Land Rover Defender

Submitted: Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 12:09
ThreadID: 19361 Views:6665 Replies:11 FollowUps:4
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Lookong for some advice on Defenders. I know most will tell me to look at other options but I want to look at everything before coming to a decision.

My main question is about the engines. The newer TD5 vs the older TDi.
Which is more reliable?
When did they change from the TDi to the TD5?
What other problems do they have that I should look out for on 2nd hand models of 5-8 years old?
I'd be looking for a 110 wagon.
Most of my questions regarding patrols and cruisers are answered by reading the forum!

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Reply By: trolute - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 15:05

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 15:05

I have just sold my 1996 TDi (300 series motor), and have the following thoughts-

the motor is a bit low in power, compared to say the newer motor, but is very reliable, and has no electronics to go wrong. The TD5 is of course run by a computer, which way out west may be an issue.

The gearbox on pre-1998 models has a major fault in that the mainshaft output into the transfer box wear badly, but later models have this rectified.

I found that my landie was very reliable on the whole, but had lots of silly little faults. Things like the wipers not always working, headlights dying near water etc.

They definetely have some quirks, but also have tons of character.

I now have a new patrol 4.2 TD, and it has no character, and although it is great, I'd be lying to say that I have the same affection for it as i did of the landy.

Also landies have brilliant fuel economy, mine got 11 to 12 lt/100k, while the new patrol gets 15-16lt/100k.

The army are also starting to use the TD5, their old 110s have isuzu motors, so they can't be too bad. they don't use things that aren't reliable.

help this helps

AnswerID: 93059

Reply By: Disco200Tdi - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 15:43

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 15:43
A couple of other things to look out for:

Ensure the timing belt has recently been replaced (or have it done straight away) in a Tdi engine.

Rear axle drive flanges get splines wear due to the grease drying out.

Only buy later than 1998. Gearbox mainshaft wear is posibble before then.

The landrover drivetrain is not suitable for larger than 33" tyres as standard, you will break axles. But stronger aftermarket replacements are readily available.

The rear door can develop cracks if driven on corrugated roads a lot. Get a spare wheel carrier.

As far as engine reliabilty goes the last of the Tdi's are probably more reliable than the early TD5's. They changed in 1999.

I would say the best pick would be a well cared for defender extreme. This has the TD5 engine with traction control.


John D
AnswerID: 93068

Reply By: Member - Alan- Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 18:07

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 18:07
Rihearn. I sold a 300Tdi 96 Discovery and bought a new Td5 110 and the difference in power was really noticeable.
Had very few real probs. with the Tdi, did my own servicing and found it a comfortable good vehicle.
I had the timing belt changed when I first bought it as a precaution and the only other problems later was the tensioner on the serpentine belt and the heater core leaked. Now that is a big job as it's behind the dash and aircon pipes unlike the 110 where it can be got at under the bonnet!
The Td5 is proving reliable and I've become used to the driving position and seats. You soon bend to fit anyway.
It leaks water sometimes but I've managed to fill any obvious entry points and the cook indoors loves it, so it can't be too bad.
Definite more comfortable than the Disco over rough roads probably because it's longer.
The more kays I put on it the smoother it becomes and the gearbox is changing much better than when new.
If you're in the West don't buy from the main stealer cos that's exactly what he'll do!
AnswerID: 93099

Reply By: scottcamp - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 20:35

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 20:35
Hi All,

Having owned Defenders since I passed my test after all they are the dominant 4x4 over here in the UK. Although I drive a Nissan patrol I still own a 110 County (2.5TD engine pre Tdi, one to avoid thats the TD not the Tdi). The offroad club I belong to if full of Defenders and Discoverys. Here is my opinion on the two engines.

A 300 Tdi is basically a very sound engine and given the proper maintenance will be as reliable as most other engines. But the key point is you can do the maintenance yourself. It has plenty off low down torque and the lack of power is not really an issue unless you are in a major hurry. If it becomes a major problem there are tons of place in the UK who sell tuning parts, best to get a larger intercooler that seems to work a treat. But for offroad use it is great. But take care of the timing belt.

The TD5 a modern engine and to be 100% honest more suited to the discovery than the Defender. The lack of low down torque is a major problem in offroad conditions. You have to drive one to see what I mean, until you get used to the low down torque issue and the fly by wire throttle get used to stalling it. I also find when I drive one I tend to drive slightly faster offroad and use momentum to help with the low torque problem. But on saying that you can buy better ECU units which help the problem. The Timing chain is a welcome return. As far as reliability goes the engine seems bombproof (Unlike the TD4) but I would advise against getting ETC etc as the low box is fine and less to go wrong.

Afterall, do not know how much truth is in this story but supposedly 60% of the population of Africa the Defender was the first vehicle they ever seen back in the 50s. It was the defender that explored the world long before the Nissans and Toyotas, so it cannot be all that bad.

