Car Clinic: Pleasant Discoveries

Car Clinic: Pleasant Discoveries


My wife and I are interested in buying a 2009 Land Rover Discovery 3 from a Gauteng dealership. The vehicle has had one owner. It has 170 000km on the clock and comes with a full service history. What advice or alternative suggestions do you have for us?



Walter, the lore of the Landie is vast, and to an outsider, incomprehensible. But one thing is clear, a Land Rover inspires strong feelings of either loyalty or scorn. Trying to remain objective on a topic where objectivity is often the first casualty, I can only point out the following:

-By all accounts the Discovery 3 was a considerable improvement over the Discovery 2. There can be little doubt that a Disco 3 in tip-top condition is a very desirable and capable luxury off-road vehicle.

-The improvement brought complexity in its wake. There’s a computer-controlled, progressively locking central differential, multiple electronic traction control modes, an air suspension system enabling ride-height adjustment and a sophisticated infotainment system. When new, it all worked remarkably well and the vehicle received high praise from the 4WD press

-On the whole, the electronic systems have proved reliable but there’s a massive amount of electronics on the Disco 3 and it would be a miracle if some of these don’t pack up sooner or later. The electronics are not my only concern; at 170 000km things ike a turbocharger can fail without warning

-The service interval on the 2009 Discovery 3 is six months or 13 000km, whichever comes first. While such a short interval is good for keeping the vehicle in excellent condition, it does push up the maintenance cost.

The following are items to keep an eye on when a Disco 3 gets older:

-A sticky exhaust gas recirculation valve — it will show up as a drop in engine performance

-Sometimes there is wear in the front lower control arm bushes, it’s usually cheaper to replace the complete control arm

-The air compressor, which pumps up the air suspension, can wear out over time, leading to error messages, noises and ultimately sagging suspension

-The six-speed automatic transmission comes with a special oil and is supposed to be sealed for life, but I believe it pays to have it serviced every 80 000km. Check here for more information.

-In conclusion, I suggest you scan the Land Rover owners’ forums on the internet, and if at all possible, try to get the vehicle you are interested to an independent Land Rover specialist for a thorough examination. The dealership might have already carried out a 144-point check, but I can’t see how a conflict of interest can be avoided if the scrutineer is also the seller. There are several competitors for the Discovery, but perhaps I should rather not risk the wrath of the Landie fraternity by delving deeper into this topic here.

Gerrit Burger