Lees Land Rover Discovery II being loaded up In the garage

Farewell Land Rover!

You may have seen a few of my previous blog posts about my Land Rover Discovery.

I originally bought this vehicle as my daily/tow vehicle. In order for a vehicle to be a good daily/towing vehicle in my eyes it needs to be reliable, and it turns out that this particular one wasn’t, with the transmission needing replacing after just a month of ownership, strangely the only trips the vehicle ever managed to make without issue was when it was towing my car to the track! Every other long journey bar a couple it has let me down in some way, leaving me, Lucy and our poor dog stranded at the side of the UK’s motorways.

Another quality I was looking for at least as far as being a tow car was it being strong, it certainly was that with a towing capacity of 3500kg it had no trouble at all towing a car and trailer.

One thing I didn’t want from a daily was something that was going to take my already limited time away from the drift car, and as mentioned this definitely demanded far more attention than it should have, resulting in me and in some cases my friends working into the night just to get this thing back on the road!

The final strike for the Discovery came recently while visiting family, we were 5 hours into a 6 hour drive to the south coast for the weekend when suddenly it started overheating and losing power. Thankfully I was coming up to a petrol station so I pulled in to investigate the problem. It didn’t take long before I realised that all of the coolant in the engine had decided it was going to exit, not out of a radiator hose or anything simple like that, but out of a hole where the head gasket should have been!

This was the last straw for me, if you have to call recovery for a vehicle four times in twelve months I do not class it as reliable. I had always liked them but after this I won’t be using one again or at least not an old one.

So as you can probably imagine at this point, it’s time to say goodbye to the Disco, and start the search for something to replace it.

In the garage

The Hauler gets hauled.

Just over a week ago Lucy and I went to visit family, and we decided to take the Discovery.

All was going well until we were driving home and I swore that I could hear a high pitched whining. I tried pointing it out to Lucy and initially she said she couldn’t hear it, but eventually she did hear it. Shortly after that the noise stopped, then a few minutes after that the battery light came on. I knew instantly what the problem was! The fan belt had snapped!

We pulled over into a lay-by and waited for a tow truck to pick us up. It was a long night and by the time we got home I was too knackered, and it was too dark to investigate what exactly had caused the belt to snap.

I ordered a new (second hand) pump… and set about fixing the issue.

Thankfully a Land Rover engine bay is pretty easy to work on all I had to do was remove the viscous fan, pull out the remaining bits of old belt, remove the air box and then unbolt and remove the ACE pump.

As I was removing the two lines from the pump I noticed that there was no fluid. I checked the feed line and everything looked fine. Then I remove both ends of the return line to find a AA battery wrapped in tape jammed into the reservoir inlet!

After speaking to some other Land Rover owners on the forums, it was agreed that this had probably been done as a quick fix to sell the vehicle. Apparently when the ACE pump dies it usually pumps foam into the reservoir, so rather than fix the issue they plugged it and left it for the next owner to fix…. me!

I removed the battery bung and continued putting the car back together with the new pump. Priming the system seemed to take forever but this was most likely because it had not had any fluid in there for some time. But once my friend Ste and I made a nice big ATF puddle on my driveway we knew the system had been fully primed. Now all that was left was to take it for a test drive.

Having obviously been driving it without the ACE assistance for some time it was surprising to see just how much of a difference it made! Going through corners where it previously felt like it was going to tip over, it now feels much flatter.

Lee's Land Rover Discovery In the garage

Getting the Hauler (Discovery) through its MOT

Firstly if you’re from outside the UK and don’t know what an MOT is, its a series of checks that any vehicle thats on the UK roads must undergo every 12 months in order to ensure that the vehicle is still roadworthy.

If your vehicle fails for what ever reason you must get the issues fixed before the vehicle can go back on the road.

To drive on the UK roads without an MOT will result in you receiving a £1000 fine and your vehicle taken off you until you’ve paid the impound charges.

