Blog : Why I hate the Land Rover Freelander

Mike Humble

Land Rover Freelander (1)

Part of me feels guilty for writing this article on the Freelander, Land Rover’s baby 4×4. This is, after all, a site in which we cherish our fading British car companies and celebrate some of the great names that once pounded the highways and by-ways of England.

But there again, we all differ in opinion and whereas some consider the Allegro to be a disgusting swine of a car that reflects everything that was wrong with BLMC during the 1970s others consider it to be a sweet little tool which today brings a smile to the face upon spotting such whining along the road.

Following the launch of the Range Rover in 1970, it seemed Land Rover could not put a foot (or rib and lug tyre) wrong after such models including the V8 powered station Wagon or Discovery came on line. I will confess to owning a 2001 TD5 Discovery 2 which looked stunning in Java Black, falling head over heels with the Disco – a model which perfectly complimented the range. A car that was able like a Defender (tyre equipment permitting) yet offering creature comforts of a luxury saloon at a fraction of the cost of a Range Rover – the Discovery, and rightly so, deserved its success and continues to do so.

After much fuss and hubbub, the Freelander was revealed to the public in a blaze of glory in 1998. It was a British-built and designed mini 4×4 aimed mainly at the leisure market with pretty styling. Permanent all-wheel drive and a model to suit all pockets and seemingly showcasing the abilities of the Rover Group – it was bound to be a hit and it was. Brand-conscious buyers almost fell over each other to get behind the wheel of this award-winning car and features such as the hill decent control (HDC) were revolutionary, as well as brilliant to use.

Powered by K-, KV6- and L-Series engines, it was a pure British design which looked cute, able and stylish. So where did it all go wrong? I shall explain: following the historic events of 2000 when BMW sold off Land Rover to Ford, in my opinion, quality took a dramatic nosedive. Tales of the 1.8 K-Series engine exploding like a firework had become legendary; and the punchy 2.5-litre KV6 drank fuel like it was going out of fashion. But none of these faults seemed to have any impact on sales. For me, it was the disgraceful drop in build standards that shocked me like no other car once Land Rover became part of Ford.

Not a bad view on the eye but quality is appalling for what is perceived as being a premium brand.
Not a bad view on the eye but quality is shocking for what is perceived as being a premium brand.

Our Disco TD5 was part exchanged for a 2005 Freelander HSE which looked stunning in it’s shade of Alveston Red, starfish alloys, smart black leather interior and Becker sat-nav with Harmon-Kardon audio gave it all the eye candy it needed for us to fall hook line and sinker. I never wanted to get rid of the Disco – it was manly, imposing and slightly intimidating in stance but, on the flip side, was a sod to park, took half a day to clean and was cumbersome to pilot in heavy congested traffic. We did the deal on the Freelander and a cracking deal we gained, but it marked a time where my patience (of which I am far from being blessed with) was tested to the limit.

Soon after taking delivery, the intercooler pipe split, covering everything in the engine bay in a fine oily mist, the indicator/side lamp lenses constantly filled with water, the handbrake was awful and stiff in action, requiring two hands to hold the damn car on a severe gradient. The gearchange was akin to an LDV van and staying on the subject of gears, the lovely stitched-leather knob was ruined with the nastiest vinyl gaiter I have ever seen this side of an FSO. The neat, dual-action tailgate window leaked water when washed, the centre console creaked like an old barn door if you glanced it with your knee and the plastics of the console and upper dash felt horrid to the touch and very sub-standard.

Around two months later, the intercooler pipe split once again and back to the dealer she went to be repaired. I spoke to the service dept and played merry hell to be told that a suitable modification would be applied. After picking the car up, they had simply stuck a foam pad where the intercooler pipe rubbed against the head of a locating screw on the inlet manifold.

After a few weeks, the aforementioned foam pad fell off and I applied my own mod by means of removing the screw and using a cable tie which gave the 10mm clearance needed for the pipe not to touch – job done. Other faults included a heater cable which came adrift once the warranty expired requiring a monumental number of screws, clips and fastenings to be undone along with a healthy appetite for sidelight bulbs.

The famous IRD unit - everything you see bar the casings is made of liquorice.
The famous IRD unit – everything you see bar the casings is made of liquorice.

Not entirely the car’s fault, but the dealer could have tried harder too. I remember `er indoors calling me at work on the morning of dropping off the Disco and collecting the Freelander almost in tears. It transpired something had gone wrong behind the scenes and the salesman we dealt with was not present to do the handover.

So my missus went through the handover process with the business manager in seemingly breakneck speed and was, literally, thrown the keys to the new car. No ‘ask me and I’ll explain’, no form of demonstration of features and barely a thank you for our repeat business. So overall, our Freelander was spoilt by either shabby build quality or shabby customer service – though the salesman did get in touch to apologise after I went wild.

On the plus side, the ride and handling was nothing short of superb, the BMW sourced M47-Series diesel effortlessly cruised at motorway speeds, fuel consumption seemed reasonable too, even if lacking in bottom end grunt. The car was practical, good looking and spacious.

What made me angry was the plethora of squeaks, rattles, the downright penny pinching feel to the otherwise good looking interior and that horrible loose feeling gearshift quality. The build quality of the post-2003, facelifted Freelander felt comparable to a Lada Niva, but when the Lada costs the equivalent of a packet of sweets, you can forgive the Niva for feeling a little bit gimcrack. With the Freelander, it’s a different matter – Land Rover’s meant to be a premium brand, something to aspire to if you like.

Tales of woe included dud viscous couplings in the propshaft and IRD (intermediate reduction drive) units attached to the gearbox that were as hard wearing as custard shoes. It’s such a problematic item that you can buy a kit to bypass and turn your car into front two-wheel drive!

Occasional minor worries such as rampant corrosion in the chassis members, faulty window regulator cables and snapping tailgate door handles and hill descent control devices that fail without warning all add to some of the misery that Landie owners have to endure. Add on crippling repair costs from some main dealers who seem unable to offer value for money or aftermarket care and the end experience is very sad. Quite why the original Freelander remained so popular and still does on the used circuits continues to baffle as well as amaze me.

Dealerships are true dream palaces yet ours was a nightmare at the service desk.
Dealerships are true dream palaces yet ours was a nightmare at the service desk.

It’s not all doom and gloom though, it’s a pretty looking thing, had bags of standard kit in the right spec including a basic, but not too bad, sat-nav and the seats are comfy. The ride comfort around town or at speed seems to be placid, the headlights are powerful and the heater (once the engine is warmed if diesel) keeps you toasty warm or ice cold thanks to an excellent air con unit.

There is plenty of oddment storage, the off road capability (tyre equipment permitting) makes for some good fun and its chassis and external structure feels strong and rugged – as you would expect of the Land Rover brand. It just seems like a raft of cost-cutting,  ripped out any real feeling of quality – and I find this both unacceptable and saddening for what is, in effect, the world’s most famous 4×4 brand.

So, would I entertain another Freelander? Well, I can admit by experience that the Freelander 2 and 3 are finely crafted cars that befit the marque’s prestige image, the current Discovery and Range Rover regardless of the fact they attract the rich and famous rather than the rural or farmer seldom see a 45-degree mud bank, are equally none the less untouched for ability and appeal.

But the original Freelander post-2003? No ta! That model is a prime example of how to ruin a good car by swapping the micrometers and set squares for an abacus. Crappy dealers also come in for some stick too, seemingly more interested in being a fashion statement rather that a far-reaching brand of vehicle for those unreachable parts of the world.

Land Rover Freelander (2)

All AROnline blogs are the personal opinions of their contributors and not necessarily the editorial viewpoint of the website.

