Our new used Discovery 2

What we got and what needs to be done

As mentioned earlier we have got ourselves another Discovery 2. This one is a 2002 model, it’s an automatic with a lot of “stuff” that we didn’t have in the old one. It has leather heated sets, a six stacker CD player/radio, two extra fold up seats in the rear luggage area and it’s an auto. The previous owner has installed a second battery with a Voltage Sensitive Relay as well as the wiring for an Anderson plug at the tow bar. He’s also got rid of the Self Levelling Suspension (air bag springs) and installed coil springs. As soon as I am able the springs go and SLS will be reinstated as currently it has King Springs coils and rides like an unladen truck. He’s also put air helper springs in the rear suspension, probably in an effort to overcome the shortcomings of the coils.

At freeway speeds this car is a lot quieter and is a lot less tiring to drive, probably because of the noise reduction. The previous owner has put a “bull bar” on it as well as an LED light bar which improves the below par performance of the normal hight beam headlights a lot.

For those in the know it has a EU3 16P engine which is an improvement over the 10P engine in the old car. It seems a lot more refined and less clattery although being a Td5 it’s still quite loud.

Cosmetically it is in brilliant condition and all in all I think we have got a good car at a very keen price which makes up for the couple of issues that it has.

Poppy’s Big Car Mk II

It does have a few issues though

The biggest issue is with the gearbox. When we test drove it it worked perfectly. As with any second hand car it has had all of its oils and fluids changed. The engine oil was a bit old and thin but tested OK for no fuel in the oil. Diff and transfer case oils were in good condition as were power steering, ACE (automatic cornering enhancement), and brake fluids. The gearbox was serviced and the auto specialist stated that it was all working properly. Changes nice and smooth and torque converter lockup worked perfectly.

Lockup has now started to misbehave with it only working intermittantly so I took it back to the auto specialist for diagnostics and he said that it was either the torque converter or the valve block. After further diagnostics and a test drive he is of the opinion that it’s the valve block that’s at the heart of the issue. When lockup occurs it happens nice and smoothly with no juddering and not a hint of slip. It’s now booked in for him to have a look at the valve block.

The fuel pump also seems to have issues. When fuel is low it screams a bit which is always a bad sign with a D2 Td5 pump. The fuel gauge, which is integral with the pump,  is also very inaccurate. I had rescued the pump from the old car which was less that 20k km’s old so it’s nearly new. That will replace the one that’s in the new car.

The throttle pedal potentiometer is also faulty and gives “driver demand” faults. I have a spare, known good, one here so I’ll replace that too.

Car is dead

Well that’s it for the engine

After so much crowing about the longevity and reliability of the car it died.

On our way home from a great long weekend  on the Heyfield Tinamba Rd. the timing chain tensioner let go which resulted in this.

Engine kaput

You can see that the timing chain has made an escape bid through the rocker cover and is now quite loose. I should think that the engine would have suffered considerable internal damage. Head, valves, pistons, possibly bent con rods, lots of damage. Pricing a full rebuild caused us to reel in horror. Options of a second hand engine with some sort of recent history and reasonable mileage and with some sort of warranty were both very rare and very expensive. Another car was in order.

After much googling and looking for cars for sale we found two Land Rover Discovery 2’s for sale. Both autos whereas ours is (was) a manual. Lots of reading was done on the pro’s and con’s of an auto and we decided to drive Jenny’s Subaru up to Mansfield to have a look and test drive of one of them. It seemed to be the goods. Reasonable mileage, service record and in great condition. It test drove very, very well too. My biggest concern was the auto but it’s a smooth as silk and does what it’s supposed to.

We got it home and took it to get the roadworthy certificate and all it needed was a new wiper blades and a new windscreen as there were too many chips to make repair viable – far too expensive. After we got the RWC we shot over to VicRoads to get the registration changed into my name. Then came the wrangling with insurance companies, etc., etc. Finally got it all done and behold. Poppy’s Big Car Mk II.

Poppy’s Big Car Mk II


Issues with the car

Water pump, steering pump and radiator.

