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Potential disco owner seeks advice


Madcowz
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Hi all,

I have recently joined up as I have been wanting a Land Rover for a long long time, and my current car is starting to take too much work every MOT time and I thought the time is right.

I have read through stacks of threads and had a good look in the tech archive section (which is brilliant).

Due to price restrictions (i.e. we are skint) and we have 3 children, I am looking at a Series I Discovery. Reason being it is more comfortable than a Series or Defender and has enough seats to fit our children and those extra ones you end up with when friends come to play.

Price range is 1.5 - 2K and so far I have been looking around the M reg area.

A few questiosn:

1) Which version would you recommend. I keep on reading about all the differrent types and am getting confused. Heard the mpi one isn't too good and to go for 200 or 300Tdi.

2) What about pre or post facelift. Is there a big enough difference?

3) Can anyone tell me what the difference is between a 200 and 300 Tdi and what these differences will mean to me with regards to DIY fixing, parts and servicing.

4) Can I fit a standard pallet in the back of a Disco with the back seats down? I'm not talking laden, but gives me an idea of the size of the back.

5) Auto or manual? Have never driven an auto and don't think I want to but was wondering what people here think.

6) The infamous sun roof. Do these open fully or just tilt? Could someone stand in the back and shoot out of the top of a Disco? We do a lot of lamping and ferreting.

7) What options/extras would you guys say are "must haves" and which ones are the "that would be nice"?

8) How expensive are parts and labour compared to other cars? I heard that parts are very expensive, but when I looked at pattern part prices I thought they were pretty good. I have an H reg Clio and if I bought genuine Reno parts I would think that was expensive as well!

9) Servicing: I will be doing all servicing and minor work myself. I am a novice mechanic and only really good at heating things up and hitting them. I have replaced track rod ends, calipers, disks, engine mounts, hoses etc etc but nothing big. I can weld but wouldn't go anywhere near something structural as it would be a death trap. Will I be able to service and repair it with these basic skills? I see that it has lots of extra bits that normal cars don't. Are these likely to cause me problems or expense?

10) When it finally comes to purchasing the Disco (a while yet), would anyone be willing to accompany me and help view the vehicle so I can make an informed purchase?

Sorry for all the questions (and there will be plenty more over the months) but I always like to do a lot of research before I commit.

/mad

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Hi, I've had a series for a few years, but just got a disco a month ago - N reg 95 300tdi ES Auto.

I'll try and answer your questions but just bear in mind I haven't been a disco owner long.

1) I think the favoured one for the DIY'er is the 300tdi (non EDC version) (make sure it's got a throttle cable)

2) facelift came with 300tdi I think, different bumper and a better back bumper and lights setup. Better dash

3) Not that much difference with 200/300, but then there is 2 versions of the 300, the standard and the EDC (electronic diesel control) also known as fly by wire - mine is the fly by wire and it seems like it's harder to fix - I think the EDC was only fitted to Autos from 95 onwards.

4) no idea on a pallet, but it's a good sqaure load space, I had a 5 foot long table in the other day and it just fitted

5) If you asked me before I got this, I would have said manual (only had mauals before) but now I would say auto, so much easier espicially with a big vehicle that you are not going to be racing about in.

6) They tilt then slide, I can just stand up through one, you'd have to be pretty slim to stand up comfortably and turn to shoot etc - I would have to say they don't open far enough.

7) Can't really think of any must haves, but I guess for me it had to have leather and had to have the two extra seats in the boot.

8) Parts are dirt cheap, but don't always go cheapest Britpart do a lot of cheap parts, some of which are great but a lot aren't worth fitting. From my experience with the series, if it has rubber on it will fail not long after fitting - or brake linings on shoes just seem to be made wrong, any thing else is usually fine though.

Labour is expensive at LR Dealers but reasonable at independant LR garages. You should be able to DIY a lot though.

9) Yes sounds like you know enough

10) Miles away from me but a good idea to take someone if you can

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Price range is 1.5 - 2K and so far I have been looking around the M reg area.

