For those of you that read my posts you will be aware that I have a 2004 Range Rover as my daily drive and for most of the time I do love owning it. But when owning a 9 year old Range Rover you do need to be patient with it and expect problems.
I have owned the car for two years and spent less than £1000 maintaining it. Which for a car that originally cost over £70,000 and is as complicated as this, it is pretty good going.
Recently I had the latest failure… On the way into work one morning the “battery not charging light” lit up in red on the dash. I thought, bugger! I could do without breaking down this morning! So I continued for another 3-4 minutes and luckily I wasn’t far from work. I had a quick look under the bonnet when I got there; the fan belt was still in place and the tension was good, so it seemed obvious that there was some kind of alternator failure. I called to the AA to get the 3 tonne drained devil home.
Luckily for me the AA subbed out the job to Land Rover… So the guy from Land Rover turned up in a fully kitted out Disco 4 and he had plenty of experience with Range Rovers, so at this point I couldn’t of ask for any more. He took a quick look at it and said the alternator was on the way out and rather than towing it to try and drive it home whilst he follows behind in case the alternator wasn’t up for the job.
So I nipped off home at mid day to drop the car back home, I drove about 1 mile before everything electric on the car was flicking on and off and the car was bonging and dinging at me. It was far from happy to say the least. I had 10 miles to drive across Birmingham City Centre. Sooner or later the inevitable happened… I was exactly halfway across the Aston Express Way (M6 Junction 6), for anyone that knows this area it is basically a 7 lane tidal flow system that runs in and out of city, there is nowhere to stop and you are highly likely of getting killed if you do stop. Lucky me!
As I said I was half the way across when the last few bits of juice came out of the battery, I slowly managed to coast the car across the Express Way where my new best mate in his SDV6 Disco 4 hooked me up me up on a tow and got me out of trouble.
It is worth noting that the SDV6 disco pulled like an absolute tank, I was shocked by the power of this thing, bearing in mind I was sitting in a 4.4-litre V8 Range Rover at the time of being pulled, some of the time it felt like I was driving. For anyone who likes 4×4’s and crazy amounts of torque check them out.
Anyway, I got the car back home… thanked my new best mate from Land Rover. Then started to try and identify how much this failure was going to cost me. For a laugh I called Land Rover, gave them the reg and asked for a price on a new alternator. A brand new a replacement part was £800 from Land Rover. Ouch, I know it was 150 amp and water cooled, but that seemed bit steep for me. My whole philosophy with this car has been to make it as affordable as possible to run, within reason and excluding fuels costs. I did some searching around found a refurb unit available on ebay for £165. No more said, I bought it and used the RX8 for a few days whilst I waited for the part to arrive.
My replacement alternator turned up a day later and I waited until Saturday to fit the part. I’m no mechanic just to be clear; I just like to stretch my cash a little further when it comes to cars. I had done some searching through the Land Rover forums and found a guide on how to replace the part. So I got my beginners tool kit out and starting to replace the alternator unit.
The process went as follows:
- Drain engine coolant.
- Remove the viscous fan.
- Remove a few cooling pipes.
- Disconnect the electrics on the alternator.
- Remove the alternator.
- Put it back together.
Overall it wasn’t too bad really. End to end it took around 2 hours to swap it over with no real drama.
If you look closely at the picture, I found that you can make the job more enjoyable by keeping up to date with the F1 on the iPad at the same time. Kind of feels like you are servicing and F1 car with all the sounds in the back ground. I love SkyGo!
For now the Range is back working again… So with a bit of knowledge and bit of effort I do believe that it is possible maintain and fairly high maintenance car at a relatively normal cost and I will encourage other to take on this philosophy.
So keeping with the websites graphical focused approach here are few pictures of the Range Rover we have taken location spotting or testing over the last few months. I will keep you updated when something next breaks. Fingers crossed.