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.