A Letter to Land Rover South Africa

I am writing this mail to you out of sheer frustration with the Defender I bought in 1999. I bought a TD5 Pick up from Cussons Land Rover in Nelspruit and took delivery on 10 December 1999. The car was used on the Landrover Experience and had 7000 km on the clock.

When I collected the car I noticed a diesel smell but the dealer assured me that the car was filled to the brim and the smell is only from the overflow. The smell did however not disappear and I took the car to Waterford Land Rover, who became the sole service center, for inspection and they advised me that the diesel pump was faulty. The car was not far from the 10,000 km service and I requested the parts to be ordered.

10,000 Km service :
Km : 11,462
Cost : R1,133.48
Date : 04 Jan 2000
Service Impression :
The dealer did not have the required part (LWQB100420) - diesel pump, and I was advised to wait for the next service.

20,000 Km service :
Km : 20,405
Cost : R1,136.71
Date : 29 Feb 2000
I raised 2 issues : Hand brake light and the low fuel light not working
Car pulls badly to the left.
Service Impression :
The diesel pump was eventually replaced. Nothing was done about the lights not working and the tires were over inflated to 3.5 bar front and back to solve the pulling problem. The tires were correctly inflated to 1.9 b in front and 2.6 b at the back before the car went in for the service.

23,571 Km Service
Km : 23,571
Cost : R593.71
Date : 29 Mar 2000
I took the car back one month later due to an oil leak, gears grating, hand brake light and the low fuel light still not working and the car was still pulling left.
Service Impression :
The dashboard was removed to trace the fault with the lights and I was advised that the Module Warning Light (Part # LYAZ100000) had to be replaced I also noticed that 4 bolts were missing on the drivers side of the dashboard. Once again the part was not in stock and had to be ordered.

30,000 Km Service
Km : 31,265
Cost : R1,608.40
Date : 24 May 2000
I raised the following issues to be looked at : oil leak on the gearbox, the fan controls were difficult to operate, replace rusted door hinge bolt, hand brake light and the low fuel light still not working and I asked about the missing dashboard bolts.
Service Impression :
The heater unit was removed and the cables lubricated, but the fan controls were still not easy to operate. The Module Warning Light was fitted under warranty and the hand brake light and the low fuel light was now working. New rear brake pads were also fitted.

40,000 Km Service
Km : 37,709
Cost : R3,289.53
Date : 27 July 2000
The reason for the earlier 40,000 km service was due to the flywheel recall on all TD5 defenders. I read about the recall on a Land Rover forum and decided to check if my car fell in that particular range. I still cannot understand that Land Rover did not advise all the owners of the recall and that we had to find out about the recall via 3rd party - very disappointed. I first telephoned Southern Land Rover in JHB Town and spoke to the workshop manager. I quoted my VIN Number and he advised that the car does not fall in the recall range. I then decided to speak to Waterford and they advised me that the car does fall in the recall range - pretty unprofessional I thought. There was various faults that I raised : door window's were rattling, brake squeal, moisture from the exhaust on a cold start, fan controls still difficult to operate.
Service Impression :
I was very unhappy with the service. I was charged for a car wash and there was still oily fingers inside the cab. The fan was still difficult to operate and the bolts were still missing. The floorboards were creaking and the turbo had a hissing sound much like a vacuum cleaner. I took the car back the next morning for the turbo to be fixed, the fan controls to be fixed, the floorboards to be fixed and to clean the inside of the cab. I received the car the afternoon (Friday) and the fan was not working, the floorboards still creaked and the bonnet alarm sensor was not working. I phoned the dealer the Saturday morning advising him of the issues and was back the Monday morning to get the car fixed. A new fan was fitted and the alarm was fixed. I also received a phone call from Dave Leach regarding the service and he assured me that everything will this time be successfully fixed.

I was still not happy with the brake squeal and the pulling of the car, and the LR Technical advisors took a look at the brakes and advised that the pulling is due to a set of Pro-White mags I put on the car and that the 16 mm offset of the rims is the reason. I thought that this was not correct as the offset does not change the straight-line handling of the car. They recommended that I re-fit the original rims, which I did, but the squeal and the pulling was not solved.

