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Land Rover Defender: Buying guide and review (1991-2016)

Land Rover Defender: Buying guide and review (1991-2016) Classic and Performance Car
Land Rover Defender buying guide Land Rover Defender buying guide Land Rover Defender buying guide
The Land Rover Defender is the modern incarnation of the classic rugged utilitarian vehicle that made the company what it is today. While the Defender as we know it was launched in 1991, it was just an evolution of the original Land Rover – with lineage stretching back as far as 1948. When the final Defender rolled off the line in 2016, it genuinely was the end of an era. 
For now, the Land Rover Defender remains without a rugged utilitarian replacement from Land Rover, which means demand for the Defender remains particularly high. It’s easy to fall for the simple charms of a Defender, too. Look at one objectively, and it’s slow, noisy, uncomfortable and extremely cramped – but it’s all these things that somehow make it such an event each time you set off down the road.
Which one to buy? 
The Defender model was introduced in 1991 and was similar to the outgoing Ninety and One Ten, but powered by the new 200Tdi engine. The Tdi motor was based around the old 2.5-litre turbo with a new aluminium cylinder head, turbo, intercooler and direct injection fuelling. 
The later 300Tdi engine was similar. The Defenders were known by their wheelbases of 90 and 110, and the 127-inch became known as the 130 and was built on a dedicated chassis rather than the modified One Ten chassis which had been used on the earlier 127. 
Both Tdi engines are highly respected as dependable non-electronic power units, giving higher speed cruising over the Ninety/One Ten mills. Plenty of new and used parts available at good prices, and construction is still simple, though engines are more complex than earlier types. Lots of modification and upgrade kit is available. 
The five-cylinder Td5 engine was the last diesel to be designed and built in-house by Land Rover. It was sophisticated and relatively complex, featuring electronic unit fuel injectors. Its electronic engine management was received with suspicion, risking the Defender’s ‘fix it anywhere’ reputation. Td5s are now the most prolific Defenders on the road, testimony to the engine’s long-term reliability, and offering plenty of buying choices. 
The Td5 engine gives a significant performance improvement over the Tdi and can be slightly better on fuel. Long-lasting engine, given correct maintenance and proper use. Electronic engine management allows tuning options. Plenty of special models to search for, including Tomb Raiders, SVX and Defender Black. Top end Td5s have high trim levels, electronic traction control and air conditioning. 
The 2007-on TDCi is powered by Ford’s Duratorq engines, albeit with lubrication and sealing improvements to cope with Defender’s special duties. Initially a 2.4-litre, followed by the greener 2.2-litre, though both have the same performance output using a variable geometry turbocharger and delivering the business via a six-speed manual gearbox. 
Body options include 90 and 110 hard tops and station wagons, 2-door pick-ups and 4-door double-cab pick-ups. The 130 remains in the line-up. The 110 utility wagon is an ideal combination with full four-door access plus the conventional van load space at the rear. Prices are holding strongly and are likely to continue that way. Bespoke versions by specialist builders are increasingly popular and becoming abundant on the used market. 
This is the sophisticated Defender. Improved ride, comfort, heating, forward-facing rear seats, a more comprehensive dashboard and an engine with long term reliability if it is serviced properly. Plenty of tuning and customizing options from independent suppliers. Top of the range models will replace the family car, and go anywhere in the world. 
Sadly, this model does not have the bulkhead vent flaps which are so distinctive a part of the Defender brand. Happily, this ultimate evolution of Defender is as perfect as it gets. 
Performance and specs
Land Rover Defender 90 TDCI
Engine 2198cc, four-cylinder turbodiesel 
Power 122bhp @ 3500rpm 
Torque 265lb ft @ 2000rpm
Top speed 90mph
0-60mph 14.7seconds 
Fuel consumption 28.3mpg 
CO2 emissions 266g/km
Insurance group 12
Gearbox Six-speed manual
Dimensions and weight
Wheelbase 2360mm
Length 4040mm
Width 1790mm
Height 2182mm
Weight 1889kg
Common problems
• The Tdi Defenders are now elderly and many have covered high mileages. Examples that have been well maintained and used properly should last well, but many are hacked, have towed or been off-roaded hard, and some are modified badly. 
