Land Rover Defender (1990–2016)

What's good

The Land Rover Defender remains the most capable and agile off-road machine you can buy, reaching the remotest areas with ease.

The latest 2.2-litre turbodiesel engine is smooth and punchy, and it offers the best economy and emissions ever seen in a Defender. It also comes with a much improved six-speed manual gearbox.

The diversity and vast configuration possible with the Defender mean it has something for almost every need and user who wants to get off the beaten track.

Iconic statues and a loyal following of used buyers means the Defender retains its resale value like no other utility vehicle.

What's bad

Do not under any circumstances think the Defender will be comfortable, quiet or refined for on-road driving. The handling is best described as sufficient, while the ride is better suited to forest tracks than city streets.

Load space in the Defender is useful, but it’s not as generous as in most of the competition, especially due to wheelarch intrusion.

The driving position in the Defender may have earned the vehicle some of its iconic status, but the fact is it’s just plain cramped and uncomfortable in this day and age.

On 2011 models the battery protection system comes on frequently and when the engine is not running it results in a shut down of electrics. So if you want to use a system, for example the fuel burning heater before you get into the cabin, you can't because the system will shut it down to preserve the low battery.

Reports of crankshaft, gearbox and transfer case misalignment and failed wheel bearings.

TD5 Oil pump prone to sprocket failure and without oil pressurer engine self-destructs.

Check for oil in coolant or loss of coolant. By 2007 cracked cylinder heads were becoming a very common problem on TD5s. So much so that the supply of replacement heads became used up.

Military Land Rovers were fitted with leather gaiters over the chrome swivels at the ends of the front axle. This becomes impregnated with oil and helps to protect the ball. If they become badly pitted it is possible to buy a new ball and full repair kit for about £70 each side.

Stick to OEM (Girling) brake and clutch parts. 'Pattern' versions of these parts are often poor quality and frequently fail.

Old 2.25-litre petrol engine needs hardened valve seats or a lead replacement additive in the petrol. Later 2.5 engine does not, and many owners replace 2.25 with 2.5 engine.

Recall 19-03-2002: VINs XA200000 to 1A299999 recalled because spurious signal may affect ABS electronics. Because throttle cable may have been damaged during vehicle assembly and because parking brake lever may operate inconsistently.

Recall 22-04-2002: 13,925 Defenders XA159961 to 1A617058 recalled because front left hand brake hose may rub on tyre leading to fluid leak.

Recall 02-05-2002: 13,000 Defenders built September 1998 to April 2001 recalled to check condition of front brake hoses which can chafe on suspension struts. Chafed pipes to be replaced.

Recall 06-03-2004: 272,000 Discovery and Defender models built from October 1998 recalled for checks and repairs to their anti-lock braking systems. Land Rover has found that a potential leak in the system could reduce braking efficiency or even lead to complete failure.

Recall 04-12-2009: Parking brake can become ineffective due to oil contamination of the brake linings from leaking transfer ’box output shaft seal.

Recall 04-04-2011: Parking brake can become ineffective due to oil contamination of the brake linings from leaking transfer ’box output shaft seal.

Recall 08-08-2012: Seat belt mounting may become loose due to the bolts being contaminated during manufacture.

What does a Land Rover Defender (1990 – 2016) cost?