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looking to buy but would like a steer

Discussion in 'Land Rover Freelander' started by wantaquad, Oct 30, 2014.

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  1. wantaquad

    wantaquad Active Member

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    Hello All,
    As my youngest child is now approaching driving age, it looks like I will be adding to the defender, driven by my son, and P38 RR driven by the wife, with a freelander 1 to be driven by my daughter, having little experience of freelanders I am looking for opinions as to reliability of earlier models compared to face lifted ones. Mainly are the 1.8 petrol engines any more reliable, same for the ird and VCU's etc, or are they the same through out the age range? Cheers
     
  2. jumble_jobs

    jumble_jobs Member

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    Oh dear wait for the stream of derogatory emails - standard advice is a TD4 I think if you can get service history that includes a VCU change probably better - have a search on here you'll see the major problems to look out for.
     
  3. gareth123

    gareth123 Active Member

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    A lot of people swear by the older Rover diesel engine - Di - as it is more straightforward to work on with good reliability. Service history is important but a good nose around here will tell you the common things to look for if you start inspecting. Make sure it has a propshaft fitted!
     
  4. Epicuser

    Epicuser Ex Freelander Owner

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    Check out the links in my signature.
     
  5. GrumpyGel

    GrumpyGel Well-Known Member

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    Problem appear magnified on here, cos people only join when they have them and they're generally the same ones! But it gives a good idea about the different engines. If there was 1 to steer clear of for reliability, its the 1.8. They suffer from head gasket failure - and its not a case of if - its when. Also, if they go, there are often problems with liners of the cylinders and the engine is never the same again. If you get a good one, they'll return about 30 MPG - but you'd probably want to change head gaskets at the same time as timing belts. They are a bit under powered in the Freelander.

    The 2.5 V6 isn't much better than the 1.8 for HGF and general overheating problems. They'll also only return about 23 MPG - so unless you specifically want V6 power and are prepared to pay at the pump - steer clear.

    The diesels are usually by far the best way to go. More reliable and should give you touching 40 MPG. It then becomes a choice of Rover L Series (up to 2000) or BMW TD4 (later). The L Series is a bit less refined than the TD4, not quite as powerful - but is more reliable and should give a couple of extra MPG. There are very few problems reported with the L Series on LZ - although a couple of months back there was a 'spate' of belts letting go - happened to 2 different regulars. Other than that problems are rare. It may not be of interest to you, but there is also a lot of tuning options available for them. The TD4 did have a issue with crank shafts snapping - but I haven't seen a report of it and its unlikely to be a problem. Fuel pumps don't seam to last long in them and they do suffer often from sensors failing and can be a pain to diagnose and fix.

    My one's an L Series and I love it. I think its a great engine. It does have trouble getting me away from the lights without embarrassment, but once moving, performance is fine. It's a '99 and hasn't needed anything doing to it other than servicing in the 4 years I've owned it. It has towed my SIII SSW home on a transporter trailer without any issues, and towed our boat laden with camping gear bikes etc and laden with 4 adult size (2 grown teenagers) over the mountains of NZ without any grief. I can't really recommend it enough :)

    So, if you go for a petrol, try as hard as you can to ensure there are no overheating issues - current or historic. Make sure you take it on a good long test drive. Get it up to speed and temp and if you can, take it up a good hill, stop at the top and make sure no coolant/steam is visible. If you go for a diesel, I suppose standard diesel checks for smoke etc should be made - but my L Series will create James Bond style smoke screens if I give it wellie and delay gear changes - but its fine under normal conditions (little puff on start up) and will give touching 40 MPG on a run and 35 MPG around town.

    The "biggie" when buying a Freelander is the transmission. It doesn't have a center diff like 'traditional' Landies. The setup could be considered Front Wheel Drive and the diff that's connected to the gearbox distributes to the front wheels like a normal diif - but it also has a direct 1:1 pinion out the back that drives a prop to the rear diff to distribute power to the rear wheels. If this were all, it would be the same as driving those traditional Landies with diff lock engaged - it would soon destroy the transmission. This 'doesn't' occur though because the prop shaft is split into 2 and in the middle is a Viscous Coupling Unit (VCU). The VCU allows the small differences in cornering to slip (thus preserving the transmission), but will transmit torque when the speed difference is larger - ie when front wheels slip. Its a great system because its basically an automatic diff lock and you can change surfaces wihout having to stop or what ever - the transmission just automatically adjusts. With the Traction Control (that's fitted to most Freelanders) is gives them great 4WD abilities - limited by lack of low-range and ground clearance. However...

