How Reliable Is My Land Rover Discovery?

I bought my D4 brand new. Almost the next day I began to think that it was a lemon.

The car was flat bedded back to the dealer at least 5 times in the first 6 months of its life.

It had turbo issues, electrical issues, a snapped CV (during some mild 4WDing at Stockton Beach) and some other stuff that I now struggle to remember.

But then, the onslaught of issues stopped.

It visits the mechanic for its annual service. During the course of 7 years these visits resulted in surprise cost blowouts on 3 occasions:

  • replacement of front LCAs
  • replacement of both engine mounts
  • replacement of the front prop shaft

All of these were replaced as a precaution, rather than due to a catastrophic failure.

But I haven’t escaped without major incidents. I’ve had two breakdowns that I consider catastrophic.

The first was caused by an air compressor failure at the beach. It was the biggest near-miss I’ve ever experienced in any car.

I was climbing through coffee rocks on a beach near Ballina when a red suspension warning came on.

There were no other symptoms, so I thought it may be a false positive, but after a short while I decided to turn around and head back to the beach anyway. Partly because of the warning, but also because the tide was coming in, the rocks were getting dicier, the sun was setting and I was alone.

As soon as I came off the rocks, the suspension failed.

The car rested on its bump stops, leaving me with about 100mm of clearance between the chassis rails and the sand. Thankfully, the sand was mostly hard and flat, but I knew that the beach exit, another 3 km away, was soft as shit.

That was a small problem compared with one I would have faced if the suspension failed 5 minutes earlier, while I was still climbing up and down those large rocks.

There’s no way I would have been able to drive through them with suspension at the bump stops. Unless a twin-locked 4WD came by and skull-dragged me off, my car would have been stuck there overnight like some kind of automotive statue, at the mercy of the tide.

Counting my lucky stars, I drove to the beach exit.

I got funny looks from a few fishermen as I hooned past them at a rapid clip in my newly lowered 4WD. The speed gave me enough momentum to get through the beach, but it wasn’t enough for the exit. Despite hitting it at a rapid pace, I got properly bogged about 50% of the way out.

Thankfully, some guys in a cool old Toyota 4WD wagon stopped to help me dig.

Like some kind of dumb joke, while we were all digging and flattening out the sand in front of my car, the Disco’s air compressor decided to wake up. I heard it unmistakable buzz and, face full of sand, turned around to see it pumping the Disco back into Offroad mode.

Capre diem, baby!

We weren’t going to let this opportunity slip away. The Toyota driver raced back to his car; I ran back to mine. A quick snatch and thirty seconds later I was on the tarmac. The compressor coughed and died again.

The second major issue happened last year while camping near Kenilworth.

A clogged turbo actuator, coupled with a short in one of the wiring harnesses, resulted in a double-whammy restricted performance/suspension fail. If I didn’t have a 3-tonne van with me I probably would have nursed the car back to a dealership. But in this instance, it was much easier and safer to call RACV.

Yep, another unceremonious flatbed delivery to the dealer.

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