Mike Humble


  1. At the risk of being given more abuse.

    Well written…and sadly true.

    My ex had one of these, in Auto with the beemer engine.

    Auto box died 4 years old…the thing shown in pieces went, and it creaked and rattled like my old mini.

    It put me right of owning a landie….and I earn my living from the Agri market, I hear lots of tales of woe, including the later freelander/disco/rangie.

    If the disco 4 was hasstle free I would buy one tommorrow….it is my fav car ever to drive.

    Sadly I fear not to own 🙁

    I think a certain M is going to give me some more abuse now!

  2. “Following the historic events of 2000 whereby BMW sold off Land Rover to Ford, the production was switched to Merseyside and it is here, in my opinion, quality took a dramatic nosedive.”

    The first generation Freelander continued to be built at Solihull right up until the final example, a 3-door Hardback finished in Rimini Red, left the assembly line in the late summer of 2006. The second generation Freelander, which went on sale in late 2006, was built at the Halewood site in Merseyside. None of the engines from the first generation model were carried over for use in the second generation model.

  3. I had for a brief while a Y plate 3 door freelander. I’m in the farming line of business. Oh dear. what a mistake it was to buy it. I bought it in 2005 and after 2 months of constant repairs and hassle and lack of help from the dealer I bought it from, I sold it onto another poor unsurspecting person, who equally had a lot of trouble with it. So what did it replace? a K plate maestro van, and what did I replace the freelander with, a K plate maestro van! I still have the maestro van and what a perfect farm van it is, can get almost everywhere on the farm with it, holds twice as much stuff in the back, runs on a sniff of diesal fumes and is cheap to run. Ok she is getting long in the tooth, but perfect for what I need it to do. Its becoming a well known famous vehicle in the local area!

  4. Just replaced bearings on a TD4 IRD at only 80k miles. The cause, a faulty viscous coupling – a very common problem! In fact just like the picture above!

  5. At the risk of more abuse, a former work colleague was considering buying a Freelander. He had a distant relative who ran a Land Rover dealership and his brother a Jaguar dealer.

    When he asked for advice he was told “It really is the best off roader you can buy, as it’ll spend more time off the road in the garage being fixed than you’ll ever spend driving it”. He then went on to explain the only Land Rover he still rated was the Defender for it’s mechanical simplicity and lack of electronic gismos that can and do go wrong. To add insult to injury he chose to drive a Honda CRV as his personal transport and his wife drove a Kia as they were more reliable.

    To top it all off his brother wouldn’t drive a Jaguar and he owned a Mercedes as his daily driver. You can’t get a much worse recommendation than that.

  6. If you go on quite a few Landy forums, these are known as ‘Gaylanders’, and basically any S1 is to be avoided like the plague, thanks to the drivetrain basically being pants, and the whole things built so badly. And Mike, if they had actually used liquorice in the running gear, it probably would have lasted. Signs of severe cost cutting at it’s upmost. I did sigh when a few years back a colleague bought a used one quite cheap. I warned him about the chocolate head gasket, and weak 4×4 system. Within a week of ownership the head gasket popped, and in true Landy style, it left a puddle of oil wherever he parked it.

    • I had a very late model (2006) Freelander TD4 Sport automatic. Very reliable. Only problem I had was failure of the alternator after a weekend of severe off-roading over Salisbury plain.

      High CO2 emissions from the BMW engine meant it cost a fortune to tax each year, as well as far from brilliant mpg.

      Build quality was fine too in my opinion.

      The practicality of it was superb – the side opening rear door and externally mounted spare I really liked.

      Changed it for a Freelander 2.

  7. A strange company indeed! Jaguar regularly come 1st in the JD Power customer satisfaction survey in the USA. Land Rover despite selling huge numbers are often near the bottom. Some people are put off by the quality issues but many are not. How successful would LR be if they had the reputation of Honda? Rover 75 was always more rleibale than a Land Rover but the sales did not support this. Most people buy the image not real quality. Durability is a different thing. LR is very durable and long lasting but faults are high. Must be to do with design, not assembly as Rover SD1 was even worse. P6 and P5 were fine though and built at Solihull.

  8. I was seduced by a brand new Freelander in 2001, (so under Ford ownership) and bought it new in for the March plate change. It was the K series model, which was to me always under-powered in the “little” Freelander. Roomy and versatile yes and being the Hardtop three model, we could take the roof off. we did once but never again, it was so heavy and cumbersome.

    The tailgate leaked and had to be repaired twice under warranty in Beadles and before 50K miles the engine head gasket blew, even though it was always serviced by main stealers (sorry dealers)….. and it was sold just before depreciation hit it big time. On the plus side it completed numerous trips to Wales, once to Germany, several to France & Germany and provided comfortable transport for four…. And I even used the Hill decent once, which was great fun. Would I have buy another Landie? Yes but it would have to be a Range Rover or not at all…

  9. @Grant P – That made me chuckle. My brother, who does a fair bit of consultancy work for JLR, has plenty of stories about various company bigwigs and others attached to the company who drive Jags or Discos/Rangies when ‘on company business a-la flying the flag’ but jump back into German metal as soon as they possibly can!!
    He did some work with one guy who swore by his series 1 XJ that he’d inherited from his father and simply laughed when asked why he didn’t have a new Jag.
    Shame isn’t it…

  10. @Jeremy – A rare breed, a straight talking dealer! To be fair he was advising a relative not a punter and this was nearly six years ago.

  11. I think this article sums up the FL pretty well. People often ask me if they are ok, I generally tell them to buy a disco and put up with the Extra fuel comsumption (or buy a RAV4). What surprises me is that they still make the free lander and the evoque. I think if any land rover needs to be buried in history it’s the freelander. nice car but what a pain (and only 5 seats). I think the Freelander if it continues needs to take on the AWD Honda Oddessy (Shuttle) 7 seater head on. alex

  12. The IRDs only explode if (when) the VCU seizes, these are the exact same parts built to the same standard throughout the original Freelander production – The units were underspecified in the first place (by Rover) and all eventually go. The Freelander 2 (Ford inspired) is a much better car. As for head-gaskets going, perhaps if BMW gave Rover some money to sort out the K-Series and didn’t pressurise them to stretch the engines way beyond their original applications – we wouldn’t be having this conversation. SAIC gave Ricardo engineering a pittance of a budget to sort out the K-Series issues – the result – a (finally) fixed K-Series. There have been no stories whatsoever of either of the Chinese K-Series derived engines giving trouble in service. It’s now the superbly reliable lightweight engine it always should have been.

  13. @6 between roughly 1995 and 2003 Mercedes cars (S class aside) were awful, nowhere near as reliable as X300-X308 Jags and they rusted like Alfasuds. In that era (After the Ford influence at Jaguar finally paid off) only the Lexus LS bettered the reliability of XJs. Okay the X-Type and S-Tyre weren’t as good – but rather them than a rusty 1995-2003 Merc.

  14. Maestro underpinnings, K Series Engine, a Rover not based on a Honda. What could possibly go wrong?

  15. The original Freelander was potentially a great car hampered by low investment in engineering and production, that resulted in the tails of woe above. This had been the problem with BMC > MG Rover. The Ford based current Freelander is a much better car, mainly because it benefitted from serious investment and platform sharing with the Ford Maverick. At last JLR are being properly financed by Tata and previously Ford. This is now bringing success in sales as detail engineering and quality has improved greatly.

