Are older Land Rover Discoveries really that bad? How do they compare to contemporary Toyotas?

SkiWill

Well-known member
Maintenance on any 25 year old vehicle is constant. Yes the Land Rover will likely require more than most especially if you want to keep it up to any high standard.

If simplicity, reliability, and durability are your paramount requirements, I'd seriously consider looking at base model Tacomas and Wranglers. They will be safer, more reliable, under warranty, and easier to find qualified service with a readily available quality parts supply. One of the things that seriously lets down old Jeeps, Toyotas, and Land Rovers is the truly dreadful quality of many aftermarket parts for repairs. There are some good ones, but how much time do you want to spend looking?

I've seen Toyotas fail catastrophically too. I'm not sure why they have the reputation as being mythically reliable while every other vehicle manufacturer will leave you stranded. That's just not the case with modern vehicles. If it were, the only thing on the highway moving would be a Toyota. Modern vehicles are all pretty darn reliable in the sense that they will get you home. Navigation, bluetooth, garage door openers, etc. is a different matter. Like everyone has said, any old vehicle will have issues and need a lot of love. Land Rover parts and a quality mechanic will certainly cost more than a Toyota. That's indisputable.

The question you should ask is, "do I want a car payment, warranty, and spend my time out camping and evenings after work watching TV and drinking beer or do I want to spend my time looking for quality replacement parts and installing them because of the satisfaction and pride?" If the latter, then get an old Land Rover. If the former, I'd suggest that by the time you spend an average of $2-4k per year depending on how much work you do yourself, you're better off using that $9k as a down payment and getting a base model Tacoma or Wrangler. They are still very simple vehicles, but built with 25 years of improved manufacturing and OEM part quality. They'll also get much better mileage and run on regular gas so they'll be cheaper to drive which will make the cost more comparable. Driving an old Land Rover will not save you money. Nevermind the cost of maintenance and repairs, getting 12-14 mpg on premium is expensive.

I have a sufficiently large family (Wrangler wouldn't cut it) so I went the Land Rover route when it was down to Land Rover or Land Cruiser because of upfront cost and the fact that I drive 6-7k a year for trips and don't use the Rover for a commuter. That was 4-5 years ago and the Rover is now 11 years old. The Land Rover maintenance premium was worth the 60% reduced price of entry compared to a Land Cruiser for me not driving a lot of miles, but your experience and priorities may vary.
 

ABBB

Well-known member
I just learned of a new metric to consider regarding ownership expense over time. The metric is relative expense to initial purchase price. Here’s the source material:


Unsurprisingly, Land Rover clocks in amongst the worst offenders. Toyota is tops, and the Land Cruiser is king with lowest relative expense to purchase price, at 7 something percent. The data in the video only considers the first ten years of ownership, but you can extrapolate from there on your own.
 

XJLI

Adventurer
I just learned of a new metric to consider regarding ownership expense over time. The metric is relative expense to initial purchase price. Here’s the source material:


Unsurprisingly, Land Rover clocks in amongst the worst offenders. Toyota is tops, and the Land Cruiser is king with lowest relative expense to purchase price, at 7 something percent. The data in the video only considers the first ten years of ownership, but you can extrapolate from there on your own.

Anyone who think Scott Kilmer is a reputable is sorely mistaken. Go find a real YouTube mechanic to get advice from. Car Wizard will tell everyone to just go buy a Toyota, but he’s a huge Rover and Jag guy and has owned several.

If you want to talk cost of ownership over time, my 46k mile LR4 was $28k in 2020. A LC200 with similar mileage would have been $50k. So far I’m into my Disco for $1400 minus oil changes and a set of tires, currently a little over 76k miles. I’d need to blow the motor in my truck and pay the dealer to install a brand new one to bring the cost of ownership close to the LC. My local LR specialist does the full timing chain service replacing EVERYTHING that comes off with genuine LR parts for $6500.

I will say that if you take a similar condition D1 and LC80 side by side, and baseline them, the 80 will be more reliable for a while. The D1 will always need some care here and there… usually nothing major but it isn’t as set it and forget it as an 80 is. However, it’s more comfortable, faster, and gets better fuel mileage than an 80… and more capable if the 80 isn’t factory triple locked.
 

Ozark_Prowler

Active member
Anyone who think Scott Kilmer is a reputable is sorely mistaken. Go find a real YouTube mechanic to get advice from. Car Wizard will tell everyone to just go buy a Toyota, but he’s a huge Rover and Jag guy and has owned several.

If you want to talk cost of ownership over time, my 46k mile LR4 was $28k in 2020. A LC200 with similar mileage would have been $50k. So far I’m into my Disco for $1400 minus oil changes and a set of tires, currently a little over 76k miles. I’d need to blow the motor in my truck and pay the dealer to install a brand new one to bring the cost of ownership close to the LC. My local LR specialist does the full timing chain service replacing EVERYTHING that comes off with genuine LR parts for $6500.

