Known Range Rover Problems
Range Rovers - the "Classic" version - has been around almost as long as many of us are alive. They were introduced at the Amsterdam Motor Show in 1970 and were a success ever since. For many years you had delivery delays of 24 months! But loyal customers accepted all this to own this very special car. If you want to know more klick here.
But now, if today some poor soul wishes to give a home to any of those luxury giants? Let's see its defaults and analyze them.
The body shell is fixed to the chassis with lots of rusty bolts. You can lift the shell of if you break/cut and occasionally unbolt those. Beware however if the shell is already weakened by rust- it's not strong enough to remain in shape by itself. First perform the body repairs, then remove the shell. Weak spots of the chassis are the rear and front crossmembers, outriggers and coil spring mounts.
They rot easily especially if the vehicle was used off road. Mud tends to accumulate here and traps moisture. Repair sections are available as well as complete new wings which are only bolted. With lots of rusty bolts.
A rustprone spot is in the front footwells near the A-posts. Lift the carpet and be prepared for a shock. If no holes are already here, try to make some by pushing hard with your thumb or a wooden stick. Wear gloves while doing this, bonehead! Now grab the A-post and try to move it at it's base. If it moves only a fraction of an inch it means the body structure is seriously weakened. Repairs can be made but aren't easy. Lastly completely lift the carpet in the load bay. Large holes may have developped without the previous owner being aware.
Check inner and outer sills thoroughly. They are crucial to the shell's strenght and rustprone. Push up right behind the plastic cover and press as hard as you can over the entire lenght. Wear your gloves again. Proper sill repairs are difficult and time-consuming. Check seat mountings too as rust from the sills can spread to the floor. On early Ranges seat belts were fixed at the same point as the seat so this place should be really sound.
All except the very first had steel bonnets which can rust. This usually occurs around the front edge where stone chipping damaged the paint and at the fixing holes of the badging letters. The bonnets made in the early years were thicker and seem less rustprone.
Front and rear outer wings are made of the famous Birmabright aluminium alloy. They are held in place by bolts and pop rivets, easy to change once you get determined to take them off. But you can't judge the supporting structure by looking at those sheets.
Bulkhead rot is quite common and the most expensive problem you can encounter. It can be felt from under the front wheelarch after digging your way through dirt and mud. Small holes aren't too much of a problem, you will just get wet carpets and rot in the footwell. Large sections however require a replacement bulkhead which means an almost complete restoration with all the costs and work involved. Count several 1000's Euro for this operation.
Oh those tailgates. They are sometimes so rusty they fall apart. Some did even seem to have come from the factory in pre-rusted condition. Upper and lower halves are equally rustprone. They are hard to find in good condition secondhand. You can either buy them new or as aftermarket item either in standard steel, fully galvanised or completely made of alloy or stainless. The glass can usually be reused but you probably need a neb rubber strip. Have it changed by professionals.
English electrics always were "special". Some affirm they were made by The Prince of Darkness. See on this the humor page and especially the guide on fuse replacement. Older models are plagued by electrics as are those who were used off road. This is mainly due to contacts corroding and to bad grounds. Check all the switches and gauges but don't trust their indications.
Take care to give the wiper arms from time to time a little squirt of oil. They may seize and on many models it's a pain in the a** to remove and clean them.
For engine problems refer to the chapter of "How to build an Rover engine". Generally look for signs of leaks, an pushed-up cover plate under the intake manifold, oil in the air filter, rattle or tapping noises or signs for irregular maintenance on the V8's, look for timing belt changes and leaks on the TDi's. If you have a VM engine under your bonnet I wish you luck- you will need it.
Driving an Range for the first time might be a scarring experience. Especially elder models without all those stabilizers have a strong tendence to body movement. This does not affect the road holding but can take some time to get acquainted to. So an sloppy handling is not uncommon, play and noises however indicate problems. They often can be traced to worn bushes, some of them are hard to change. Look for leaning to one side, usually the driver's side and for sagging tail. Those signs indicate worn coil springs, not hard to change if you have a spring compressor but be prepared to mount new shocks at the same time. The studs of the rear ones are normally so rusted the nut can't be loosened. And at the front you must take them off to replace the springs (Read the report on doing this on a Discovery which is virtually the same). All Ranges do benefit from a PU-bushing kit which improves handling a lot. Air suspension is expensive to repair and difficult to trace if a component fails. Also if you intend to do more than an occasional very gentle greenlaning or visit countries with bad roads stay off the air suspension models.
Axles and Brakes
Brakes should feel firm and have few free pedal travel. Hard brakes are unusual and point to problems. Rear pads wear quickly. Look at the diffs for impact damage. The axle housing is too thin for heavy off road use. Common leaks are also around the front chrome balls (picture below) and at the handbrake drum. ABS is generally not worth the effort to keep if the main regulator breaks.
Gearboxes seldom give trouble except the usual box/transfer box slope (look in the Defender problems section). In any case you should first check the oil levels in main and transfer box.
Four-speed boxes are strangely more expensive than 5-speeders. They also make whining noises that can be difficult to evaluate. Automatics are fine but before buying such a vehicle drive them for a good distance as automatics show problems when they are warm.