Kevin Baldwin – contributor

4-landroverShock horror, the 90 has encountered its first real problem in 12 months of ownership. The metallic creaking sound I heard through the open window as I pulled away from my local filling station didn’t bode well at all. Luckily for me, I was less than five minutes from our workshop, where with the 90 wheels jacked up we assumed that a failing CV joint was the likely diagnosis. Stripping the hub to get at the CV would, instead, reveal a bone-dry front wheelbearing.

A design flaw in the 90’s front axle means that the wheelbearings aren’t fed any lubrication other than the grease they are packed in when the vehicle is assembled. In my case, the offending bearing had been running on the same grease for eight years. Luckily, again, I managed to catch the problem early which meant the bearing came apart from the stub axle without protest. Usually, the failed ‘dry’ bearing gets so hot that it welds itself to the stud axle, adding significantly to the repair bill and disassembly headaches.

I made the point of ordering Genuine Land Rover bearings and seals rather than aftermarket replacement bearings that have a well-deserved reputation for being manufactured from an amalgam of those high- Herefordshire strength materials – chocolate and Plasticine… Proof that you get what you pay for, especially when what you get for your discount price comes from some factory in China.

A week later, the opposite wheel started creaking which made me think: ‘I really should have fitted the other bearing and seal kit which was still sitting on the shelf’. Cracking the wheel nuts with the breaker bar revealed the source of the noise and this time it wasn’t a wheelbearing. The wheel nuts didn’t crack. Every wheel nut was finger tight! I’d had a lucky escape, especially given the following day I was heading off down the M6 to a magazine job. I couldn’t blame aftermarket parts this time. I’d had all four wheels re-balanced the week previously… I was thinking ‘strange coincidence or root cause?’ Now what did I do with that 24in breaker bar?


Rover Defender

Spec: 90 Td5

Mileage: 114,995

Test MPG: 23mpg

Recent costs: Bearings & seals £40

Wheel balancing: £35.00

Arrived: Nov ’08



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