  16. @Alex Scott:

    “I think if any land rover needs to be buried in history it’s the freelander. nice car but what a pain (and only 5 seats). I think the Freelander if it continues needs to take on the AWD Honda Oddessy (Shuttle) 7 seater head on. alex”

    Why bury the [current generation] Freelander when it isn’t related to its predecessor in terms of running gear or platform design? Why get rid of a vehicle that has been a consistent sales success for Land Rover, with the current generation model racking up nearly as many sales annually as its predecessor, despite being limited to just one bodystyle?

    Sorry, but when you consider the vast improvement that the current generation Freelander represents, its important contribution to Land Rover’s (and Jaguar Land Rover’s) commercial success and its consistently good sales from both new and repeat customers, the sentiments that it “needs to be buried in history” don’t make sense.

  17. Merlin, at least you are being polite today. I do read your comments…you just seem always to pick holes in mine.

    I did drive the ex freelander, and I found it comfy and easy to drive…but it did rattle and creak. We hired a Honda CRV on our hols in Ireland and that was in a different (better) class.

    Sorry this car was one with too many excuses.

  18. I was incredulous when the Freelander 1 came out to hear that man Gerry McGovern actually boasting about the FR1 having external screws holding on the rear lights! Why on Earth would anyone want external screws, which will fill up with mud and be a bugger to clean, on something pretending to be a premium offroader? Even Peter Mandelson would blush if he’d tried to spin such an obvious piece of cheap, poorly engineered crap as a deliberate design feature!

    The FR1 always looked like it was done ‘on the cheap’, and almost made the Vitara look classy by comparison.

  19. Hilarious article – love it!

    Just got to say though, that I drive a 100,000 mile + 2007 LR2 (Freelander name in North America) all through the Canadian winter and it has never had a serious problem (touch wood), is as solid as it was when brand new, goes over snow banks like they weren’t there and lets me laugh pityingly at anyone stupid enough to have bought a Bimmer X3. My kids love it (they have named it Polar Bear Joe) and in the town where I live, Land Rover are now outselling Volvo. That has to tell you something.

  20. Chris – external screws on light lenses: to me they sound great. Just a screwdriver to swap a bulb, no more ferreting around behind “carpet” and cardboard, broken nails and plastic clips.
    No one has mentioned the dismal NCAP results of the freeloader MK1.
    MKII dissapoints with no 3 door, no truck back versions, body versatility part of the reason the MK1 did so surprisingly well. No petrol engines either in the UK anymore. Nothing that costs so much money is acceptable with a 4 cylinder engine, let alone a Diesel 4 cylinder.

    • No petrol engines in the UK because no one bought them in the FL2!

      Which transverse mounted 6 cylinder diesel would you recommend they fit in the FL2 then? Having driven around 140,000 miles in diesel FL2’s, I can assue you that there’s nothing wrong with the 4 cylinder diesel.

      • Glad to hear Some Positive Thought’s , The Freelander does a lot better than most of the reply’s give credit for . Love Them .

  21. External screws to rust up and snap off when you try and remove. Anyone who has ever tried to replace numberplates or mudflaps held on with seized screws will know this.

  22. Freelander 1 and Freelander 2 are night and day.

    Freelander 1 was developed on a typical Rover budget of 75p, a bag of crisps and what was lying around whereas the Freelander 2 was a clearly planned development of the Ford Mondeo platform.

    Would I buy a Freelander 1 – No

    Would I buy a Freelander 2 – Yes

  23. Basically Mike shouldn’t have bought a (Land)Rover with a BMW engine fitted. The L Series Freelanders seem to go on forever.

    • I have to say, I’m in agreement here. I have a Y plate, L engined commercial and I can’t praise it enough. Bags of room in the back, no rear seats (he he- no grandchildren along for the ride!) and very able in the rough. I feel desperately sorry for those who’ve had so many problems but mine is just coming up to 220,000 miles and going as good as ever. I am wondering what to do in the future. I’m very tempted to turn it into a special of some sort. I have a Disco rolling chassis……watch this space!

  24. Dear Nick S

    You are very very lucky.

    Ive got a Subaru Outback, and there is no way I would buy a Freelander if I was driving on challenging terrain.

    Or if I needed to get home somewhere…

  25. @Phil I find your statement difficult to believe. Most managers and all senior managers and above at JLR run at least one Jag or Land Rover, many run a second car that’s a Ford, but that will often be because the JLR insurance conditions rule out young drivers. Being interested in cars, quite a few JLR employees will have another car that may be a Porsche, BMW, TVR, etc, but these are rarely something you might drive on a daily basis.

  26. The Freelander 1 was done on the cheap (as befitting Rover’s budget at the time) and didn’t have Honda’s input to make sure it was properly reliable and durable.

    But it was a brilliant creation. It was DESIRABLE in the way other more lauded Rover creations of the 90s weren’t, and gave the public what they wanted, hence the MGR runt of Rover being given away by BMW when Land Rover was sold to Ford for £1.6bn.

    Ford got it right with Freelander 2, but at the expense of its slightly conservative style, without the ‘funky’ 3 door versions, something solved by the Evoque.

    I’m not sure any Freelander 1s were built very well, maybe Rover should have built them in Longbridge or Cowley, plants much more used to a volume product?

  27. Oh, just to put the cat amonst the pidgeons.

    My ex who had said Freelander…he Father has a very early one.

    It too was an auto, it was a diesel, but not a BMW diesel, and it had done a lot of miles.

    This was his work car (Farmer) and it was well AB(USED)

    Towing what ever it would move. hard off road use, servicing…dont be silly.

    It all worked.

    An alternator in 180K. thats pretty darn good.

    It was a sort of van shape (no back seats) and had very industrial looking yellow switch gear.

    So, I still wouldnt buy a Landie, despite how nicely the Disco 4 drives…but one old car works v well. (W/X/Y/V reg sort of old)

  28. My last university landlady bought a brand new Freelander (Y plate) diesel to replace a Toyota pickup. She regretted the decision almost immediately. It was in and out of the dealer for attention mainly electrical gremlins that never seemed to be sorted. It’s a shame that such a good vehicle on paper has been beset with reliability issues. I understand the later ones aren’t much better.

  29. I must hereby admit to looking at post-facelift V6 Freelanders with a bit of envy. They’re a great looking vehicle. However, I’ve never actually got as far as the interior of one, and now after reading this article and all the comments I think that’s perhaps fortuitous. Maybe I’ll just stick with my (surprisingly to some) reliable 75.

  30. @David 3500 you are probably right 🙂 its still missing two seats though (just like the BMW mini is missing one seat), (and the MG6 needs a body kit)…. (and a nice tidy Rover 3500 Vitesse needs me) 🙂 alex (LR110 V8, DiscoIIV8). previous cars, Rover 827 Vitesse, XJ40 4.0, Disco IV8. LR Stage 1 V8(ex NZ army). LR Series IIA.

  31. As per my post @ 30, it was an “02” plate in burgundy, diesel but not BMW diesel and auto…and good.

    Keith….NO…avoid the pain…

  32. So Rover asked Honda to partner in the Freelander project, Honda rejected this proposal and developed the CRV.

    Why was this the case?
    Did Honda know that BMW were on the horizon?
    Did Honda get their fingers burnt with warranty claims on the Crossroad?

  33. How many people with failing IRDs have a: rotated their tyres regularly, and b: replaced a damaged and very worn tyre with a brand new one, but left the others at a significant difference in tread depth.

    Loads of 4x4s, from Golf syncros to Jeep Grand Cherokees, with viscous couplings and variants thereof will end up with trashed transmissions due to mismatched tyres. Yet people seem unwilling to accept that part of running a sophisticated 4×4 is to maintain it – including that onerous moment when you’ve got 3mm on the tyres, and one gets damaged; all four should be replaced. Cheaper than a transfer case…

    I always found our Landie dealer in Kelso to be good on the sales side and flipping awful on the service side.

