The Most Common Land Rover Problems

Common problems in Land Rover vehicles include oil leakage, electrical issues, parking brake failure, and airbag malfunctions.
Written by Andrew Biro
Reviewed by Melanie Reiff
Overall, the most common Land Rover problems—across all models and model years—include oil leaks, airbag malfunctions, electrical issues, steering shaft problems, and parking brake failure.
When it comes down to it, Land Rover has a pretty low dependability rating and is widely regarded as somewhat unreliable—especially considering they’re supposed to be a luxury brand. On average, studies have found that Land Rovers make more unscheduled trips to the mechanic per year than almost all other car brands—and those visits have a higher percent chance of yielding costly repairs.
Whether you currently own a Land Rover or are in the market for one, it’s good to be aware of the issues which frequently plague the brand. That’s why
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, put together this article detailing everything you need to know about common Land Rover problems.
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What are the most common Land Rover problems?

Some of the most common problems across all Land Rover models are:
  • Oil leakage
  • Electrical issues
  • Parking brake failure
  • Airbag malfunction
  • Steering shaft problems
Overall, Land Rover’s worst offender, with over 200 complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and five recalls, is the 2003 Land Rover Freelander. The Freelander model, in general, is considered wholly unreliable.
On the other hand,
Range Rovers
—particularly older
Velar
and
Sport
models—are loosely recognized to be the most reliable. Still, even that is a point of contention.
For a more detailed breakdown of the most common problems in five popular Land Rover models, check out the table below.
Model
Starting price
J.D. Power reliability rating
Most common problems
Years to avoid
Freelander
$26,830
N/A
Difficult or delayed shifting, broken intake manifold doors, faulty rear cargo door window motor, coolant leakage
2002 - 2005
Discovery
$57,950
72/100
Faulty rear cargo door latch, leaky head gaskets, leaky throttle body deicers, sticking windshield wiper switch, sticking ignition switch
1995 and 1998
Range Rover
$102,350
80/100
Warped brake rotors, corrosion of the ABS modulator connector, chirping noise from the engine while idling, harsh downshift between second and first gear
2011 and 2017
LR2
$37,525
N/A
Poor engine idle after a cold start, malfunctioning adaptive lighting system, broken sunroof guides, faulty parking brake
2010, 2011, and 2015
Defender 90
$53,050
70/100
Oil leak at the front of the engine
Classic models
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Most common Land Rover Freelander problems

Average annual repair cost: $719
CarComplaints.com complaints: 11
While several problems routinely plague the Land Rover Freelander, the most common, particularly for model years 2002 through 2005, is difficult or delayed shifting. In some cases, this is caused by outdated transmission control module (TCM) software and requires an update to remedy the issue.
Other common problems with the Freelander model include engine noise due to broken intake manifold doors, coolant leaking from the thermostat housing, and a faulty rear cargo door window motor—among several others.

Most common Land Rover Discovery problems

Average annual repair cost: $719
CarComplaints.com complaints: 5
When it comes to the
Land Rover Discovery
, the most common problem overall—and especially in model years 1994 through 2004—is a faulty rear cargo door latch. Internal failure of the latch makes it impossible to then open the door from the outside.
A close second to the latch failure, however, is leaky head gaskets resulting in low coolant levels—incidentally, this is followed by complaints of leaky throttle body deicers, which also result in coolant leaks.
Other common problems with the Land Rover Discovery include a sticking windshield wiper switch—which can cause delayed operation—and a sticky ignition switch, which can cause keys to become stuck or even break.