Condition is far more important than age and Discos tend to be priced by age more than year

1) I would always consider an LPG V8 as well, can be much cheaper to buy similar cost to run.

2) post is more refined on the road, exterior bit different, interior very different but not much else really

3) Not a lot - some parts the same some different - not much difference in DIY both easy. 300tdi autos have an ECU controlled engine, some people don't like them, but a mechanical injection pump is not exactly user friendly either ;)

4) Not sure

5) See below

6) 200s tilt only but can be removed v. easily (30 seconds) 300s tilt 'n' slide but can't be removed so easily (AFAIK)

7) lol that ones down to you but leccy font windows were a definite for me

8) If you've had a Renault te Landies are cheap - lots of s/h spares about for the big items and almost everything can be done on the cars with reasonable DIY skills there's always people willing to help as well if only on a PC screen

9) Yes easy to service lots of space around most things, you can open the bonnet and actually see the engine, you can crawl underneath and work without even jacking it up! Biggest problem is that things are heavy and big and undoing some bits can make your eyes bulge - unless you have air & lots of tools :)

10) Yep

You are also welcome to come up and take a peek at my very rotten manual 200tdi (being broken) and my 300tdi auto & go for a drive etc. I'm in Coulsdon

HTH

Guy

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I know nuffink about diesels or Discos :P but with the link to this forum you'll be fine. Having owned a few normal cars and then a couple of Land Rovers, although they're not the most reliable things in the world, parts are dirt cheap and easily available and almost everything can be done DIY. Invest in decent tools when you need them (just think of the garage bills you're saving) and you'll go far.

If you spot one you're interested in, post up and see if someone will come along with you and give it a coat of looking at.

Oh and it's all downhill from here - before you know it you'll be after mud tyres and a winch :lol:

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@FridgeFreezer

You say Disco's are not the most reliable cars in the world and I have read a lot about people complaining about their reliability... How bad are they? I can't afford to have mine off the road if it keeps on breaking down and would have to look elsewhere. It is going to be my main car to and from work.

But if these reports are just the unhappy people and the ones who are delighted just keep quiet, (no news in Good news) then it isn't so bad.

What are peoples general thoughts here? Are Disco's good solid workhorses or are they lame pit ponies? Think the response will be a bit biased from a land Rover forum but at least honest.

thanks.

/Mad

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I'm very happy with my Disco it's exactly what I expected, great workhorse very capable of everything I need to do, but... I wouldn't 100% trust it, I know various things will break or not quite work right and a bit of tinkering will be required to keep it running good. I' ve got a series 2a which is my off road vehicle (really out performs the disco) and it's also my backup vehicle for when the disco isn't feeling too well.

If you need much better reliability I would have to be honest and say look else where, at best your going to need to spend a few weekends a year doing odd bits to keep it running

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I thought that I had got to the stage where I didn't want to get oily and frustrated trying to fix cars so I bought a Td4 Freelander which was good and I had no problems with it. Unfortunately, (and fortunately :D ) more grandkids arrived so I needed the extra capacity that a Disco offered. I have a D2 TD5 and apart from a few glitches I can say that I am glad I made the change. To give an idea of size, I got a 2 seater settee in the back of mine.

If you are handy with a set of tools then you will have no major problems. Download a copy of the rave cd - it is much better that the Haynes book of lies. It also has the added bonus of you can print the relevant sections out and if they get wet, oily, stood on then it isn't the end of the world.

Cheers

John

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Thanks for the replies.

I am fairly handy with a spanner, hammer and blow torch and fixed two pages of MOT failures on the Clio last month so no stranger to swearing at a car. If I have to work on it every now and again then I would be happy. Just didn't want something that was going to be always off the road.

I have another question now. I read that the DI has a lap belt for the middle rear seat. Is this true, or are there versions that have a proper 3 point belts? I don't like the idea of lap belts as they are not that safe.

thanks,

/Mad

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What are peoples general thoughts here? Are Disco's good solid workhorses or are they lame pit ponies? Think the response will be a bit biased from a land Rover forum but at least honest.

Compared to what? Compared to the majority of ordinary cars they're not great, but if you stay on top of the rust and maintenance they don't seem too bad. I've no personal experience of similar vehicles from other manufacturers, so can't really comment on them.

