Used Land Rover Defender 1990-2016 review

Category: Large SUV

Section: Advice for buyers

1990 - 2016 review
Land Rover Defender (90 - 16)
  • Land Rover Defender (90 - 16)
  • Land Rover Defender (90 - 16)
  • Land Rover Defender (90 - 16)
  • Land Rover Defender (90 - 16)
  • Land Rover Defender (90 - 16)
  • Land Rover Defender (90 - 16)
  • Land Rover Defender (90 - 16)
  • Land Rover Defender (90 - 16)
  • Land Rover Defender (90 - 16)
  • Land Rover Defender (90 - 16)
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Advice for buyers

What should I look for in a used Land Rover Defender 4x4?

The good news is that with Defenders being in good supply, there are plenty of parts around for older vehicles if yours should ever break down.

Check for corrosion on the front bulkhead (the panel behind the engine) and the underside of the car, because these areas are made from steel. Also, look out for leaking power steering systems and check when the timing belt was last changed, because a failure of that part will most likely mean a new engine.

With any potential purchase, make sure you see the service book; a car that has been well looked after can run for a lot longer, and will cost you a lot less in the long run, than one that’s been neglected.

Land Rover Defender (90 - 16)

What are the most common problems with a used Land Rover Defender 4x4?

Parking brake

Oil might leak out from the transfer box and into the handbrake mechanism of some Defenders made from 5 October 2007 to 4 November 2010. This will need to be inspected at a Land Rover dealer, because a new oil seal will need to be fitted and additional repairs made to the handbrake system of affected vehicles.

Detached front wheel

A problem with part of the front axle fracturing could lead to a front wheel becoming detached from vehicles built between 1 September 2010 and 5 July 2011. Affected vehicles will need to be inspected at a Land Rover dealer to determine what repairs are required.

Seatbelt mounting bracket

A bracket for the seatbelts could fracture on examples manufactured between 1 February 2010 and 31 January 2012. Find out from your Land Rover dealer if your car is affected by this, because new mounting brackets will need to be installed.

Loss of brake fluid

One or more of the flexible brake hoses that provide brake fluid to the braking system could chafe and potentially wear through completely on Defenders constructed between 24 October 2014 and 5 January 2015. The hoses of affected cars will need to be checked over by a technician, who will replace any damaged parts to prevent future issues.

Is a used Land Rover Defender 4x4 reliable?

Much as they are well loved by owners, old Defenders aren’t always reliable, so the first thing to look for is a complete service history.

The Defender hasn't featured in our reliability surveys for years, but Land Rover came dead last in the most recent one, and it's fair to say that through the years the firm hasn't performed well. 

If you would like to see the full reliability list, head to the What Car? Reliability Survey pages for more information.

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