Land Rover Freelanders are great vehicles. They make fantastic family cars; give superb vision of the road; are easy to get in and out of if bending is a problem, and perform very well off road.
If you are looking to buy any vehicle you should be aware of the problems that tend to be common to that type of vehicle, and Land Rover Freelanders are no different. So here are the top seven tips to watch out for when buying a Land Rover Freelander.
- The head gasket. If you are buying a 1.8 petrol Freelander be aware that the original head gaskets, at best, generally only last 70,000 miles, and often fail well before this. Check if the head gasket has been replaced. If it has, find out if it was replaced with a modified / up rated multi-layer steel (MLS) head gasket, and not another original single layer gasket – as this will fail again by 70,000 miles! The other thing to check is whether the cylinder head was skimmed, and if the Freelander had overheated, pressure tested when the head gasket was repaired. If the head gasket has not been changed then budget into the cost of your purchase the fact that you will need to have this done.
- The viscous coupling unit (VCU). The viscous coupling unit on a Freelander is in the centre of the prop shaft and makes up part of the drive train delivering power to the rear wheels. This is a sealed unit containing a viscous fluid which has a life span of about 70,000 miles. If the viscous coupling unit (VCU) is not replaced regularly every 70,000 miles then you risk damage to the rest of the drive train, the IRD (transfer box), rear differential and possibly even the gearbox. If the Freelander you are purchasing has done over 70,000 miles check if the viscous coupling unit (VCU) has been replaced. If it has not then you will need to budget for a new or reconditioned viscous coupling unit (VCU) – don’t be tempted to think it will be OK, the possible damage that can be caused by not replacing this unit can be very costly.
- The service history. As with all vehicles one with a full service history is more attractive than one which you know nothing about. This does not mean the Freelander will be free from problems, but if it has been serviced regularly then at least you know it has been looked after. It is particularly important with the TD4 models when it is serviced all the filters are replaced at the appropriate times (there are a number of additional filters on the TD4 that can cause massive engine damage if not replaced in a timely manner).
- The cam / timing belt. The cam / timing belt on a Freelander (not the TD4 as this has a timing chain) should be replaced every 72,000 miles. If the Freelander you are purchasing is over this mileage then check if the cam / timing belt has been replaced. This is not a cheap job on the 2.5 litre petrol V6 models so make sure you budget for it if it has not been done.Once again don’t risk leaving this as a snapped cam / timing belt can completely destroy your engine.
- The drive train. A Freelander operates in permanent four wheel drive. At the front, connected to the gearbox is the IRD unit (transfer box), which connects to the prop shaft containing the viscous coupling unit (VCU) into the rear differential at the back. Check underneath the Freelander to see if there are any leaks coming from the IRD unit (transfer box) or the rear differential. When you test drive the Freelander listen for any clonking, whining or vibrations – these could indicate problems along the drive train. In particular test the Freelander turning corners on full lock, both in forward drive and reverse – this is when any clonking or holding back will become most apparent. If the Freelander feels as though it is holding back this is generally an indication of the viscous coupling unit (VCU) being past its useable life. If there is clonking from the front of the Freelander this could indicate a problem with the IRD unit (transfer box). If there is a clonking or whining from the rear of the Freelander this could be a sign of problems with the rear differential or the rear differential bushes (particularly the front bush).
- Warning Lights. There are three main warning lights on a Freelander that are often illuminated – much of the time all three of them are on together (affectionately – or is it frustratingly! – referred to as the three amigos). These are the hill descent control light, the traction control light and the ABS light. Very often these illuminate because of issues with sensors – but be aware that it can be very difficult, and hence costly, to determine the source of the problem.
- Electrics. When you purchase a Freelander it is always worth checking if the electrics operate correctly. If your Freelander has a sunroof, don’t be surprised if it doesn’t work – these often go wrong! If it does work then think yourself lucky and make sure you open and close it regularly so it does not seize up. If it doesn’t work the best thing is to make sure it is properly sealed, take the fuse out so you don’t accidentally try to open it and end up with a half open sunroof that you can’t get closed again, then forget you ever had one! Check if all the electric windows and central locking works, remembering that the rear tailgate window is also electric.
All vehicles have issues inherent to their model, the key is to be aware of them and make sure when you are buying your Freelander you know what repair or servicing work may need doing to it soon after purchase, so you can factor it in when deciding if the price is right. We hope these 7 tips help you.