  34. 16: “Maestro underpinnings, K Series Engine, a Rover not based on a Honda. What could possibly go wrong?”

    Well, in terms of chassis dynamics the Maestro was easily the best car in its cars at launch and remained competitive (in those term) until it was killed off. There were build and reliability issues but the basic design was very sound indeed.

    The K-Series could have easily been fixed for the want of a small amount of investment which Rover didn’t have and BMW didn’t want to supply – SAIC have since done so. And on that subject BMW, Vauxhall, Honda – the whole field were complaining about the MG6 (powered by a Ricardo Engineering tweaked K-Series) toasting them down the straights and got their boost levels dropped significantly until the ‘6s were strangled – which arguably denied them the BTCC title – yes the world’s best motor manufacturers and their generously funded teams were being beaten by a 25 year old Rover engine in a car running on a shoe-string budget.

  35. @37
    Actually you don;t need to replace all 4, but you do need to repalce 2, and not on the same axle, must be on differnt axles, ideally diaginally opposite

  36. The Freelander or something else was doomed to fail post BMW era even more than it did under initial ownership.

    Had BMW sold Land Rover to the Phoenix Four as well as MG Rover, the vehicle would probably become victim to Project Drive.

    If hell had frozen over & BMW sold the business including the MINI at all, I doubt that would be the sub brand it is today since Freelander warranty claims would have eroded its profits making all the derivative models seem like a pipe dream.

    Now there’s a thought.

  37. @ Will M:

    “Seems that they’re falling into the trap of the entry level car getting upgraded over time, leaving them without an entry level car.”

    Unfortunately this has long been a common practise of Land Rover, although the onwards and upwards approach is what most of its rivals also do. Entry level models in each range aren’t the volume sellers, hence the reason why the current ‘entry’ level Discovery GS costs £38,000. Ten years ago the base model Discovery Series II was about £22,000 while the mid-range GS model (which is the spiritual descendent to the current model) was about £28,000.

    The entry level 5-door Freelander ten years ago was circa £18,000 but is now more than £22,000 for a front-wheel drive model. The lack of a three-door version shows the obvious gap in Land Rover’s arsenal, hence the reason why there is nothing considered to be an ‘entry level’ car costing below £22,000.

    The moral of this approach is that, the more you advocate an ‘onwards and upwards’ approach to your models, the bigger the gap you leave behind for others to pitch in with their own cheaper offerings. This then results in you having to fight back by designing, engineering and building a larger number of model ranges, in order to be adequately covered in all sectors of that market, namely the SUV market. Ten years ago Land Rover built four model ranges; today they currently build six.

  38. @David 3500

    An excellent analysis!
    The onwards and upwards approach can be harmful as we’ve seen with Renault’s decreasing market share, who are now pitching Dacia as their entry level models.
    For a while, the Clio was a strong seller.

  39. @David 3500:

    Most manufacturers are guilty of their entry level car getting upgraded. For example the Ford replaced the Anglia with the Escort. The Escort increased in size so the Fiesta was introduced and now we have the Ka sitting below the Escort. The current Mondeo is probably bigger than than the original Granada.

  40. @Mark

    Mk3 Granada

    Length 186.4 in (4,735 mm)
    Width 69.5 in (1,765 mm)

    Mk4 Mondeo

    Length 4,844 mm (190.7 in) (saloon)
    4,778 mm (188.1 in) (hatchback)
    4,830 mm (190.2 in) (estate)
    Width 1,886 mm (74.3 in) (ex. mirrors)
    2,078 mm (81.8 in) (inc. mirrors)

  41. At the risk of it going ‘POP’ in a big way as soon as I post this reply, I have to defend the Freelander based on my own experiences of ownership.

    I’ve had my 2005 TD4 3dr Sport since early 2007 and so far had to replace nothing more than front pads, fluids and perished intercooler hoses. The Freelander was certainly a victim of some poor quality and design along the way, but the number of old ones still around indicate that all isn’t as bad as the stories suggest.

    One thing in it’s favour is that it’s very REPAIRABLE – something which this site tends to view as a positive feature of a car. There are lots of second hand spares and knowledgeable specialists around. Hopefully I won’t be needing these anytime soon !

  42. Very few early examples survive actually, because the cars are worth next to nothing, a minor repair will cost up to twice the value of it, so they got weighed in. Even second hand parts prices are not that cheap for them either. Everyone I know who has had a Freelander has had nothing but aggro with them. It just hasn’t been a quality product. And the 3 door shell is known to be very weak structurally, especially in the sill area

  43. “Ten years ago Land Rover built four model ranges; today they currently build six.”

    Maybe that’s why their sales have gone up?

    Besides, how many models have BMW, Mercedes, Audi got in their bloated ranges?

  44. With regard to the Fiesta and other FWD superminis – I think they weren’t so much a necessity of entry-level RWD cars going upscale, but rather an opportunity to fill a section in the market made possible by buyer acceptance and technological/production improvements. After all the Mk 1 and Mk 2 Escorts, from mid ’60s to very end of the ’70s, are pretty much the same size and the Fiesta was a new offering.

    SUVs have been that growth market, and now smaller SUVs. Maybe VW’s XL1 will legitimise two-passenger economy cars and that will be the next growth area during a period of economic reconsideration.

  45. #50 Yorkie

    Not sure what you mean by ‘not many’. A quick search in Autotrader brings up nearly 500 for sale that are over 10 years old. That’s just the ones currently for sale, so that must mean there’s a far larger number not for sale. I regularly see examples with S, T, V reg’s still going strong.

    The Freelander issues are well known but not every example was afflicted. It is a more complex beast than your average car and wasn’t intended to be a substitute for the ‘proper’ off roaders.

    A better comparison would be the Vitara or RAV4. How many of Mk1s of those have you seen lately ?

  46. So if they’d fitted the T-series and asked Steyr-Daimler-Puch to uprate the IRD a bit do you think we’d all be saying what a fine car the Freelo 1 was today?

    Don’t know why but I still like them and check them out on ebay every now and again.

    Did wonder the other day, though, that in development the car might have gone another way. Instead of starting with a transvers front drive engine and transmission I wondered how much better things might have been if they’d conceived the car around a longitudinally mounted engine (say the T-series, T-series turbo and L-series) mated to the R380 transmission in a transfer-box-less monocoque 4×4 with all independent suspension. It would at least have done without the IRD, I suppose.

    The car would have been a little longer, no doubt, but still much shorter than the Discovery II which grew in length what with it riding on a 108″ wheelbase and all. And then I discovered that the Disco II’s wheelbase was actually unchanged at 100″ so that blew that idea out of the water.

    Ignore my ramblings, then.

    Except to say, that perhaps they should have left the soft-roader segment to the Japanese and built a Disco II with funkier styling instead, including a 2-door softback and hardback. I’m trying to say that Disco II was a bit of a let down in the looks department, probably because LR blew its budget on CB40.

    Finally, if “Car” in the late-90s was to believed Rover did have another proposal for that troublesome IRD: a transverse front-engined RWD car to replace the MGF. A very interesting proposal for what would no doubt have been a very troublesome car.

  47. @ JH Gillson:

    “So if they’d fitted the T-series and asked Steyr-Daimler-Puch to uprate the IRD a bit do you think we’d all be saying what a fine car the Freelo 1 was today?”

    The 2-litre T Series was offered in the first generation Discovery, known as the MPi, and mated up to the LT77S and later R380 transmission. It wasn’t well liked and sales were poor, although it did provide a useful compromise for those not converted to the ‘delights’ of either the 200TDi or later 300TDi turbo-diesels, or the running costs of the fuel injected V8 petrol engine. Its main downside was a lack of low end torque delivery and the need to rev it. Fuel economy was about twenty percent better than the V8 engine.

