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Beware of Buying a Used Freelander Viscous Coupling Unit (VCU)

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Some of the most expensive parts to replace on a Land Rover Freelander are in the drive train – the IRD unit (transfer box), rear differential and gearbox. So why would you risk damaging any, or all of these parts? If your viscous coupling unit (VCU) has past its useable life then instead of paying out for a replacement viscous coupling unit (VCU) you could be spending thousands on ALSO replacing the IRD unit (transfer box), the rear differential and possibly even the gearbox.

The viscous coupling unit of a Land Rover Freelander is a sealed unit positioned in the centre of the prop shaft. Inside the unit is a viscous fluid. Over time this fluid gets thick – much as your engine oil would – and eventually causes the prop shaft to rotate at a slower speed than is required. You can tell when you have reached this point as your Freelander will feel as though it is holding back on you, especially when turning on full lock – but don’t wait this long, by then you may have already done expensive damage!

The problem with the viscous coupling unit (VCU) is that it is a sealed unit, so you cannot check the condition of the viscous fluid inside it. There are a number of tests that people say will test if your fluid has had it, but none of these are really reliable.

The viscous coupling unit (VCU) has a life span of about 70,000 miles – after this time you are dicing with, not death, but very large bills!

So why should you not buy a used viscous coupling unit (VCU)? Well, simply because you have no idea as to the condition of the viscous fluid inside it, because generally you have no idea of the mileage it has done. So how will you know when to change it? How will you protect yourself from those big bills? You can’t!

If you have been unfortunate enough to suffer from a damaged IRD unit (transfer box) or rear differential was your mileage over 70,000 miles? Had your viscous coupling unit (VCU) been replaced previously? If your mileage was over 70,000 miles and you never replaced your viscous coupling unit (VCU) then this will generally have been the cause of your empty wallet! And if you still don’t replace your viscous coupling unit (VCU) and fit a new IRD unit (transfer box) or rear differential, then it is almost certain the same thing will soon happen again!

The key is to always buy a new or reconditioned viscous coupling unit (VCU) which has had the viscous fluid replaced. This way you know you have another 70,000 miles of carefree motoring without having to worry about damaging your expensive drive train.

So, whatever you do, DO NOT buy a used viscous coupling unit (VCU) for your Land Rover Freelander just to save a few pounds – it may turn out to be the most expensive saving you’ve ever made!

If you are looking to replace your viscous coupling unit (VCU), give us a call on

0780 9575 421

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7 comments on “Beware of Buying a Used Freelander Viscous Coupling Unit (VCU)
  1. Ricardo monteiro says:

    o meu viscoso ja tem 14 anos, mas nunca foi usado, foi retirado na compra do freelander.
    Será que ainda esta em condiçoes de ser usado??

    • Sue says:

      Hello Ricardo,

      In our experience the life of the viscous coupling unit (VCU) is determined more by the mileage and type of driving it has been subjected to than the age of the unit. If you do put it back on your Freelander try turning on full lock, particularly in reverse, and see if the Freelander is holding back on you, a little like the brakes are on. If you cannot feel it holding back on you the VCU should be fine.

      It is also worth checking the tyres are not winding the VCU up. You can do this by driving for a few miles then putting your hand on the VCU (be careful it could be hot!) If it is too hot to hold your hand on then you have an issue with mismatched tyres.

      All the best,

      Olá Ricardo,

      Na nossa experiência, a vida útil da unidade de acoplamento viscoso (VCU) é determinado pela mais quilometragem e do tipo de condução que tenha sido submetido a que a duração da unidade. Se você colocá-lo de volta em seu Freelander tente ligar bloqueio completo, especialmente no sentido inverso, e ver se o Freelander está a atrasar em você, um pouco como os freios estão. Se você não pode senti-lo segurando em você o VCU deve ser fino.

      Também vale a pena verificar os pneus não estão enrolando o VCU-se. Você pode fazer isso por dirigir por alguns quilômetros em seguida, colocar a mão na VCU (cuidado pode ser quente!) Se estiver muito quente para segurar sua mão em seguida, você tem um problema com os pneus incompatíveis.

      Tudo de bom,

  2. paskalone says:

    ciao, il mio freelander diesel ano 1999, rompe i supporti del vcu ogni 3000km, il gruppo vcu+damper e nuovo originale gkn. posso toglierr il damper per cercare di risolvere il prpblema , grazie

    • Sue says:


      Do not take the damper off, if your VCU support bearings are being damaged every 3,000 km this is a sign there is a problem, removing the damper will only mask the problem and not solve it.

      If you have changed the VCU for a new unit and are still getting the damage occuring check the CV and UJ’s on the prop shaft. Are all of your tyres the same make, type and tread? If you have a mismatch in tyres this will cause a problem.

      All the best,


      Non prendere la serranda off, se i cuscinetti di supporto VCU sono stati danneggiati ogni 3000 km questo è un segno che c’è un problema, rimuovendo la serranda solo mascherare il problema e non risolverlo.

      Se è stato modificato il VCU per una nuova unità e sta ancora ricevendo i danni si verificano controllare il curriculum e UJ del sull’albero dell’elica. Sono tutti dei vostri pneumatici della stessa marca, tipo e battistrada? Se si dispone di una mancata corrispondenza di pneumatici questo causerà un problema.

      Tutti i migliori,

  3. francisco says:

    Please let me know, about whats different in VC units td4 and V6. Is it possible to have a VC unit for only road use whit a less thick oil in my Freelander V6.
    Many thanks

    • admin says:

      Hi Francisco,

      The VCU on a V6 does not have a damper (coupler). The fluid inside is the same. If you have a less thick oil in the VCU you will be operating in two wheel drive only, it is not something we would recommend as it is unknown what issues this could cause.

      All the best,
      0780 9575 421

  4. Brilliant site very informative Thank you

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