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'H' plate 90 TD

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Hi everyone,

I'm off to the auctions tomorrow as there's an 'H' plate 90 going through which i'm keen on having a stab at.

Hopefully (with us practically being an island at the mo) the weather will keep the cheque books away so i can have more than an icecubes chance of getting it!

My question; anything in particular i should check?

I'm reasonable au fait with my Landys but would be grateful of any 'insider' knowledge of not so obvious bits to check. You know the kind of thing "check the second bolt on the left of the steering box and if its not horizontal then the chassis is bent" kind of thing!

I've had 2 Discos from Brightwells and i like it there because you can have a good poke round the trucks before you bid.

Thanks for any help you can offer. :)

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I'm off to the auctions tomorrow as there's an 'H' plate 90 going through which i'm keen on having a stab at.

My question; anything in particular i should check?

What year is 'H'? I'm guessing its 91, same as mine.

Here's something I posted a while back. Was aimed at my beetle-driving-landrover-novice-sister, who was looking for one at the time.

So you want to buy a land rover. Buying one requires checking much much more than on a standard car. Having a sound chassis, engine and gearbox is much more important that having a nice paint job, which can hide a lot. An honest truck with a few dents and scratches is probably a much better buy – remember dents are just scratches with better stories !

When going looking at a landy, wear something that you can crawl under to look at the chassis, and bring a torch, some latex gloves if you want, and a screwdriver and small hammer - seriously!

Remember that landy owners usually think that their truck is worth more than it actually is, because of all the time and money they’ve put into it. A truck with a winch, roof rack, snorkel, spot lights is only worth more to someone who actually is looking for all those extra bits, it doesn’t necessarily add more value.

Landys are valued on condition rather than mileage or age. A service history is important though. Even if the owner does his own work, he should have receipts for the parts. Check when the last service and timing belt was done.

There’s a lot of info here, some of it pretty technical, but you need to check everything here to ensure you don’t end up with a shed of a truck

Rear cross member

The main rust point on any landy. They are always wet, trap mud and rot away. The rear cross member is steel and goes from one side to the other, under the rear door. It probably has grab handles on it. If there’s a tow bar, it’ll be bolted to it.

You will need to have a really good look at this. Ignore the fresh coat of paint it probably has on it.

Take your hammer and tap all around the cross member (after asking the owner if you can!). It should make a nice ringing sound. A dull thud is rust. Now get under the truck and check the back of the cross member. Dig out all the mud and crud with your screwdriver and you’ll probably find a horror of rust in there.

How, if the rest of the truck was sound and the cross member was in bits, I’d probably negotiate a price and buy it. You can buy a new member and have someone weld it in. Cross members aren’t too much 100-200e, but it’s a fair bit of work welding the new one in.

The Chassis

The chassis consists of 2 large steel square section beams that run from the front, where the bumper is bolted to them, to the rear cross member, which is welded to them.

Looking underneath, the beams are visible about 18 inches in from the level of the body/wheels. Take your hammer and tap all around the chassis beams. They should make a nice big ring. A dull thud again is rust.

If patches have been welded to the chassis, this is ok providing there is no further rust. You’ll usually find the back is worse because it gets all the rain spray and mud from the wheels. The front is usually protected from all the oil leaks from the engine!

A new chassis is about 2000e and is a very very very big job.

While you’re under there, look for leaks from the gearboxes (there are 2), engine, axles, brakes and fuel tank. Some small leaks from the gearbox or engine are probably ok. If it doesn’t leak, it’s probably empty!

Check the fuel tank for rust. It’s just in front of the rear cross member. A new tank is not too expensive 100e but is a right fecking swine of a job. I don’t ever want to do it again!

The Bulkhead

The bulkhead is steel and contains the front vents. It runs from the bottom of the windscreen and sits on the chassis beams. It also holds the front door hinges. Go round it with your hammer. Look for rust at the corners, round the vents, the door hinge screws and under the windscreen. The corners can be patched as long as there is no further rust. New bulkhead is a few hundred and a pretty big and awkward job.

The Swivels

The swivels allow the front wheels to steer on the axle. They are inside the front brake disks on the front axle. They are chrome, about the size of a small melon! The outside half of them is visible from underneath the front of the landy. There should be no rust and the surface should be perfectly smooth, not pitted. There should be no oil leaking from the bottom of them.

