Frequently Asked Questions About Land Rovers

Posted on October 02, 2014

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Sometimes we get asked questions relating to the ownership and operation of a Vintage Land Rover®. These often recur, so we've decided to list the common questions below!

Do I need to use a lead additive as the vehicle does not have an unleaded head fitted?

It was common thinking for many years, that using unleaded fuels in engines that had not been modified (with hardened valve seats) would cause premature and catastrophic wear. To avoid this, lead additive was advised to be added.....however, our own experience over many years pointed towards no significant issues arising, even after prolonged use with no additives.

A few years ago, Eddie Evans, from LRO magazine ran an article, and his vast experience mirrored our findings. He therefore suggested to people not to waste their money on additive - it is now therefore the common thread - just use standard unleaded fuel. Some people still don't like this idea, and choose to use additive.

The problem with this is that the additive itself is very expensive. It's possible, with two years of regular driving, to save enough money NOT using additive, to buy an unleaded head from Turner (they manufacture them). At the end of the day it's your choice - a slug of additive for a long drive certainly will do no harm!

How do free wheeling hubs work?

Free wheeling hubs are fitted to improve economy and reduce wear to the front axle. Under normal use, a Series Land Rover® runs in two wheel drive, to the rear wheels. However, because the front road wheels are rolling in contact with the tarmac, they turn. Because they are also connect to the front axle and front prop shaft, all that turns too! This frictional force costs fuel, and can wear the front differential over years of use. The free wheeling hub can be locked on or off - this means that even in two wheel drive, the wheels will spin, without moving all the front axle components, thus saving fuel.

The front axle is also not as robust as the rear axle, as it's only designed to work WITH the rear axle - the rear axle is stronger as it must work on its own for most of the time. If there is some wear to the front axle components, free wheeling hubs can protect them so that when they finally are needed in 4WD at low speeds, it is still ready to work.

A word of warning however - free wheeling hubs can fail internally, and if there is a problem with them, you will be unable to have four wheel drive at any point! When engaging 4WD inside the cab, the hubs must be locked, otherwise all that will happen is that the front diff will turn without passing its force to the wheels. In summary, free wheeling hubs have the two described benefits, but if broken you will be stuck in that muddy field!

How do the red and yellow levers work?

In standard form, the Land Rover® Series is a rear wheel drive vehicle. With road tyres on, you will soon get stuck on a wet slope. You only need one rear wheel spinning, and the way the rear diff is designed to work, all the power will go to the slipping wheel - game over! This is where the levers come in. Both levers will give four wheel drive, but only the red lever gives four wheel drive AND low ratio (for pulling out tree stumps etc).

The yellow lever gives four wheel drive with the standard road ratios. It can be engaged at road speeds, simply by pressing it down. It should stay down. You can now drive on loose surfaces in four wheel drive. To disengage it, the red lever must be used. With your foot on the clutch, and the handbrake off, pull the red lever from the bulkhead, through the neutral position until it moves no further. It should now be towards the seat box. As it passed the neutral position it should have caused the yellow lever to pop back up. You are now in four wheel drive with low ratio too.

To return the vehicle back to standard, move the red lever back to the front (use clutch, and you should always be at a standstill when using the red lever). Sometimes the red lever will try to pop back to neutral when it has been played with, and may require fully locating by pushing and holding it forward until it properly locates.

Series "transfer" boxes, as this system is caused is robust. They rarely break, but they do seize if not used periodically. If this happens, the floor must be removed to gain access to the front of the transfer box to free the seized components.

How many miles to the gallon can I expect from my vehicle?

The rule of thumb is 18 -20 mpg. It is low because, generally, most people carry out short journeys and the engine never gets warm. On a long journey, one would expect to get mid to high 20's. Improvements in efficiency can be gained from carrying out modifications - an overdrive will lengthen ratios (so will fitting larger 750 tyres or fitting Range Rover Differentials, which also lengthen gearing), a Kenlowe electric fan will also save energy, as it only cuts in when needed, rather than a fixed fan which constantly spins.

Diesel variants achieve 22-25 mpg, which is a small improvement over the petrol engine, although will have to live with the noisy, slow diesel engine. Fitting a 200tdi (later Land Rover® engine) is a viable alternative - they pull well, and can return up to 40 mpg.

How does my overdrive work?

The overdrive is engaged in the same manner as the gear lever, by depressing the clutch and moving it from the seat box, through the neutral position, in the engaged (and forward) position. It is generally just used after fourth, to give a fifth ratio, although it will actually work in every gear. Some people just leave it engaged all the time, but there is a school of thought that suggests it is unkind to use them in first and second due to the power and torque being put through them at that point.

The Fairey overdrive was not a particularly robust piece of equipment, and they often "whined" when new (We are told from older friends in the industry). They are prone to noise and wear, so it's a good idea to check to see if it is quiet in operation.

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