    This 4WD setup can cause catastrophic problems for the transmission. The VCUs can/do tighten with age/mileage. This results in wind up when cornering and will ultimately destroy the transmission. There are tests you can do - after driving the car - feel the VCU - it should be 'warm', if its 'hot' theres too much wind up and it should be replaced, if its 'cold' its slipping too much and you're basically running 2WD. You can also do, whats called, a '1 wheel up test' that gives and indication of how much resistance the VCU is giving - there's ids on YouTube and info on LZ. VCUs may last any length of time from 20K miles to 200K miles!

    So the VCU can destroy the transmission - but having mismatched tyres or tyres at different pressures will do the same thing VERY quickly. Tyres from different makes, although they may have the same spec (eg 195/80R15) will have different rolling diameters and similarly, if a tyre in underinflated, it will have a different rolling diameter. This results in a difference in spped between front & back axels that is greater than the VCU will allow to slip. This causes wind up even if you're driving in a straight line. My transmission blew after 400 miles on an under inflated tyre. So its vitally important (I know now!) to have matched tyres with equal pressures.

    When the transmssion 'blows', it is usually the pinion in the IRD (front diff) that goes. This means you can usually just remove the props and VCU. This leaves the car as a 2WD. Its perfectly fine running 2WD (lots of SUVs these days can be spec'ed as 2 or 4 wheel drive - but you obviously won't have 4WD. To get the car back to 4WD you'll probably need at recon VCU (from £200) and IRD (from £600). If you're looking at Freelanders and you see one that hasn't got props - do not believe the seller when they say it was removed to improve MPG - it doesn't, its because the transmissions blown.

    As I say though, if the tyres and VCU are looked after, the 4WD system is very good and capable.

    Apart from me allowing the Freelander to cook its transmission, our Freelander has been almost perfectly reliable in our 4 years of ownership. I think other than servicing, I've only had to replace the ABS modulator. It really has been boringly reliable and I wonder if it is a Landie at times :)

    There are various other bits and pieces to check when buying a Freelander, but I don't think there are any other 'biggies'. Most other things can be sorted with a bit of effort (eg rain getting in at the back) or are pretty low-cost (eg tie rods bushes etc). I think I've written enough!

    Good luck.
     
  6. teddywood1

    teddywood1 Well-Known Member

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    a good write up
    plus 1
     
  7. Nodge68

    Nodge68 Well-Known Member

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    Except for the inaccurate analysis of the V6! It's much less likely to pop a HG if the coolant level is checked weekly. Oh and you'll be lucky to see more than 20 MPG. Performance wise, the V6 is the one to have. ;)
     
  8. Sucram

    Sucram Active Member

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    GrumpyGel

    What an epic and very informative write up, brilliant read :)
     
  9. NeedleNose

    NeedleNose Active Member

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    Good write up.

    I'd add have a good look at the instruments, checking that all of the appropriate lights come on during the start up check. If the ABS, TC or HDC lights don't work chances are someone has ripped the leds from the dash to hide a fault.
     
  10. GrumpyGel

    GrumpyGel Well-Known Member

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    Chaps you're making me blush !

    Good point about the dials on the dash - has been reported quite a few times.

    Another thing that happens, but hasn't actually been reported much, is that when transmissions go people (like me!) can frig the IRD so that it does not drive the rear pinion. It means that the car looks 4WD (props are there) but it aint.

    The only way to check that a '4WD Freelander' is a '4WD Freelander' is to lift a back wheel and see if it turns. If it turns, then it aint 4WD - you'll see the props turning as well which should turn the engine & front wheels - but the IRD has been frigged.

    This is often done to fool buyers into thinking they have 4WD - but also, as in my case, to get a car with broken transmission through WOFs (MOTs) in areas that need 'original' design to suspension/transmission with less cost than a full 4WD rebuild.
     
  11. gareth123

    gareth123 Active Member

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    Grumpy Gel - Excellent write up - should be a sticky for new buyers. Thanks.
    Yes - best to check the dash lights as well. I dd when I bought mine and noticed an absence of ABS and associated lights on the bulb check before starting the engine. I bought it regardlesss because everything else was good but am still trying to resolve this one before my MOT in a month's time. Could be costly.
     
  12. GrumpyGel

    GrumpyGel Well-Known Member

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    Good point Gareth - even cars with trashed transmissions can be good buys. If the person selling has reduced the price because of it, but otherwise the car is in good order - if you're reasonably competent with a socket set, you know for roughly an extra £1K you'll have a good car with fresh rebuilt 4WD.

