Even experienced Land Rover owners refuse to tow trailers because trailers can be accidents no longer waiting for a place to happen. However, many potential problems can be avoided by regular inspection and maintenance. Here are some suggestions:

1. Left side wheel nuts. Think about it – right hand threads on the RIGHT SIDE of the trailer will try to tighten themselves as the wheel rotates. BUT the right hand threads on the LEFT SIDE wheel nuts are trying to undo themselves. Check them for tightness BEFORE setting out to avoid losing the wheel when the nuts spin off. Don’t laugh – this happens frequently

2. Don’t expect the ball of the coupling to stay tight – vibration may cause the nut to loosen even if fitted with a spring washer, resulting in it literally falling off the tongue. Remove the ball joint, drill a 4 mm hole right through the shaft below where the nut will sit when tight. Replace it and insert a heavy split pin through the hole you drilled.

3. Though hard to believe, the spring pin securing the towbar tongue to the frame has been know to fall out, Then it is only a matter of time before the entire tongue works its way out of the frame. Because the safety chain is usually shackled to the tongue and not the actual vehicle, the trailer will fall off along with the tongue. On a highway this could result in serious accident to a following vehicle. The solution is to replace the spring pin with a bolt and nylock nut OR replace the entire pin with a 1/2″ high tensile bolt and nylock nut. Do NOT use plain nuts or they will work loose too.

4 Driving techniques should be practiced BEFORE setting out onto the public roads. This especially means learning how to back and turn safely without hitting another vehicle OR jack-knifing the trailer into your vehicle. If rear vision is poor, screw or bond a length of brightly coloured metal or plastic so these sit proud of the extreme front edges of the trailer and can be seen easily in your side mirrors

Finally, check your wiring before setting out. It is easier to repair a broken wire at home than do it on the roadside – especially if the Fuzz have stopped you for not having working lights

LAND ROVER traction control

Love to know which idiot at LR or their ad agency decided to post this picture as the example of traction control on a new Disco.

Did they not notice the cable attaching the vehicle to the dozer (or whatever) parked at the top of the hill?

This is either misleading advertising or someone’s idea of a bad joke. Don’t think it will do much to improve sales


The time will come, regardless of the age of the vehicle that the air-conditioning is no longer as cold as you would like it – or as cold as it used to be. To fix this, you may be looking at any cost between a few hundred dollars to many thousands. This is where some background knowledge and good advice can save a great deal of money as well as get the result you want.

The first consideration is the electrics, meaning does the compressor turn on when the controls are switched on? Is air coming from the vents, even if it is not as cold as you want?  You should be able to hear the clutch of the compressor engage and feel air at the vents. Assuming you can, this will not be the cause of the problem.

Far more likely is a leak, or more than one leak in a hose or a seal. They operate under high pressure and heat so deterioration over time is inevitable. A repairer will put dye into the system and under UV light will determine where the leak occurs. If a compressor seal is defective, it can be repaired but it may be far less costly to obtain a good used replacement from a compatible wreck. “Compatible” is the key here because not all compressors will suit your vehicle. However, perhaps the end section can be taken from yours and fitted to the replacement , overcoming the greater cost of pulling yours apart, replacing seals and probably bearings too. Contact Craig at Graeme Cooper Automotive – he may have or can get a good used unit.

A new dryer is essential. Also, it will not be worth attempting to repair defective hoses. Although new ones and fittings custom made to suit your vehicle are fairly expensive, it is the only way to repair a system effectively. A decision will have to be made whether to replace ALL hoses including the ones under the dashboard or just those within the engine bay (the ones copping the heat from the engine). Removing the dash will add several hours of labour and it is possible the leaks may be in the easier -to-access sections. It will be a judgement call.

Graeme Cooper Automotive are experts in diagnosis and repair and can save many hours of frustration and probably cost too.

Craig to the rescue!

Craig Flood is the Parts Manager at Graeme Cooper Automotive. Some say he can jump over small buildings without a run up. Certainly he is one of the most helpful parts specialists I have ever met

One recent example was a Range Rover broken down in the northern Territory and nowhere in the area was there a supplier with the bits needed to get it going. One call to Craig and all was resolved with delivery to the owner within 48 hours

Now that is service!.


There are several causes for rattles in the sunroof- regardless of model. The simple place to start is a check for loose screws. Try this:

Open the sliding roof all the way back

Stand on a stool (etc) so you can reach the roof components from the outside without damaging the car’s paint.

Do not undo anything you don’t have to – why make the job harder?

Try shaking/lifting all the various parts you can see. It will not take much to find the one(s) causing most of the rattling. The most likely is the wind baffle at the front. Chances are one side is tight and the other is loose and juddering. Using a torx driver. tighten any loose screws. The main offender is likely to be the one under a slot at the side of the baffle near the front.

Carefully remove this screw – use a magnet and/or a pair of long nose pliers because it will only come out through the side of the assembly – not through the top slot.

Put one or two small O-rings ONTO the screw AND one UNDER the screw. Carefully align the screw with the hole and tighten it. Now check the baffle again – it should be firmly in place without back and forth movement.

