Buying a Landrover Discovery? - What to look for!

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Having seen many poor Landrover Discoveries on Ebay lately i decided to enlighten buyers with a quick checklist on exactly where to look for the all too common problems associated with these vehicles.
It might look tidy and clean on the outside but underneath may be a different story!
Mechanically a landrover is usually cheap to maintain or repair but bodywise, its a different story with many discoveries suffering from serious hidden corrosion in many places. The common places (and expensive to repair) are the sills, wheel arches, inner wings, boot floor and rear crossmember. Here is a quick rundown on the problem areas.

SILLS:- It takes but a few minutes to inspect the sills, ensure they are firm and not holed. A light tap with a small hammer will let you know the condition. Check the condition along the seam where inner meets outer sill, This should be straight and not bubbled out, a sure sign of impending replacement needed. There should be no corrosion around the base of the door pillars at the front and middle and likewise where the baseplate meets and fits under the sill. There is a drainhole at the base of the pillars, pull the plastic plug out and see if its full of rust or mud. The middle pillar also has the seatbelt mount behind it on the floor, corrosion in this area of sill, pillar or floor will be an MOT failure.

INNER WINGS:- Very common to find these holed or non-existant in places. They should be sound and rust free and i've had many pass an MOT with corrosion and likewise fail, its the MOT inspectors discretion here but still looks unsightly if holed. Below the brake servo where the inner wing meets the bulkhead is a common rust-trap and an MOT failure, also awkward to repair and usually ends up in a new innerwing being fitted along with a bulkhead repair. Parts of the brake pipe system are supported by clips mounted on the wings, also the battery tray and surrounding areas should be sound, last thing you want is to hit a bump and end up flattening your battery....literally!

REAR WHEEL ARCHES:- Open the rear doors (5-door only) and inspect the top of the arch, this should be sound as its within 12" of a seatbelt mount and will fail if rusty or holed. The bottom is usually hidden behind the plastic trim and is a common rust trap area. Checking from inside the wheelarch will give a fair indication of condition, likewise from underneath when inspecting the sills. There is a splash panel at the bottom front of the arch, this also covers the rear of the sill and is very commonly holed or in extreme cases missing. The rear of the arch also has the mudflap brackets bolted onto it and frequently rots there too, leaving not only a loose mudflap bracket but also an insecure body side panel. looking around the inner, lower edge of the arch where above where the suspension spring is, corrosion here usually means the rear floor has started to rot and this is a potentially expensive repair often requiring patching or in worst cases a new arch and floor panel.

3-DOOR:- The rear of the sill is hidden behind the body panel and is a serious problem area. Signs of corrosion on the bottom of the body panel are a sure sign of serious rot inside. There is no cheap solution to repair this, i've seen some with the panel cut away and then chequer plate covering it, the other way is to unstitch the panel from the middle pillar, pull the panel out and replace the sill that way. Either way is a lot of work and not a cheap fix.

FRONT PANEL:- Corrosion here is usually the headlight boxes and front chassis mounts, its common for the headlight boxes to have no bottom and the chassis mounts to be totally gone, leaving a couple of rubber bushes and bolts showing. MOT failure here if this is the case!

REAR BODY:- The rear body panel beneath the rear bumper has two body mounts, these frequently rot out, leaving no means of supporting the rear body. The chassis crossmember is also a common fault, more so on earlier models. Open the rear door and inspect the surrounding, common problems are at the top on both sides where the join between roof and pillars is, at the bottom on both corners and along the leading edge where the bootfloor starts. Corrosion here has been the end of many discoveries!

BOOT FLOOR:- If corroded, then this is the biggest job to replace in my opinion. Around 150 spot welds that need removing to get the panel out, less if corrosion is severe. Care needs to be taken when drilling over the fuel tank as its very close to the floor and a careless drill bit will punture it. The floor has 3 supporting bars, one of which has the rear flexi brake pipe attatched so care needed when exposing this area. Often the surrounding floor panels need repairing as the rot spreads, theres a few sellers on Ebay supplying formed metal to replace these parts but they will require the floor being cut and then welding in before refitting the floor. In serious cases a floor repair panel or floor and arch panel will be needed. Expensive items though so many Discoveries get patched up here. A good tip when taking the floor out is to clean and paint the top edges of the chassis and also changing the much neglected primary fuel filter, located in front of the fuel tank, on the chassis itself. Many Landrover parts suppliers forget there are TWO main fuel filters on the discovery, you buy the filter kit and get ONE! ITs a common find to see this missing and a joint pipe replacing it as its so often neglected that its impossible to change and needs the entire housing replaced, hence the pipe being fitted.

Above are the common areas of rot, most you will not see if you dont look for it. Ive bought a few discoveries lately, sold with bodywork in "good condition", with MOT and you would think Fred Flintstone owned it!, i can picture the feet on the tarmac now hehe. Terminally rotten thoguh as its beyond economical repair so only good for parts. The amazing thing is the previous owner says he used it daily.....frightening!!

All too many have excellent bodywork due to them having aluminium body panels, a wash and polish brings them up well and the prospective buyer is dazzled with the stunning looks. If you dont look underneath, then there is no-one but yourself to blame if its a rot-box.

A rough indication on parts & labour costs to repair the rusty areas are as follows.
(average of known charges by various garages)
Inner wing - £200+ a side
Sill - £150+ a side
Boot floor - £300+
Arches - £250+
Rear panel £300+
Chassis crossmember £150+

These prices take into account pattern parts and labour, any other problems will cost you more as will using genuine landrover parts. So you can see for example that a 1996 Discovery, bought for say £800, no MOT and with a couple of sills and a boot floor needed will then become an easy +/- £1500 outlay, more if other rot is present. I have been caught myself but having bid on and won, have honoured the deal, unlike the dodgy seller hence why i wrote this guide.

Recent examples I bought stated
"small patch needed on boot floor for MOT" yet the floor was practically gone! also needed sills attending do amongst a few other repairs, certainly not as described!
"should sail through an MOT, not needing much work!" One thing is wouldnt do is sail!! there was so many holes in it if you tried to sail it, you would sink!
"MOT'd before it broke down and never driven since". 6 miles it drove after the MOT yet there were repairs to the sills, inner wings and wheel arches needing done.

Wishing you luck with your next purchase!


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