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Freelander 1 Longevity

Repair Guide Freelander 1 Longevity

When people join the forum looking for buying advice, they are struck with the problems and costs people have had with their VCU and IRD. I can imagine this putting a lot of people off FL1's, and it would have me too if i had known they existed!

What i didn't know when i bought my FL1 is that they aren't "permanent" 4 wheel drive like the Discovery and Defenders.
To those that aren't sure, the FL1 happily runs around in 2WD (front wheels) most of the time. The rear wheels are only driven when the front wheels lose traction.
I will let one of the resident experts (you know who you are) explain how this happens as i only know it in Noddy terms and i don't want to get it wrong and give incorrect information.

In a Discovery or Defender that doesn't use Low box or Difflock very often, the linkages can become very stiff and the seize.
In a FL1 the VC is always slipping, that's what it's designed to do, when the front wheels lose traction the VC locks and sends drive to the rear axle. The front wheels drag the rears as their gearing is higher so the VC lets the rear prop spin faster than the front.

It is a very expensive problem to rectify. A lot of owners simply remove the rear prop shaft to "cure the symptoms". All that does is hide the problems, normally from a prospective buyer.

To check for a seized VC, there are a couple of simple checks you can do:

When you go to look at buying a FL1, check that the rear prop shaft is in place. If it is missing, do not listen to any sh!t from the seller - WALK AWAY. The seller will tell you he removed it to give more MPG's and a quicker pace. It is true that it will accelerate quicker and use less fuel, but don't risk the fact it was probably removed because of it needing a new VC and/or IRD.

Check the rear tyres and the spare. If the VC has seized, it is like driving on tarmac with a Difflock engaged, it will give a "stepping" appearance to the rear tyres. Check the spare just in case the rears have been replaced, but one put as the spare!
Incidentally, when you replace the tyres, if you can't afford 4 new ones, you must buy and fit at least an axle set. If it is the front's that need replacing, get the 2 new tyres put on the rear axle, and the 2 from the rear axle putting on the front!
The FL1 needs the tyres with the biggest diameter putting to the rear axle EVERY TIME, or you will kill your IRD.

Drive very slowly forwards forwards with the steering wheel on full lock. If all is well, you will feel a little resistance like the brakes are being gently applied. If big bills are on the horizon, you will feel the back end "skipping". This is the effect of having "Difflock" (a seized VC!) engaged on tarmac, and why the rear tyres can look "stepped" (see above!)

Jack one rear wheel up. Using a wheel brace on one of the wheel nuts you should be able to SLOWLY turn the wheel. This should take a fair bit of effort. If you cannot turn the wheel, the VC may be seized and the wheel that is in the floor will be stopping you turning the wheel off the ground.

Where does the fun in the snow bit come into this thread? Well, now actually.
You have all heard the phrase "If you don't use it, you will lose it", well that is an old Greek phrase relating to the freelander!
To keep things running smoothly, you need to occupationally, and safely, spin the front wheels. This will enable the VC and IRD to do their jobs and keep them moving freely.

Tonight i went to an empty and frozen car park and pretended i was a boy racer!

When you spin the front wheels, the front wheels will spin and the car will probably start moving to one side, like an ordinary FWD car with the wheels spinning. The traction control symbol will light up on the dash, and you should be aware of the rear wheels now being driven as the car should now move forward in whatever direction it is pointing, or at least stop pivoting on the rear wheels.

I suggest doing this in an empty carpark as your car may pivot on the rear wheels wheels when you spin the fronts, you may also move forward when the back wheels become driven or if you hit a patch (or dig through the ice) or unfrozen tarmac, your car may jolt forwards at a rapid rate of knots!!!

While in the empty car park, test your ABS by travelling fairly slowly and firmly pressing the brake. About 10mph should do it. If your ABS is working, you will feel the brake pedal "pulsing" as the car releases and applies the brakes.

I also tested my HDC. With HDC engaged and 1st gear selected, accelerate to about 10-12mph and take your foot off the throttle. Your HDC should apply the brakes to bring your speed down to about 6mph. There may be some groaning from the brakes while it does this, as all 4 brakes are worked independently. You can test your HDC whenever road conditions (traffic/pedestrians) allow, it doesn't have to be icy.

I know i have been vague, but hopefully this thread will help somebody increase the longevity of their FL1.

If anyone wants to add to, fill in any gaps or explain what i haven't, then please feel free.
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