I will say that if you take a similar condition D1 and LC80 side by side, and baseline them, the 80 will be more reliable for a while. The D1 will always need some care here and there… usually nothing major but it isn’t as set it and forget it as an 80 is. However, it’s more comfortable, faster, and gets better fuel mileage than an 80… and more capable if the 80 isn’t factory triple locked.
Yeah people love to clown Land Rover for their dubious build quality and engineering, but what gets lost in all that talk is the gulf in the price of entry between a Disco and Land Cruiser is vast. An 80 or 100 series in the same condition as the truck posted above would go for at least $20k, probably much more on an auction site. And an $8-10k Land Cruiser is likely to be a basket-case with leaks everywhere and north of 200,000 miles on it.

Also, as you said, the Disco 1 is lighter and shorter than an 80 with better angles. The axles also have at least as much flex, if not more. Admittedly the Toyota birfs and axles are likely a but stronger from the factory, but that can be fixed easily with 300 mms etc.. I'd bet stock-for-stock a Disco 1 would go further than an unlocked 80, especially one with a manual.

Everyone who says Discos are junk are probably thinking of the Disco 2s, especially the later ones with the 4.6 V8.
 

ABBB

Well-known member
Anyone who think Scott Kilmer is a reputable is sorely mistaken. Go find a real YouTube mechanic to get advice from. Car Wizard will tell everyone to just go buy a Toyota, but he’s a huge Rover and Jag guy and has owned several.

If you want to talk cost of ownership over time, my 46k mile LR4 was $28k in 2020. A LC200 with similar mileage would have been $50k. So far I’m into my Disco for $1400 minus oil changes and a set of tires, currently a little over 76k miles. I’d need to blow the motor in my truck and pay the dealer to install a brand new one to bring the cost of ownership close to the LC. My local LR specialist does the full timing chain service replacing EVERYTHING that comes off with genuine LR parts for $6500.

I will say that if you take a similar condition D1 and LC80 side by side, and baseline them, the 80 will be more reliable for a while. The D1 will always need some care here and there… usually nothing major but it isn’t as set it and forget it as an 80 is. However, it’s more comfortable, faster, and gets better fuel mileage than an 80… and more capable if the 80 isn’t factory triple locked.

Say what you want about Scotty Kilmer, I won’t protest, but data is data.
 

Green96D1

Explorer
Been driving them for 18 years no they aren't really that bad. As with any vehicle of that vintage maintenance or repairs will be required.. the good thing is the Discovery 1 for more the most part is a robust/ sturdy vehicle and is straight forward.
 

rgallant

Adventurer
Well I am a Disco owner of an 04 D2, I have had it for 5 years now and the only major maintenance was head gaskets no drama there, it started running a bit hot 4 degrees above normal, and over-pressured. That was down to a poor job done by a previous owner, who cheaped out and did not get the heads checked prior to replacement, resulting in a failure. That is your biggest concern on any used vehicle how well was it maintained by previous owners, the PO of my truck did not even grease the greaseable driveshaft.

With any Discovery engine temp is your biggest concern - it is a full aluminum engine with steel sleeves any significant overheat above about 225F can create problems.
Driveshafts need to be checked every oil change the front one runs right alongside the transmission if it lets go it tends to hole the transmission.
The automatic is very durable and rarely fails although they should have a fluid and filter change.
If you need head gaskets it is an easy job pushrod V8s are dead simple

Beyond that the plastic is getting old and brittle so that can be an issue for some parts
Fuel 89 Oct is all you need - the owner manual says premium but it is based on the European rating and that is different than ours, just get decent quality gas.
They are not long-duration oil change trucks, I do mine every 5000 miles - but I am a bit OCD about truck maintenance.
And like all old vehicle parts can be hard to source

I take mine off-road well out of cell range regularly I did about 1000 miles pretty much all off-road over 8 days last summer (in the company of 11 other LR), my only issue was a heater hose clamp coming loose, hopefully going to Tuk this summer. The only major spares I take are an alternator and battery on long trips, I had an alternator fail and for 20-minute change it is easy insurance.


But the echo what others have said if you do not like working on your vehicle buy something newer, no matter who makes it at 20 + years old they all need something done most of the time.
 

J!m

Active member
I am a big fan of the D1. Never owned one, but it should be noted that improvements to the design and engineering evolved with feedback from Camel Trophy "issues". First year models had really bad rear body sag, impairing the rear door from opening as it dragged on the rear bumper. Mounts were re-engineered, and this problem was solved. That one is the most well-known on these, but small evolutional changes were made until the end, and I would for sure be looking for a 98 myself if buying.

But then I'd convert it to a 300Tdi and ditch the V8. My opinion of the V8, based on Range Rover experience, is it lacks torque. It's fine for highway cruising and mall crawling, but if you want to build a disco for expedition, get a (mechanical) diesel.

The internal roll cage can be had from Safety Devices (special order) as can the roof rack that goes through the roof directly to the cage. That entire bit of engineering is absolutely brilliant. Trophy bumper, brush bar and winch mount are long NLA but I was speaking with a fabricator in 2019 (I think he was in Texas) that was tooling up to make these parts. That particular project I was working on at that point did not pan out, so I don't know the status as of now.