• Check for engine smoke and crankcase pressure when lifting the oil cap, all of which suggests a worn engine, though they’ll run a long time like this. Check all the transmission controls work, including diff lock and low range, and beware of excessive play in the rear diff above the normal driveline slop. 
• Chassis corrosion is still an issue, though late models fare better, but still check every inch with a screwdriver or tapping hammer. Expect to find aluminium corrosion spots on the doors, and on the lower body panels where corrosion is often hidden behind chequer plate. 
• Bulkheads are more corrosion resistant on TD5 and later models, and the chassis is improved. Holes can still appear anywhere, so check all of the chassis. 
• Chassis and bulkhead corrosion can be terminal, at least for those components, rather than the whole vehicle. 
• Some 200Tdi engine parts, including cylinder heads, are becoming difficult to source. Low security means a good one might get nicked. 
• On Td5 models, listen for whistling from the engine under load, which may be a warped exhaust manifold or broken studs. 
• Misfire from the engine can be caused by oil entering the injector harness, but might also be down to injector sealing problems (or head crack on early models) especially if accompanied by a smell of fuel on the dipstick. 
• Fuel leaking down from the back of the engine needs a new fuel pressure regulator. 
• As with all Defenders, the Td5 can seem to go forever and 200,000 miles on the clock need not put you off if there is evidence of good maintenance. 
• Rattles and bangs suggest the suspension needs re-bushing, but drivetrain and engine vibration may by a worn dual-mass flywheel. Look for body corrosion on lower panels doors, door shuts and window frames. 
• Land Rover has steadily improved the Defender over the past 24 years, so it’s not surprising that the current evolution is seriously sorted, and there is little to check beyond the routines that apply to any vehicle. Bodywork corrosion appears to be eliminated by new paint processes and galvanised parts, and the chassis is showing no concerns thus far. 
• Early TDCI vehicles had problems with power steering pump seal failure, clutch springs and fuel system ventilation, but these have all been addressed by Land Rover and it is unlikely that any vehicles would show these problems now. 
Model history
1991-1994: 200Tdi, 2.5-litre turbocharged, direct-injection diesel. 107 bhp, 195 lb-ft torque. LT77S five-speed transmission. 
1994-1998: 300Tdi, 2.5-litre turbocharged, direct-injection diesel. 111 bhp, 195 lb-ft torque. R380 five-speed transmission. 
1998-2007: TD5, 2.5-litre five-cylinder turbo diesel, 122 bhp, 221 lb-ft torque. R380 five-speed transmission, permanent four-wheel drive.
2007-2012: TDCI, 2.4-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, 122 bhp, 221 lb-ft torque. Six-speed MT85 gearbox, permanent four-wheel drive. 
2012-on: TDCI, 2.2-litre four-cylinder turbo diesel, 122 bhp, 265 lb-ft torque. Six-speed MT85 gearbox, permanent four-wheel drive.
2016: Production of all Defender models comes to an end.
Owners clubs, forums and websites
• www.landroveraddict.com – Land Rover Monthly magazine’s website
• www.landyzone.co.uk – Land Rover Forum
• www.landyzone.co.uk – Land Rover Forum
Summary and prices
As production spans such a large period, prices are understandably varied. While production might have stopped, it’s still possible to find brand new Defenders. You can expect to pay £50k plus for one in top condition with minimal miles – Especially if it’s one of the Heritage editions. Rough TDCI models start at around £6200, up to around £17,000 for something with plenty of life left in it. 
The thing is, Defenders are generally in high demand, which means there are few bargains out there. You might be able to find an early 200Tdi for close to £2500, but don’t expect something this cheap to be anything less than very rough. Solid cars start nearer to £3500, and a genuinely clean example will fetch closer to £6000. A perfect example on a recent galvanised chassis could cost up to £12,000. The later 300Tdi models are generally valued a little higher, but condition is more important. 
If you want a faster and more refined drive, the Td5 is the best choice. These characterful turbocharged engines are considerably more desirable than earlier in many ways, and although less reliable range from £3500-£5000 in poor condition, to £12,000-£17,000 in the best shape.
Land Rover Defender buying guide Land Rover Defender buying guide Land Rover Defender buying guide
Last updated: 21st Jul 2016
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Land Rover Defender
4995 47993 GBP
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £18,990 £18,990