Mine is an M reg (1995) 300Tdi manual with 145k on the clock. My parents had it from new, so I know it's whole history. To date, the engine has never missed a beat. The original gearbox failed (knackered baulk rings, eventually reaching the point were it was barely drivable, hence me getting my hands on it), which is tiddle poor on a truck which has always led an easy life - nearly all extra urban road use, and my parents are mechanically sympathetic drivers. Bodywork isn't too bad - it's a bit scruffy, but that's because it's covered in DIY paint chip repairs. The front inner wings are rusty and will need attention before long, ditto rear wheel arches by the door, which seems to be standard. There's also a fair bit of surface rust on the floor inside - nothing serious as yet, no holes, but it'll probably be what eventually finishes this truck off. To be fair, this is probably largely down to a tendency to leak around the doors since a high speed accident years ago that distorted the body shell (but still left it within factory tolerances... :blink:). The tailgate hinges are knackered (also standard) - hopefully nothing more serious there. The original clutch lasted for 140k, which I reckon is good going - and a good thing considering what a PITA they are to change. The heater matrix is currently steaming nicely and seems to be beyond the help of Bars Leaks, so that's going to have to be done soon, and the drivers seat base was knacked so I've fitted new foam. It's had the suspension bushes done, everything else has been pretty much routine servicing.

Gearbox and heater matrix aside I reckon that's not too bad, but to put it in perpective before I was foolish enough to get into land rovers I had a 7k 1.3l Skoda Felicia - I got rid of this at 140k because the seats were knackered and it was getting a bit thrashy on the motorway, at which time the only major job it had ever had done was a knew clutch. I know where it was up until about a year ago when it was still a reliable daily hack with 200k on the clock...

There are plently of people on here with high mileage Land Rovers (Discoveries and others), and they mostly seem fairly dependable, but don't kid yourself you aren't going to have to keep up with a steady stream of maintenance.

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I have another question now. I read that the DI has a lap belt for the middle rear seat. Is this true, or are there versions that have a proper 3 point belts? I don't like the idea of lap belts as they are not that safe.

D1 has a lap belt, yes, and I don't think any realistic possibility of converting it.

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I have another question now. I read that the DI has a lap belt for the middle rear seat. Is this true, or are there versions that have a proper 3 point belts? I don't like the idea of lap belts as they are not that safe.

I'm not sure if any 4x4s in your budget range would have 3 'proper' seatbelts in the back - but I could be completely wrong :D

and another point re. kids in Discos is that technically the 2 inward facing 'dickie' seats are not suitable for "children under 135cm (4ft 5in) tall, unless they have passed their 12th birthday"

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  • 10 months later...
@FridgeFreezer

You say Disco's are not the most reliable cars in the world and I have read a lot about people complaining about their reliability... How bad are they? I can't afford to have mine off the road if it keeps on breaking down and would have to look elsewhere. It is going to be my main car to and from work.

But if these reports are just the unhappy people and the ones who are delighted just keep quiet, (no news in Good news) then it isn't so bad.

What are peoples general thoughts here? Are Disco's good solid workhorses or are they lame pit ponies? Think the response will be a bit biased from a land Rover forum but at least honest.

thanks.

/Mad

I have just bought a 15yr old Discovery 200tdi as my first Land Rover and it's a family car. I've already got a longish list of things I need to do to it, nothing major but enough to keep my busy. My previous car was a P reg Citroen Xantia estate which I bought for £1,100 and have spent approximately £1,700 over 2yrs before buying the Discovery. At the time my time was more precious than money and I got most of the work done in a garage but did the last job myself, changing a blown radiator. At the end of it I looked at the car and thought "I don't like this car, it's just transport but I'm spending loads of money and time keeping it on the road". Got rid of it and got a car I've always liked, I don't think the Discovery will be any cheaper to maintain but when I've fixed it I'll enjoy driving and owning it. With our budgets you're always going to have a car that needs work so get one you actually like to sweeten the repair bills :-)

Regarding the 2 back seats in the 7 seater; I've put my kids in them before but you can't really use the boosters as they're too high and they end up leaning back on the window. Boosters are to stop 3 point seatbelts strangling small children in an emergency stop. Lap belts don't go over the shoulder so they wouldn't work anyway. Does anyone know the definitive law about this? I suspect that it's all probably too unsafe for children and you can't use them full stop?