    This would have been the case with mine - car was perfect other than my ignorance/stupidity in not recognising the under inflated tyre or significance of it - even though I knew something didn't 'feel right'.

    Another case is currently running on that FB page - the #### bought a 2005 HSE for £2K - thinking he got a bargain - only to find out when he got it home that there's no prop shafts. He's crying like a baby, but in actual fact for £3K he would have a quality motor with fresh new 4WD system.

    When I say mine has been 'almost' perfectly reliable the only other thing to go was the ABS modulator, I got one from a breaker and they fitted it for (the equivalent of) £200. You'll need to plug into a code reader and find out if its the modulator or sensors/rings.
     
  13. gareth123

    gareth123 Active Member

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    Thanks Grumpy Gel - not wishing to hi jack this thread but I am challenged by the ABS problem. I am pretty competent mechancially - changed the VCU, UJ's general servicing etc but lack of a diagnostic tool has me scuppered. I thought of a Hawkeye but then wondered if it was worth it in case I can't repair the bit that is faulty in which case it is a garage job anyway .... I had a hopeless scenariao with a garage here in France where I booked it in for a diagnostic check but whatever they used couldn't find the ECU for the ABS. I have now found an independent specialist that I will go to (80miles away) if my probing over the weekend ends up with zero result. The dash lights thelselves have been messed with so I am starting with a change of those.
    Having said all this I really love my L series Freelander and think it is one of my best ever buys.
     
  14. musky81

    musky81 Active Member

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    I wish to embarass grumpygel further by congratulating him again on the write up, theres not many people take the time out to give such good advice without some kinda reward being offered. Agree totally, ive been running td4 for almost 5 years and its been fantastic. It wants attention from time to time but has never left me stranded. Pay attention to servive items and sort out any little niggles early and its a cracking car to run. Never driven an l-series but im very happy with td4.
     
  15. ZDomZ

    ZDomZ New Member

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    I still swear by the k series...........

    But you MUST I repeat MUST keep an eye on water levels. The k series was only ever designed to be a 1.4 at the most. Due to the design being stretched and too clever for the cost cutters at rover it will not tolerate being run with no or low water levels.

    As long as the engine is kept cool it will usually give excellent service for many thousand miles.
     
  16. GrumpyGel

    GrumpyGel Well-Known Member

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    The early Freelanders are a bit 'bespoke' when it comes to diagnostics - not all 'ODB2 Readers' will talk to them (primarily because they are not ODB2 compliant!). If you're considering a reader, the Hawkeye's are good but very expensive. This iCarsoft i930 is probably a better (much cheaper) option....

    http://www.landyzone.co.uk/lz/f9/icarsoft-i930-263491.html

    Before splashing the cash though - I'd have a look at the YouTube clip to make sure it covers what you want for your model of Freelander.

    Sort of hijacking the thread - but also very useful info for someone buying a Freelander.

    I know what you mean about the Freelander. I'd owned petrol and diesel Disco 1s for 10 years and came to replacing. I was all for a D2 TD5 but the Mrs wanted a Freelander. I spoke to my brother about it (at the time he had about 250 guys working for him building prototypes for Land Rover and more recently has been working on setting up their Chinese operation then D Sport pre-production QA) and he emphatically said D2 - but the Mrs won :) Anyway, I'm glad she did cos I think its a great package. I'm not sure why I love the L Series so much - but I do. At low speed it sounds and feels so 'agricultural' - but I think this just adds British/Landie character, and once on the open road its like a different car and performs great.
     
  17. Brack

    Brack Well-Known Member

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    I luv my 1.8 me :)

    The 1.8 demands extra attention and would help teach your daughter the tricks of looking after a car properly - keeping an eye on the water daily and oil weekly, mods to update the cooling system are available for early ones ...makes them interesting and you feel good about life when your little 1.8 chugs along problem free ....theres plenty of power up in the higher rev range where she flies like the rest of them..as has been said the Diesel and TD4 are there too but for me the 1.8 is just interesting to look after :)
     
  18. sas_pinkie

    sas_pinkie Member

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    I love my 2.0 L.

    wouldnt change it for the world. all advice has been said above, much mre eloquently then i could put it.
     
  19. bukko

    bukko Well-Known Member

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    You're on drugs dude. Have you owned one?

    You're right about the economy though (or lack of it).
     
  20. The Mad Hat Man

    The Mad Hat Man Well-Known Member LZIR Despatch Agent

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    I have... and he is absolutely correct. and when it goes its 2 hgf's :(.


    stick to a doozil.
     
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