    Alloy Wheels, Half Leather Interior, Heated Seats, CD Player, Air Conditioning, Immobiliser, Electric Windows, 4x4 Low Mileage With A Full Land Rover And Land Rover Specialist Service History. Fantastic Looking Car In Fantastic Spec Condition. Great Specification Which Includes, 16'' Alloy Wheels, Half Black Leather Interior, Heated Seats, Air Conditioning, Radio CD, Front And Rear Heated Screens, 6 Seats, Side Steps, Electric Windows, Remote Central Locking, Power Steering, Alarm, Immobiliser. 6 seats, Tonga Green Metallic, We Are A Family Run Business Specialising In Sports, Prestige And Performance Cars. Ideally Located On The Border Of Hampshire, Surrey And West Sussex. Our Premises Are Situated A Stones Throw From The A3 And The London Waterloo To Portsmouth Train Line. All Vehicles Are HPI Checked And Come With A Comprehensive 6 Month Warranty Which Can Be Extended. We Offer Hire Purchase And PCP Finance Packages At Very Competitive Rates. Pleased To Be Approved Under The Hampshire Trading Standards 'Buy With Confidence' Scheme, Open 9.00-5.30 Monday To Saturday, Sundays And Out Of Hours By Appointment.

    • Mileage: 74000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
    Petersfield Motor Company
  • Land Rover Defender 110

    £47,993 £47,993

    Bluetooth, Radio, Alloy wheels ***All vehicles come with a minimum of 6 months RAC warranty, 12 months breakdown and home start**** GREY, We are excited to present to you this stunning Defender 110 Adventure edition painted in a gorgeous Corris Gray Metallic. The cars features include 16 inch diamond cut alloy wheels, Red and black seats with Land Rover embossed headrests, Full leahter interior (Dashboard, Seats and Door), Bluetooth, CD, AUX, Radio, Air con and Front heated seats. Category 1 alarm and immobiliser.***This car is HPI clear, we accept credit and debit card payments, we can organise competitive finance for you and will would be happy to take your current vehicle as part exchange. Indoor viewing area. Nationwide delivery available. All vehicles are subject to a £80 admin fee. VIEWING BY APPOINTMENT ONLY. ***(H42 VEY NOT INCLUDED), £47,993, If somebody replies with the e-mail address leontommy6gmail.com, please disregard and inform us directly, as they are not associated to our business.

    • Mileage: 2900 mi
    • Engine size: 2200
    For sale
  • Land Rover Defender 110

    £12,995 £12,995

    Cloth Upholstery, Tow Pack, Electric Windows, Metallic Paintwork, Remote Central Locking, Remote Alarm, 4x4, Service history Rare County pack High Capacity pick up. No vat. * Viewing available 9am-5pm Mon-Sat only *

    • Mileage: 82000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
  • Land Rover Defender

    £35,495 £35,495

    Variant name:90 SWB Diesel ,Variant: XS Station Wagon TDCi [2.2] Land Rover Defender 90 XS Station Wagon TDCi [2.2] Finished in metallic Graphite grey with Full black leather interior and Premium Pack As a result of the Premium pack it has the premium full leather seats and Air conditioning with factory fitted tinted privacy glass to the side. The premium pack also includes Heated Seats (front) and a heated front windscreen that add a touch of extra comfort. The entertainment system is also upgraded by the factory to the Alpine system that also incorporates a Bluetooth system. The wheels have also been upgraded to the Diamond Cut Alloys and look superb on the vehicle. The vehicle has had it's first service carried out with the Main agent and is supplied with the balance of the 3 year manufacturer warranty.

