Long Termer Land Rover Discovery 3

Land Rover Discovery 3 long termer

Our long termer Land Rover has been toying with my affections

Built: Dec 2005

Price New: c.$75,000 inc options

Price 2011: $27,000

Price Now: Who knows

Odometer: 333,000 kms

Of all the things I appreciate about Australia, the NRMA Roadside Assistance would most definitely make my top 5. The organisation must surely be the standard that all service related industries should aspire to. All those bus drivers who seem to have forgotten that their role is to deal with the public in a friendly, come again attitude. All those surly telco billing staff who have no idea what it means to leave their customer hanging on the line for 20 minutes without a by your leave. All those government types who think that our taxes are their personal pools of funding. They can all take a leaf out this business’s book. From their sympathetic and obliging drivers, to their diligent call centre staff, even it’s mobile app is fantastic in that ‘how good is this UBER thingy’ type way. If there were to be a popularity contest surely they’d win, or at least get a ribbon for effort. It is right up there with the SES, in my opinion, even its towing partners. Yet, you are never pleased to have to call them because it always spells trouble. This time, for me, it meant a second alternator in 4 years.

Long termer Land Rover
Not the alternator … again!

Well the old girl is getting on, she’ll be 12 come December, which is 107 in car years, and is about to surpass 333,000 kilometres. Though she had a hard life for her first 6 years, and 227,000 k’s, it’s been arguably tougher for the last 6, albeit on the face of it, it would seem easier. No outback corrugated dirt roads, no bull dust, no bouncing around on rocks. But city driving, with the odd foray into the bush for camping trips, is probably putting more pressure on the suspension arms, CV joints and tyre wear than anything before. Though the engine itself has been consistently strong, all the add-on components are feeling the strain.

That said, AH20EF, still rides and drives as smooth as ever. All six of us parade around in as much comfort as we did before and, apart from that one time when the first alternator gave up the ghost, it has not let us down whilst on the road.

It’s safe to say I love this car. But it ain’t cheap. On average it costs us $4000 per year plus rego to keep it on the road. And I know more expensive issues are around the corner. The pumps and hoses that haven’t been replaced will need doing. The aircon system is playing up, intermittently coming on and off, yet still blowing deliciously cool air when it does. So the relay may need a change, but that means the dash needs to come out and I’ve no idea how long that could take. The air suspension compressor has probably got another year, 18 months at most, before it needs changing. The universal joint in the braking system is leaking meaning a new part of $1200 is imminent in the next few months. And if the soot around the turbo suggests anything then a new turbo is likely to be similarly priced.

But even with all this, the average cost per year, is less than a lease payment on a new car. If I had a garage and the equipment and the know-how I could save on labour. But realistically that is not going to happen. The wife won’t trust me, or my workmanship, for one.

Yet our Disco is soldiering on. Doing the school runs, the daily shopping trips, swallowing a range of differing sized bikes and scooters at weekends, short trips here, long trips there, start, stop, start, stop. It’s a harsh life and probably a mechanics dream.

It may have the odd scratch on the bumpers, the rear light cluster is still cracked from that time she-who-must-be-obeyed reversed into something, the leather thigh bolster on the driver’s seat is torn and then there’s that paint rub from that cheap bike rack I bought on the rear door. These things add character I tell myself. It’s been used I say to others. Then I spy a brand spanking new Disco 5 and I feel slightly ashamed of myself. I’m tempted. The excitement of something new is appealing. If it weren’t for the paucity of riches I’d almost feel like cheating.

Land Rover Discovery 3 Long Termer: Update

IMG_4147

Kms when bought: 235,000

Current Kms: 286,000

Last service:  278,000

Costs

B Service: $630

Tyre: $250

Bearing: $500

I’ve been remiss since the last update, way back in September last year, but it seems that I have now caught up with the problems I bought 3 years ago. The only issue that has arisen since September was a bearing in the rear nearside wheel, replaced for a little over $500. It was the worst Graeme Cooper had seen apparently and the cause is still unknown. We agreed that it may have been from its earlier years pounding along rutted outback roads but who knows.