Most common Land Rover Range Rover problems

Average annual repair cost: $1258
CarComplaints.com complaints: 4
Despite being considered one of Land Rover’s more reliable models, Range Rovers are not without their faults—and sometimes serious ones at that.
One of the most common problems faced by Range Rovers—across 22 model years, to be exact—is pulsation on brake application, a condition most often caused by warped brake rotors.
This is followed closely by corrosion of the anti-lock brake system (ABS) modulator electrical connector, a problem caused by lax sealing methods which allow water to enter and damage the connector. Fixing this issue requires the installation of new, revised ground leads with better sealing capabilities.
Range Rover drivers also frequently report chirping noises from the engine while idling, harsh or rough downshifting from second to first gear, and unstable idling caused by an intake manifold vacuum leak.

Most common Land Rover LR2 problems

Average annual repair cost: $895
CarComplaints.com complaints: 2
The
Land Rover LR2
, on the other hand, often experiences poor or weak idling after a cold start, especially in model years 2008 through 2013. This triggers the Check Engine light and requires an engine control module (ECM) software update to remedy.
Land Rover LR2 owners also report frequent adaptive lighting system malfunctions, broken sunroof guides that cause it to jam, and a parking brake that does hold properly.

Most common Land Rover Defender 90 problems

Average annual repair cost: $675
CarComplaints.com complaints: 1
As one of the older Land Rover models, surprisingly, the Land Rover Defender 90 doesn’t have too many problems. Whether this indicates dependable craftsmanship or just that so few people bother to report issues with vehicles so old is hard to say.
In any case, the only real problem the Land Rover Defender 90 seems to experience is an oil leak at the front of the engine, caused by a faulty crankshaft seal—but that only applies to a few early models from the 1990s.

Are Land Rovers reliable?

Though the name and branding may suggest otherwise, Land Rover simply isn’t a reliable manufacturer of vehicles, especially not for the price some of their models sell for. In fact, RepairPal actually ranks it #31 out of 32 car brands for reliability.
This is largely due to the fact that, on average, Land Rovers require more unscheduled trips to the mechanic per year than most other vehicle brands, while the probability of a repair being deemed severe—and therefore more expensive—is also higher.
Of course, this isn’t to say that every single Land Rover is unreliable, or even that every Land Rover model is unreliable… but sometimes you just have to face the facts.

The least reliable Land Rover model: 2003 Freelander

Most common problem: Hard shifting due to outdated transmission control module software
NHTSA complaints: 140
As one of Land Rover’s compact utility sport vehicles, the 2003 Land Rover Freelander is simply awash with problems and is subject to at least five recalls. From broken doors inside the intake manifold to worn-out heater vent cables, if you can think of it, the 2003 Freelander is probably prone to it.
While it’s true that the Freelander model, in general, is widely regarded as the worst, most unreliable Land Rover, the 2003 model year takes it to a whole other level. Most owners report hard shifting as the most common problem overall.

The most reliable Land Rover model: 2016 Range Rover Sport... kind of

With all of the issues Land Rovers face, there is no conclusive answer that anyone can agree on regarding which Land Rover model is truly the most reliable. The 2016 Range Rover Sport seems to have the fewest issues in that sense, it is the most reliable of the unreliable. On the other hand, some believe the Range Rover Defender is the most reliable, while others insist that the Discovery is best—some even defend the Freelander model.
All in all, if you’re going to buy a Land Rover, do your research—figure out exactly what features and what qualities are most important to you and go from there. Ask around on message boards, on Land Rover forums, and get the opinions of people who’ve been driving these vehicles for years.

How to save money on car insurance

Taking care of a Land Rover and dealing with the potential problems that come with them can be a hassle, but shopping for affordable
car insurance
doesn’t have to be.
With
Jerry
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“I heard about
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FAQs

With proper servicing, regular maintenance, and conservative driving habits, a Land Rover will usually last between 200,000 and 300,000 miles or roughly 15 to 20 years—though this can depend on what model you own.
Overall, many consider Land Rover an unreliable automaker because they consistently experience more problems than one would expect for a luxury vehicle brand. In addition, when compared to other vehicles, Land Rover makes more unscheduled trips to the mechanic per year and has a higher chance of severe repairs (and, therefore, more expensive).
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