MK1 Freelander really as bad as reviews make out?

MK1 Freelander really as bad as reviews make out?

Author
Discussion

TankRS

Original Poster:

2,850 posts

126 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
Just after a quick bit of info on a 2001 Freelander 1.8 ES petrol.
Garage today offered a straight swap for my Focus.

It’s got a FSH, on 77k. full leather, full working electrics and apparently never needed any work apart from usual pads/disc/shoes and fluid refreshes.

I see from various reviews that things start going at the +80-85k mark on most early models, tho there are the reviews saying that if it is looked after well it will last and last.

Aside from the head gasket check, is there anything else to look for when I have the test drive of it 2mro? Obviously can't check the drive train is working unless it goes on ramps, so any other tell tale signs?

I've booked a test drive just to see how i feel in it too, as never owned/driven a LR or 4x4 before.

Cheers

em177

3,047 posts

136 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
TankRS said:
MK1 Freelander really as bad as reviews make out?

Cheers
Yes.

EDLT

15,326 posts

178 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
em177 said:
TankRS said:
MK1 Freelander really as bad as reviews make out?

Cheers
Yes.
This.

And in before the Rover fanatics try to convince you/themselves that the k-series is reliable.

toppstuff

13,698 posts

219 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
Yes.

HTH

smile

I could write you a list as to why but it would be very long. It's a badly designed car on so many levels that just breaks a lot for many, many, many owners.

Buy a Honda CRV. Nothing short of an RPG will stop them and even then it wouldn't surprise me if the Honda shrugged that off too...

Froomee

1,366 posts

141 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
Not necessarily if its auto the gearboxes are a common problem im led to believe as a friend had one that went twice.......... A cheap recon one may be cheap now but when he had his the work was circa £4k from LR when nearly new if he didn't have warranty.

Other than that I think electrics is another thing especially sunroofs.

dme123

8,364 posts

161 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
I've known several people who've had them, all of them had trouble. The least problematic was a late model diesel.

fat freddie

303 posts

114 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
Awful cars, I wouldn't have that one as a gift.

Apart from the impending HGF (and don't be conned into thinking it won't happen just because it's been done already) these things have all manner of electrical issues, problems with leaks, both from the car's mechanical bits onto the floor and water into the cabin from numerous sources. Steering and suspension problems, problems with the gearboxes, a lot of them are fwd now on account of the rear drive failing or being removed by a previous owner and they rust.

Anyone swapping a running, MOTd Focus for one of these things is getting done.

DaveEssex

252 posts

129 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
Owned two over an 8 year period, prior to buying Freelander 2's, keeping each for 4 years, and found both marks great cars.
Like all European developed cars they are designed for 150,000 miles minimum durability.
The petrol Mark 1's with 1800cc were a little underpowered for the weight, but as long as it hasn't been seriously abused by previous owners it will be fine.
So, check for engine damage - the usual water-in-oil or noisy in tick-over or when driven.
Otherwise they are as reliable as any entry-level 4x4.

longblackcoat

4,670 posts

155 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
Even if they were 100% reliable**, they're reasonably horrid - poor gearboxes, very thirsty, and you've got to rev the engine hard to get what little performance there is.

I'd rather walk, if I'm honest, and I'm a dyed-in-the-wool Land Rover fan (on my 5th at the moment)


  • And they're a long way from this

DaveEssex

252 posts

129 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
Just read some of the other comments, and typically based on heresay and lack of real personal experience and knowledge.
"So this guy told me that his engine was always a problem - probably because it was made of cheese".

toppstuff

13,698 posts

219 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
DaveEssex said:
Just read some of the other comments, and typically based on heresay and lack of real personal experience and knowledge.
"So this guy told me that his engine was always a problem - probably because it was made of cheese".
Not at all.

A good friend of mine had one. My brother in law had one. And I have a nephew who is a JLR tech.

All have had miserable experiences with them. I'm certainly not gloating about it, I'm a major buy British aficionado. But the Freelander Mk1 is a pretty poor car.