It went in for its B service in December, along with its pink slip, and sailed through both, other than the rear tyre that needed replacing most likely because of excessive wear due to the bearing failure. It has since sped up to the Tweed Coast and back, taken a full load camping twice and not a beat has been missed. Fuel economy dropped drastically on that long drive north, recording an impressive 8.8 litres per 100kms. Around town it is edging up towards 12 again, but it’s a heavy car and one that has driven a lot of k’s now, so it is fairly reasonable. Plans are being laid for a Fraser Island jaunt in the near future and a bit of sand bashing, so that should bring a few stories.

Once cleaned up, the Discovery 3 still looks as good as it did when new, give or take a few scratches from the odd bush that I may have rubbed up against. I wouldn’t mind sourcing a new drivers seat, as 8.5 years and almost 300,000 k’s of arses getting in and out are taking their toll on the side bolster. Someone made the mistake of buying a cheap bike carrier and its pads that should protect the tailgate somehow moved to the wrong position. This means the rear is sporting an unfortunate black metal smear across it. Now I wonder who would have done that … ahem.

I am pleased that I have stuck with Graeme Cooper Auto too whose work and advice has been unrivalled. They tell me I have a small service mid year, but a big A service after then. I’ll try to stretch that to a 2015 job. Nonetheless, it has strengthened my confidence that the Disco will remain in fine fettle for a long time to come.

Who said you can’t buy a high mileage car and not enjoy the experience? Now where did I put that piece of wood …

Long Termer: Land Rover Discover 3 TDV6

land rover discovery 3
By: The Car Spy

It’s been service time for the Disco. Basic oil change and new air filters. Ignoring the binging and warning light for the brake pads is not advised, certainly not for the few weeks I have done. It means that the pads have chewed up the disc rotors and they need replacing. The wife managed to puncture a tyre and so two new ones have been sourced from Tempe Tyres and a new screeching sound has been heard that points to a problem with the electric handbrake. This could mean a very expensive change if the whole system is up the spout. Hopefully, the handbrake just needs realigning and a quick service. Obviously I’d prefer the latter, for a replacement system costs something like $1600. Ouch.

Whilst removing the wheel Graham Cooper Automotive discovered one of the wheel nuts had been so badly damaged that, if it had been missed, the chances are it would have fused to the wheel completely. So a very difficult and stressful job avoided then, because I know that a puncture would have happened one wet and windy night on a busy road. The family would have been subjected to a tirade so incandescent I would have frightened them for months.

The time has come to replace the compressor for the air suspension. After 2 years of incessant binging I think it has finally given up the ghost. Fair enough really, it’s only a small thing intended to raise and lower a 2 tonne vehicle every time the ignition is turned. It has done so heroically for nigh on 8 years and 272,000 km now. The system works exceptionally well, but the amount of bad press Land Rover have had over its suspension system makes me wonder if a more conventional set up would have been more reliable. Then again, I would not be able to raise or lower my vehicle on a whim, and its off road abilities would be curtailed.

The decision was made because for only the second time in the last 2 years the suspension bottomed out leading the car to bunny hop over anything more substantial than a manhole cover. This in itself is not so much a problem at low speeds, bouncy but manageable. But at 30, 40, 50 km/h + it’s nigh on dangerous, certainly when my wife is driving and the kids are in the car.

IMG_0155As before however, you only need to switch off, let the car cool down for a few minutes and then start up again. The system seems to right itself and you can be on your way. However, just the very next day the same problem occurred, so perhaps it’s telling me something. It’s as if the car can sense that my bank balance is marginally more healthy this month and intends to raid it as soon as possible.

On top of all this the immobiliser key has started to play up and a new one has to be sourced from the UK, proof of ownership spied and a fee to calibrate the software to my car. All up it takes 10 business days to arrive. An 8 year battery life seemed reasonable, but at a cost of $500? There’s much to be said for the simple life and I don’t see my insurance premiums improving with all this electronic gadgetry either.

