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300 TDi - making it reliable.


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First post, so bear with me.

I have a 300 TDi which has done 120,000 miles and I have owned it since 70,000. It has always been regularly serviced and is on the original clutch, engine, gearbox etc. The only non-service things that have gone wrong have been a water pump bearing, and corroded core plugs on the side of the engine block. Cambelts changed every 50,000. These days I use her for mostly local trips with the dog and for lugging horse stuff around.

My question is: I am planning to use the car for a trip to the alps for skiing and want some comfort of reliability. I was thinking should I proactively change things on the car for piece of mind, even though it is going fine?

My thoughts included:

- clutch

- rear engine block core plug

- wheel bearings

- track rod ends

- cooling hoses

Is this being paranoid and should I just give the car a good service?

Also - would fitting an electric fan pay for itself?

Thanks in anticipation.

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Welcome :)

Clutch is probably sensible at that mileage. Depending on the age I would also check the gearbox mainshaft splines are OK, unless it is new enough to have the drilled input gear fitted in which case it won't be a problem.

Of the rest of the list - maybe the core plug is sensible if you have had problems. Wheel bearings - I would strip, inspect and grease, only replace them if they look iffy. Track rod ends are either worn or they are not, it isn't something that will suddenly go. Coolant hoses - again, inspect and replace as required but they should probably be OK unless they are showing signs of perishing. A good service checking for things like excessive backlash in the drivetrain (diffs CVs etc) which might point to any problems brewing, and that should be about it, obviously change all the filters, drain the sedimentor if fitted, check the brakes over etc etc.

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Mines a shed of a '96 300 TDi and it has 160K on the clock. Last summer (with 150K on the clock) we upped sticks and went to Europe for 3 weeks touring about. Covered nigh on 4K and she never missed a beat apart from threatening to overheat on some of the bigger long hills in Germany and the Alps - all of this with 4 people in her, all the camping gear, a full exped roof rack, roof tent and loads of boxed kit up there as well. The preparation was absolutely minimum - an engine service and check/top-up of everything else. Even the slight over heating was my fault as I knew the rad had had it - the fins have all rotted out of the core as its without a doubt the original one! Thing is - its still in there and still going strong - I've got a new one but cant be bothered to fit it....

Point I'm making is this - yours may not be able to do what mine did, but you wont know until you try and although there's nowt wrong with being cautious and preparing well, some times you just gotta go..................................

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One thing I forgot - check/change the viscous coupling (or take a spare one) and also the state of the radiator matrix! - either/both contribute to overheating problems as s1s describes above. New thermostat is no bad thing either, for a fiver.

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For the sort of trip you're planning, you really shouldn't need anything more than a full service, assuming no outstanding problems.

For the longer term, there are some things that I would consider as preventative maintence if you're inclined to do them. These include replacing the turbo hoses, the coolant hoses, the fuel lift pump and the expansion tank. These are items that tend to wear out with age and, assuming all of these things are the originals, then it would be prudent at that sort of mileage. The original black expansion tank is known to develop a split along its' horizontal seam and, in fact, has been replaced with a translucent version that is supposed to overcome this.

I'd also be tempted to swap out the immobiliser spider unit for the bypass harness that LR introduced, as they also seem to fail with age and can leave you stuck if you don't know how to diagnose the problem.

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Check your coolant. It should have at least 40% antifreeze and should have a ph value of above 8.5 If you don't know, change it anyway. You will need something like 5 litres of concentrated antifreeze, not the cheap diluted stuff. Preferably use a good make.

You don't need to change the coolant hoses, but make sure you have spares with you. I also carry a spare good alternator with me at all times as they can fail suddenly.

Get rid of the spider altogether. They are a menace. It is worth paying a good auto electrician to do that. If you don't want your LR to be stolen, use physical means like the clutch claw thing. Or put chains and padlocks in the wheels.

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Get rid of the spider altogether. They are a menace. It is worth paying a good auto electrician to do that. If you don't want your LR to be stolen, use physical means like the clutch claw thing. Or put chains and padlocks in the wheels.

LR now make a harness that does exactly that. It's tedious to have to dismantle the dash to do it, but replacing the spider is just a case of unplugging it and plugging in the bypass harness.

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LR now make a harness that does exactly that. It's tedious to have to dismantle the dash to do it, but replacing the spider is just a case of unplugging it and plugging in the bypass harness.

Being really dumb here - what's the spider?

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I did Alps and back, followed shortly by 6 months in Greece. Didn't miss a beat except when getting off the ferry back into the UK. P gasket was leaking, took thermostat plug out to refill coolant and promptly sheared it off. Didn't have a spare - probably should carry one anyway.

Throw that plastic rubbish away and fit brass plugs. You can buy 'stop end' fittings from a plumbing place for less than a quid each. If the plastic plug blows out (and they do) you are liable to lose your whole engine.

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