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@FridgeFreezer

You say Disco's are not the most reliable cars in the world and I have read a lot about people complaining about their reliability... How bad are they? I can't afford to have mine off the road if it keeps on breaking down and would have to look elsewhere. It is going to be my main car to and from work.

But if these reports are just the unhappy people and the ones who are delighted just keep quiet, (no news in Good news) then it isn't so bad.

What are peoples general thoughts here? Are Disco's good solid workhorses or are they lame pit ponies? Think the response will be a bit biased from a land Rover forum but at least honest.

thanks.

/Mad

I have two Disco's the first one is a Tdi 200 (the wifes') 162,000mls runs beautifully looks like the proverbial bag of sh1te, the second one , mine is a '98 Tdi 300 auto, 81,000mls and is just about to go into the desert in Morocco - so it must be reliable enough mustn't it??

There's no problem with reliability on Disco's, there is a problem finding decent cars that have been looked after PROPERLY !! After all, we are talking about cars that are 12-13 yrs old.

When buying any Landy you are buying into a new hobby, if you only want reliable transport, you might not get the full enjoyment out of a Landy.

Cheers & good luck

Dave

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Hi with rregards to the rear pair of seats as guy said smaller kids cant use them now. With regards to the law using the seatbelts on sidewards facing seats is optional and they are not tested for MOT.

Centre middle seat is Lapbelt on all disco 1s and cant really be changed.

My disco 3.9 V8 Auto has only been off the road for 1 day in 2 years! when the ignition amp died. it is LPG converted but is still cheaper to run a diesel( and they are cheaper to service as no plugs dizzy stuff etc) but they are nice to drive and with the auto box are fairly bomb proof - if you carry out regular servicing and fix stuff as soon as it starts playing up. you will get a much newer V8 with leather/toys etc for loads less than a diesel one as MPG is rubbish. my 1999 cost £4500 2 years ago already converted and never been off road so no rust anywhere. for the same money I was looking at 1996 manual basic model. prices are much better now plenty out there for 2K

300 series much better inside and outside lights much better at night.

aircon leccy sunroofs leccy heated seats abs etc all nice but more likely to go wrong and can be a pain to fix - mine has aircon but manual sunroofs and no abs or heated/leccy moved seats. cruise control always stops working but usuall just means a hose has split, but never really use it.

a disco will cost more than a normal family saloon to run but you will like to drive it more.

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Everyone has covered the majority of things that i was going to say and i agree that they all have been accurate,but one thing that i did when i was looking for mine was to look down the local car auction i picked my 300 tdi diesel auto 94 m plate for a wisker over £1000,yes it needed lots of little bits doing to it but i enjoy working on her as its so easy big bolts and manly brackets not fancy clips and fittings,parts are cheap compared to renault(i used to have a 5 turbo so i know)dont go to a main dealer though.I have three kids like you and theres nothing better than driving out into the middle of nowhere and letting them run riot well away from the traffic clogged roads they(3 boys all under 10)would rather climb trees and throw stones than go down the park.have you considered searching ebay for a spares or repair example and fixing her up that way you will know about the things that need doing and how reliable she will be once you start working on her,engines are bomb proof.The only thing i regret is that mine doesnt have leather and i would say thats a must have if your kids like mine walk across the seats with muddy shoes on.If you keep on top of the routine servicing it will be reliable both the v8 and my current tdi have never let me down.One of my mates has a shogun he considered a discovery but went for the jap thing and paid the price spares are hard to come by so he said and i was forever towing him out of ploughed fields and the like.oh and dont forget you will be joining the brotherhood,how many jap 4x4 owners wave at you when they pass the other way.In all honesty im biased,for me the sun shines out of my discoverys exhaust pipe.best of luck in your search for the one my friend

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Well spotted! But you never know, some other indecisive poor soul may find direction in our ramblings....