Yes it does have build quality issues and some of them shocking but the whole point about the Defender is its easy to fix. I can take a wing off in less than half an hour, everything is so easy to access. But put in a TD5 and you lose that fix me with a knife and fork ability so I feel the Tdi is the best engine suited to the Defender spirit. Ask yourself how many 40 year old Nissans and Toyotas do you see running about. Go to any Village in Africa and you will see 40 Year old Landrovers being used every day. Yes they have build problems buy they will last forever if you look after it. But there is no denying today Toyota has almost taken over as far as the chosen transport for Africa and Nissan is making good inroads as well. The defender has lost the plot recently especially since Ford took over. They have released ridiculous special editions aimed at the poser crowd and the japs have capitalised on the poor quality reputation.

The defender is great as a no nonsense working utility vehicle, probably the best in the world that’s why it's still used by almost every major aid organisation and almost every military. Every time you see a disaster on TV you are guaranteed you will see a Defender as the vehicle of choice.

So after all this praise why did I choose a Patrol over the Defender. It was a hard choice but it all came down to the use I needed it for. You should ask yourself the following.

Comfort: The Nissan won hands down here, the Defender is OK but the Patrol was fantastic.

Air con: We needed air con as we tour about Europe a lot and the Defenders air con is a joke. In most cars the only sign of air con is a button, not in the defender a great big lump sits in the passenger foot well, what that all about.

Long distance driving: Hand on heart if I was driving down to south of France I would jump in the Patrol first.

Trip to north Africa: I would use the Defender due to its rugged simplicity, but that’s the old Diesel not the TD5 if it was a TD5 defender I would take the patrol due to its comfort.

A day out with the family, again the patrol wins.

A car to last 20 years: Hands down to the Defender.

Offroad use: With some small mods again the Defender would win hands down.

The biggest deciding factor for me was Nissan offered great discounts and the Defender was way overpriced. I also would not take a brand new car into the off road courses we use. So I decided not to trade in my old 110 as it was worth nothing anyway but just keep it and get the best of both worlds.

I am sure you get what I mean the Defender is better at certain things but just make sure you really need to do them.

You dream of going to far distant lands, exploring deep into Africa the first thing that springs to mind is the silhouette of the Defender the car that explored the world. There is one thing the japs will never get as is not done by clever advertising execs its done by 50 years of exploration and thats develop a car with character. The Defender may have lost the plot but its shape is the definitive representation of a proper 4X4 world over.

Ford better tread carefully with the new Defender, due 2007.

AnswerID: 93127

Follow Up By: Alex H - Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 22:08

Friday, Jan 14, 2005 at 22:08
One for the rumour mill (or rather several) regarding the new Defender:
steel not alloy bodywork
all independent suspension
semi-monocoque construction (no separate chassis) a la Disco III

I guess it will sell more F-trucks.

personally I'll stick with the old Defender.
FollowupID: 352127

Reply By: ianmc - Saturday, Jan 15, 2005 at 15:51

Saturday, Jan 15, 2005 at 15:51
Where were all the Defenders and Toyotas in the Dakar Rally.
Mostly Mitsubishi & Nissan & now Volkswagen as in previous years.
Must mean something eh!
AnswerID: 93249

Reply By: rihearn - Sunday, Jan 16, 2005 at 08:56

Sunday, Jan 16, 2005 at 08:56
Thanks for all the great advice (except lucky vic of course!!)

I'll have a look for a late tdi, 97 or 98 to get the good gearbox and easy to maintain engine. I have a distrust of electronics and they don't seem to mix with water too well.
Might just invest in some earplugs for the noise.
AnswerID: 93348

Reply By: Siegucci - Sunday, Jan 16, 2005 at 13:34

Sunday, Jan 16, 2005 at 13:34
Hi rihearn

Todays emission and noise regulations (especially overseas) need the help of electronics to maintain these high standards. Even the japanese manufacturers have to go that way.
I found the electronics in the Td5 very reliable. I took my 110 Td5 trough most of OZ
and never had a problem. Keep in mind most of the sensors and electronic gizmo's that run the Td5 have a back up strategy. That means if you do have a problem, there is a big change that you will make it to the next workshop.
As a Land Rover technician I see a lot of things go wrong, but having worked on
japanese 4WD's as well, my 110 is defenitely first choice to go bush.
Maintenance should not be an issue, I actually think the Td5 is easier to service,
there is no timing belt to replace, no valves to adjust and the intervalls for fuel filter and coolant are much longer. Once you figured how to replace the main oilfilter underneath the turbo (go the pommie engineers), the rest really is straight forward.
Depending on your budget, it might be worth considering a post 02 model because the interior is much nicer and you get central door locking and el. windows as well.
(They actually work even after 100'000km).
Hope this helps

AnswerID: 93396

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