When you look at the outgoings this quarter, the Disco is proving to be a very expensive car to own. I had budgeted between $2-3,000 for maintenance a year, but costs are exceeding that now. However, let’s put it into perspective. The suspension compressor will last another 5-8 years, the key likewise. If I had not ignored the brake pad warning for so long I could have avoided paying for new discs, and tyres are tyres. If the wife is just a little more careful and stops thinking she’s driving at some monster truck rally, we won’t be having many more puncture incidents. Regular servicing at a specialist, like Graeme Cooper, who doesn’t rip the customer off will help too. So with any luck the next couple of years will be a little more reasonable.

The car feels more planted since the new compressor has been installed and it’s a joy to drive without the binging. The new tyres up front have helped too and now it’s a bit of trial not to play with the settings and raise and lower the car much like those low riders in the States. On a recent trip out with my son, one of his mates called out as we drove past, “cool car,” so I am happy with that, for now.

Stay tuned.

By: The Car Spy

 

Costs this Quarter

Servicing – $275

Front discs and pads, air filter and sensor – $613

Remote Key inc. programming – $480

Air Compressor for suspension – $1360

Labour – $262

Tyres x2 – $500

 

Faults to be diagnosed:

Electronic Handbrake (replacement – $1600) or service ($150)

 

Land Rover Discovery 3 TDV6

By: The Car Spy

Discovery 3’s are not a cheap vehicle, that has to be said. They require diagnostic tools for major services and therefore a dealer is often the first port of call. However, costs can be minimised by finding a specialist with the correct equipment. For minor services a local mechanic, such as Ultratune for instance are perfectly acceptable. But if parts are needed it is better to seek out a specialist.

There are a few things to look out for if you are looking to buy a Disco. Firstly a full service record. For the reasons stated above services can be expensive, ranging from $400 up to $1500, so it’s possible a few may have been skipped. The auto transmission needs an oil change every 75,000 kms and it has to be synthetic, which can be pricey. For diesels its timing belt has to be changed every 160,000 kms so for higher mileage examples, make sure that has been done. It’s an expensive job and would be part of the $1500 service. If, like our long termer, it’s eclipsed a quarter of a million kms, then the alternator may pack up, but you should be warned in advance by a poorly charging battery. The air suspension system can have a few problems and may need changing every 4 to 5 years.

Land Rover Addict in the UK suggest a few more areas to check (http://www.landroveraddict.com/features/2011/4/13/discovery-3-buying-guide/)

SUSPENSION

Listen for knocks from the suspension – they eat lower wishbones quickly, and at £300 ($500) per side plus a full alignment check, it can get pricey.

TERRAIN RESPONSE

Make a point of engaging and disengaging all functions when looking at a potential Discovery. If the warning lights and noises come on, you may be looking at a new compressor.

By: The Car Spy

ENGINE

BIG, ISN’T it? You can’t really see much of the TDV6 lump under all the plastic cowlings, but it sure fills the large engine bay well.The 2.7-litre engine is shared, in Land Rover form at least, with the Range Rover Sport and has proven to be generally very reliable. A common problem is the failure of the EGR (Exhaust Gas Recirculation) valve leading to a loss of power and lots of smoke. A blanking kit is avaliable, but only for Euro 3 engines – otherwise you will have to replace the valve. A criticism aimed at the 2.7 is that it can feel a tad sluggish, and many have been chipped to boost performance.

HANDBRAKE

A COMMON fail point is the electronic handbrake. On well off-roaded examples it can be prone to sticking on or failing completely due to mud and water ingress. You’ll often hear a horrible screeching and grinding as a D3 goes to pull away.

Typical Costs

Alternator  $850 (fitted)

Air Suspension Compressor  $1100 (1400 fitted)

Rear Sway Bars $90

Front Sway Bars $47

Front Wiper Blades $65

Recommended Service Centres

  • Ayers Automotive

15 Ada Avenue BROOKVALE 2100

Phone: (02) 9905 6048

http://www.aauto.com.au

Recommended Forums

  • Australian Land Rover Owners

www.aulro.com