openings. Some finger followers were reported to have been a poor batch product and were soft. Some cams were poorly made from sintered metal (powdered metal poured into a pressurised mould). The lobes on these cams wear out very quickly. The valves can recess into the cylinder heads closing up the valve clearances. (It's best to keep track of what size shims are used at the service intervals). Poor oil circulation around the cylinder head makes the above issues worse. The oil feed is to one side (inlet) of the head only. The oil has to make its way around to the exhaust cam side which can in certain conditions become starved of fresh oil especially if the car is infrequently used.

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Water level dropping at an alarming rate

Make sure that every time you check this the conditions are the same. The water level should just be visible at the bottom of the vertical section of pipe that connects to the expansion tank (about 10mm worth). Make sure you check that all hoses are without damage.

  • Some earlier Tuscan have suffered rad damage due to the cores being weak, stones can penetrate the cores and water is lost this way. Also the end tanks on some later Tuscans are of the plastic variety, some were not a good fit and the seals let go.
  • Some Tuscans have suffered head stud stretch and/or the washers on the head studs have compressed too far. This has the result of the head gasket failing usually water gets into the combustion chamber. Cylinder 6 runs hot and the later gaskets did have a mod to allow more coolant to flow around this cylinder. There are aftermarket uprated head studs and copper head gaskets with Ferriday ring seals available.

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Misfire at medium to high RPM / sooty exhaust pipes

Misfiring, especially when revving over 5000 RPM is usually caused by one of the following, in this order:

  • Vibration at high revs causes a false overreading which makes the ECU think it's overfueling. This causes it to cut power to the engine. There was an upgrade to the throttle chip which fixes the problem. Speak to your TVR dealer about this.
  • HT leads, even if relatively new can still be faulty / damaged / not connected properly.
  • Lambda sensors operate in the 1000 to 4000 RPM range and control the fueling. If a lambda is faulty it will affect the fueling for that bank of cylinders.
  • Coil pack, easy to change and relatively cheap.
  • CPS (Crank Sensor) connection or wiring too close to HT leads.
  • ECU problem (or bad connection to loom and water ingress), bad earth to engine block or bad connection between engine loom / ECU loom via bulkhead connector.
  • Spark plugs may need replacing.
  • Fuel supply. If the fuel filter is blocked then the fuel supply to the injectors will result in erratic pressure, the fuel return reg may not be able to maintain adequate fuel pressure in the injector rail.
  • Engine damage, including burnt valve or timing is off.

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Fans not coming on when water temp rises

The sensor unit for the fans is right under the air box. There are 2 coolant sensors on the air box side of the block. The one near the front is for the gauge, and the back one with the larger plug on it feeds the ECU.

The fans have been known to either stick on or not come on at all. This can be down to either a faulty temp sensor or the relay contacts. The relay contacts do tend to burn after a lot of use. Removing the relays (thereís 2 and they are yellow) and cleaning the contacts may get you by for a short time. The relays are located on the fuse panel.

Check that the fuses for the fans have't blown (view the fuse layout here).

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Fuel pump failure

Once you've disarmed the immobiliser and turned the key in the ignition you should hear the 'whirring' sound of the fuel pump starting and the oil light on the dashboard light up. If you don't hear this sound and the light doesn't come on, here are some things to check:

  • With the key in and electrics switched on, press the key fob button to make sure the immobiliser is disarmed.
  • Faulty key fob - try using the small contact key to disarm the immobiliser to the left side of the dashboard.
  • Check that the fuel cut-off switch in the boot hasn't been tripped by something falling against it.
  • Check the fuel pump fuse (number 34) - it should be a 20amp fuse. Earlier ones were 15amp and sometimes blew.
  • Faulty fuel pump? Replacement part: Bosch 0 580 254 957 or Bosch 0 580 254 909.

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Snapped throttle cable

If the throttle cable snaps you will feel the accelerator pedal suddenly going loose and not returning to the closed position. You should be able to get a replacement cable from your TVR dealer or check out some of the links on our 'Parts and Spares' page. To fix it yourself:

You will need:

  • 8mm spanner, 14-16mm spanner, 17mm spanner
  • 6mm allen key, 5mm allen key
  • 13mm socket and extension
  • Torque wrench
  • Side cutters
  • Cable ties

Instructions:

  1. Remove the main bonnet.
  2. Remove the air box.
  3. In the engine bay undo the 2x6mm allen bolts which will release the old cable.
  4. In the footwell, remove the metal pedal cover, 2x5mm allen bolts.
  5. Using a 13mm socket and extension release the old cable from accelerator.
  6. Tie new table to old cable with duct tape and pull through to engine from footwell.
  7. Attatch new cable to accelerator with 40mn of torque.
  8. Follow steps 4 to 1 to put everything back together.

(Provided by PistonHead's member: maddog-uk)

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Engine Rebuild

There is intense debate among TVR owners over the reliability of the Speed Six engine. It is generally accepted that the earlier cars (pre 2003) did have issues with the quality of the engine components and there were some design issues.