40,281 Km Service
Km : 40,281
Cost : R638.76
Date : 31 Aug 2000
Reason for service : Excessive brake squeal and a oil leak on sump.
Service Impression : The brake squeal started 2 days after the service and oil leaked fixed. The car was sent away for the turbo to be overhauled

43,604 Km Service
Km : 43,604
Cost : R673.74
Date : 04 Oct 2000
I requested a service before our trip to Namibia and raised the following issues : Bad brake squeal, rear window leak and the rubber to short, gear change between 2500 and 3500 rpm not smooth, diff-lock light flashed from time to time when diff-lock not engaged and another oil leak.
Service Impression :
Oil seal replaced under warranty, and I was advised that the rear window will be replaced, but that they do not have it in stock, I'd have to bring the car back after our holiday. The brakes were cleaned and refitted but the squeal started one week later. Once again the oil leak on the sump developed. The dealer ordered the rear window.

50,000 Km Service
Km : 51,004
Cost : R826.09
Date : 04 Nov 2000
The car was due for the 50,000 km service and I also raised some more issues : Oil leak on sump, Excessive brake squeal, diesel sediment filter light kept coming on.
Service Impression :
The diesel sensor was cleaned and the oil seal replaced. I was advised that if the sensor light came on again I need to check the sediment filter and clean it if necessary. I was not too happy as I did not do any off-roading and no driving into mud or water. The light kept on coming on again and I requested a new sensor to be fitted, which would be done on the next service.
Once again the brake squeal returned and I took the car to Solihull 4WD in Randburg for some advice. He imported brake pads from UK - that are fitted on the UK Defenders as OE and fitted on my car. I advised Land Rover thereof but the brake squeal returned 1 week later. I was out of all options as the dealer did everything possible to take the squeal away. I phoned LRSA, spoke to one of the technical advisers who advised that they have a solution for brake squeal and he will arrange with the dealer to order the parts and get them fitted. They also fitted rear sliding window.

55,500 Km Service
Km : 55,500
Cost : R723.50
Date : 22 Dec 2000
Requested a service due to a bent steering rod and reset wheel alignment.
Service Impression :
The diesel sediment filter was now replaced as well as the steering rod. Since the replacement of the rod the car has been pulling left and I have checked the wheel alignment 3 times.

60,000 Km Service
Km : 61,242
Cost : R2,129.41
Date : 07 Mar 2001
The car was due for the 60,000 km service and I raised some points :
1 Check and clean diesel sediment filter (light comes on from time to time)
2 New Rear window difficult to open (from both sides)
3 Clean and Service handbrake (oil leaking from it)
4 Brake conversion as per LRSA
5 Car leans down to drivers side by 30 mm
6 Check and re-seal windscreen
7 Straighten and Re-fasten tie hook no 2 on the drivers side
8 Check bonnet hinges - loose
9 Check and tighten shims on front wheels (pre-load)
10 Check oil leak behind transfer case
11 Door Hinge Bolts rusting - again
Service Impression :
The dealer advised that they will replace the coils springs, first the rear and then the front ones to put the car straight again, the car is due to go in on 09 April 2001 but I have been advised that the springs are on back order. The driver door was refitted skew and was difficult to close. I went back to the dealer who re-adjusted the door which has now developed a leak in the front corner close to the windscreen. The transfer case seal was replaced but has "popped" again and there is oil dripping from the handbrake drum. The oil has also seaped into the cab, next to the driver safetybelt clip. The car still pulls to the left. I took it to Tiger wheel and Tire for adjustment and they advised that the car is 100% withing spec. The bonnet alarm sensor is not working and cracked at the back of the unit. The brake squeal has now been sorted out and it has been one month since the last squeal.

To date the following has been replace under warranty :
Turbo Overhauled,
Galvanized Door Bolts twice,
Numerous Oil Seals,
Rear Sliding Window,
Coil Springs,
Diesel Sediment Sensor,
Drain Plug,
Modular Warning Light Unit,
Gasket Sump,
Spring Road.

I do not believe that this car was built as the best 4x4xFAR by any standard. Too many major components have been replaced and I am tired of phoning the dealer every other week with more things that have gone wrong or started leaking or started rattling or an old problem recurring. I am not a proud Land Rover owner any longer. I do not undertake any long trips to remote areas for a fear of not returning.

The car has never been abused by me or my wife on road as well as off-road. The turbo is properly cared for by driving under boost for the first 5-7 km until the car has warmed up properly and a cooling-off period of 1 to 2 minutes is adhered to.

I do not want this car as I believe it is a safety risk to my family. The car has been at the dealer at least 11 times since December 1999 usually for 2 to 3 days at a time and only once have I been offered the use of the service advisor's car after lots of begging and pleading.
Unfortunately this is a very bad car and all the good service in the world cannot fix it's latent defects. If this is what owning a new Land Rover is all about I do not think I to want own a Land Rover.

I would appreciate your comments and any suggestions to a resolution to this matter.

Thank you,