Land Rover Reliability – Common Land Rover Problems
What started out as a company that made bicycles Land Rover have certainly come along way. The first Land Rover was the now classic Series 1 which was designed by Maurice Wilks. It was a utility vehicle and certainly didn’t have any dreams of the luxury now offered in modern vehicles carrying the badge.
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Land Rover History
Over the years the Series 1 was superseded by a long line over Land Rovers from the famous 90 and 110 Defenders to the Discovery and beyond. The company itself has changed hands a number of times which had a big impact on what a Land Rover was on the outside but at its heart a Land Rover was and still is designed to be able to deal with rough terrain and hard work. That being said the brand is not without a certain reputation for having a few issues! From British Leyland to Rover, BMW, Ford and Tata as Jaguar Land Rover the iconic statues of the cars produced as Land Rovers has never been in question, nor has the off-road credentials. However, the questions “are Land Rovers reliable?” and even “are Land Rovers really that bad?” do come up a lot! So what are the common faults and issues with Land Rovers? Read on to find out more.
Land Rover Models
It is important to note that many people refer to a Land Rover in the purest sense as the Defender style 4×4 but this article will be talking about the Discovery models as well. Below is a list of common issues on various iterations of both the Defender and the Discovery (Disco). It is always important to do your research when considering a used car, our handy car checker can help spot any outstanding finance, previous crashes and more. On top of that we also have our car comparison tool where buyers can compare ways to buy a new Land Rover or Range Rover; perhaps leasing is the best for you or PCP or maybe cash, we can help you find out.
Most Common Land-Rover Problems
One of the most common faults on the Discovery models is the air suspension leaks however, what causes the leaks varies and can come from a few different issues. This makes it all the more problematic. In some cases, the rubber on the air springs just gets old and splits, these holes allow air to leak out. Another issue is around the struts, these can be poorly installed I the first place or get knocked out of place. They then puncture holes in the air springs and cause a leak that way. There are two things that can happen as a result of a leak. You may just have saggy suspension which really isn’t ideal but still drivable. But the compressor may end up working overtime and fail. This means you will need to replace the compressor and the damaged springs which won’t be cheap.
As mentioned above, if you get a leak then this can cause the compressor to work hard to keep the pressure up and end up failing. But it is also quite common for the compressor to fail without that added pressure. It has been known to fail due to poor installation in the factory but more often than not it just gives up due to poor build quality.
The valve blocks play a role in circulating the air around the suspension system, so they play a pretty vital role. If they get damaged or wear out over time, then it can cause some serious issues. They well simply leak air out of the system which, as mentioned, can cause the compressor to break as well as sagging. The other issues is when they leak air directly into the compressor and this will cause it to fail almost immediately. If you are thinking of buying a Disco, then make sure the Valve Blocks
The electric handbrake on many of the Discovery 3 and 4 can fail as well as making a rather unpleasant noise! The issue can start with a screeching noise from the rear brakes when disengaging the parking brake. It can then progress to actually locking the rear wheels leaving the driver unable to move the vehicle. The causes are mixed but can be down to poorly maintained discs and pads as well as the EPB module itself. The best advice is to get it check the minute it starts making a noise.
There can be a whole raft of issues that can cause an engine warning light and for the engine to go into “limp” mode. One common one with the Disco is a split in the intercooler hose causing the turbo to lose pressure and the mix of air and fuel to the engine go wrong. This can lead to clouds of black smoke and a big drop in power. There are also some common issues with the EGR valves (Exhaust Gas Recirculation). The system is designed to recirculate dangerous gases over another part of the engine to reduce the amount of harmful gas leaving the exhaust. Overtime this system can get sooted up and lead to loss of power and black smoke.
Because of where the brake hoses/lines/pipe are placed they get a considerable amount of salt and muck from the roads. This means they tend to be prone to corrosion and need replacing.
These are all common things that can go wrong in many different types of car but they are particularly common issues with Discoverys and can be quite costly to repair. Signs of wear can be low speed bumps when turning and other grinding and graunching sounds when driving and going around corners. For an off-road car these items do seem to wear very fast.
A lot of these cars are getting pretty old now and have very much gained classic status. Used prices are very very high and the quality of cheaper stock can be very questionable. One of the really big issues is a simple one…rust, and it comes in a few forms with the Defenders
Basically, anywhere on the under side of a Defender can and will rust. The rear X member, the chassis and the sub frame are all prone to corrosion, the footwells are also a common place to rot right through. The undersides of cars get all the salt and water thrown at them, couple this with lots of complex running gear, recesses and places for water to settle and you have a perfect storm.
Doors and Body and More
The doors and body are made from Aluminium which doesn’t rust like steel and other metals. However, it can corrode, especially when sandwiched up against steel. It is called galvanic corrosion and it is a big issue with these cars. There is a small gap just big enough to let moisture in and keep it there so it’s common in all Defenders. The firewall also rusts very badly and should be carefully checked. On top of the chassis, doors, firewall and some body panels where they stopped galvanising in the late 80s a number of other areas tend to rot. The 3rd rear brake light mount, tire carrier, rear hitch and step are also hot spots for rust.
While power steering can be very useful, especially when you have bigger tyres, or you are on rough terrain. Sadly though, while the mighty Defender can tackle pretty much anything the power steering unit can let it down. Leaks are common which can literally make it useless, the only fix is a replacement. This can also be linked to the timing belt which can cause massive issues if it snaps.
A common issue with the TD5 Defender is fuel leaking from the engine. It actually comes from the fuel pressure regulator block and can see fuel leaking down the sump and the rear of the engine on one side. It is a classic situation of the rubber seals deteriorating to such an extent they fail.
While this is still a very new car compared to many Land Rover models out there it isn’t without its issues. Most are not long-standing ones because of how new the car is but there are reports of generally reliability issues and long repair times. Issues cited include keyfobs automatically locking the cars, leaking seals letting rain in and a range of engine issues.
Sadly, head gasket issue seem to be common in most versions of the Land Rover, they were also very common in other cars historically related to British Leyland like MG. The key is to make sure the head gasket has been replaced recently if you are buying a used car. These are a wear and tear item to a certain extent, but Land Rovers seem to have issues more often than many other cars.
Are Land Rovers Reliable?
Well in short, no, but that isn’t the whole story. There are a lot of vehicles that fall under the name Land Rover and some of the much newer models like the Discovery Sport seem to do much better on reliability surveys. The old Defenders, 90s, 110s TD5 etc are now so old that issues are to be expected. However, they were also fairly unreliable when new, many classic examples have been fixed to such an extent that most common faults are dealt with. The Discovery was a great car in all its versions, but it was plagued with issues and really can be a very bad idea if you want trouble free 4×4 motoring. There is a saying in the 4×4 world “if you want to get there, take a Land Rover. If you want to get back, take a Land Cruiser” There is, at least, some truth in this. Land Rovers are stunning off road, and many have been long term work horses for farmers and rangers for years. The more luxurious modern versions are great to drive, great to look at and certainly still deliver off road too. It’s very hard not to love a Land Rover, but after a few years with a bad one it can get harder.