    The T Series unit was also fitted in a number of Defender 90 models built for either the Italian army or police force in the mid 1990s.

  48. We have in our family 3 Freelanders (auto), the oldest have 300100 km and no IRD fault, no VCU fault, no autobox fault. 😉

  49. @39 – Yes no doubt if that mixed bag of spanners had been properly sorted it could have been effective, but it wasnt.

  50. i must be lucky. i have owned a a 02 reg 3 door td4 auto from six months old. done over 1000 miles,mostly short journeys. one main fuel pump and alternator later it still runs sweet. i have had some sort of chipped device added,which can be turned on or off and has five differant settings and massivley improves engine tourqe. luckily i was adviced by a mate to go for the td4 engine. the only set back i have recently had is that i gave my shower cover to a local upholsterer to make me a new one and the prat has gone and lost it before he managed to make me a new one.
    so,if any one has an old shower cover or soft top for sale please get intouch. p.s. shower cover can be in any condition,ripped i only need the zipps and plastic trim.
    regards denny

  51. Hi all.i am an 03 td4 freelander be honest im getting peed off with the thing.owned it for 17 months replaced an injector,2 intercooler hoses blown,now regulator cable in window gone and it wont start first time.also its had a rattle since I bought it.camshaft dampner.thinking of buying an x type jag with all wheel drive.many thanks.ben.

  52. The thing to watch with the Freelander 1 is the fuel rail pressure sensor. It is not a big expensive fix but at some stage if there is trouble starting and with stalling (even an auto) then its the fuel rail pressure sensor. Be sure to replace the wiring loom as well.
    I have also replaced intercooler hoses and that may be a ‘known fault’ but this was at 75000 miles. Not expensive and a wise precaution to change.
    I’ve got a rusty sunroof frame to replace but am told I do not use it enough and don’t leave it open to dry out!

    There are a lot of FL1’s about so they must have something going for them. My auto works well, but of course these days the road tax is a bit (a lot) high.
    Anyone can buy a new car but then you loose a fortune in depreciation without moving it off your drive. An old car is cheap but needs proper maintenance and that includes treating the tyres properly.

  53. LR Freelander? No way! I got a 4 year old Ford Sierra 4×4 Estate for my wife in 1996 – 80.000 up. She needed PAS (bad back) and AWD for towing on/off verges. After 4 years I thiught it ime for a replacement – no more Fords made like that, so got her a 1 year Subaru Legacy. She liked that – I did not (much) so kept the Ford for myself – drive it into the ground stuff. Truth is that with the Cossie 4×4 system, suspension, brakes, steering etc. this banger was a delight to drive – ticked all the boxes, and the DOHC 2.0 litre engine nicked from the Transit van went like smoke.

    I was lucky to have maintenance from an ex Ford comps techician who knew the Ferguson 4×4 system Ford used backwards. He had a few things to say about other systems including the Freelander, Vauxhall, later Ford (and Jaguar) 4WD systems, and others (e.g. Volvo) – “Don`t Touch Them!”

    I didn`t. The Ford was sold with 260,000 up in 2007 so I got 11 years and 180,000 out of it. Bought a 2005 Focus diesel – bad mistake. Got anther Subaru Legacy 2003/4 model for “her” just in case. Now I`m using that `cos her old one is till sound after 14 years (even original exhaust) and she won`t change it.

    Don`t particularly like Subarus – but they are ON THE WHOLE bog reliable, don`t rust, and are dead simple and cheap to fix.

    Every time i think about something better the choices are eiher too much, too unreliable, or too small in the back for dogs etc.

    Sorry, LT enthusiasts but even the Freelander 2 doesn`t hack it – my bro. has one and very nice too but you need a deep pocket.

    And if any Subaru enthusiasts reading this feel smug, there are warnings for you too! Don`t touch a 2.5 litre Subaru (i.e.Outback) with 100,000 up. The headgaskets on this model are as dodgy as a Leyland “K” series – it`s not a question of “IF” but “when”. The bill will be awsome.(Needs engine out)- and the repair may not work anyway (read new engine) Don`t touch a diesel either; the gearbox off this comes from the 6 cylinder Subaru and the transmission is simply not up to the 250 lbfeet+ torque a modern turbo diesel will sick up at low revs; so first you will be in for a slipping clutch, and soon after a new DMF flywheel. At this point you will probably wish you had bought a Freelander 2 and you will be right.

    But don`t buy ANY turbo-diesel 4×4 with a manual gearbox and a DMF flywheel (DMF = Dual Mass Flywheel – a sort of vibration damper) – they are products of the devil. Get a modern auto in a Disco 4 and you should be OK.

    And if your pocket is`nt deep enough? Well, my choice at the moment would be a Hyundai Santa Fe (or the KIa equivalent – forget it`s name) German design, modern turbo-diesel technology, and the Kia one has a 7 year warranty.

    Me, I can`t (won`t) afford one of those just yet. So I keep coming back to Subaru. But, if you do too, just make sure you go for the bog-standard 2 litre model; preferably the 2003-2005 version(has a single cam engine, lowest CO2 of the lot etc.). It also has a low-range gearbox with a 33% drop in low-ratio. (The Outback is only 25%) – so if you get stalled towing up a hill, you can get going better without burning out the clutch.

    Dual range on a Subaru? Yes, readers – it`s an old Subaru selling point; along with a bullet proof AWD system which REALLY does work in mud or snow.

    And does a LR Freelander have low-ratio gears? Someone write in and remind me please.


  54. I dont think i would touch a Disco 3 with a TDV6,not when you have three EGR valves at £360 a pop waiting to fail at some point.

    And Hyundais 7 year warranty? so what, check all the caveats, if you cant get a high pressure fuel pump changed on a 2013 i20 with 17k i cant see you getting the central locking actuators done on a Santa Fe.

    They cant go the distance-try 100+k in one and it will be shagged.

  55. @54 – interesting you mention the Steyr-Puch IRD, the drive train on my 2003 Hyundai Santa Fe is – Steyr-Puch. So someone learned a lesson! So did I! After two Mk1 FLs, one of which did the head gasket trick and knackered the engine, the other wrecked the rear diff – I bought the Santa Fe! When looking underneath, it is very clear how much more robust the whole Steyr-Puch system is, even though the in design terms, it works pretty much the same way as that on the FL.

  56. In the last 18 months I’ve done 20,000 miles in my 03 TD4 ES. Now 140,000 on the clock. Normal wear and tear are the only costs. The car is fantastic. I also have a 2012 Audi TT roadster which I will replace this year with a Freelander 2 HSE. If you use your eyes, you will see hundred of Freelander 1 and Freelander 2 out on the roads. Far more than CRV’s, Q5’s, Q7’s, X3’s et al. In my local supermarket car park yesterday, there were 5 Freelander 2’s…….and no CRV or X-Trail to be seen. Subaru? I’d rather live in Slough!

  57. In my fifth year year of 2005 td4 ownership , and love it , its not perfect , what car is . I have learned that mismatched tyres is one of the main causes of drivetraiin failure on the freelander 1, tyres must be all the same size/make/model , the lack of this knowledge , and ignorance on the part of the motor trade , has further blackened the freelanders name , its not the cars fault , if it’s ran with mismatched tyres , as for the K series petrol engine , thats another story , I have found if it is maintained to a good standard the freelander is a very reliable and capable 4×4

  58. I believe the LR2 post 2010 is a great SUV, and for me, where I live in Brasil, it’s one of the best options around for all driving needs over here (beach, mountains, fields, motorways)… the Brasilians love this little 4×4, and so much so, they pay around 65,000 sterling for a top of the range 2014 HSE model 🙂

  59. In my opinion the Freelander 2 Especially after 2010 is a great car. I know a number of people who own one and have owned them for a few years without any problems. They are good to look at, reliable, and are brilliant in the Welsh winter months! I don’t know where they are built nowadays but the build quality is as good as the Japanese SUVS!