Many of the failures, regardless of whether or not they were at the top or the bottom of the engine, can be traced back to a lack of effective lubrication or cooling of the moving parts or bearings, suggesting that insufficient quantities of oil are being delivered to those areas of most stress/weakness.

Failure to follow a proper warm-up procedure and driving the engine too hard before the oil had lubricated the components all seem to contribute towards engine damage.

For much more information there is a section dedicated to the discussion of the Speed Six engine on the PistonHeads website we'd recommend you take a look at by clicking here.

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Clutch and slave cylinder

There are a number of issues with the design of the standard clutch assembly which causes some components to fail prematurely, circa 20K miles.

The thrust bearing is a half moon shape and the pressure load on the release plate fingers is not spread across a satisfactory area of the fingers, instead it is localised across a small area. This has the effect of putting high loading on the centre of the pressure plate and thatís why the fingers wear away and eventually break.

As the fingers wear and break up, the butterfly springs in the friction plate wear away grooves in the fly wheel. Continuously using the car until there is no clutch operation left exacerbates this problem and can lead to a damaged fly wheel in need of replacement. A damaged fly wheel that is not replaced makes it difficult to set up a new pressure and friction plate as the springs tend to locate in the flywheel grooves locking up the clutch mechanism.

The slave cylinder is of poor quality, full stop. The design is not up to the task and the seals fail.

(Provided by PistonHead's member: yzf1070)

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Can't change gear

  1. If the clutch pedal feels very spongy and has little or no resistance when you press the pedal it could be that the slave cylinder seals have failed in the thrust release assembly, located in the gearbox bell housing. Check the clutch fluid level by observing the float indication sticking out of the top of the reservoir. This is located above the pedals in the drivers foot well. The white probe should be sticking about 1 inch above the reservoir filler cap. If it is not try topping up the fluid level with Dot 4 brake fluid.
  2. Look under the car and see if you can see a pool of brake fluid below the gearbox bell housing. This is a sure sign the seals on the slave cylinder have failed.
  3. If the fluid levels are ok and no leaks, it's likely to be the clutch pressure plate fingers have broken off. The standard clutch design is quite poor and the fulcrum point between the action of the thrust release assembly and the pressure plate fingers exert an excessive load on the fingers. They wear and eventually break off. The clutch assembly also tends to wear groves in the flywheel. These grooves, as they get worse, tend to locate the clutch making clutch friction disk/flywheel separation more difficult and incomplete. If this turns out to be your problem, its best to replace the Thrust assembly at the same time.

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Unable to change to 5th gear

The T5 gearbox is on its design capability limits in the Tuscan, it runs very hot and this is made worse by the cats being so close to the box. 5th gear is a weak point in the box as the gear is held in place by just a circlip. If this fails the gear drops off the end of the shaft. Usually it does not cause any damage if attended to promptly.

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Gears crunching when selecting reverse

Many TVRs seem to have difficulty selecting reverse and cruch the gears. A simple way to stop this is by selecting 5th gear first and then gently putting it into reverse. This problem isn't limited to TVRs - it's due to the T5 gearbox (also used on the Sierra Cosworth for example) not having any syncromesh on 5th and reverse gear.

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Gear knob getting hot

On earlier Tuscans owners reported the gear knob getting very hot, almost too hot to touch. This was caused by heat travelling from the gearbox. Your dealer should be able to fit a heat sink to stop this from happening.

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Loose change-up lights display pod

The nut can sometimes come off of the threaded part that goes through the top of the pod.

  1. Undo the 2 screws holding the top half of the leather cowling on.
  2. Lift the cowling of upwards being careful not to damage the wires.
  3. 3 tiny nuts hold the change up lights on and these will need to be tightend or replaced.

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Main bonnet cracked or paint blistering above exhaust manifold

This is a common problem if a car is left to warm up in a confined area (garage) where there is little airflow through the bonnet. Fitting an aluminium heat shield to the underside of the main bonnet and avoid leaving the car running and standing in excessive heat conditions, such as traffic jams in the height of summer.

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Squeaking rear window / roof panel

Due to the nature of the removable rear window and roof panel they can sometimes squeak against the bodywork. Try the following:

  • Velcro or anti-squeak tape (available from Deamon Tweaks) along the top edge of the rear screen.
  • Anti-squeak tape on the inside lip of the boot lid near the rear screen catches.
  • Lubricate the rear window and roof seals with silicone spray. You'll probably need to do this once a week.

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Squeaking / rattling coming from inside of door

Sometimes there can be squeaking coming from inside the doors, especially noticable when going over bumpy roads or speedhumps.

  • Take the door card off by undoing the 3 allen key bolts in the floor of the door pocket.
  • Spray the inside of the door with WD40 or silicone based spray.
  • It could be that the card has slipped from its "compression-fit" into the underside of the silver trim at the top of the frame. Wedge some thin strips of hard plastic underneath the card to raise it a little - anything the right size/shape will do. This took the bottom of the door-card away from the door frame a little - it might be this that is causing the squeak.

