Buyers Guide to:
Land Rover 90
1984 to 1990
The Land Rover Club
Foley Specialist Vehicles Ltd
The iconic Land Rover has finally gone out of production, having been introduced in 1948. The car here, the 90, arrived in 1984 effectively replacing the Series 3 although it benefitted from revised front end styling and mechanical changes including a swap from leaf springs to coils and an improved four-wheel drive system. Despite the changes, it was still pretty rudimentary to drive but coped brilliantly off-road. A range of diesel engines were fitted – mostly 2.5-litre units – while a more powerful and efficient turbodiesel was added in 1986, and there was also the option of a powerful but thirsty V8 petrol. The model was renamed the Defender in 1990.
- Galvanic corrosion around aluminium body panels, especially the doors, front wings, and tailgate
- The doors and tailgate for worn hinges as the resulting misalignment will cause water leaks; replacements are cheap and easy to fit. Big panel gaps are normal, though, while the aluminium panels are susceptible to dents
- For corrosion in the chassis, concentrating on the body mounting points, the outriggers, the rear cross-member, and around the foot wells. You’re looking at upwards of £4000 to replace a really bad one, and vehicles used on a farm are often most at risk
- Around the bulkhead for rot. It’s not an easy repair, and if it’s gone too far sorting it properly can exceed £3000
- The diesel engines for oil leaks, excessive exhaust smoke, and a complete lack of servicing. Re nement is poor, too
- That V8s aren’t suffering from neglected oil changes which leads to camshaft wear. Look for evidence of head gasket failure, too, so keep an eye out for signs of overheating
- To see which engine is fitted. Swaps are common, and it’s often the easiest way of sorting a very tired unit
- The four-wheel drive system is operating as it should, and for signs of oil leaks from the gearbox and transfer box as they can be hard to cure completely. Hard use, especially towing, can lead to synchromesh failure so ensure gears engage cleanly
- That the differentials aren’t excessively noisy.
- If you suspect issues with the diff locks, get professional advice as they can be tricky to sort
- That the clutch isn’t slipping, especially on abused towing vehicles
- For clunks and groans from the driveline which indicate excessively worn drive shaft and prop shaft joints
- The suspension for wear in the joints, and for corrosion around the mountings. Off-road abuse will take its toll, and while replacing bushes and joints isn’t dif cult factor it into the asking price
- For worn steering and brakes. An overhaul of the latter isn’t dif cult but budget accordingly
- That the cabin isn’t overly scruffy or damaged. Build and material quality was pretty dire, but it should all still work okay
- That the cabin isn’t too damp. Water leaks are common, and while annoying, are generally easy to fix. Worn or damaged door seals are often the culprit
- That electrics are functioning okay. Repairs are straightforward, but the wiring could have been bodged by previous owners adding extra equipment
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