Horizons Unlimited - The HUBB

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-   -   Buying the perfect car? (http://www.horizonsunlimited.com/hubb/4wd-overland-tech/buying-the-perfect-car-20077)

ekimorfa 25 May 2005 18:51

Buying the perfect car?
Can someone who tell me if it’s stupid to buy a Defender from 03 and use on my tour thru Africa. Will all the electronics mess it up for me if the car break down. I got a nice deal on a Defender from 03 and the car is already equipped whit most of the stuff that I need.
Or should I look around and find an older car?

Runner 25 May 2005 22:05

I am a firm believer in Defenders in the rough, having used two 110s very hard in four years (and counting) more or less constant as a guide in the Sahara and Middle East. I found them better offroad than any other marque (Toyotas included) and perfectly reliable. I would qualify that though inasmuch as my two are older examples, a 1990 and a 1991, without electronics (apart from GPS etc). I wouldnt like to say how a more modern version would hold out, Ive heard evil rumours (havent we all) about the ECU in a TD5, though equally there are many who have overlanded them and swear by them. I met a German guy in the Great Sand Sea in 03 with his brand new 110 TD5 and he loved it, though nobody in Egypt sold oil for it (apparently).
To be honest anything dependant on electronics is going to suffer from heat, dust, bashing etc in Africa.
Interestingly, the fleet manager of Red Cross Vehicles in Eritrea has just said that Defenders have a service life of fifteen years in their fleets, Landcruisers have a service life of three, so he has gone back to Land Rover from Toyota. Go figure....

jljones 25 May 2005 22:30

This is one of those that can run and run. My preference is Land Cruiser, i have a '93 80 series, with uprated springs, shocks and some other usual mods but no snorkel. Diesel auto with additional cooler for a/t transmission, awesome car for most conditions especially sand. Apart from anything else, i cannot fit into a Defender with any comfort, they're noisy and my experience of them in Bosnia 10 years ago left me with an overriding desire to stick with TLCs.

Chacun a son gout...



Runner 25 May 2005 22:33

*spitting noise*

comfort?? comfort???? Pervert!!!!!!


Bundubasher 26 May 2005 14:21

I've been working and living in Africa since '91 and the majority of people who work with vehicles for a living (Safari Ops, Tour Ops., Hunters etc) all go with Toyota and mainly 75, 76 & 78 series LCs.

At the end of the day it is all about the tyres and suspension - East Africa is really hard on those bits of kit. So make sure yours are all A-OK (and get all your suspension bushes $ shocks checked/replaced and carry all the old ones as spares).

ekimorfa 26 May 2005 14:59

Thanks. I will have that in mind.


jljones 27 May 2005 05:14


Just a thought... How much time do you spend fixing your LRs?

I spend so much time in my TLC, often in the traffic of London and in far flung places in Africa, so comfort is quite important really.

Having said that I have a healthy respect for LRs ability off road... when they are working.


Robbert 27 May 2005 17:57

Note that the question was:

Is a 2003 Defender a suitable overlanding vehicle or will spoil my experience with continous technical problems. It will, but should not lead to a Toy, nissan, LR debate.

To answer the question:
It's probably a good overlanding vehicle. Electronics seem to be sorted out these days and pretty reliable. Even in overlanding conditions they seam to hold. With a car off course, you never know, and if you happen to be one to blow his ECU, it'll suck, and the car will be crap.

But that's the same for that 78 frying it's clutch or braking a leaf, or the electric windows failing on that 61.

I guess as long as it's a healty, well maintained LR, Nissan, Toy, it will make a good overlanding vehicle, and more even when it's the car you like to take overland.


[This message has been edited by Robbert (edited 30 May 2005).]

ctc 27 May 2005 22:43

If you are looking for an LR for an overlanding trip I would go with a 300Tdi. Why spend the extra cash on a TD5?

