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Freelander 1: Convert back to 4WD?


In Second Gear
Morning gents,

I've just purchased a Freelander 1. Its a 2002, TD4 Manual with 74,000 miles on the clock. It has very recently been converted to 2WD - apparently to improve fuel economy (although I've been told the difference is negligible - any thoughts?) and I'm wondering whether to convert it back to 4WD.

My main concern is that the VCU will be due for changing, and I don't fancy forking out £450 just yet. Being 17 years old and past the 70,000 mark by 4k (70,000 for VCU change), do you think it would defiantly need changing?

Any advice would be much appreciated.

I should add that I have been supplied with all the gear to do the change back.

Hi Dan, welcome to the forum!

Seems a lot of effort to go to 2 wheel drive for 'economy'. If the vcu is working the car would be in 2wd most of the time anyway. When they fail they seem to often stick in 4wd, which is quite noticeable, odd wear patterns in the tyres, jerky steering in tighter turns, that sort of thing. Kind of suggests that may be why it was removed, or maybe I'm just cynical.

Have a look at http://www.bellengineering.co.uk
They seem to be well recommended for reconditioning your vcu, at a better price than a replacement, and you have it off the car anyway!

Though, it might be interesting to put it back together and see if it is faulty already.
Hi Big Sandy,

Thanks for your advice. I was thinking along the same lines with regards to why it was converted to 2WD in the first place.

I think I'll put it back on and see if I can notice anything wrong, if so Bell engineering seems quite reasonable.

You can try the VCU without connecting anything. Just try to turn one half in relation to the other with a pry bar or something similar in the universal joints. It will be very stiff but should be turnable by hand with a 18 inch to 2 foot bar. My VCU is original and isn't seized and has 130k on it.

With the VCU system all 4 wheels are alway driven but there is a always a wee bit of fighting between the front and rear axles, like "wind up" in a Series landrover. The VCU should allow a bit of slippage to stop that getting excessive that but I think the Freelander tyre life isn't great just because of the nature of the "controlled wind up" in the VCU 4wd system.

Anyone that feels they are so strapped for cash that theyneed to take it off to get better fuel economy probably should be buying a different car. I doubt it would make much difference anyway. They should also keep in mind that the full torque will have to be handled by the front drivetrain alone, rather than being shared with the rear wheels. So faster wear and more chance of breaking something.
My only comment is nobody removes a prop off a freelander for fuel economy.. its typically as there is a problem with the VCU and its eating rear diff bushes for fun.
You can expect it to be very stiff. It does have to have a fair resistance as it has to be able to transmit drive to the rear. I can turn mine with a bar in the UJs but it is hard to move. You won't turn it with a big screwdriver, or just ordinary lild steel bar - it does eeds something quite strong. If it seems totally solid I'd say that is seized. I agree with Satancom.. It is seized and both props are on it will also trash the IRD which is expensive. Even when they are healthy is feels a bit like the brakes are on when you turn on full lock at slow speeds. That is normal. It even says so in the handbook. If you are lucky someone might have thought that's it seizing and taken it off.
Dont suppose any of you guys have / know of any instructions or tutorials on re-fitting the VCU/prop shaft??

Thanks again
Its pretty straight forward. Word of caution though, dont let the prop hang off the IRD end as this will tear the rubber boot and cause future problems.
The bolts that hold the VCU bearings are stupidly long and when I changed mine I have a bit of hassle getting them out. They go into captive nuts inside the box section and the long, exposed bit of thread was corroded. They slackened ok but started jamming up as I began to screw them out. I spend a lot of time working them back and forwards with an air ratchet to free them off and eventually got all 4 out ok. Yours may be ok if it's been off but I really didn't fancy them snapping off. The UJ's on a prop shaft should be aligned a certain way so check that with Prof Google for a diagram. I can't remember how they go off the top of my head but I maybe you can't get it different ways on the Freelander anyway. If they are out of phase it gets a bit lumpy when it turns.
Worth bearing in mind that some insurance companies get very upset with folks removing propshafts from permanent 4x4 vehicles as it can change the vehicles handling....
IF you haven't disclosed it to them you may be on a sticky wicket in the event of you having an accident.
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