I too, have had lots of trouble with my Discovery Series II Diesel.
It was bought from a franchised Land Rover/Ford/BMW dealer in Addis Ababa in
November 2002 (Don't ask me how they got franchises for BMW and Ford!). It
was a demonstrator and had about 15000kms when I bought it. Since then the
dealer has lost his franchise for LR and the car is "cared for" (and I use
that term in its widest sense), by another LR dealer.
So far it has been in for regular repairs (on top of the regular services)
Initially, the car developed a problem with the rear electric window
mechanism - not a difficult repair but no spares available - for about a
year! The two "extra" seats in the rear steadfastly refuse to operate
without physical violence being applied. Then the rear passenger door
central locking fell to pieces meaning that the driver's side rear door was
locked in the door shut position - it took the garage 4 days to repair it
but the central locking will only lock the door now, not unlock it.
Together with a major service, the bill came to around US$1000! Whilst this
has been going on, the warning lights for Active Cornering Enhancement
(ACE), hill descent, ABS , airbag and others have been coming on
intermittently, together with the annoying sound effects, resulting in the
garage renewing in succession, brake pads, brake sensors, brake discs et al
in a failed attempt to solve the problem. (Strangely, although the lights
are lit, the ABS appears to work normally). Apparently, their little
computer gizmo that diagnoses faults says all is well!
Shortly after its last service, it overheated on a short journey of about 6kms.
Since then it
has needed about 6 litres of water every week although the garage can find
no reason for it. Ah, I was forgetting the rear air suspension! That failed
a few weeks ago and once again, the garage could not trace the fault -
although they tell me that it is a common failure and that the UK Embassy
here in Addis have told them to convert all the UK Embassy Disco's to coil
springs which pretty much screws up all this ACE and air suspension
technology which we have paid thousand of dollars for. In fact, I was told
that the Embassy staff have been told to take other types of vehicles out
of town in preference to the Discos so I can only speculate as to their
experiences with these cars.
The garage suspect it is related to the "on board computer" - this
will no doubt be the same one that tells them "all
is well - no faults detected" when they plug their gizmo into it. And
finally, today, on my way to drop my three year old son off at his
playgroup - NO STEERING. The ball joint on the driver's side has failed
rendering all movement of the steering wheel totally ineffective. Thank
goodness it happened when the car was coming to a stop in the city and not
when it was careering downa road out of town. This could have had fatal
consequences for our whole family. As per normal, no spares are available
at the local LR dealer meaning that the car is useless until a new one can
be ordered from overseas. Surely to God these things should be checked and
replaced if necessary during major services?
This really is a tale of problems on two fronts. One the Land Rover
Discovery itself. It may be OK for cruising down the Kings Road in Chelsea
or towing the horse box once a month to the local gymkana but in my
experience this is no real tough workhorse whatever LR publicity may have
you believe. It is far too fragile and technological for Africa for a
start. If you work in Africa, buy a Defender if you want a Land Rover and
sod the comfort. (Had a 110 County in Malawi for 4 years with no real
problems either with the vehicle or maintenance). Or better still, get
yourself a Toyota Land Cruiser. Reliability is what counts out here.
The second point is the quality (or rather the lack of it ) of the LR
dealers. We had two for a time, neither one any better than the other.
Surely Land Rover must apply a minimum standard of audit to their dealers
before they give them a franchise and let them sell their products?
Ethiopia is a poor country - although there are plenty of expensive cars
around - so I guess the expense of keeping spares is just too much for
your average franchised LR dealer to accomodate. Sell you a new one - oh
yes certainly. Fix it - oh no certainly not! You will see plenty of
aircooled VW Beetles out here in Addis - if you want to know why, try
getting a Discovery maintained to any sort of reasonable standard!