The next likely source of rattle is the sliding cover- more on this later

The dreaded electric seat switch

Having recently added a 1993 Vogue SE to my collection, I started to sort out the usual LUCAS mess, beginning with the driver’s seat adjustments (passenger side was OK). Typically, the controls moved the mirrors but not the seat and trying to get a 6’3″ body into the space occupied by the last owner was a challenge – though not as big a challenge as fixing the problem.

Step 1 – remove two screws from the metal cover over the motors and run a jumper wire from the battery direct to the seat motor- just reverse the polarity to change the direction of movement. Now at least the leg room and rake make driving feasible.

Step 2. Undo the NEGATIVE connector on the main battery – this is not essential but it may help you not to fry anything you touch inadvertently.

GENTLY pry off the two levers, then the top plate from the switch box on the side of the seat. If it has one, remove the rubber gasket. Undo the two Philips head screws securing the switch pack to the housing. GENTLY prise out the pack and unplug it from the loom.

Take the pack to a CLEAN area and place it onto a towel or other surface where the contents will not be lost for ever, Turn over the unit and remove the single Philips head screw from the underside. Then take Valium or strong drink to fortify yourself against the inevitable moment when most of the ball bearings and springs decide to remove themselves from their dedicated location.  GENTLY prise off the cover – Now you know why you are working on the towel. 

Take a very good look at where everything (is supposed to) fit and make sketches if necessary. Carefully remove all of the posts and their brass pins, also all brass contact plates, springs and ball bearings. Clean everything with electrical cleaning fluid and rub the brass strips with FINE sandpaper until everything is shiny.

Replace all strips into their little sockets- keep them clean – NO grease yet.  Replace each of the brass pins and GENTLY replace each post into its socket,  Do NOT damage the plastic housings,  It is very obvious where each one goes (you DID make a sketch didn’t you?). Then hold each ball bearing with forceps (borrow your partner’s eyebrow tweezers if necessary) and dunk each one into a tub of Vaseline until it is liberally covered and sticky, One hole at a time, drop in ONE ball bearing, followed by one spring. (That way you know which holes have the bottom ball bearings refitted).

Now for the tricky bit! One ball bearing at a time, dunk each into the Vaseline and sit it on top of a spring – the gunk will keep it in place – you hope.

GENTLY align the slots in the cover plate with the control posts and lower it until it snaps into place. Hold it down and give it a little shake – you should NOT hear any balls rattling around,  If you do, remove the cover and try re-seating the balls and/or springs again.. Do not replace the bottom screw until you are sure you have got is all right. If necessary, take more Vallium and/or strong drink and persist.

Finally, replace the switch pack into the seat housing, replace the main battery lead, start the vehicle and try the seat switches. If the seat now adjusts correctly, take more strong drink because you have (probably) fixed the problem. If only the mirrors move but not the seat, the problem is in the seat ECU and fixing that will be the subject of a different post.

 Be comforted by the knowledge that this first I did this it took me half a day – now I can do the entire job in less than an hour. However, please do not be surprised if the “fix” lasts only a matter of days or weeks before the old “moving mirror” situation occurs again.

In a separate article, I’ll explain how to bypass the switches completely by making and installing a DIY solution (not one a Land Rover specialist will attempt).

Why is there restricted content when the GCA site is viewed on a mobile phone?

The Graeme Cooper Automotive website contains a massive amount of technical detail in the various pages, also in the articles. Many of these include tables, graphs and other illustrations that would not be rendered in any usable form on a mobile phone screen.

To see all of the content, please view the site on a desktop or tablet computer

DIY petrol engine repairs

Ever tried rebuilding a land Rover petrol engine – say the 3.5 or 3.9 version? Yes it can be done by anyone reasonably handy but there are many tricks and traps in the process. Here is an excerpt from the full article that appears on the Graeme Cooper website – just one of many articles at http://www.graemecooper.com.au/articles.htm

If you think you can save money by rebuilding your own engine – good luck! Unless you have a) done this before and/or have fairly extensive mechanical experience b) comprehensive variety of workshop tools, c) a workshop manual and d) heaps of patience, you will soon come to realise that what seems like too much money to pay a professional workshop is actually the cheapest and most efficient solution.

One major reason the professional cost seems high is that the work is warranted, meaning if the job is botched, it will be redone at the shop’s expense. Second hand or after-market parts will also not be used unless they are from a known and proven source.  Also, even existing components will be inspected by someone who knows what to look for and anything suspect will be replaced or repaired. Here are some examples:

  • Cylinder heads may be warped or have gone soft from heat over a long period. Unless they are tested and if necessary straightened at a cost of up to $1500 a pair, they are effectively worthless.
  • Stripped threads will prevent bolts being refitted to the specified torque, so coolant, oil and/or compression leakage is inevitable. The professional shop may be able to fit helicoils or re-tap the threads – not something most home mechanics can do.
  • Reuse of gaskets is false economy – replacements may add a few hundred dollars to the price of the job but this is unavoidable for a successful result

The same applies to many of the hoses, especially those that are hard to access


The owner could not remove the key from the ignition of a 2004 Vogue.

The advice from Ward – Workshop manager at GCA was as follows

1. There is an interlock system where the “lock” affects several components within the vehicle
2. Ensure “park” is engaged. If not, that alone would prevent key removal.
3. Do NOT attempt to remove the mechanism – that may cause serious problems. Take it to a specialist