  60. Since the launch of the Range Rover Evoque back in 2011 I have developed a soft spot for the Freelander 2. I prefer its more versatile and functional interior over that of the Evoque, availability of trim levels without high levels of equipment and luxury as standard and, above all, more honest pricing (although I appreciate some of this latter point has been eroded for the 2015 Model Year). The chunky styling is also more appealing and less chintzy. The thought of a three or four year-old mid-spec model with ‘small’ (i.e. 18-inch) wheels and a manual gearbox is quite appealing, in my eyes. And I would not be afraid to get it dirty, put the family dog in the boot and my young nieces in the rear seats or even take it off tarmac. In other words, remember it says ‘Land Rover’ on the bonnet edge.

    True, I still miss the availability of a cheaper priced and more stylish 3-door bodystyle. However, as others have pointed out, the Freelander 2 addressed most if not all of the shortcomings of its predecessor.

  61. Freelanders, what a joke motor? head gasket done twice, inlet manifold (water problem) done three times, water pump and timing belt twice, radiator twice.
    First head gasket blow on a motorway, six hours to get home.
    In the three years I have owed this Mk. 1 Freelander, it had 67000 on the clock when I bought it, it now has 89000, has cost an absolute fortune in garage time and bills, and it now seems the block is cracked, with exhaust gases in the water, once again??
    Thought a bite the bullet once again?? new engine? £1400= + VAT, but still a K series engine, with maybe the same trouble down the road abit.
    Now scrap yard bound, inside is as new, guess the scrap dealer will make thousands on spares to anyone mad enough to own one.
    My second 4×4 is a Shogun 2.8 and I can’t remember the last time I had to put water or oil in it, and it’s never needed any garage time in the 6 years I have owned it.
    I rest my case? Spares anyone??
    Do not go near them, unless you really have to? Time on the road? you could cover the same distance, without garage time and money, by walking.
    Landrover, who ever you are, now, should hang your head in shame.
    Best of British, maybe? any good for the road? never!!
    Bright side is, they do keep British garages in business, I guess.
    Bet they make a cracking tin opener.

  62. I have had my Freelander TD4 3Dr from new in 2002 and it has been fantastic with no major bills just normal servicing costs most of which I do myself. I change the oil regularly every 6 to 7 thousand miles. We have now driven over 230,000 miles and engine is as good as day we brought it. Had a fault with rear door handle spring which was easily remedied with a new spring and I have replaced the 3rd door window mechanism thats it. MOT’s have never cost more than £40.00 and its great to drive. I have even driven in the desert in Morocco with it under extreme conditions only then did I wish I have a slightly bigger engine. But it never got stuck with the skinny tyres where my friends in X5’s and others did have problems and my little car came to the rescue. Great Car.

  63. You say quality nosedived after Ford took over, yet in the next breath the Freelander 2 – which to all intents and purposes is a Ford – is a finely crafted thing? – Ford where lumbered with the Freelander 1. They can hardly be blamed for exploding K-series which where of course still sourced from MG Rover which was going through its death throws at that time. It was a bad car, whoever owned the company.

  64. I have owned Freelander 1 TD4 2001 manual, since 2004, now done 160,000 kms. Here in Australia the car goes where I drive it, no lift kit, no suspension upgrade, what a great car. Try a Toyota and suspension gone after 40,000kms. Jeep’s are just freelander’s only far worse. I love my lemon, as it is better than most of the rubbish produced by other manufacturers. If one doesn’t do regular services, then you should own a series IIA, as I do too.

  65. Mate,you’ve described the Landrover Experience,especially where the Freelander is concerned. The early models were atrocious with the k-series Rover lump in the petrol and a horrible unrefined lump in the diesel. Don’t buy anything pre-04 and things gradually improve,but preferably go from 06/08 onwards and you should be ok,preferably with the diesel as Landrover have improved their game across the range,but with all those complicated electronics and other gizmos as with any modern car,glitches will occur and not the cheapest to run. On the plus side,each Landrover IMHO is the best in it’s class,especially for off-road capabilities;if they don’t-driver error is to blame!
    So how am i qualified to comment when i’ve never owned a Landrover?? I used to work for them and drove them for free without paying a penny,Lol. All the fun,no downsides,unlike many unfortunate customers in the early days,which considering how much they payed for atrocious reliability,in my view was NOT funny! Don’t work there any more,but they’re much improved,although anyone can end up with a ‘Bad Apple’ The main upside,is when they work and are well maintained,they’re awesome and if they’re really put through their paces,they’ll all but climb a tree! Please note,i’m generalizing about the full Landrover range and obviously,the Freelander has it’s limitations,but i can tell you stories of how various Landrovers have amazed me and the new Freelanders are lovely and the best in their class.

  66. Ps, if you only climb the kerb at the local primary school,or attempt the rugged terrain of your gravel driveway in Surrey…what’s the point? Serious adverse weather and apart from the Freelander (which is great for what it is,with good ground clearance for it’s class)…is where the Landrover range really come into their own.What they’re capable of,especially with the right tyres and driver!…is amazing. If you’ve got one,have fun and put it through it’s paces off road! Have fun. 🙂

  67. I’ve had my 1998 S reg 1.8 k series for nearly three years with no engine problems at all – the best car I’ve ever had! yes they need to be kept an eye on but for me its perfect – K series engines aint all bad if you know how to look after them properly.

  68. The badly done-to Freelander 1, having had Series 2’s (I mean the 1950’s versions) series 2a’s series 3’s (still got one, a 109 truck cab with new everything, chassis, panels, bulkhead, bonnet, door tops & bottoms, military lights etc etc), several new discos and classic range rovers, my wife bought a new F1. I thought an LR without a chassis – yeah right – amazed how taut the body is. After a couple of years she bought a new face-lift (the car not her) I learned that you need to rotate the tyres every 6-8 weeks, change the oils every 6 months – kept it for 5 years with 120k – never replaced anything other than tyres, a couple of bulbs and a set of discs/pads. I still think it is a cracking vehicle if you treat it with respect and look after it. Just bought a high mileage petrol S1 pre-face-lift – will change the VC/IRD and prop + brakes, springs and shocks for less than a grand and a half. This is a galvanised monocoque – which will give me ten years of winter motoring for next to nothing.

  69. I think there is definitely some quality issues but i have struggled to find them on my 52 plate 3 door ES TD4. Yeah, ok, the ES is the top of the range one for that year so will have a better feel than the S. Anyway I love my freelander, i had the injectors done when i bought it (140,000 miles they were due for a rebuild) and it runs like a champ. I agree the gear change needed to be addressed before they were sold, second to third is a little rough. And finally my number plate light needed rewiring, very temperamental but overall i love it, its 13 now and i cant even tell its that old or has that many miles. I would recommend the pre 2003 TD4 to anyone but i cant comment on the post 2003 because I’ve never driven one.