    • Year: 2015
    • Mileage: 12540 mi
    • Engine size: 2.2
    For sale
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £13,000 £13,000

    Immobiliser, Remote Central Locking, Central Locking, Locking Wheel Nuts, Cloth Upholstery, Heated Seats, Head Restraints, Tow Pack, Rear Wash/wipe, Power Steering, Trip Computer, Electric Front Windows, CD Player, Radio, No VAT, 4x4 Heated Seats, Electric Windows, Alpine Windows, Tow Bar, Next MOT due 03/07/2017, Last serviced on 05/10/2016, Full service history, Cloth interior, Four wheel-drive, Tinted Glass, Electric Windows (Front), In Car Entertainment (Radio/Cassette), Alarm, Stereo Radio/Cassette, CD Player, Alloy wheels, Heated seats, Immobiliser, Power steering, Remote central locking. 3 seats, Black, Peter Watson Ltd is a family run Business and has been established in Skipton for over 50 Years

    • Mileage: 68000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
  • Land Rover Defender

    £34,950 £34,950

    Variant name:110 XS DCB ,Variant: 110 XS DCB FRONT AND REAR HEATED SCREEN, WAX SEALED UNDERNEATH, WHEEL UPGRADE, ROOF BAR, LIGHT GUARDS FRONT & REAR, LINE EX COATED REAR BED, ICON DIAMOND STITCHED SEATS WITH LUMBER SUPPORT, 12 months warranty, 12 months MOT, Full service history, Black Part leather interior, Long wheel-base, Air Conditioning, Boost Alloy Wheel And Continental AT Tyres, Metallic Paint, Single Slot CD & Radio & MP3 & Dash Mounted Tweet, Single Slot CD & Radio & MP3 & Tweeters, Tinted Glass, Roof rack, Electric mirrors, Air conditioning, Electric windows, FRONT HEATED SEATS, FRONT AND REAR HEATED SCREEN. 5 seats, Metallic STORNAWAY GREY, ALL VEHICLES ARE METICULOUSLY PREPARED, COMPLIMENTED WITH A 12 MONTH WARRANTY, PLEASE CALL FOR INFO

    • Year: 2008
    • Mileage: 29193 mi
    • Engine size: 2.4
    For sale
  • Land Rover Defender

    £17,995 £17,995

    CD Player, Electric Front Windows, Cloth Upholstery, Front Centre Armrest, Folding Rear Seats, Power Steering, Side Steps, Tow Pack, Rear Wash/wipe, Remote Central Locking, Alarm, 16'' Alloys

    • Mileage: 27000 mi
    • Engine size: 2402
    For sale
  • Land Rover Defender

    £20,000 £20,000

    Variant name:110 TD5 XS STATION WAGON ,Variant: 110 TD5 XS STATION WAGON Reare Car needs to be seento be believed.Fullleather interior upgraded brakes and wheels a real head turner. Give me a call now to make an appointment to test drive thes 1 of a kind Defender. Call Andy on 01828921921

    • Year: 2004
    • Mileage: 82000 mi
    • Engine size: 2.5
    For sale
  • Land Rover Defender 90

    £7,995 £7,995

    Power Steering, 4x4, Service history Genuine ex-military Land Rover retro fitted with 200 Tdi engine and power steering. * Viewing available 9am-5pm Mon-Sat only *

    • Mileage: 88000 mi
    • Engine size: 2495
    For sale
  • Land Rover Defender 110

    £39,950 £39,950

    Variant name:TD LANDMARK ,Variant: TD LANDMARK 2016 ( 65 ) Finished in Corris Grey with Ebony Black Full Leather Interior - Upgrades Include - Ebony Premium Seats, Audio Upgrade, Black Pack, Sidebars, Mudflaps, Single Electric Towbar - Standard Features Include - Air Conditioning, Airbags, Alloy wheels, Central locking, Folding rear seats, Power steering, Electric windows, CD Player, Alarm, 7 seats.

    • Year: 2016
    • Mileage: 9421 mi
    • Engine size: 2.2
    For sale
  • Land Rover Defender

    £4,995 £4,995


    • Mileage: 135376 mi
    • Engine size: 3900
    For sale
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