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Buying a 2003 Freelander TD4, what to look for regarding the VCU


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I'm going to look at a (manual) 2003 Freelander TD4 tomorrow with 120,000 Km on the clock with a view to buying it. I have heard much about checking whether the VCU needs replacing or not (around 70,000 miles / 120,000 Kms), and there seems to be many different ideas floating about. Could anybody point me in the right direction as to what is the best way to check this out by driving it? I don't think I can get access to a ramp to look underneath properly. Are there also anything other things I should look out for?

Any advice would be very much appreciated.


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Before doing anything, have a look underneath to make sure the propshaft is actually there!

The easiest way to check the vcu is to find a nice quiet corner of a car park, engage first gear, put the steering on full lock, and pull away gently.

If the vcu is working normally, it will feel as if the handbrake is dragging, but nothing worse than that.

If the vcu is on its way out, you will feel one of the back wheels lock up and it will hop skip and jump as you try and turn the circle.

You may also get clonking noises from the rear diff, which would indicate that the rubber mountings need replacing. Very easy job.

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