I’m that Soul!

I am about to get a 4x4 having moved house to a farm down a bumpy track in a place that gets snowed on, and is muddy pretty much all the rest of the time.

We are a family of 4 plus large dog. And the car needs to look presentable enough to ferry customers about. (We run a letting agency). On the weekend I will be hauling building materials; and maybe once a month will be going 500m on motorways.

Our budget is about £4K

At the moment I’m being advised to get a LWB Shogun or Grand Cherokee; both seem good but a bit “flash” for my tastes; I always wanted a Disco but was put off by reliability niggles. (I’m flat out renovating the farm and can’t spare tinkling time really).

I know a lot a farmers run Discos and we are more likely to find a local mechanic with Disco knowledge so I’m more inclined to get one now, but I’m confused as to what to look out for.

I know the Disco electrics can be troublesome, and that the floor-pan in the back is a potential weak point, -is there any other well known things to check please?

I was going to aim for a V8 LPG with leather; -is this model you’d go for too?

Thanks for any help, I’ve learnt a fair bit trawling already but can always know more.

Cheers

GC

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I’m that Soul!

I am about to get a 4x4 having moved house to a farm down a bumpy track in a place that gets snowed on, and is muddy pretty much all the rest of the time.

We are a family of 4 plus large dog. And the car needs to look presentable enough to ferry customers about. (We run a letting agency). On the weekend I will be hauling building materials; and maybe once a month will be going 500m on motorways.

Our budget is about £4K

At the moment I’m being advised to get a LWB Shogun or Grand Cherokee; both seem good but a bit “flash” for my tastes; I always wanted a Disco but was put off by reliability niggles. (I’m flat out renovating the farm and can’t spare tinkling time really).

I know a lot a farmers run Discos and we are more likely to find a local mechanic with Disco knowledge so I’m more inclined to get one now, but I’m confused as to what to look out for.

I know the Disco electrics can be troublesome, and that the floor-pan in the back is a potential weak point, -is there any other well known things to check please?

I was going to aim for a V8 LPG with leather; -is this model you’d go for too?

Thanks for any help, I’ve learnt a fair bit trawling already but can always know more.

Cheers

GC

I'm no expert but like you i did a lot of research. Although you read that V8's are reliable there's also a fair amount of comments about cracked cylinder heads/cases. It seems to me that fuel consumption (unless u have lpg) and the fact that if it does go wrong it's that bit more complex being a V8 make it less practical than the 200/300tdi (some ppl say 200tdi is best land rover engine ever). Also servicing costs are higher I think with ignition leads, dissy caps etc. Then u've got better reliability in the wet in case u have to ford any floody bits being on a farm. I have a feeling a number of v8 fans will jump down my throat for this! I chose 200tdi both because of my budget but also I like tinkering and the 200tdi is very basic with no electronic bits.

Only thing to keep in mind is that the 200/300tdi is a bit of a tractor compared to more modern diesels, not a problem for me but u may think differently. Other rust problems i've heard on discos are the sils, check behind the plastic trim and check both inside and out (mine has holes in, as it's not a monochoque i don't think it's and MOT failure but happy to be corrected). Also when you open the passenger doors, where the wheel arch meets the pillar is common, inner wings, corrosion around the doors. Apparently rust is the discos worst failing. electric gremlins are common, my central locking is possessed. Again, 200tdi's are less complex but with your budget you'll be aiming higher. One thing I would say though is if £4k is your absolute limit go at least £500 less, u'll need a cushion to get it up to the level you need as you would with any 2nd hand car. I did see some good 300tdi's for the 3.5k mark.

In short there is loads that can go wrong but the amount of parts (cheap too), advice and enthusiasts around don't make it difficult to deal with. Also I think the disco is much better looking than any Japanese model and better than the Cherokee. Be patient and wiat for one with extensive if not full service history, that will offer a lot more comfort.

