The reason I'm writing this guide is because I want to share what I've learnt in my years owning my Land Rover. This way I can let you guys know what to look out for when buying a Land Rover Discovery II, now this isn't a definitive end all be all guide. I strongly suggest you do your own research and go in with your eyes wide open and have an idea on what to expect. I'm writing this from the point of an enthusiast of Land Rovers so things I find easy to look over other people may not.
*Disclaimer: I am by no means a professional, just your average Land Rover enthusiast who enjoys wrenching.
I'll start off with 3 jokes commonly told amongst the Land Rover community,
1.) If a Land Rover isn't leaking oil, it's out of oil.
2.) Land Rover: Making mechanics out of owners for 60 years
3.) Land Rover: The most reliable unreliable vehicle in existence.
The reason I'm sharing these with you is because there is a lot of truth to them, Land Rovers are not Toyotas that you can just ignore. You have to keep on top of your maintenance at least with the newer Land Rovers (Series trucks tend to just keep running), and a lot of times people buy a second hand Land Rover that has been neglected by the idiot soccer mom and they're stuck with huge repair bills. If you are seriously considering buying a Discovery II I'd say budget around $2000 for repairs (worst case scenario) and with any used car purchase insist that the seller let you have the vehicle inspected by a 3rd party mechanic to verify what is and isn't wrong with the vehicle.
Now lets get to the reason for this post.
Common issues on the DII's:
- Is it an 03? If it is check the VIN. Although now now days it's becoming less and less of a problem because the ones that were going to grenade, have.
- Check coolant for gasket sealer (should be a milky color)
- The V8 engines have a tendency to blow head gaskets due to the shitty coolant that never gets changed (becomes corrosive after a while and literally eats the head gaskets) or if somebody overheats the all aluminum engine and warps the cylinder heads.
- If the coolant is clear, check to see if the head gasket hasn't already been replaced and if it is you're good to go on that front.
- Check the front prop shaft for greaseable nipples on the U-Joints. Here is what they should look like
- If if the U-joints do not have nipples then that means that it needs to be rebuilt pronto ($120 roughly at your local shop that rebuilds prop shafts) as it is close to failing. The reason is that due to the proximity of the U-joints to the exhaust they dry out and fail after around 80/90k miles and sending the rest of the prop shaft into the transmission making a nice big hole.
- 3 Amigos (TC, hill decent and ABS lights come on as yellow) This is a fault in your abs unit or a bad wheel hub sensor and all it means is that you loose TC or ABS (The truck will still stop though). The ABS unit is a very easy fix that takes about half a day and $120 in parts
- Sagging air bags, check to make sure that the rear self leveling suspension air bags aren't cracked and leaking. It could also be possible that PO replaced the back with the coil sprung conversion (which makes life much easier).
- Leaking sun roofs, what happens is that the plastic drain pipes become hard and brittle over time which leads to them breaking. Fix requires removing the headliner and going buck wild with JB Weld (much cheaper than replacement drains).
- Speaking of head liners: Sagging head liner, it happens you have some choices on what to do. You can replace the head liner, reattach the fabric or just strip the fabric and foam off replacing it with bed liner spray (doesn't look to bad, it's what I did).
- Chassis Rust, if you're living in a very cold area of the country make sure that the chassis hasn't rotted out due to all the salt (not common but can happen).
- Various leaks, well it's a Land Rover and if it's not leaking then it's probably out of oil.
- Not a problem, but Land Rovers run premium and with the permanent 4x4 they can be thirsty.
Now the good things about the DII's
- Awesome off road, especially if you're lucky enough to get one with a center locking diff (On 04's they're standard so no jerry rigged setups)
- When the Traction control works it's amazing what you can do with it, it only needs a 1/4-1/2 turn to sense wheel slip to detect the need of traction control activation which then applies the brakes to the slipping wheel. Of all the Discoveries you see in the proceeding video's only around 3 or 4 have any sort of LSD/Locker setup.
- Easy to Mod. This truck lends itself very well to off road modification.
- Crap ton of available off road goodies (even in the US). Bumpers, lift kits, skid plates, lockers, LSD's ext…
- Parts are easy to come by and if you go to the right places (read NOT stealerships) parts won't require your first born.
- Of the Land Rovers sold in the US in the last 12 years, this is the closest thing to a Defender you'll get legally.
- Very active and helpful community
- There are tons of Land Rover clubs all around the country with plenty events scheduled every year to give you a chance to break your truck off road (if you're into that sort of thing, there are also bunny trails for the less experienced or sane people).
- Tons of online advice. If you head to sites like http://landroverforums.com/forum/ you can pretty much get an answer to any question you have regarding Land Rovers and there are plenty of guys willing to walk you through step by step in diagnosing an issue.
Here are some videos of Land Rover gatherings:
Also for the last video I heard there is a D2 with a recently cleaned interior that ran when parked…
So that's that. Again not a professional, just giving my humble opinion.