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Land Rover Discovery (series 1) V8 unreliability


Over the last fifty years, there have been very few occasions when a vehicle has broken down or had a puncture. We had a Ford Sierra which when it was about nine years old spluttered and conked out on occasion - then would restart about 10 minutes later. Tried various things before taking to a garage where mechanics had met this problem before - the filter over the fuel pick up pipe in the petrol tank had collapsed.

Some years earlier our Land Rover 2 1/4 Diesel conked out on way home from work - a spring had broken in a fuel injector so that the piston forced air into the fuel injection pump.

Then we bought a secondhand Land Rover Discovery Series I

The Discovery  was a joy to drive, but there was a spell, as it got older, when very occasionally it would not start and finally one day conked out. The primary cause was an intermittent fault with the fuel injection system relay; cheap and easy to fix once the problem was identified.

Poor connections in the alarm spider module also caused occasional non starts; a well known fault which the garage fixed by bypassing the module.

Hopefully  the following tips may be of some help to owners of older V8 vehicles experiencing similar problems.

Spider Related Problems

1) Starter occasionally fails to operate - caused by dry joint on immobiliser Spider PCB which is awkwardly located below the radio/cassette. To get at the unit you need to dismantle the dashboard - I do not recommend you do this yourself!

Tip - tapping top of dashboard may get you started; get main dealer either to replace the Spider AMR 4889 or by-pass the unit.

2) Slight burning smell, vehicle conks out, no spark - caused by bad joint on Spider PCB or, less likely, faulty ignition amplifier or loose coil connection.

Tip - you may be done for; phone breakdown service for low loader to take you to main dealer.

3) Engine turns over but will not start - fuel pump runs OK.

Possibly caused by low battery voltage while engine cranking combined with dry joint on Spider PCB reducing current to the ignition coil.

Tip - if you are sure you know what you are doing, try connecting a fused jump lead between the coil +Ve terminal and the battery positive terminal using croc clips (to bypass the spider). If that works remember to remove the lead when you get home; if you forget, your battery will go flat.

Otherwise phone breakdown service for low loader to take you to main dealer.

Fuel Pump Related Problems

4) Engine turns over but will not start because either the fuel pump does not run or the fuel injection relay is faulty.

Tip - when the ignition is switched on listen;  you should hear a click from the foot-well as both the fuel pump and fuel injection system relays switch on, followed by a buzz or brrr from the fuel pump for two seconds, followed by a click as the fuel pump relay switches off. 

Fuel pump relay AFU2913L, the Bosch part number is 0332 014 112If you do not hear the relays click on and then off replace both the fuel pump relay and the fuel injection system relay (part number AFU2913L). These are only about 15 each. It is a good idea to replace both relays, in any event, if you are having problems with the fuel pump.

You will need to remove driver foot-well panel (see Haynes manual). The relays have a silver metal top and clip into black (system) and blue (fuel pump) holders. Pull relays complete with holder up off metal lug, then using screwdriver lever relays from holder.

If the relays click and the fuel pump does not run, the causes, in order of likelyhood could either be a,

  • faulty fuel pump
  • dirty connector
  • faulty inertia switch
  • poor earth

To access the fuel pump, under load space, unscrew plastic trim, then remove rubber mat, carpet and peel back underlay. Then unscrew and remove fuel pump cover plate from load space floor.

To remove the fuel pump connector, squeeze end of plug and pull off.

With meter, check 12 volts reaches the fuel pump on the purple/white wire. You will need helper to turn on the ignition as the 12V is only present for two seconds (see above).

Spray plug with contact cleaner, if available, and push plug on and off a few times.

As petrol is highly inflammable, replacement of the fuel pump is best done by a main dealer (cost about 200). It is a good idea to ask the garage to replace the fuel pump connector at the same time as it comes with the pump and is not sold separately.

Battery Drain

5) Over weeks, the alarm system can significantly drain the battery if the vehicle is not used regularly. This will considerably reduce the life of the battery and its capability to hold a charge.

Tip - trickle charge the battery once a month if you use the vehicle infrequently..

Be Prepared

Whatever vehicle you drive always be prepared to cope with an accident or breakdown,

  • Take out breakdown recovery membership
  • Carry a mobile phone and make sure it is charged
  • Carry a flourescent yellow coat
  • Carry a warning triangle in the vehicle
  • Carry a torch
  • Carry a first aid kit

Disclaimer - these tips are for information only. Always seek professional advice.

Last updated 4th April 2012