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LWB Shogun or Grand Cherokee

hope you have deep pockets for when they go wrong :)

disco's, as most people have already said have their faults - but what car doesn't? i have known brand new cars develop faults as soon as they have left the forecourt of the dealers.

at the end of the day, take your time, do your research, and look for the best you can afford, test drive a few - easy if there is someone on here close by who could take you for a spin on/off road in one.

everyone has their preferences engine wise - my first was a 200tdi, plenty of low down grunt, but very agricultural, the 300tdi's are supposed to be better, and as for the TD5's - lovely sound and oodles of power/torque, coupled with the toys that make them an awesome on/off roader.

my current bus is a 3.5 v8 on lpg, does what it says on the tin. it's not the best looking by any means, and i have had to do some welding to the sills (inner wings are not MOT points as they are not classed as structural - that's what my MOT man told me anyway). other than that it's been pretty good to me so far, MPG is not brilliant, what v8 is? although for 52p/litre it's still cheaper to run on a weekly basis than my old 2.0 XR4x4 was :) (and the v8 sounds nicer :) )

parts are cheap - as already mentioned certain manufacturers parts can be of questionable quality, accesories are limitless in potential, your own creativity is the only limit on what you can do - just check out the Mouse thread from the House of Flying Spanners (top job lads - still in awe at the finished beast).

do some research in the Discovery forum on what various people have encountered, and how they have solved proplems - the main thing to remember with owning a landrover is that you are never alone when it comes to fixing them.

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I've had 4 Discos, and they're good busses.

The "well documented" problems that the assorted armchair mechanics ramble on about haven't afflicted any of mine.

I've bought 2 of mine from the auctions, 1 from a dealer and one private, but i wouldn't spend anywhere near £3k. You don't need to spend much more than a grand at the auction for a decent base vehicle as long as you know what to look for. If they've been well maintained they're unburstable, in my experience. If they haven't been well maintained they're just like any other vehicle and will only take so much! Yes, there were faults and factory recalls but you get those with any manufacturer. If i had another Disco, i'd make sure it was a late Series 1 300Tdi with a proper throttle and ABS. Cracking tool with good economy. Don't worry too much about water and V8's unless you regularly want to go through deeper than your headlights without wading plugs in.

Go to Brightwells and buy one there, you'll save a fortune.

Best of luck. :)

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I’m that Soul!

I am about to get a 4x4 having moved house to a farm down a bumpy track in a place that gets snowed on, and is muddy pretty much all the rest of the time.

We are a family of 4 plus large dog. And the car needs to look presentable enough to ferry customers about. (We run a letting agency). On the weekend I will be hauling building materials; and maybe once a month will be going 500m on motorways.

Our budget is about £4K

At the moment I’m being advised to get a LWB Shogun or Grand Cherokee; both seem good but a bit “flash” for my tastes; I always wanted a Disco but was put off by reliability niggles. (I’m flat out renovating the farm and can’t spare tinkling time really).

I know a lot a farmers run Discos and we are more likely to find a local mechanic with Disco knowledge so I’m more inclined to get one now, but I’m confused as to what to look out for.

I know the Disco electrics can be troublesome, and that the floor-pan in the back is a potential weak point, -is there any other well known things to check please?

I was going to aim for a V8 LPG with leather; -is this model you’d go for too?

Thanks for any help, I’ve learnt a fair bit trawling already but can always know more.

Cheers

GC

Hi GC, get a Disco, you'll love it and when you've finished the house renovations, you can learn to ply with it as well :D

Personally I would go for a really clean Tdi 300 auto and a trailer - which is what I did !!! I found a '98 Disco, two owners with full service history and 76,000mls - runs really nicely and just passed it's french mot easily. No rust problems at all. 33-34mpg daily and nearly 40mpg on a run.

With the rest I bought a trailer for getting building materials as, like you, I'm renovating as well. So, no muck in the car, ever. I also bought seat covers as we have four yes 4 dogs !!

If you go for something newer ie Disco2 either in petrol or diesel you are moving into a more sophisticated vehicle and not servicable by the village mechy.

Best of luck in your search.

Just remember that 4x4's are way out of fashion now and can be bought quite cheaply, mine was £2200 !!

Dave

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