The contrast with a Swindon- made Honda CRV is comically imbalanced, the Honda being apparently indestructible while the Landie looked for any excuse to play up.

longblackcoat

4,670 posts

155 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
DaveEssex said:
Just read some of the other comments, and typically based on heresay and lack of real personal experience and knowledge.
"So this guy told me that his engine was always a problem - probably because it was made of cheese".
My comments are based on real-life experience of driving a Mk I 1.8 petrol last week.......it was a fairly abused example, and if my opinion was reliant solely on that I'd have been really scathing. But I've driven others, which weren't quite as bad. Still appalling though.

Basically, I think they're irredeemably st. Most annoying of all is that if you're reasonably tall you hit your head on the frame as you get in, as the seats are set as a ludicrously high level. But even if they sorted that out and made them utterly and totally reliable, I'd still like to get every single one of them and put them in a skip. Then nuke that skip, and launch it into space.

A few other fun things to mention:

  • The inside's a bit of a Fisher-Price My-First-4x4 spectacular, though perhaps spectacular isn't quite the right word to use.
  • Did I mention that they rattle? No? Well, they do. From every conceivable nook and cranny
  • There's a load of engine and wind noise, and generally as much refinement as you'd expect to find in a back-street Nottingham knocking-shop.

Grim. Just terrible. Avoid like the plague.

mat777

9,352 posts

132 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
Like a lot of cars, they have a few well known foiubles that are easy to spot if you know what to look for, and easy sort out leaving a nice reliable car.

K-series ARE good, robust engines once the head gasket and bolt modification kit has been applied. my recommendation however, is to go for the superb BMW-designed TD4 unit - bombproof, economical and a lot more refined than the earlier L-series td4 unit.

The other major problem is the 4wd system. This uses a viscous coupling in the rear prop that stiffens and transmits drive to the rear wheels when the fronts start spinning. Its a very good, cheap and robust system as its a passive rather than active unit. the only problem is that over time the viscous jelly stiffens with age and locks the vehicle in permanent 4wd, which with no centre diff means the transmission will wind-up. If this is caught early (check by turning at full lock on a loose surface and see if the wheels skip as the transmission tries to unwind itself), then replacement units are not dear and it is not a big job to change them (as long as you launch a pre-emptive strike on the bolts with wd40 the day before). The BIG problem comes when the sized VCU is ignored, as the windup this creates on a grippy surface like tarmac will build up in stress until teeth are stripped in the IRD. The IRD is the intermediate reduction drive, the box of cogs that takes grive from the gearbox and splits it front-rear. Now, a replacement IRD costs £k's and is a HUGE job to remove and refit (think on the scale of a clutch change on a front-transverse engined car). This is why pretty much every cheap Freelander you see is advertised as "rear propshaft removed for economy reasons" - avoid!!!

As long as you avoid a Freelander with the above problems, they are great cars. Refined and carlike but still able to show up much bigger 4x4s. I've never ever seen a rusty one - they were very well protected at the factory, and they handle nicely as well.


I would dispite longblackcoat's post above. We had 2 Freelanders (a 1.8K and a 2.5V6) and I have driven an L-series and a BMW td4. They do not rattle around any more than a similar age/mileage car. Perhaps yours has done intergalactic mileage on a rally stage?
As for the comment about the Fischer-price interior - you really are missing the point. The whole idea of all Land Rover interiors is that they are big, chunky and tough, so you can use the controls with big gloves and boots etc on whilst doing 4x4 stuff, they are very resistant to mud and scuffs, and they wont be reduced to their component parts by children. None of this can be applied to the "grown up" interiors of other 4x4s which are lifted straight out of road cars and therefore do not last 5 minutes in the rough.


My sources? Spending over 10 years actively involved in the 4x4/Land Rover scene driving, fixing, modifying, off roading and generally being around all types and ages of Land Rovers, reading all the LR mags with reviews, real-world living-with experiences, and workshop q+a sections, and reading them cover to cover.
As such, I feel a bit more qualified to answer truthfully than the people who read only the negative reviews in JD power surveys, or who listen to the rumours from a mate down the pub.

Edited by mat777 on Thursday 14th March 17:44

DaveEssex

252 posts

129 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
toppstuff said:
Not at all.

A good friend of mine had one. My brother in law had one. And I have a nephew who is a JLR tech.

All have had miserable experiences with them. I'm certainly not gloating about it, I'm a major buy British aficionado. But the Freelander Mk1 is a pretty poor car.