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Windows not closing properly/all way up

This can often be caused by a faulty or wet window Encoder PCB unit on the window motor.

Remove the door inner covering by undoing the 2-3 bolts in the door pocket. The Encoder is the small rectangular PCB with 3 wires coming from it screwed to the front of the window motor. Try any of the following:

  • Try putting the windows all the way down then setting the alarm to see if they go all the way back to the top. Sometimes this can simply reset the system and fix the problem.
  • Spray some contact spray (available from Halfords, etc) onto the PCB unit. Leave for about 5 minutes and see if it's fixed the problem.
  • Remove the PCB unit and try drying it with a hairdryer to remove any moisture.
  • Try simply removing the PCB and reattaching it in case of a loose connection.
  • Inspect the modules and the wiring loomb connectors associated with the modules. If corrosion is evident, clean the affected item/s and seal off with petroleum jelly or similar grease. Itís a good idea to smother the modules in non-corrosive silicone based sealant to keep the water out.

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Steering rack on full lock makes 'whiring' noise

When turning the wheel, especially to full lock, there's a sound coming from the steering rack which sounds like whiring/gas escaping. This is normal on many TVRs and is just the power-assisted steering hydraulics.

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Car tramlining/wandering/twitchy

The original suspension and geometry set up of factory Tuscans often left a lot to be desired. A common problem is 'tramlining', where the car will 'fall' into grooves on the road and can make the ride very twitchy and cause loss of control.

Although the Tuscan S has stiffer suspension and generally a better setup, there are many things that can be done to improve the handling of all the Tuscan range.

First thing to get checked is the geometry settings as this can make a great difference. Improved shock absorbers such as Nitrons, improved suspension, tyre pressures and different tyres have all been known to help.

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'Spider' alloys bending or damaged

The standard 'Spider' alloys can be easily bent or damaged if driven over potholes or curbed. Symptoms of this may be a wobble or vibration through the steering wheel. Often you may not be able to feel any difference at all, so after driving over or into anything that could have caused a problem the wheels should be carefully checked. Some owners have decided to upgrade the wheels to SP12s or other aftermarket alloys, although it's still possible to bend any type of alloy wheel in the right circumstances!

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Loose rear screen / screen popping out at speed

Some of the original MK1 Tuscans suffered from the rear screens popping out, usually with the targa roof panel out and at reasonable speeds.

The fit was too loose as the screen itself was ever so slightly too small. Later Tuscans including the MK2s came with a larger screen. For owners with earlier models the best thing to do is either source a larger screen available from specialists or a temporary fix can be to pad out the gap with a velcro strip.

Also, make sure that the clips are done up properly when putting the screen back in.

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Battery draining when car left standing for too long

Some owners report that if they leave their Tuscan standing for 2-3 weeks, when returning to the car the battery will have gone flat. Some Tuscans had trouble holding their charge and this could be increased by faulty relays or the bulb in the boot not turning off when the boot is closed, among other things.

  • Purchase a trickle charger which plugs into the cigar lighter. This will need a nearby external power source though.
  • Solar charger which plugs into the cigar lighter and keeps battery topped up. Not much use if parked in a garage though.

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Door opening buttons not working properly

Sometimes the door solenoids can fail and will prevent the door from being opened using the buttons. The ECU in the transmission tunnel or the door encoders can get wet which sometimes causes the electrics to stop working. If you are stuck inside the car, there are two red emergency door release pulls on each side of the interior, underneath the dashboard.

If the door buttons are working but the doors are sticking and not opening, it may mean the door has dropped slightly on its hinges or the bar that the closed door latches onto has moved slightly. The plate can move slightly when driving over a very rough (high speed) surface. You need a tool very similar to "circlip" pliers to turn the round plate "anticlockwise" to slacken the plate then adjust and tighten again.

There is an emergency entry method for getting into the vehicle if the key fob fails to unlock the doors however due to the public nature of this website you will need to contact your dealer for an explanation of this.

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Boot switch works intermittently or requires force

  1. Open the boot (if you canít get it open use emergency entry method, details available from your dealer).
  2. Once open remove the panel on the inside that covers the boot release switch and mechanism.
  3. You will see that the badge is held in place by two 8mm nuts. Sometimes it is just a case of adjusting the tension on the nuts to get the switch operating again.
  4. If this does not help then you need to remove the nuts to see the switch button.
  5. Use two-sided sticky pad on the back of the badge and a thin piece of plastic to bridge the gap between the badge and the switch button.
  6. Refit the nuts and adjust until you are satisfied with the operation.
  7. Apply a small amount of breakable loc-tight seal.
  8. Replace the inner cover.

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Battery tray bolt wearing through and causing an electrical short

Not so much of a common problem, but an important issue that owners should be aware of:

One of the bolts in the battery tray on the Tuscan can wear through the housing on the charging point causing it to short out. This is potentially a very dangerous condition and can render a vehicle fire destroyed. Remove the passenger side wheel and check the battery compartment at least every 6 months. Itís a good idea to use loc-tite breakable thread sealant for the battery compartment cover.

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