If they are leaking oil, new seals are pennies and the job is a few hours each side. I did mine this summer. But if the chrome swivels are rusted or pitted, they’ll knacker the new seals very quickly.

New swivels are about 80e a side and a few hours work each side.

The Engine (200tdi mostly)

Diesels in 90/100 defender

• 2¼ (Early models only)

• 2.5 (1984 to 1986)

• 2.5 T/D (1986 to 1990)

• 2.5 Tdi 200 series (1990 to 1994)

• 2.5 Tdi 300 series (1994 to 1998)

• TD5 (1998 onwards)

I don’t know much about the 2¼, but you probably won’t find one. The 2.5 is supposed to be a reliable if very slow lump.

The 2.5 TD is just a normal 2.5 with a turbo bolted onto it, which stresses the engine a lot. They are renowned for blowing head gaskets, cracked pistons and other problems. Don’t touch them.

The 200tdi is considered the best engine Land Rover has ever made. No electronics, easy to work on, pulls well and goes for ever if looked after. Some have gotten 400k miles out of them. As such, the command a premium, but I reckon it’s worth it.

The 300tdi is a more refined version of the 200tdi. Early 300tdis suffered from a manufacturing fault whereby a misaligned tensioner on the timing belt caused the belt to fail prematurely – breaking various expensive bits of the engine. There was a retro fit, check this has been done.

You probably won’t be able to afford a TD5!

If the engine of the landy you’re looking at is warm (or the owner has it already running), be suspicious. The owner might be hiding the fact that it doesn’t start from cold.

Before starting it, look around the engine.

Look for fluid leaks; oil, coolant which leaves a crusty white residue, power steering fluid, or clutch and brake fluid.

Look at hoses and belts for perishing. The 200tdi has 2 sets of belts; the 300tdi has a single serpentine belt that drives everything.

Look at the oil level on the dipstick. It’s on the right, viewed from the front, in front of the turbo, ½ way down the side of the engine.

If the level is low or over the high mark, this is bad. Over filling can blow oil seals. Low oil cause engine wear, and the owner might not have been looking after it.

Ask the owner how much oil and water it uses. If he says none, be suspicious!

Open the oil filler cap, on top of the engine, in the middle. The oil underneath should be oily. If it looks like mayonnaise, it might indicate a blowing head gasket, or just that the truck has been used for very short journeys and never been warmed up properly.

Later on when you’ve the engine running, carefully open and lift off the oil filler cap again. There will probably be some chuffing of air from the top of the engine, but certainly not enough to blow the cap off. This would be normal on a high mileage engine.

Check the coolant – should be ½ way up the expansion tank, level with the seam on the tank. Check the expansion tank for signs of splitting along the seam.

Check the brake and clutch level (bolted to the bulkhead on the left, when viewed from the front). The brake level has marks on it to indicate low and high. The clutch level should be full to the brim.

The power steering reservoir has a little dip stick on it with high and low marks on it.

The cooling fan is located under the large plastic cowl, behind the radiator. It is viscous, which means that it locks up as the engine gets hotter. With the engine cold, you should be able to spin the fan with your fingers. If it’s locked solid, it’s shagged. A new one is about 300e or 400e!

Bear in mind that the viscous fan may have been removed, along with the plastic cowl, and replaced with an electric one, bolted directly to the back of the radiator. If so, check with the owner how this works.

Once you’ve done your test drive and warmed the engine up, check the fan again (with the engine off!). It should be more difficult to spin with your fingers. If it spins completely freely, it’s probably shagged.

Turn on the ignition. The glow plug pre-heat orange light should light on the dash. A 200tdi should catch immediately with no pre-heat, unless it’s very cold (near freezing). A 300tdi can take a little bit longer to catch ( ½ a second ) If it’s cold, let the pre-heat light go out then start it. It should catch straight away and idle smoothly.

An initial small puff of black smoke from the exhaust is normal. If it’s cold, and it idles lumpily for a second or 2, one or more glow plugs may be dead. Easy to replace.

When driving, keep an eye on the exhaust in the door mirror.