  70. Can’t knock peoples first hand knowledge – does however make me wonder how much is aggrevated by poor dealer handling of issues & general maintenance issues. I’m not for a minute saying that the durability is what it should or could have been but people talking about head gaskets blowing multiple times in short order suggests that the repair was sunstandard or the initial cause of the head gasket blowing in the first place hasn’t been solved (or the collateral damage caused by overheating hasn’t been rectified). No denfence on the drivetrain – they do wear out. Interior trim etc – much the same as any other mid 90’s designed car. One of the significant issues is that it stayed in production largely as concieved whilst the rest of the industry moved on. Most other OEMs have fairly significant issues…merc rust has been mentioned…that is pretty prolific, bmw’s pulling their boot floors apart, cracking cylinder heads & having fairly major top end issues with many of thier variable lift valvetrains hasn’t been mentioned. Ford, Vauxhall, VAG (replacement coilpack anyone?) all have their issues…Freelander 2 is a very different proposition & wasn’t engineered on a shoe string (CB40 / FL Mk1 had it’s roots in Odeon which was a Rover cars project). I always liked them other than the KV6….not really any quicker that a 1.8 in the real world (honestly!) but truly terrible fuel economy…never saw the point. The 2.0 Turbo T16 would have made a decent motor with a suitably sorted drivetrain.

  71. I bought my (facelift) 03 freelander td4 about a month ago, and i love it…… It’s having some settling in issues at the moment…. But i love driving it. and i think it looks pretty smart too.
    fixed so far:
    – Filters that usually get missed (pcv, turbo vent etc)
    – MAF sensor (very common apparently)
    – EGR delete (definitely needed doing)

    To do:
    – sort smoke on start up issue
    – sort power loss on incline (at 70mph) issue
    – sort rough idle issue

    sounds bad, but i love to tinker with cars, and find this one fun to work on 🙂

  72. I want to buy a 2001 freelander it’s 1600cc aseme led in kenya… has done 23451km..the owne r passed away after a few month’s after purchase…can you advise if to go for it or not….I haven’t heard anyone mention the 1600cc version…am in kenya africa

  73. I have owned a 2004 td4 for a year which makes it 11 years old. When you buy any car of this age you expect problems,mainly because you don’t know what’s been done to it before you. I have had to replace 2 window regulators, windscreen wiper switch, brake discs, brake pedal switch and fuel injector pump. Now this is an 11 year old car and I believe these things are to be expected. The pump was the worst to go for cost but the other items are minor.
    I think the car goes a treat and now those little repairs are done, I’ve had no problems at all. I’d recommend them to anyone.

  74. Hey,

    My elderly neighbour owns a 2004 5 door FL and has since new. Its covered 50K and so far he has the VCU & IRD replaced last year , front window regulator. The rear passenger windows have also stopped working. Central locking issue. Rear storage cubby box in boot is also damp .

    If the questions below could be answered that would be great to him

    The back passenger door does not open from outside but will internally. Exterior door handle seems ok so anyone got any suggestions on what it could be ?

    The central locking issue is crucial for him , he takes his grandchildren around and always locks the doors when driving , now he could be driving a mile or 30 feet and the doors will start to lock and unlock for no reason , Again any quick fix for this or suggest what part he needs ?

    Lastly the rear boot cubby box feeling damp and mouldy . I have read its the rear door seal lets the water in but the rest of the carpet is dry ?



  75. An interesting thread particularly to someone like myself who has just bought a Freelander (TD4 Sport).

    So why did I but it ? Mathmatics mainly.

    I wanted a Land Rover, but not the running costs of a big engine, I also wanted a vehicle that my wife and young daughter could comfortably handle.It came down to the MK I or II Freelander.

    I sail and fish, activities that take me down a lot of farm tracks and unmade roads. I also commute by train and have a drive to the sation on 12 miles of mainly single track lanes in all weathers. I wanted a vehicle that I could chuck all my wet, dirty kit into at the end of the day without worrying too much about ruining the car.

    I bought my TD4 for £2,600 (5 door, 79k, 3 owners, FSH)an equivalent MK II would have been at least £7,000. My TD4 has reached the bottom of its depreciation curve, the biggest cost of owning any car, a MK II still has a long way to fall.

    Before I bought I was aware of all the issues Freelanders have and so I had it checked by a Land Rover specialist who said the VCU, and everthing else drivetrain wise, was fine. He also said that he sees MK I’s with over 200k and still with original VCU.

    Up until a year ago I owned a 1997 Rover 825 Auto (top of range V6 model), that car cost someone £27,000 new, I paid £1,200 with 26,000 on clock when it was 9 years old,it was written off by some idiot. The insurance paid me £800 and the scrap dealer gave me £200, by which time I had done 95,000. I spent nothing on that car except for consumables. Will the Freelander be as cheap to own? Who knows ? but if I check te VCU regularly, it might and even if I do spend money financially I am ahead as I am unlikely to suffer much depreciation. It also looks fantastic, even today, and it has that badge…..

  76. Mate your an absolute bell end I have got 2 freelanders 1 is 1998 k series and 2003 td4 both are superb not as good as my defenders but I’m suprised at where they can actually get better than any forigne crap that’s sold and brought here in the uk

  77. Interesting topics discussed on here, I’m sure we’ve all bought lemons in our lives, perhaps I’ve been lucky like using my sd1 2.6 as a taxi for over 250k with no trouble at all, or my grandfathers marina which was still dragging itself along after twenty years. In a few days my ultra cheap ultra reliable Honda CRV requires its Mot, as its now done more miles than the space shuttle and has started to corrode underneath a refused ticket costing more than a fiver to fix will mean beer cans!
    The point here is I WILL go and buy me an old FL diesel ( have my eye on one) always wanted one, could never afford a proper one ( R R ) so wish me luck, I will keep you up to date on its reliability or lack of it.
    So I guess half of you will say told you not to buy it, while the other half will say told you its a brilliant little machine. Merry Xmas all.

  78. I’ve owned every landy going except a Range Rover and FC101. 27 in total. I’ve owned 4 Freelanders, my first being a 1.8 with a dodgy clutch – just to get me on holiday when my Disco failed it’s MOT . It was crap. However I bought a Freelander Kv6 ES with 32,000 on the clock straight away. Absolutely fell in love with it. Horrendous MPG especially in winter but only paid £1700 for it when the bottom book was over £8000 !! PO had been told by his local garage the autobox was on it’s way and the engine needed replacing which would cost him £5000 so he off loaded it to me – turned out to be just a noisy inlet manifold !!
    Anyway, I ripped out the leather interior, fitted a roll cage, bucket seats and fitted various guards etc and raced it off road. It is now being raced for the 3rd season with the Race2Recovery team. X622 FWP
    I recently sold my Td4 comp safari Freelander built by Tornadomotorsport running it’s original IRD and VCU.
    I currently run my silver Td4 – again roll caged, bucket seats etc etc. This is used for everything- commuting to work, holidays, tip runs, shopping, off roading. Still going strong on 125,000 miles. Love it ! Been driving Freelanders for 10 years now- observed the rules and NEVER had any major mechanical breakdowns because I know what kills them and what NOT to do.
    Biggest problem with Freelanders is sadly the owners. I’d say 90% are bought by people “new to the brand” used to driving saloons, hatchbacks etc. They are treated like any other car without a thought to the complex drivetrain. Puncture? Just nip to Kwik Fit and get that budget tyre fitted, might not be the same tread pattern but that didn’t matter -after all that’s what they did on their Fiesta. Not in a Freelander. My mate works on them for a living. He fits lots of IRD’s and comments that every Freelander that comes in for one always has mis-matching tyres.And the owners excuse – they’re all road legal so what’s the problem.
    Ok, there’s mo excuse for failure of new vehicles – but this happens to every manufacturer – yes it does, despite stories of some manufacturees legendary reliabilty.
    Fitting the K series 1.8 was a very bad decision. Underpowered for the Freelander. And those headgaskets made from butter.But they are still fixable. Multilayered headgaskets, modified water pumps etc and the ability to be changed by anyone who can wield a spanner.Multiple failure suggests, as already mentioned by a previous poster, the original symptom was not sorted. Independent garages also are at fault – they too don’t seem to understand how freelanders work.MOT testers also seem to have no knowledge – I’ve heard stories of them failing on the rear propshaft not turning at the same rate as the front !!
    The 1.8T is the option Land Rover should have used. Some people have retro-fitted these with great results.
    Ok, interior plastics are cheap, the horrible turquios carpets in the earlier 3 door regardless of body colour, that horrible body kit that looked like it came off of a Ju-52. There are lots of little niggles , but these don’t make it a bad vehicle per-se.
    So you buy one second hand – it’s had 3 previous owners. It has mis-matching tyres, but they’re all road legal. Claims to have had a new head gasket but the current seller can’t provide any reciepts. Bodywork looks good.
    So you buy it and within weeks the IRD explodes and/or the headgasket blows. Do you blame the vehicle , or the 3 previous owners neglect/ignorance?
    Or do you just listen to the bandwagonners who have had no first hand experience but know all the horror stories and can tell you categorically “it’s rubbish”.
    Go on ANY forum, ANY, and you’ll hear countless horror stories from every manufacturer on the planet.
    The strange thing is you only see these threads of woe when something does go wrong. For every thread like this there are countless untold stories of people who , because they have no trouble, don’t fill the pages of the internet with “My care is just wonderful and has given me no trouble in the (insert amount of years here) that I’ve owned it”.