The rest of the truck, fortunately, was in the BMW years and the electrics are predominantly Bosch, not Lucas. But wire chafing (odd behavior, shorts, fires) and steel component corrosion are real issues to deal with. A solid frame like that one appears to be, should be galvanized, as it seems no one is reproducing them for some reason.
 

en480c4

Observer
I'm 6 months into daily driving my '91 RRC, which shares a lot with the D1, and I love it. The only times it's left me stranded were TPS/IAC problems resulting in idle issues, and a faulty inertia switch killing power to the fuel pump. The TPS/IAC issue was minor, and protecting a chafed wire and cleaning the IAC got me up and running until I could source replacements. And the inertia switch took a few days to diagnose before and after work, but in hindsight should've been an easier find. I still need to do a bunch of baseline work to it in addition to addressing the cosmetics, but it's been a great vehicle.

That said, I did pick up a parts vehicle, which is nice to have to keep things going. And with the prices of some of the sensors, and limited availability of others, it was money well spent.
 

michaelcurran

New member
I bought a 1998 Discovery 1 in northern California last August for $8000 with 195k miles on it; it was in ok shape but needed some love & maintenance items done; I live in STL and have driven it across the country twice without incident, once home from SF and once to LA for work where I am now; I bought it with the intention of fixing it up to reliably go another 200k and handle most off-road situations, I have had to address oil leaks from pretty much all engine gaskets but that's pretty normal for a 200k mile/25 year old car, the uniquely Land Rover issues Ive dealt with are 1. the engine was running hot, I replaced the entire cooling system myself with exception of the radiator (I was gun shy after replacing a radiator on my MK7 Golf R) and that worked for awhile but I just had a shop replace the radiator with a aluminum one and it runs nice & cool now in all scenarios; 2. the transfer case was stuck but thats a common Disco 1 problem due to non-use, and I had that fixed by removing the solenoid telling it when to allow shifting; I haven't had any issues with electronics, I replaced the head unit & all the speakers, I added an ARB connector for my fridge hookup; I daily drive this thing to work and have been driving all over SoCal and I love this thing, Ive added 12k miles since I got it and wouldn't trade it for anything; and I get people asking questions about it all the time
 

catmann

Active member
I had a 2004 DII for a couple years, bought with the head gaskets having just been done and I averaged $250/mo in maintenance costs. Never stranded, just always something that needed attention.

This guy bought a completely re-done 04 SE for $36,000 last August and just sold it today for $36,500, but if you read the description and comments, he replaced the serpentine belt, belt tensioner, and idler pulleys and bought several radios just to find one with a working volume knob. He only put 2,500 miles since he bought it. No matter how much you pay, there is ALWAYS SOMETHING that needs done on a DII. But they are still my favorite LR to drive.

 

TyScot

New member
I’ve owned 3 D2’s over the years and can honestly say they are great vehicles. My D2’s haven’t ever given me any more issues then any other vehicles I’ve owned/own. Yea they like maintenance but they aren’t hard to work on. And when something does happen if you understand cars and can turn a wrench most of if not everything you can do yourself. All of them have been my daily drivers and not one of them has ever left me stuck somewhere, something I can’t honestly say about my well maintained (by shops and myself) more expensive and way more complicated other vehicles I’ve owned/own. I truly believe that D1/D2’s get a bad rap on forums and the guys that had a buddy that had one and it was a pile of crap ya know. The D1 is more robust and easier to wrench on then the D2 and they both drive like nothing else on the road. If you want it buy it, end up not liking it, sell it
 

Green96D1

Explorer
I’ve owned 3 D2’s over the years and can honestly say they are great vehicles. My D2’s haven’t ever given me any more issues then any other vehicles I’ve owned/own. Yea they like maintenance but they aren’t hard to work on. And when something does happen if you understand cars and can turn a wrench most of if not everything you can do yourself. All of them have been my daily drivers and not one of them has ever left me stuck somewhere, something I can’t honestly say about my well maintained (by shops and myself) more expensive and way more complicated other vehicles I’ve owned/own. I truly believe that D1/D2’s get a bad rap on forums and the guys that had a buddy that had one and it was a pile of crap ya know. The D1 is more robust and easier to wrench on then the D2 and they both drive like nothing else on the road. If you want it buy it, end up not liking it, sell it
I have to second that D1/D2s do get a bad rap and much of it is unwarranted. Yes they are quirky trucks can be annoying and *may* require more attention than our Nissan/Yota/Merc equivalent. I too have seen that so much the (I had a buddy with one and it was a POS ) yet when asked what went wrong and was it properly serviced its *crickets* plus some just jump on the bad wagon just to talk bad about anything that isn't what they drive or own or just drinking the coolaid. To be brutally honest a D1/DII is just as durable as anything out there when maintained now if majorly neglected yes they will make you wanna fire a RPG at them. I've considered it a few times in the 18 years ive been driving them (DI's) hahaha ? but then reality set in and I realize that there is truly nothing like Driving them quirks, annoyances and all.
 

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