Whilst being known as a manufacturer of exemplary 4×4 utility vehicles and SUVs, able to traverse terrain that most of its rivals couldn’t even consider, the Land Rover marque is not without its troubles. Some would argue that a less than stellar reliability record is the price you pay for such a capable vehicle but other owners refuse to don their rose-tinted spectacles, citing these issues as unacceptable for what can be an expensive range of cars.
We’re sure you already have an opinion so we’re not going to attempt to sway you either way. Instead, we’ll cover all of the common complaints from the owners of the more popular models so that you can make an informed choice.
A Brief History
Land Rover are best known for two of the models they have ever built.
- The Defender
The first is the Land Rover Defender, first available as a production vehicle in 1983. The Defender was actually inspired by the vintage Land Rover Series which was launched in 1948 and used throughout the world as a military vehicle.
The Defender quickly gained a reputation for offering a basic, no nonsense off-road vehicle that could take you anywhere and do anything. And basic they were, with even the later models built within the last decade offering very few creature comforts.
Unfortunately, as of 2016, the Land Rover Defender is no longer in production due to failing to meet crash safety standards for pedestrians due to its ageing design.
- The Range Rover
The second model and perhaps the most sought after is the Land Rover Range Rover. Released in 1970, the Range Rover was ground breaking in its own right as never before had such a capable 4×4 been produced that also provided the refinement of a large executive saloon.
The Range Rover was able to bridge the gap between utility and comfort so well that it quickly became a favourite with farmers to royalty. Over the years the Land Rover has become even more luxurious whilst still providing the second to none off-road capability it has always been known for. It could even be argued that Land Rover have taken it one step too far as the price of a base model Range Rover will buy you a comfortable terraced property in some parts of the UK.
As mentioned, there is no model currently available within their now quite extensive range that is entirely without fault. The following issues are ones that you should be mindful of if in the market for a Land Rover:
- Air Suspension Problems
Part of what makes Land Rovers so comfortable to drive is down to their suspension design. Rather than a simple strut comprising of a spring and a shock absorber, Land Rover instead opted for an airbag system on some of their models.
Whilst working, this system is great. It will automatically pressurise itself as required and you can also raise and lower the ride height at the flick of a switch. When broken, you’re left with a car that rides unevenly and is unable to absorb the bumps in the road as it should.
These failures are characterised by a continually running compressor that fails to fill each airbag due to a leak. The only option is a replacement airbag on the offending corner.
- Electrical Problems
Sadly, there isn’t just one electrical fault most Land Rovers suffer from. All of that technology comes at a cost and the trade-off seems to be an electronics system that is more than temperamental.
One day it may be the presence of a warning light and another might present you with an inoperable entertainment system. Either way you’ll need to become quickly accustomed to these issues if you’re considering buying one, especially the Range Rover.
- Oil Leaks
There is rarely any good reason for engine oil to be leaking from a car. In the case of the Land Rover, it’ll usually be from the engine’s intake manifold and rocker cover.
More than a great annoyance than a fault that will lead to catastrophic failure – make sure you keep an eye on the oil level.
- Coolant Leaks
On the subject of inappropriate fluid leakage, engine coolant is another offender. Here the probably is usually a failed water pump which is leaking from its impellor. If not the water pump, you’ll have a split hose or a faulty radiator.
Be very careful of coolant leaks as they can result in engine overheating. This is even more so with the larger V8 engine models.
- Gearbox Failure
Vehicles of this type will often only be available with an automatic gearbox as they should. Sadly, most automatic transmissions aren’t known for their reliability, especially in heavier vehicles with 5, 6 or 7 gear ratios.
Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure that the transmission fluid has been replaced at appropriate intervals. Land Rover will tell you that their gearboxes are sealed for life but that isn’t the case.
- Steering Rack & Column Faults
This issue can manifest itself in a variety of different ways. The most common is for the ratchet system to fail inside the cabin which prevents the steering wheel’s telescope function from working properly, failing to lock into place.
Other issues can include mechanical noises when the wheel is rotated from lock to lock, especially at low speeds. A new steering rack usually solves the issue.
- Turbo Failure
This issue is only applicable to the turbo diesel engine models. Due to poor design and the inadequate subscription to service intervals, turbo failure is a common fault.
It’s also a very expensive one as on some models, the entire body needs to be lifted off the chassis to facilitate replacement.
If you buy a good one you’ll likely be able to enjoy it with just routine maintenance for years to come. Buy a bad one and you’ll come to regret the day you ever walked into a Land Rover dealership. Luckily there are several specialists throughout the UAE who are well versed in Land Rover repair. Book your car in for a diagnostics session if you’re encountering problems.
They say that everyone should own a Land Rover product at some point in their life and we would agree. Just be mindful of the associated running costs.