Let me start by saying that my Defender 110"
CSW TDi300 is the most pleasurable, durable and reliable vehicle I have ever
owned! Apart from a faulty generator and a defect headlight switch, this vehicle
has given completely unfailing service for four and a half years - and the
vehicle starts, runs and handles every bit as good as the day it was delivered
back in February 1999.
This is my company's most important vehicle -
we use it as our unit vehicle to transport a TV crew - 1 - 5 people) complete
with equipment around Denmark, and occasionally to other destinations in
Europe. Currently (Sept. 2003) this truck has clocked up 82000 km since
delivery in Feb 1999 - that's under 1500 km per month.
||CY 79 239 (1999)
| Currently (Sept. 2003) 82029 km
delivery in Feb 1999
vehicle is reserved for this purpose, and is rarely driven for other jobs.
Before every assignment the engine and fluid levels are fully checked, and
because we are proud of this truck and our work depends on its reliability, we
pay great attention to detail. Small faults or damage are immediately
rectified, the vehicle has been subjected to a complete routine service
history by the original supplier (Team-Bertelsen
- one of Denmark's most experienced and dedicated official Land Rover sales
and service centres, with whom I have done business for 20 years - this
company have always offered excellent support) in complete accordance with the
manufacturer's specifications. Unlike our series vehicles, all service and
routine maintenance on this vehicle is carried out by our supplier.
vehicle is washed thoroughly every week in our own workshop - and once a month
we take a trip to a local service station where we buy the best automatic wash
with all the frills - underside pressure wash, extra wax etc. And when the
vehicle is not out on a job, it is parked in a warm, dry garage away from the
elements. Yes - we spoil this truck!
yet - despite over 20 years experience of Land Rover ownership (we run three
other series trucks and handle our own maintenance - everything from changing
a sidelight lens to a complete frameover - we are disappointed with the
cosmetic quality of this vehicle after four-and-a-half years of very careful
and considerate ownership.
following images speak for themselves - though I add my own comments and
THE IMAGE FOR A 1024 X 768 PIXEL VERSION)
GENERAL VIEWS OF VEHICLE
Here's a shot of the Defender back in February 1999 - just after
This is what the vehicle looks like today (September 2003) No bumps or
From a distance,
the only noticeable deterioration is the wheels, which have become
engrained with dirt and which are very difficult to clean, despite
This vehicle does not get heavy use. It is fitted with furniture in the
rear seat area to accommodate our camera and sound equipment.
Notice that the
rear cab floor and stock carpet is protected by a rubber mat - and the
front and centre seat areas also have genuine LR mats on the floor to
protect the carpet.
In wet or humid
weather, these mats are removed to allow the carpet to dry out and air
when the vehicle is between jobs in the garage - even for a single night
These 4 images
illustrate the way we pack the rear compartment with equipment.
REAR CROSS MEMBER
The paintwork on the rear cross-member deteriorated very quickly -
within a few months - and is now a disappointing rusty colour.
I have smeared
the cross member with oil to delay corrosion. It would be easy to paint
the outside face, but what concerns me is that this illustrates the
general quality of the chassis finish.
finished of the cross-member with that of the handles - genuine LR spare
parts, which were fitted immediately when the vehicle was purchased -
nearly 5 years exposure to the elements and still in perfect condition.
Why should we settle for less?
I would have
preferred a galvanised chassis but this was not a factory option - and
replacing the chassis on a 4 year old vehicle here in Denmark costs a
lot due to the new chassis incurring an exhorbitant registration tax.
(The chassis is NOT a spare part, it is the actual vehicle - seen from
the taxman's point of view)
I have series
trucks with painted rear cross members that look excellent after several
years of daily exposure to salt, snow and dirt.
chassis finish is - by comparison - no way close to the quality of good
marine grade machine paint!
BODY PANEL & CHASSIS CORROSION
In keeping with Land Rover tradition, the greatest problem is that of
galvanic corrosion due to the proximity of dissimilar metals - steel
frame, casings and bulkhead meeting aluminium body panels.
always been a Land Rover issue - and on rebuilds I have always used
silicon mastic, mastic tape or rubber sheeting to buffer the mechanical
junction between steel and aluminium - as well as using stainless steel
or galvanised bolts and fittings.
One would expect
that Land Rover would have addressed this issue - but on the defender,
the problem is - in my experience - far worse than on the earlier Series
trucks - as the quality of the paintwork (which acts as a separator
between dissimilar metals) is poorer, and the steel cappings around the
rear tub are mild steel - fitted before the tub is painted and thus
offering no separation. On previous series trucks the cappings were hot
dip galvanised and resulted in very little corrosion.
