Always get a pre-purchase check

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Get a pre-purchase check .

Do NOT get this done by a mate, or the local friendly service station.Go to a Land Rover expert shop and pay the money. The cost might seem like a lot, but it is nothing compared to the potential cost if you buy a heap of junk. However, be warned that even the best of specialists cannot diagnose every problem, even if potentially major, so be sure to drive the vehicle in as wide a range of conditions as possible in order to detect potential faults.

Things to do yourself:

Check for obvious rust. A physical check of the door bottoms and frames, also under the carpets for rust is essential. A vehicle that has been driven on sand can be an absolute rust bucket and will literally be un-roadworthy.

If the vehicle has been set up for extensive cruising or bush driving, that can be an advantage for you. However, be suspicious of massive suspension lifts, ultra wide tyres, roof-bars with a zillion driving lights and so on. That is not a reason to reject the vehicle if it has been well maintained, but assume the worst.

Test-drive the vehicle and be sure to observe any noise, vibration or engine misfire. Also be sure to identify any steering vibration or wandering.

Drive the vehicle as hard as possible and/or sit with the engine running to identify any tendency for it to overheat. Some overheating problems may not be detected until the vehicle is pushed hard. This is especially true of early diesel engines that take a long time to get to normal operating temperature. Be sure to test it yourself under these conditions.

Look at the exhaust for smoke –blue smoke means oil is burning. In a petrol engine, it probably means worn rings and/or bearings. In a diesel engine, that may be caused by an intercooler or intercooler hose. White smoke will generally be caused by coolant in a cylinder  or low compression.

Be sure that braking is smooth and the vehicle does not pull badly to one side. This may not be a deal breaker but it may help on the price negotiation.

Look under the bonnet for burned or loose wiring, badly worn belts and hoses, coolant and oil leaks. These can serve as indicators of poor maintenance.

Test all of the lights as per a rego check. This will identify any blown globes, but it may also point to bad wiring or switches.

Test the air conditioning to be sure it gets cold and that the fan switches work properly.

Never kid yourself that the purchase price will cover everything that is needed.

Things the workshop will do:

A good workshop will do more than the absolute basics. This is another reason to deal with a workshop with proven experience in servicing Land Rovers. They will know precisely where to look and what to expect.

  • They will identify any problems with the steering and suspension, examine the exhaust for fixing and leaks, inspect the drive train and the source of any oil, fuel or coolant leaks.
  • Loss of coolant means trouble. It can only go a few places –from a busted hose, leaking radiator, worn water pump etc OR through the engine. Water on the floor of the car may be rainwater coming through a sunroof or window but more likely, a blown heater hose or heater core.
  • A full electronic diagnostic test will be conducted to identify any problems with cylinder pressures as well as many other faults
  • Engine overheating could mean many things, from a viscous coupling on the fan, a blocked radiator, defective thermostat or a blown head gasket (plus several other causes).
  • Heater hoses will be examined for hardening and coolant hoses for softening. These will be minor but necessary repair jobs.
  • The vehicle will be test driven by a professional who will identify any noise, vibration or misfire for attention. The same applies to vibration or wandering steering that could be tyre damage, a bearing, worn bushes or a cracked universal joint.
  • Brakes pulling one way might be a worn pad, but it might also be a leaking hub seal or ball joint. The disks (rotators) may need replacing or maybe a calliper is broken. If the vehicle has ABS, the workshop will check to ensure the motor, pump and relay all work correctly.
  • If the vehicle has air suspension, the workshop will check for a leaking air-spring or seal, the valve block, compressor or EAS computer.

This article is one of many written by ASPAC Consulting,in collaboration with the technical experts at Graeme Cooper Automotive.