When we got the car it was known that it had a few issues. Water pump leaking from the bleed hole, steering pump leaking and a pinhole in the radiator. The pumps and the radiator were sourced and fitted by a local mechanic.

The gearbox

One of the issues that the car had was that the gearbox was pretty noisy in fifth gear. It came to us after a hard life towing horse floats so it was bound to have a dodgy gearbox. The R380 manual is known to not tolerate fifth gear under heavy load all that well. When the noise from ours started to sound terminal I took it off to get it rebuilt. Apparently the insides looked a bit like this.

Collapsed rear bearing
Fifth gear looking a bit sorry

These aren’t pics of our gearbox but were offered by the rebuilder as evidence of what it looked like.

Since the gearbox rebuild it’s been going like a trojan but it is driven with a fair bit of mechanical sympathy and fifth gear is never used under full throttle.

Wastegate modulator and hoses.

This little bugger and its hoses can cause a multitude of problems with turbo boost.

Wastegate solenoid

The problem is usually not the solenoid but the hoses cracking and splitting. There are three hoses.

Wastegate solenoid hose
Another wastegate solenoid hose
And the third wastegate solenoid hose

When the hoses crack or split they allow the high pressure feed to the wastegate actuator to leak. That means that the wastegate maintains full boost. The upshot is that an “overboost” fault is logged and the ECU goes into “limp mode” until the overboost goes away. Finding the offending hose and replacing it is only a five minute job and normal service is resumed. It’s a pity it happens so regularly though. The easy way to test the solenoid is to connect a hose between the wastegate actuator and the metal pipe between the turbo and the intercooler. You’ll lose some low end boost but over about 2,000rpm it’s fine.


The head and oil pump bolt.

Well, what can I say ? The engine is a 10p engine which is an early Td5. There were a couple of issues with this iteration of the Td5.

One of the issues was quite common and could easily result in the need for a new engine. In some cases the bolt for the oil pump drive was assembled without any thread locking compound and worked its way loose until it came out and drive to the oil pump was lost. I was lucky, my oil pump bolt, although it had no thread locking compound, was still tight. It was replaced with a new bolt with thread locking compound and was tightened to the revised torque.

Another issue was a propensity for the head to crack around the injector wells and allow fuel to spew into the oil. I would have thought that after about 390k kilometres mine would have been past this happening but no, it happened. I first noticed that the oil was over full on the dipstick when it should’ve been about 500ml down. I took it to my local dealer and they pressure tested the fuel system and found the the head was cracked. I was hoping it would just be an injector o-ring that had let go which is a cheap fix. But no, it was the expensive option which required a new head.


A crack in one of the injector wells

You can see the dyed crack in the pic above. There are places that say that they can repair these cracks but there are also a lot of reports that suggest the outcome wasn’t as good as hoped.

I booked the car in and ordered a new head from Turner Engineering I submitted the order on a Thursday and received the head on the following Monday. Much, much faster than I even dreamed of.

Now started a disaster. I took it all to the local Land Rover dealer and theysaid that the head replacement would take a couple of days. When I picked the car up after four days it had negligible power and coughed and splutterd like a dead one. To ad insult to injury the oil level was still rising. This time I suspected that one or more o-rings had been damaged during refitting the injectors.

This back and forth caper continued for THE NEXT TWO MONTHS. Eventually they got it running tolerably so I took it home. Stuff me but about a month later I received a bill for a considerable amount of labour and a new fuel pump. I wrote them a nasty e-mail telling them that the car had been back for five visits after the head replacement and that if the job had been done right in the first place it wouldn’t have needed to be reworked. Their reply was another invoice. This time I just ignored it an haven’t heard from them for more than a year.

Why didn’t I just do the head replacement myself you ask ? It’s a pretty simple job if long winded but I, at the time, had neither the time nor and undercover work space and the weather was typical Latrobe Valley autumn – cold rainy and windy.

Anyway it’s all done now and the car runs well. The valuable lesson here is that if you need to take the injectors out for any reason be sure to replace the copper flame washers and the o-rings with new, genuine Land Rover parts.