Here are some close-ups of the cappings under the right-hand window
panel - serious rust is already bubbling up under the paintwork, and the
junction between the tub and the cab is a water trap. Galvanised
cappings would have prevented this.
Such a problem
is difficult for the owner to prevent on a daily basis, as dirt gets
trapped between the components and they cannot be cleaned or repainted
without removing the hard-top.
The only cure
for this problem is to remove the hard-top, then remove the cappings and
strip and re-paint.
Door hinges are a typical Land Rover problem - hinges can be metalised
to prevent rust, and fixing screws could be stainless steel. But this
modern Land Rover is fitted with cheap electroplated screws and
untreated cast-iron hinges, which rust badly - and which cause staining
of the paintwork.
workaround is regular application of oil, which also stains the
The sill of the
rear door shows clear evidence of corrosion - again due to the marriage
between dissimilar metals.
And the rear door itself is badly corroded after only 4 years. Corrosion
develops inside the door metalwork, at the junction between the steel
frame and the aluminium classing, causing metal salts to drain out of
the door and stain the paintwork.
The door hinges show clear signs of corrosion, paint bubbling up around
A rubber seal
between the hinge and the door, (like on the Series III rear doors) and
the use of stainless or galvanised screws and bolts would obviate this
The rear door handle and lock mechanism is an eyesore - it is almost
impossible for the owner to cure rust on a door handle that is almost
recess collects water and corrosion at the bottom of the well is the
The aluminium window retaining profile at the inside bottom of the rear
window is beginning to show signs of corrosion - despite weekly cleaning
and liberal application of lubricants such as light oil or WD40. Another
typical Land Rover dissimilar metal interface problem.
POOR QUALITY DESIGN, FINISH AND COMPONENTS
The quality of the plastic door handles leaves much to be desired -
these parts lose their black colour after only a year or two, and look
like cheap faded plastic from a 70's Ford Cortina!
The white stains
are difficult to remove - the only cure is replacement.
Only months after delivery, the rubber cladding around the pedals began
to fall down on a regular basis - usually whilst driving, which impedes
operation of the pedals and is extremely dangerous.
We have to hold the cladding in place with duct tape, which also fails
periodically due to the heater softening the tape and adhesive.
The front seat
safety belts continually foul the door catches, which damages the belts
and results in the buckle captive stud falling out, so that one has to
open the door to get hold of the buckle.
This problem is
further complicated by the belt roller behind the seat being damaged by
rear seat passenger feet due to poor placement of the mechanism.
The mounting fixture for the safety belts is electroplated steel, and
causes severe dissimilar metal interface problems with the aluminium seat box,
steel door rails, and doorpost.
further complicated because the metal oxide salts are absorbed by the
carpeting which results in a "culture" of corrosive salts and
water in the area. This photo was taken only 1 week after the entire
area had been cleaned, dried and the metal parts sprayed with lubricant.
engine compartment of this vehicle is washed thoroughly at regular
intervals to remove all dirt and excess fluids - after which the parts
are coated with a liberal application of WD40 - a technique which has
proved extremely reliable on my Series engine compartments.
But the quality
of paintwork on the Defender components is of a poorer quality - most
components are painted with a matt black finish, which is less capable
of repelling moisture. The paint coating is also thinner than on earlier
models, so the coating corrodes much quicker.
It is a pity
that such a good engine is marred by cosmetic deterioration after such a
short period of use. Deterioration is especially noticeable on the top
of the radiator console, the heater battery enclosure, and other
black-matt finished parts.
heater battery enclosure
bulkhead transmission arch also shows signs of
POST IMPORT ELECTRICAL MODIFICATION FOR THE DANISH MARKET
The standard Defender has a traditional three position headlight switch
on the left side of the steering column
To comply with Danish vehicle regulations, which proscribe that the
headlights must be on at all times when the vehicle is on the road, the
importer modifies the lighting circuit with the addition of a relay
circuit. This relay is not located on the main fuseboard and relay
panel, but is hidden in a heat-shrink sleeved enclosure lying loose
inside the instrument panel. It is also protected by a local in-line
fuse, which is also hidden behind the instrument panel.
other land Rover electrics, this relay uses a small circuit comprising
several discreet electronic components - transistors and diodes which
form a logic to control the relay, and which constitute an otherwise
unnecessary potential failure.