    • Sadly it’s the same as with any car that the media wants to mock, gets a reputation because of unsympathetic owners.

      Rover? HGF. Citroen? Dodgy suspension (when not maintained). Renault? Unreliable (yet they buy Qashqai to the dozen which are basically Megane crossovers). Alfa Romeo? Timing chain goes (If the updated renewal of 30k isn’t adhered to).

      The point about mismatched tyres, seems everyone has traded in their hatchback and joined the SUV craze without any extra training in driving a car with extra weight or 4×4 capabilities, without an awareness of the vehicle characteristics, as your example fitting different budget tyres at the local tyre fitters.

  79. I bought an 04 plate 1.8 petrol Freelander in 2013 to use as van basically as the local tip doesn’t allow vans without a permit. THEN I start hearing the horror stories and think OH NO !! what have I done, but it had a shade under 95000 miles on, and I paid a shade under £2000 for it, so what the hell… Well my mechanic mate checked it over, changed all the fluids, timing belt, and water pump as not much service history. Explained the early K series problems, head gasket, nylon pins in the head block, WHAT?? position of the thermostat housing giving slugs of cold water into a hot block etc. etc. all of which have been rectified on the ‘face lift’ freelander. Three mot’s later and all I’ve done is a track rod end, and brake shoes and pads. The vcu is a service item at around 70000 miles, but not many people do them, easier to take the prop shaft off. Fabulous car, no rust at all and still a great looking design, but get the face lift….

  80. Oops!
    Just stumbled over this site… I bought a Freelander KV6 2002 two weeks ago. Very cheap as it didnt run due to a electric shorting some where. First time with a Freelander and yes I agree: Quality seems low on work around engine stuff. All cables and hoses hanging lose due to sloppy and lasy mechanics and old plastics that has broken of age. Even the big factory cooling hoses is porly mounted. Well – found the short: loose cable to a Lambasensor. Today the head gasket blowed. White smoke and gases in the cooling water. Oil still no water.
    oh dear…

  81. I have a 2003 Landrover Freelander 4×4, it has 123,500 miles on it runs quiet does not use fluids, but has a censors out on the transmission, but still works good it does need a new front door lock that is because some one tried to wrench out the cylinder when I was in a store shopping, but they never got in neither did I, I have to call my insurance company to send some one out to open it, because I had a large deductible I was unable to fix the lock and I found out you have to buy the handle and lock as one the BMW told me then have it re-keyed to fit my key to get it to work,as far as the 4×4 I would never give it up, I’d rather put in a new engine and trans before letting it go. After reading all the post I am so sorry it has been bad for you all I guess I am lucky with mine, but if you know where I can find a used drivers handle with lock I would be grateful to hear from you, I am 67 years old and disable and on a fixed income so you see why I am having trouble buying a new one or even finding one.

  82. Hi all, I have a 2001/2 Freelander 1 td4 with the BMW 2l turbo (M47R) engine .170000Km… Up till recently it was losing coolant slowly,.. now the coolant runs straight through to the sump ( out the sump plug when removed ) The leak is so fast that it seems unbelievable that such a large gap could occur in the head gasket and yet the engine runs fine . As an example 500ml of water added to the expansion tank drains away straight through and out the Oil sump drain plug in approx 3-5 minutes . Note : the water appears to leak into the sump even when the cooling chambers of the cylinder head are NOT filled with water , I.E. the water level in the engine is at ,or below the top of the cylinder block and not in the head itself .
    Is there a freezeplug / plugtite between the oil and water chambers that may have failed ?
    Does anyone have any ideas as to what / where this fault lies ? Do these BMW M47R engine blocks have a history of cracking ( I am not certain if the engine has over heated in past ) …Oh and ,.. otherwise the engine starts well, runs smoothly and pulls well , no missing no excess smoke out the tailpipe . I’ve been told that the head gasket can be replaced without removing the engine from the vehicle . Is that true ? My fear is that on head removal no head gasket failure will be found … that point what to do ? .. any experience or advice will be greatly appreciated .

    • I would have the problem investigated asap.
      If coolant is entering the sump at the rate you describe, then the engine oil must be in poor condition, an oil / water mix. How long will the crankshaft last if the bearings are rumming on oil/water mix?
      If the dipstick is checked , or the oil cap removed, can you see an off-white foam or solution inside?

  83. I have one 2005 Land Rover Freelander Diesel 2.0 TD4 nd now is giving me a lot of trouble with the transmition valve box, so i need to buy one of this unit. This is the part of the trasnmition that have the solenoid valvule. Can you tell me some website that i can buy one for service to take it to the Dominican Republic.

  84. Personally I love my 2003yr 3 door Freelander 1.8 (1.8 turbo conversion). Reliable if you know how to fix and build them. Very practical size for dogs and family. Easy and cheap to make better with lift kit, rock sliders, breathing mods etc. So cheap to buy! Such value for money. Can even imitate a convertable with the rear roof section off. So many different cars in one. And a British trait to support the underdog! (P.S. I have a few videos on fixing freelanders on youtube channel comeinhandynow )

  85. Mike makes a living from writing? Really?

    Where did he learn to write like this: ‘….where my patience (of which I am far from being blessed with)…’

    There are countless other syntax and grammatical errors which detract from the point he is trying to make. It’s almost unreadable in places.

    I thought AROnline was better than this.


  86. As an alternative, is there any merit in running a Dacia Duster 4×4 or a Ford Ranger in lieu of a Freelander?

  87. Reading this article resonates with my own frustrations and disappointments as a former Land Rover Freelander owner. I, too, fell for the allure of the stylish design and Land Rover’s reputation, only to be let down by a myriad of quality issues. The post-2003 model I owned seemed to embody a decline in craftsmanship, from split intercooler pipes to persistent leaks and a substandard interior. The dealership experience mirrored the author’s, lacking the care and attention one would expect when investing in a supposedly premium brand. It’s disheartening to witness such a renowned 4×4 brand compromise its integrity. Like the author, I’ve moved on to later Freelander models, which thankfully restored my faith in the Land Rover marque. However, the bitter taste of my original Freelander ownership experience lingers, serving as a cautionary tale for those considering the early 2000s models.

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