Modifications to the car

Anderson plug

The first thing to add was an Anderson plug. There has been much written about this in various forums.

I decided that the way to go was a single cable run via a 50A breaker and a Kickass voltage sensitive relay (VSR). The idea of a single run of cable was to use the body/chassis as the negative return path in order to reduce any losses in what is a quite long run. The front end of the cable will be connected to the fuse box on the cold side of one of the large fusible links.

The first thing to do was to get hold of a length of 6B&S cable, a 50A breaker and the VSR. Oh and an Anderson plug and mounting hardware.

The next thing to do was to run the cable and what a pain that was. I decided to start from the back of the car so I soldered an Anderson to the end of the wire sa well as a 6B&S wire to the nearest earth point. These went to another Anderson plug in the rear of the car and the +ve cable was run along the chassis, with much cursing, to where I was going to put the VSR. I found a place and mounted the VSR and connected it all up and ran the wire from it to the 50A breaker and then on to the fusible link. Time to check everything and it all worked perfectly. One last check that all of my crimps were good and that job was ticked off.

I’d allowed an hour for the job but it took nearly three. Although you’d reckon that there would be plenty of room under a Land Rover and along the chassis you’d be wrong. Same as doing anything to a Land Rover I ended up with skinned knuckles and a banged head.

Brake Controller

After lots of asking around and reading and researching I decided on a Tekonsha P3.

I worked out where I was going to put it and mounted it. Right next to the instrument binnacle and the “A” pillar.

Brake controller in place.

So far so good.

Next came the problem of getting the wires from on top of the dash to under it. The plastic trim comes off the “A” pillar easily enough but getting the wires down past the dash was a real pain. One small space and no room to move. I finally got it done. Phew.

There was a handy power connection under the dash so that was utilised and the wire from the brake light switct was easily tapped into. At least there was an easily reachable earth point under the dash so I used that.

Now came the fun part. Getting the wire from under the dash to under the bonnet and down to the trailer connector. I used a length of 8B&S wire that I had laying around and managed to get it through the main loom grommet and down to the chassis and along the rail to the rats next of wiring behind the RHS tail light.

Why of why did I not run the cable at the same time as I ran the Anderson plug cable.

It took a while and a lot of testing with the multimeter and constant reference to RAVE (Land Rover manual) to find the right cable. All I needed to do was to crimp the two together right. Wrong. About an hour later the job was done after taking out the tail light and the grommet for the wiring and pulling the loom up so I had enough room to wield the crimp tool.

Connected up the camper and took it for a test run and it all worked perfectly. It did expose an issue though. The camper brakes are as week as dishwater which is an issue that I’ll address in the future.

Air bag helpers for the rear springs.

Our camper has a fairly hefty ball weight which caused the rear of the car to sag somewhat so after a lot of research I came up with the idea of airbag helpers for the rear springs. It just so happens that Airbag Man has airbags specifically for a Disco 2 at a pretty good price. I went for the heavy duty ones.

Installing them was a simple operation which required a fair bit of patience and muscle. Running the air pipes was, as ever, a bit of a pain but not hard at all.


Air bag in place

The airbags make a huge difference and stop the sag with the weight of the camper on the tow hitch. The rear of the car is nowhere as “bouncy” as it was and it’s a lot more comfortable. With the camper on with over 100kg ball weight I keep the bags at around 30psi and without the camper on board I keep them at around 5psi.

Definately a worthwhile addition to the car and far less traumatic than the Anderson plug and the brake controller to fit.

Changing a Td5 D2 alternator with the fan in place

So my alternator died. It was the last thing I expected but it IS a Land Rover after all.

The first thing to do was to hit the phone and try and source the bits to repair it. They’re available from overseas, at a price of course. The delay in getting them was going to be weeks rather than days. Scratch that idea. Next step was to call around the auto electricians around the area to get it repaired. Oh, it’s a pretty old alternator and we don’t have the parts or yep, we have a replacement but it’ll cost nearly a thousand bucks. Neither of them were viable options either.

Ring the wreckers and I transpired that I could a second hand and tested alternator for about a hundred bucks. That was the solution I went with and duly got my hands on an alternator. All needed to do was change it over.