When running, there should be little to no smoke. If it has been sitting for a while it may need a bit of a caning to clear the oil out of it (20 minutes down the motorway)

Blue smoke is oil burning. Maybe piston rings, blocked breathers or valve stems – bad. Give it welly up a hill, then lift off to overrun. If it smokes blue, it’s probably valve stems.

Black smoke is over-fuelling – maybe a badly adjusted fuel pump, which a diesel specialist could sort out.

White smoke is steam – head gasket going/gone.

Listen to the engine. It’s loud, but there should be no excessive rattles or horrible noises. In contrast to the body, which will probably rattle like an old rattly thing.

Once warm, it should pull well. You should be able to feel (and hear the turbo whistling) when the turbo kicks in at medium revs – about 30mph in 3rd and 45mph in 4th.

Unlike a petrol, a 200tdi doesn’t pull much a high revs.

On the flat with no wind, the truck should cruse easily at 70mph. if it doesn’t, something is up. Top speed is about 80ish for a 110, maybe a bit more for a 90. A roof rack will take that down a bit.

Keep an eye on the temp gauge in the middle of the 3 small gauges. Normal is 1/3 to ½ on the gauge, depending on the weather and how hard you push it. Once driving, the gauge should move off cold pretty quickly. If it doesn’t it could be the thermostat stuck open. 5e and 10 minutes work, or the gauge could be dead, in which case who knows.

If it moves over ½ on the gauge, it could be the thermostat stuck closed, a blocked radiator or worst case, a blowing head gasket.

Once you’ve been driving for a bit, check the heater blows warm air.

The Gearbox

If it’s very cold, you might find the 1st to 2nd change a little graunchy initially. It should warm up quickly and change easily if you treat it like a lady.

Reverse usually crunches a bit.

Crunching on other gears could be a dragging clutch, wrong oil in it or a shagged box. New boxes are about 800e

The LT77 gearbox (where reverse is left and forward) as fitted to the 200tdi, suffers from a manufacturing fault whereby the output shaft suffers from lack of lubrication. When pulling off in 1st or reverse, listen for a ‘clack’ from below you. This is warn splines on the shaft from the gearbox to the transfer box. They can go on for years like this, or go one day and leave you without any drive. A retro fit is a ‘splasher’ that lubricates the shaft, or better, a modified ‘cross-drilled’ shaft that properly lubricates the shaft. Ask the owner if this has been fitted.

The R380 gearbox (with reverse right and back) fitted rarely to later 200tdis and all 300tdis does not suffer from this.

The handbrake actually works on the transmission. Click the handbrake on 3 or 4 clicks. It should hold the truck on a good hill without slipping or needing the handbrake yanked on to the max. If it doesn’t it probably just needs adjusting. Worst case the hand brake needs new shoes, or the handbrake drum is contaminated with oil from the transfer box. Pretty easy jobs.

The Transfer box

The transfer box has the high and low range. It’s the small gear lever. Move it only when stationary. If you’re looking at an older series landy, it’s a bit different, with a yellow and red gear lever. I’m a bit vague on series vehicles so check with the owner.

Put the box in low and drive it. Go through all the gears on the main gearbox. You should get to about 20mph in 5th!

Accelerate and decelerate in both high and low on the transfer box. It shouldn’t jump out of gear.

Now check the differential lock. This needs to be done on soft ground or gravel to allow the wheels to slip slightly as you drive, otherwise you can damage the transmission.

Move the small lever to the left. (On series vehicles, the diff lock engages with low range) The orange diff-lock light should come on on the dash. Drive about, if on soft ground.

Move the lever to the right. The dash light may not go off immediately. You might have to drive forwards or reverse in circles to get it to go off. This is normal!


The electrics in Land Rovers are made by Lucas, generally referred to as the Prince Of Darkness. They pretty much suck, but are easily fixed mostly.

Check the heater blower; Lever on the left of the dash. It’s not to powerful at max speed, but check it works.

Check the wipers at all speeds. From top to bottom on stalk, it should be fast, normal, stop and intermittent.

Check they park – turn off the wipers mid-wipe. They should return to the bottom of the screen. Many of them don’t. It usually an easy fix but a useful bargaining point.

Check intermittent works properly. If the wipers don’t park, intermittent won’t work properly either.

Check the indicator switch cancels when you turn the steering wheel. Some either never cancel, or cancel when you turn the wheel the same way as the indicator switch, which they shouldn’t do. A new switch is 120e from Land Rover !!!

