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Checking for leaks to be continued....

Well, it's time to make some of the usual remarks like "Rovers don't leak, they mark their territory" or something else. Jokes are legion on english cars dropping all sorts of fluids all over the world. Fact is that, according to an contact at the factory, quite a lot of Land Rovers used to leak as soon as oil was filled in the first time. It has a lot to do with built quality, a side in which Land Rover never excelled..

A guy from the works told me the following joke and I found it too good to keep for myself:

Toyota tested their new car extensively and one evening an cat crept in unnoticed. As it was a long weekend the car was locked and when the workers arrived on Monday the cat had died of lack of oxygen. This story made it's way into an chairman meeting of Land Rover where engineers got really excited and wanted to try it on Land Rovers too. When they checked the Rover on Monday to see what happened the cat was gone....

Well, let's come back to earth again. Any Land Rover not leaking/oozing some black smelly stuff isn't an well used Land Rover at all. If you just keep it off the dirt as most owners today seem to do you won't be bothered much with leaks and you will not be ejected from the company parking lot. But if you go to play with the big boys leaks will soon appear. That's life. And you can't do much against it. But at least it serves as an indicator where things will go wrong in the future.

The biggest problem on that sort of things is to locate it. There's nothing like a pointer appearing near the split in the gasket which says 'Retighten here'. So if you don't catch it right at the start you will have a hard time telling where the mess comes from. The oil goes all over the lump of iron you call an engine, gets whirled by the fan to the most unlikely places so a dozen places will look mighty suspicious. Shell we assume it comes from the unit located most forward? Doesn't work. Airflow and swirls under the car may look a rear leak like a front one and vice versa. .

I saw guys crawling under their rigs, armed with an big assortment of wrenches and start tightening up everything they could reach at. Good idea? Well, yes and no. You may in fact find that loose bolt on the transfer case rear cover. But chances are high you will disturb the nice, tight bolt seats and overdo it. Once you tighten up the oil sump only a tad too much it's as good as instant heart attack - you will never recover form it and it made things only worse. And chances are high you will not even find the leak but make new ones at the same time. So know what you're doing, you have been warned.

Clean it!

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Above: This is no reason to worry. That's a bit of engine oil creeping by the drain plug. Try to tighten it CAREFULLY a bit. If it doesn't work leave it like it is until the next oil change. You probably didn't use a new copper sealing washer when refitting the drain plug..

Take off the front skidplate and drive to the local car wash with a couple of sturdy drive-on ramps in your back. Take the steam cleaner and give it a good soaking. You can believe me, there's no way around doing this. And there's also no way to avoid getting wet and dirty too if you do it right. At least I wear protective lenses which seal the eyes completely from flying mud and sand - an great invention and worth every cent of the 3 bucks I spent on them..

Got it really clean now? No good idea to skimp on that 50p for another pass with the steam. Do it once but for good. Get in those gut areas where leaks start like between gearbox and transfer case, oil pan area, top of transfer case (hard to clean but you must do it. Don't blow your ignition leads away and don't try to clean the alternator - there's no oil inside and you'll just mess up things..

If you can't restart it and if it's an petrol it's almost always the distributor cap. Take it off and wipe it clean. Drive it for 15 minutes at a good speed so the oil can warm up. Now search for a nice parking spot and climb under it armed with a piece of white chalk. Mark the areas where seeping begins. Check again after one more hour. Mark up some more areas. It's a wise idea to use an good torchlight to really eyeball where the mess starts to come out..

Now back home and tighten up ALL bolts on that assembly. If it's the gearbox tighten EVERY SINGLE bolt on it, not just the loose ones. Work your way around it with an torque wrench. It's all too easy to strip a tread lying on your back under the rig. No good - that means taking it off..

You can avoid the overcrowded carwash if you have an hot water outlet near your garage. Be careful if you use an power washer. Most of them don't like being fed with warm water. Especially the cheap ones. If your's starts making funny noises switch it off and take an garden hose. Fit one of those nice garden watering nozzles on it and you have aour own steam wash - almost. You'll be surprised how much crud can be removed just by hot water. A word of care though: Many hoses don't like hot water and will blow after some time. Especially the green plastic ones. Take one of those real rubber tubes, they are much better.

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Above: This however IS an sign for action. The seal around the chrome ball swivel is leaking. This can go for quite some time but once it stops it means there's no more oil in and the components run dry. Something to avoid as those parts are quite expensive.

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Above: One side doesn't come alone. The other side also showed a light coat (red circle). Oil or grease spots on the wheel rim (green circle) are also a pointer to an leaking seal. So if you have one leaking buy 2 sets and change both sides.