If this circuit
fails, the headlights main beam circuit will not work, and the relay
will buzz and chatter. The buzz audible is the only indication that this
circuit even exists, as there is no documentation for this modification
in the users handbook or on the nomenclature of the fuse panel.
circuit is inserted into the main headlight switch wiring on the switch
side of the removable switch connector - the connections are
accomplished using soldered joints and heat shrink sleeving. Similarly,
the relay itself is not a pluggable device, but is soldered to the
wiring and sleeved.
If the headlight
switch fails (Whish is common on Defenders especially those which
regularly tow a trailer and have the additional lighting load through
the switch), the switch cannot be simply replaced by plugging in a new
switch, as the original design allows - instead additional workshop time
is incurred, and the task is not easy for the average owner, as there is
no documentation of this modification.
failed last week on my Defender, causing damage to the relay circuit
also. The switch is obviously overheated as the contacts have moved in
the melted housing. This switch costs over £80 as a genuine spare, and
necessitates a similar cost for workshop repair due to the bad design of
the relay modification.
discovered that removing the fuse which protects the relay disables the
modification circuit and restores the lighting circuit and main column
switch to standard functioning.
circuit should be designed using passive components, and should be
located on the main fuse-board and relay panel (on the bulkhead above
the gearbox tunnel). Documentation of all modifications prior to
delivery should be given to the owner on delivery.
This vehicle cost nearly £25,000 inc. VAT in 1999. We are fortunate
that our company can register a vehicle for this purpose without having
to pay the otherwise exorbitant Danish 180% import duty, which together
with VAT would have brought the capital cost of this Defender over
£70,000 - (approx. DKr 700,000) - for a vehicle of this price, one
expects a certain level of quality and finish.
Because of the
Danish import regulations, the duty exemption to which companies like
mine are entitled applies only to new vehicles. Few companies are
entitled to this exemption. If I chose to sell this Defender, the
purchaser would have to pay the import duty to which I am exempt. This
would put the second-hand price of this Defender way above the market
price for a used vehicle - so when buying a truck to be used as a TV
unit vehicle, we must expect to keep the vehicle on the road for a
period of something like 10 years, as we cannot realise its resale value
when upgrading every 5 years like many owners - so here too we expect a
level of quality and finish which will be sustained throughout the
useful working life of this vehicle.
drive chain, suspension and other installations on this vehicle work
perfectly after four and a half years use. The cosmetic deterioration is
not due to lack of maintenance or care on our part, neither is it in any
way due to lack of workmanship or dedication on the part of our
supplier. We are completely confident in the ability and workmanship of
our supplier, and we have a trading relationship with them that goes
back to 1984 when we purchased our first Series III from them.
Team-Bertelsen is without doubt a highly experienced and reputable Land
Rover supplier and service workshop, with two generations of Land Rover
experience behind them.
deterioration on this Defender 110" CSW are - in our opinion, and
based on 20 years Land Rover ownership - the result of bad design and
poor workmanship by the manufacturer - most small and economically
insignificant details, which given the experience of the Land Rover
heritage since 1947, should have been eliminated when the Defender was
designed and targeted to the marketplace.
several Land Rovers, we know that the problems of dissimilar metal
interfacing can be eradicated or mitigated to a great degree. We also
know that paint quality and the use of galvanised cappings can reduce
We have been
dismayed by the poor quality of sealing around doors and windows, which
allows water to enter the vehicle. Similarly, the cosmetic finish of the
interior is disappointing - rubber cladding around the pedals falls
down, seat belts fail to rewind adequately and thus get trapped in the
door latches, plastic parts such as door handles discolour, and the
paint on the rear cross-member disappears. This is simply shoddy
workmanship and bad design.
of the headlights circuit for the Danish market is a cheap and tatty
solution, leaving the unsuspecting owner with an undocumented
modification which is hard to find and even harder to repair, and which
is undertaken in such a way as to incur unnecessary workshop costs when
replacing something as simple as a switch. And that a switch that costs
over £80.00 cannot last more than 4 years is a clear indication of bad
component or circuit design.
I feel that Land
Rover should address these issues and compensate customers who have
suffered such a disappointment. The Land Rover heritage, and the goals
of the company (Adventure,
Authenticity, Guts and Supremacy) are greatly devalued by a product
which cannot hold its value and appearance after such a short service
life and given such care and attention.
I don't expect a
nearly five year old working vehicle to look like it did when it left
the factory, but neither do I expect it to look like a ten year old
truck that has never been maintained. When I compare a five year old
Defender with second hand vehicles of a similar vintage, that also have
been regularly cleaned and maintained and driven carefully, I am
Maybe Land Rover
would care to comment on the above and explore the possibilities for
rectifying this situation?
vehicle data & specification
Channel 6 Television Denmark