How had can it be ? It’s only an alternator and the last one I changed years and years ago, on a Land Rover SIII diesel took about half an hour.

It looked easy if the fan was first removed but I couldn’t because some nit-wit ad decided that Loctite was required to keep it from coming off. Bugger.

Anyway here’s how to change it without taking the fan off.

Mine’s a 10P without the EGR cooler but my EGR is in place.

  • Remove the ECU. Probably a good idea to unplug it and give the red plug a GOOD clean while it’s out.
  • Remove the battery tray.
  • Remove the intercooler to manifold hose. Give it a clean while it’s out if needed.
  • Put a bit of cardboard between the fan and intercooler to save it from any damage and to keep at least some knuckle skin.
  • Slacken the belt tensioner and get the belt off the alternator pulley.
  • Remove the belt tensioner. Check the pulley bearing and if it’s a bit sus just replace the whole tensioner.
  • Remove the oil feed fittings from the alternator and engine being VERY careful to not lose the copper washers at the alternator end and the o-ring at the engine end.
  • Remove the top bracket (both alternator and engine end).
  • Get under the car and just cut the oil return hose that runs from the bottom of the vacuum pump to the engine. It’s a LOT easier than trying to get the hose clamp undone with fan in situ.
  • You should now be able to rotate the alternator away from the inlet manifold which will give you enough room (just) to undo the alternator output terminal.
  • Disconnect the vacuum hose.
  • Undo the bottom mounting bolt which is a T50 Torx head. The nut rests in a recess and it’s good to just leave it there.
  • With a bit of wiigling and heaving and shoving you can move the alternator towards the drivers side guard and the a little bit forward.
  • At the back of the alternator there is a connector which needs to be disconnected. You should be able to just squeeze it and it’ll pull out. Of course you won’t be able to squeeze it because it’ll be full of red dirt and other grunge. Pick as much as you can out with a toothpick and eventually you’ll be able to release it.
  • Now comes the fun part. Looking from the front, rotate the alternator clockwise and at the same time tilt the front up and you’ll get to a point where you can lift it out. If it’s in the right position it’ll come out without forcing it past anything.

Fitting the alternator is a reversal of the above apart from the fiddling about getting the oil return hose in position. Don’t forget to put the hose clamps on the hose before you connect it all up. Lubricating the inside of the hose makes life a lot easier too. Put the hose on the engine end and tighten the hose clamp before you do anything else – it’s a lot easier to get to without the alternator there.
Do NOT forget to remove the cardboard behind the fan.

After it’s all done and tested roundly curse the bastard that loctited the fan nut and then have a couple of beers, wines, scotches, whatever.

Land Rover Discovery 2

This is our Land Rover Discovery II. It’s a 2000 manual Td5 with over 410,000 km’s on the clock.

The only modification is air helpers in the rear springs from Air Bag Man. Generally they’re run at about 8psi with the car lightly loaded but when we are towing the camper over rough roads they’re at about 35psi as the camper tow ball weight is around 130 kg which drags the back down a bit especially when the car is loaded with our stuff as well.

We’ve never had a show stopper but we’ve been close.  When we were between Marla SA and Coober Pedy SA fifth gear started to disintegrate. We made it home though and have since recovered from the anxiety.

The only other major failure was the head which suffered a cracked injector socket allowing fuel to leak into the oil which required a new head. This again, wasn’t a show stopper although it did provide a few “nervy” moments.

Apart from the gearbox and the head and sundry oil leaks (it is a Land Rover after all) the only other issue was the alternator which was a bear to replace with the fan in place (don’t ask). All in all pretty damn good for a 19 year old car with more than 400,000km’s on the clock.

One thing that I did get, on the advice of many on aulro.com, was a nanocom which is a diagnostic tool specifically for Land Rovers. Standard OBD II readers are of no use if you have a Td5. The nanocom has more than paid for itself.

Here’s a couple of photos of the D2 with, and without, camper in the outback where we love being.

In outback NSW between White Cliffs and Ivanhoe.

Towing the camper on the Oodnadatta Track.