Recently it was time to put my new daily/hauler through its first MOT while in my possession. If you’re not sure of when the MOT on your vehicle is due and you live in the UK you can find out by going to the Gov.UK (here) website and entering your registration number.

Pro tip: If you’re relying on the Gov.UK website to notify you when your MOT is due, don’t it turns out that it isn’t working and it was only by fluke that I realised in time! Put a notifcation in the calendar of your mobile phone or laptop instead, much safer!

I had booked the Disco in for its MOT and initially all was going well, he was looking over the car commenting on how solid it was, it flew through the emissions, and even the brakes passed (There was no reason why they shouldn’t I had checked them before taking it in!) However there was one thing that I’d failed to spot and as a result the truck failed its MOT. This was the front passenger side upper and lower ball joints.

“Okay” I thought, “time to get my hands dirty again” so far owning the Land Rover had been an education if nothing else, so I was eager to get started! I ordered the parts and they arrived the next day. so I set to work stripping down the passenger side front, first removing the wheel and then the brakes until the hub and carrier were exposed.

Next I unfastended the four bolts holding the hub to the carrier and pulled the hub and shaft free. Next I unfastened the track rod and moved it out of the way but when I came to unfasten the drag link I found that whoever had last worked on this part of the car had managed to round off the hex key hole thats used to hold everything still while you wind off the nut. After much swearing (sorry neighbours) I managed to unfasten it but the ends were wrecked.

I looked on Euro Car parts and found that they had a new drag link bar and ends in stock so we went to pick it up, I set it to match the existing one as closely as possible and then put it out of the way.

The only thing left to do was to get the carrier off of the ball joints, it was clear these had not been changed since the day it rolled off the production line! They fought and clung on to the carrier for dear life, but after a lot of brute force, and cutting down two ball joint separators (it had to be done, they were just too long!)

The hub carrier finally fell off with a clunk. Then I pressed out the old knackered ball joints and cleaned everything up ready to install the new ones.

Yes, part of the ball joint is still attached to the hub... this had to be hammered out!

Re-installation is the reverse of removal… unless you’re working on this Land Rover, it had been a struggle up to this and it wasn’t about to get any easier, thankfully at this point my good friend and long time Land Rover owner Ste saw my head torch flashing around on the driveway as he drove past and thought he’d come and see what was going on.

He was immediately roped in to helping me fit the new ball joints and with a bit of team work and some persuassion with a hammer they were installed! But wait.. whats this?

After fitting the hub carrier again, I noticed that things weren’t moving as free as they should be, and after a bit of investigation I found that the upper ball joint I’d purchased from Euro Car Parts was faulty… (Thanks ECP!) Lucky for me I had bought two (they had sent me two different brands for some reason) so we pressed out the faulty one which resulted in it exploding into a billion pieces, pressed in the second one and we were back on the right track again.

Got everything bolted back together, gave it a quick test on the drive way and she was ready to go once more!

The re-test was booked in for the next day and I’m happy to say that she flew through!

Two things I learned from this, which I kind of already knew but undergoing this task reinforced in my mind:

  1. No matter how quick you think a job will be always allow at least twice as much time in case things go wrong. If you’re wondering why the photos for this post are in various states of daylight its because in total it took roughly three nights to do. Mostly due to bad weather.
  2. If you have friends who can help, don’t sit and stress, throwing tools at your car. Just call them and ask for help, in the long run its better to owe them a pint or two than still be sitting there feeling defeated.


In the garage

Let there be light!

In my previous post you might remember I mentioned that Lucy and I went on a road trip up to Shildon to pick up a welded diff. What I didn’t mention was what happened when we set off to head home. As we hopped back in the Discovery to come home, I turned on the headlights, first click everything was working normally, the dash lit up and the sidelights came on but when I moved the switch to the second position the headlights came on but the dash lights went out so did the rear lights!