The 300Tdi is simpler and is not far off the TD5 in terms of fuel economy and torque.
It certainly has all you need in terms of power unless you intend spending a lot of time in the dunes - in which case it can be a little stretched. In any case you'll get to learn your way round it in no time and may even develop an unhealthy attachment to it!

Equally an overland trip will be punishing on your vehicle and it will devalue it. Why not devalue an older vehicle whose value has less far to fall? You also won't feel so bad about ripping out all the "soft furnishings" and modifying the interior to your own spec!

Having said the above, like previous posts I've come across a number of TD5's in the Sahara none of whom had experienced problems. Having said that the simpler I can keep things, in terms of mechanics and electrics, the more able I feel to deal with them should they go wrong. I like having a cable from the accelerator to the throttle I understand how it works!

One last thought, having a lower cost vehicle will also mean the indemnity on your carnet is cheaper to obtain.

Gipper 1 Jun 2005 09:37

Yes - ctc is correct - overlanding does devalue your vehicle - and as much as I like the Td5 if I was buying a new Defender I would be looking for another 300Tdi - for simplicity and ease of maintenance, its a well proven engine with (just)enough power - though if you are doing a lot of dune time - a little underpowered in a well loaded 110 - IMO (Td5 better) - in Sahel conditions it is fine with good economy and with a few sensible mods a Defender is a great overlander.
Dont be put off though - If a Td5 is what you have then use it - just do some miles and a few services before the big trip - just to bed things in - and travel light.

'95 LR 90 300 Tdi
'02 KTM Adventure 640
Ex Rockape, Ex Drago
...and Bloody Nice Bloke!

Bert 3 Jun 2005 06:01

Hi All
Just a quick note to allay the fears of all those that think that ECU’s go pear shaped in the Heat, Dust Etc
I have work as a design engineer in the motor industry making robots that take ECU’s out of the curing oven after they have sat in it for approximately 8 hours (depends on the volume of the ECU) between 150 and 180deg C. this is part of the potting and burning in of electrical components process.
While still at MIN of 150Deg C the circuits are fully tested in a high temperature test nest. (Made from PPS 30%)
This was for Delphi (Ford) but is standard practice in the Auto Industry.
So 55deg C ??
Any fears over ECU’s are generally over hyped.

Bedford MJ Old, Slow & Orange

Andrew Baker 3 Jun 2005 14:44

ECU's may or may not be bulletproof, but depend on other sensors with associated connections and quality control (or lack of it) issues...Surely a simpler mechanical system is less prone to sudden and inexplicable failure.


110 300 Tdi, mechanical, yellow.

Roman 3 Jun 2005 15:35


Originally posted by Bert:
This was for Delphi (Ford) but is standard practice in the Auto Industry...Any fears over ECU’s are generally over hyped.


As an engineer you know there's more reasons why electronics can fail than high temperature.

On this list we are not talking about ECU's for vehicles used on school runs, like Ford, but for those used in conditions for which each piece of electronics costs thousands of pounds to design, build and test. Therefore it is cheper and more economical to stick to solutions that are inexpensive to manufacture and have been extensively tested over many years, like your Bedford.

Roman (UK)

Bert 4 Jun 2005 04:28

Hi All
Yep things go wrong on all motors?

You can always find out what sensor has gone wrong, with a quick resistance test on the leads if you know the values (ask any of the more friendly Landrover Mechanics for the data) and they can generally be bypassed.

Having worked for companies building bespoke vehicles it’s the preparation that you put into a vehicle that counts, as well as what you start with.
Putting electrical grease on all the main connectors is not a bad start.

Bedford MJ Old, Slow & Orange

[This message has been edited by Bert (edited 08 June 2005).]

jljones 4 Jun 2005 05:22

Heat and dust may pose no real threat for ECUs.... but maybe corugations and constant vibrations do. To see how bad things are i often rest my left hand on the transfer box lever of Land Cruiser. Keeps me in touch with just some of what might be happening under the comfort of my driving seat. Heat and dust never killed a mobile 'phone. But shock, vibration (and water) certainly did.


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