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Between a Rock and a Hard Place

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Looking for sage advice from the defender experts, I bought this 1985 90 2.5 NA last June with zero knowledge of the Defender or LR. Slowly figured out that the machine wasn't in 100% top shape, especially in and around the engine, but nevertheless hindsight is always 20/20. 

Last week I was driving and heard a pretty horrible knocking sound from the engine and lost all the power while on the highway, slowed down and limped home. Didn't notice anything particular when I checked under the hood and the next day drove to work and didn't hear the noise at first, until after about 3km. Then decided to go to a garage after work, on the way there knocking (see video) was pretty bad and I pulled over for a moment and then the motor just died and couldn't restart. Called the mechanic to pick me up with the tow etc.

So now he has taken a look at the motor (see pics) and told me the no1 piston is gone and I'm assuming the bearing shells too. I live in Italy and speak Italian pretty well, but tbh I dont know many of the automotive words so I wasn't able to understand this guy very well over the phone. What I did gather was that its might be 3-4K to fix which seems high for new pistons and new head gasket etc. 

Here lies the dilemma, is it worth it to: 1.) have it fixed (when I bought it for 6k) 2.)buy a new complete engine 3.) just cut my losses and sell the whole thing. The thing is I love the Defender and absolutely want to keep driving one, if I dig down and spend a bit more on a newer 90s or early 2000s 200 or 300 tdi is it going to last? Keep both for parts etc? Im open to opinions.




https://youtu.be/JQ_Fc7EKqGk (for knocking)







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1st photo -- no bearing shell in that con rod, 

2nd photo -- looks as though the locating tab that fits in the recess of con rod has broken off & possible the bearing has moved

4th Photo -- piston ring missing from that piston, but it looks ok otherwise without having a closer look in my hands, line between the 2 orange marks could be a hairline crack 

5th photo -- head looks OK, can't see any damage between cylinders & the 4 hot spots are in place, valve heads look undamaged as well.

6th photo -- nice tidy 90.:i-m_so_happy:


that its might be 3-4K to fix

A rebuilt engine from Turner Engineering is about that cost plus VAT & Shipping.


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Personally I'd either fix it probably the cheapest option.


Put a 200tdi in fits straight in but requires finding a good one (there getting old now) and you need radiator, intercooler and a few other bits and pieces (exhaust down pipe if a discovery 200tdi).

A 300tdi or td5 can be fitted but require a lot more work.


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Def. replace the engine and enjoy !

Vehicle looks tidy and selling it will cost you a lot.

Turner makes very good rebuild engines out of the crate to fit.

There are also 300 Tdi retro fit kits - but it is more work


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I suspect the crank pin associated with that rod with the loose big end shell will be worn below the limit for any re-grind . As others have said talk to Turner engines about a re-con exchange unit or possibly an outright purchase , in which case you could consider a Tdi

It looks a nice tidy 90 so if you like it , it will be worth the effort



Steve b 

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  • 4 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...

Don't let it idle for prolonged periods as this causes glazing of the bores. Normal driving with no excessive load where the engine labouring as this can starve the bearing of oil, but give it some welly up hills when the engine is warm. 

After around 500 miles give it an oil and filter change. 

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Glad you got it fixed by the way, definitely the right choice. I'll warn you now, Land Rovers have a good habit of making you think "why am I spending all this money on it". 

The best Land Rover tip is to never add up what you are spending and you'll be fine:D

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