The contrast with a Swindon- made Honda CRV is comically imbalanced, the Honda being apparently indestructible while the Landie looked for any excuse to play up.
Not a true reflection of the real world warranty and reliability.

I do wish people would check the full facts before trying to influence a "friend".

HaplessBoyLard

1,470 posts

160 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
There's a reason the dealer wants to do a straight swap.

A mate of mine had one. A part of the drive line started grumbling (can't remember what exactly) soon after he got it. Thankfully it was sorted under warranty, but it would have cost at least £1k to sort. From what I gather it was a common problem.

It was thirsty. He got about 26mpg driving very carefully on a run.

He asked another of our friends, who owned a knackered FTO at the time, if he wanted to buy it. The reply was "I'd rather keep the FTO and throw a tenner out the window every 20 miles".

Harvey Mushman00

271 posts

105 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
toppstuff said:
Yes.

HTH

smile

I could write you a list as to why but it would be very long. It's a badly designed car on so many levels that just breaks a lot for many, many, many owners.

Buy a Honda CRV. Nothing short of an RPG will stop them and even then it wouldn't surprise me if the Honda shrugged that off too...
Thisyes

mat777

9,352 posts

132 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
Harvey Mushman00 said:
toppstuff said:
Yes.

HTH

smile

I could write you a list as to why but it would be very long. It's a badly designed car on so many levels that just breaks a lot for many, many, many owners.

Buy a Honda CRV. Nothing short of an RPG will stop them and even then it wouldn't surprise me if the Honda shrugged that off too...
Thisyes
Unless you actually need to make use of its off road ability, say in a festival carpark. In which case, a slight bit of slippery grass or cross-axle potholes will leave it crying for its mummy

kambites

62,870 posts

193 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
Not only is the inline-4 K-series head gasket failure prone in general, but it's far worse in the Freelander than most cars because it's more likely to have been stressed from cold due to the weight of the vehicle.

toppstuff

13,698 posts

219 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
mat777 said:
Harvey Mushman00 said:
toppstuff said:
Yes.

HTH

smile

I could write you a list as to why but it would be very long. It's a badly designed car on so many levels that just breaks a lot for many, many, many owners.

Buy a Honda CRV. Nothing short of an RPG will stop them and even then it wouldn't surprise me if the Honda shrugged that off too...
Thisyes
Unless you actually need to make use of its off road ability, say in a festival carpark. In which case, a slight bit of slippery grass or cross-axle potholes will leave it crying for its mummy
My CRV ( well its the dog's, really) has been merrily wading its way through the snow this winter on Korean ditch finder tyres without a slip. Grassy fields are fine too. And it's towed a few horse boxes on occasions on grass too without a problem.

Dunno about "cross axle potholes " though. I'm not sure I have any of those.

But back to the OP, the FR 1 is genuinely bad. The experiences of friends and family of its awfulness are recent, and true,

TankRS

Original Poster:

2,850 posts

126 months

Thursday 14th March 2013
quotequote all
fat freddie said:
Anyone swapping a running, MOTd Focus for one of these things is getting done.
My focus has the PSA 1.6 TDCI lump in it. I’m on borrowed time with the Turbo as it is. So not necessarily the one getting done over.
I was honest with the dealer today too on the issues its recently had and he was still happy to go ahead with the swap. Perhaps that makes more sense now than it did at the time!

mat777 said:
my recommendation however, is to go for the superb BMW-designed TD4 unit - bombproof, economical and a lot more refined than the earlier L-series td4 unit.
Even million mile BMW TD4 engined examples are out of my budget!

mat777 said:
The other major problem is the 4wd system.
That right there, nails the coffin shut. Given that it’s a 4wd vehicle, and seeing all the ‘major issues with drive train’. I will need it for its 4wd capabilities, not just popping to the shops or for the mrs to have the mini chelsea tractor effect.

mat777 said:
They do not rattle around any more than a similar age/mileage car. Perhaps yours has done intergalactic mileage on a rally stage?
Were i to have taken this one, driving round the stages would have been a massive part of its duties.

toppstuff said:
But back to the OP, the FR 1 is genuinely bad. The experiences of friends and family of its awfulness are recent, and true
Thats that settled then.
Back to the search for a new motor!