At this point you’re probably thinking “Big deal! just get it home and look at it in the daylight!” This was the plan however not only could I not see what speed I was travelling at, but anyone coming up behind me couldn’t see me until it was too late. Eventually I decided to drive anyway using the rear fog light to illuminate the rear and occasionally using the interior light to check my speed.

This was working fine until we got out into the back end of nowhere and I went to put on the full beams… Everything went black! I couldn’t even see 2 inches in front of my face, whats more I had cars behind me that probably couldn’t see me and were more than likely wondering what the hell I was playing at!

After a bit of fiddling and hoping I was still on the road and not in a field I managed to get the headlights back on long enough to find somewhere to pull over and start investigating. Low and behold after much swearing, checking fuses (none were blown!), and fiddling with the switch I finally managed to get all lights (including the dash) working and we finished our journey home. After a bit more investigating and thinking about the problem, I decided it must be the switch that was the issue, since I managed to get all lights working again eventually just by fiddling with it. So I found a new replacement online and the following weekend I set about fitting it.

The process was relatively straight forward:

First disconnect the battery and leave everything for about 5 minutes. This is to ensure theres no charge still going to the airbag, you don’t want that going off in your face!

Next Remove the trim around the steering column, this can be done by first turning the two plastic screws in the bottom dash panel 1/4 of a turn, folding it down and then unscrewing the three cross head screws in the bottom of the steering column cowling.

Next you will need to turn the steering wheel 90 degrees this is so that you can access the first of the two T30 Torx bolts holding the airbag in place by going in underneath the steering wheel, Once you have unfastened this bolt then rotate the wheel through 180 degrees and do the same for the second bolt. Now put the steering wheel straight again.

Carefully remove the airbag unit and set it down somewhere safe, you don’t want this going off!

Next unfasten the 19mm bolt holding the steering wheel on, trying to make sure your steering wheel stays straight. Then you can unfasten the plastic connector for the wiring in the steering wheel you will need to pop this from its holding bracket first.

Once you’ve done this wind the nut back on a couple of turns and start to pull on the steering wheel. Having the nut in place will stop you from smashing yourself in the face with the wheel (unless you like the broken nose look!) Now you can start to pull on the steering wheel until it comes free, once it gets up to the nut you can then unfasten it completely and move the steering wheel out of the way.

The Switch is held in with two screws and a plastic tang, Remove the screws first then pop the tang with a small, flat screw driver the switch will then pull free and you can unfasten the two electrical connectors on the back.

To fit the new switch simply follow these steps in reverse and you are done. Now you can test your lights.

(The rear wiper will be fixed soon!)

Lees Land Rover Discovery II being loaded up In the garage

My first time spannering on the Land Rover

In July I wrote about the reasons why I had bought a land Rover Discovery. All was going well for a few weeks, I was using it on a daily basis to get to and from work and even used it one weekend to visit family on the south coast of England… sadly this is where things took a bit of a downward turn.

While driving home, we got within a couple of miles of home when there was an almighty bang and suddenly there was little to no power. I pulled over and when I tried to set off again the truck wouldn’t move so I called a recovery truck and had it towed home. It was late so I decided I would deal with it the next day. the next morning I phoned a local Land Rover specialist who said they would get it towed to them to inspect it and diagnose the problem.

It took nearly a whole week for them to come back to me about it and when they did they said “something is wrong with the gearbox, it would need replacing and it would cost £1500 excluding VAT to do it.” Immediately alarm bells started ringing I didn’t want to pay for the gearbox changing when they couldn’t even tell me what the issue was, especially when they were asking for more than I’d paid for the actual vehicle!

So with the help of a friend I towed the lumbering beast home, and got to work diagnosing the issue with the help of more friends and several Land Rover owners forums. Eventually we diagnosed that transmission fluid pump inside the gearbox had died. This was indeed a case of replacing the entire gearbox, so I got to work stripping down the vehicle and removing the old box while I waited for a new one to arrive that I had bought from Ashcroft Transmissions.

