Used Land Rover Defender (Mk1, 1990-2016) review - What should you look for?
The Defender is a dependable choice, but here are plenty of things to look out for, particularly on older cars
It’s essentially a very durable machine, but the Defender’s old design means there are a number of areas that will require attention. Older cars are more prone to problems, so you’ll have to inspect any possible purchase with a fine-tooth comb, and even then you’re likely to experience a fault at some point. On the plus side the car has a hugely loyal following, with lots of independent specialists and clubs to help with repairs and advice.
Common used Land Rover Defender problems
Defenders are among the most commonly stolen vehicles in the UK each year; get an insurance quote before buying.
Water getting into the cabin is very common, usually from the windscreen seal, the sunroof or above the screen. Check all of these areas.
Poor running is often the result of a faulty fuel-injection loom or ECU connector, a tired fuel pump or a blocked fuel filter.
Corrosion in the chassis can be very expensive to fix. The rear crossmember is usually the first component to go wrong here.
Land Rover recalled the Defender 10 times from June 2000 to December 2016. The first was for TD5 flywheels cracking, while brake hoses led to recalls in April 2002 and July 2017. The service brake (Mar 2004), parking brake (Dec 2009 and April 2011), seat belt mounting (Aug 2012), axle tube (Nov 2014), wheel hub (Feb 2015) and auto box all prompted recalls, too.
In this review
- 1Used Land Rover Defender (Mk1, 1990-2016) reviewThe Land Rover Defender is bursting with character and brilliant off-road, but its dated design, agricultural on road behavior and high running costs count against it
- 2How much will it cost?Prices are high and values rising, but you’ll need to budget for high running costs
- 3How practical is it?It’s not as big inside as you’d expect and it’s sparsely equipped, but the Defender can turn its hand to anything
- 4What’s it like to drive?Sluggish performance and vague on road handling, but Defender is packed with charm and a supreme mud-plugger
- 5What should you look out for? - currently readingThe Defender is a dependable choice, but here are plenty of things to look out for, particularly on older cars
- 6What do owners think?It’s as tough as old boots, but the Defender is an old design and will be more troublesome than newer machines