Check all lights, hazards, rear wiper (beside the clock – took me ages to find it!), fag lighter, clock, dash lights etc.

Doors, locks & windows

The door skins are aluminium. The door frames are steel. This causes oxidation. Everyone seems to know this except Land Rover! The ali gets a white power on it as it corrodes and the steel frame rusts away. Land Rover has never addressed this.

Open the doors and check underneath the door bottoms – they’re probably rusted away. Doors aren’t actually to expensive here, or you can get slightly better ones from the scrappy.

The spare wheel’s weight on the back door either breaks the back door, or the door hinges. You can get spare wheel carriers that bolt onto the back of the truck cross member to hold the wheel, or put the wheel on your roof rack.

Check the small A section just behind the bottom of the 2nd row doors, both inside and outside for rust.

Check the key works in all the locks. Check the locks work from the inside. Don’t forget the back door, it tends to go. Check you can’t pull the key out of the ignition when the engine is running. It’s handy, but an MOT/NCT fail!

Check the windows wind up and down fully. I’ve just bought a new window regulator, as mine wasn’t closing fully - 120e plus VAT 

If the truck is full of water, it’s a genuine landy. Everywhere leaks; sunroof, door seals, roof seals, bulkhead, vents, rear tub seals. Part of the Land Rover experience.


Not much to say here. Brakes should be good. You should easily be able to out-brake a vosvos and lock the wheels in the wet. Sliding a 110 in the wet usually results in needing a change of underwear! Check it brakes in a straight line.

After your test drive, with the engine off, pump the brake pedal. You should get 3 or 4 pumps of vacuum (you’ll hear the vacuum escaping) before the pedal hardens.


There should be very little play in the steering, though many have play somewhere. From the 200tdi, landys have power steering. Stationary, with the engine running, the steering should so from lock to lock easily with no lumps. At either lock, you’ll hear the power steering pump making noise. This is normal. If the belt squeaks at full lock it probably just needs the belt tightening.


There should be about 2-3mm of free play at the top of the pedal. Engaging the clutch should be smooth and judder free.

With the engine running and the clutch up, in neutral, you may hear some ‘chatter’ from the gearbox/clutch that disappears when you press the clutch. This is normal.

If the clutch is slipping or juddering it’ll need to be changed. The parts are not too expensive, about 150 – 200e but you’ve to take either the gearbox or the engine out to do it! Lots of labour – Land Rover quoted me 1000e to change it.

When driving, when going from accelerating to decelerating, you may feel some clunking or slack in the drive train. To some extent this is normal and takes a bit of finesse with the accelerator to provide a lurch-free conveyance! This is a combination of play in the gearboxes, prop-shafts and front and rear axles. If there’s lots and lots of play, well it could be lots of things.

Seat boxes

Lift the seat bottoms and open the seat boxes. Look for rust. If there are various containers of oils in there, then maybe the owner looks after his baby.

Also lift the carpets in the foot wells and look for holes or corrosion.

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Hi Gromit,

My drivers side window has also stopped closing completely, could you advise on part number and supplier for the part you fitted. Also any advice on fitting would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks.

Driver door window regulateor is LR part MUC3024, try any of the well known LR parts suppliers [Craddocks/DLS/Paddocke/Exeter4x4/Brokkwells]

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Hi Gromit,

My drivers side window has also stopped closing completely, could you advise on part number and supplier for the part you fitted. Also any advice on fitting would be greatly appreciated.

Many thanks.

Drivers (RH) door window regulator MUC3024 - up to LA932486

Drivers (RH) door window regulator ALR4533 - from LA932487

I got mine from LR and it was pretty expensive. My local independent LR garage has pattern ones that are much cheaper.

It's not a difficult job.

From memory:

Remove winder, handle, lever, locktrim and anything else holding the door card on.

Work around and gently lever the door card off the door.

Lift up off the bottom of the window and remove.

NOTE which way round the regulator is!

With the window about 1/2 way down, unbolt the 4 bolts holding the regulator on. You may have to unbolt the upper part of the frame also - I can't remember exactly.

Wind the window all the way down and disengage the rollers of the regulator from the window.

Wiggle the regulator out of the door.

Fit new regulator :D

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