Unlike my Skyline this is not a job you want to try doing without some form of transmission jack as the automatic gearbox in a Discovery probably weighs more than the entire engine AND gearbox from the 32! thankfully Lucy and I had just purchased one and with the help of our brand new jack (and after much swearing… I’m sure my neighbours now think I have Tourettes!) The old box was finally free from the vehicle.

About now you’re probably thinking “all you have to do now is fit the new one and hey presto job done!” And you’d be half right, getting the gearbox to line up and bolt back in IS indeed easy with the right tools, however unlike a manual box you need to measure the clearances between the torque convertor in the gearbox and the end of the bell housing, and between the flex plate bolted to the engine and the back of the engine. The first time I attempted the install I only measured the torque convertor to bell housing and as a result when I went to start it for the first time there was no drive to the wheels. What had happened was that the flex plate had been bent at some point causing the distances to be off by around 5mm. As a result when the torque convertor was bolted back up to the flex plate it pulled the torque convertor away from the gearbox disengaging the oil pump.

So now I had to take the whole thing apart again to fix it with the help of my friend Ste who now had a purple finger from the gearbox landing on it!! Thankfully I had already bought a spare flex plate that was in much better condition than the one in the vehicle (it was flat!) and I also had some spacers to put behind the flex plate to ensure the clearances were correct. Once back in one piece it was time to test again, and this time it worked!

With the help of my friends and the internet I had completed my first job on the Disco, and it was a massive job! From this article it probably looks like it took most of a weekend and it probably would have. But because I had no experience working on these vehicles and didn’t know all the little pitfalls and hidden bolt in the end it took me nearly 3 months of working on it in the evenings and weekends.

I’m really pleased I managed to do it and it just goes to show that with a little determination and persistence you can do almost anything you set your mind to.

Lees Land Rover Discovery II being loaded up In the garage

Why I bought a Discovery

In September 2017, I bought my first proper daily driver after several years of being part of the “daily driven drift car” crew. The daily in question was an E36 BMW 316i Compact, and for all intents and purposes was a great little car. I bought it cheap, and as a result it had a few issues. Overheating, being the main one, but I sorted it and carried on, then the day came for its first MOT while in my ownership. It failed on a couple of things but the main reason was the dreaded tin worm.

After investigating the rust I realised the car was too far gone to save, and so it was time to find myself a new daily, but the question was what should I get? I wanted something that was comfortable on long journeys, big enough to be able to get tools and spare wheels, and strong enough to be able to tow my car to and from the race track (once I had passed my towing license.)

I had set a realistic budget for myself, so now all I had to do was find the perfect daily…. Simple, right? At first I toyed with the idea of a transit van or some form of pickup, however after doing some research I had to rule both of these out, as most insurance companies class these as commercial vehicles and so would likely cost more to insure. Most large estate cars were out of the question as while they are comfortable and do have the large boot space, their towing capacity was barely enough to pull a large trailer, let alone a large trailer loaded with a drift car.

The variety was starting to narrow, I had considered something like a Japanese 4×4, however even these seemed to be fetching more than I could afford. Then, I had a thought, there was one vehicle I’d never event thought about but I’d always had a bit of a soft spot for, a Land Rover. I started to look and sure enough there were plenty out there that were well within my budget, however most of these had been heavily modified for off roading and after speaking to a friend of mine who had done a lot of off roading with his own Land Rover, he assured me that if its been modified for off roading, its going to be uncomfortable for long journeys, so I narrowed my search to ones that looked as close to stock as possible.

It didn’t take long before I found a relatively stock early 2000 Discovery 2 TD5 automatic in black for sale within a reasonable distance from where I live, and after viewing it, I decided it was the one for me!

Photo 28-07-2018, 11 02 37

I couldn’t be happier, it ticks every box of my wish list. It comfortably seats 5 people, it has a huge boot, and most of all it has a towing capacity of 3.5 tonnes, so when I finally get my trailer license I will be able to tow my car to and from the track with ease.