Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Thread: Do I need to call Rovers Anonymous? (considering purchase)

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    278

    Default Do I need to call Rovers Anonymous? (considering purchase)

    I've been wanting to change to a different truck for a while now, and after casually researching the Discovery I for a month or so it seems like a reasonable choice. After thinking about this for a while I figured I'd post my reasoning and get some expert opinions, and I have to admit that after reading about Scott's new Disco I'm getting pretty close to sold.

    My current rig is a 96 Jeep Grand Cherokee with ~140k that I've had for about 6 years. The previous owner was a teenager who did not take great car of the truck and since I've owned it I've replaced many parts to get it to be "reliable", but at this point I am very hesitant to drive it for any significant distance since it tends to have strange issues such as the power steering pulley failing at 11pm in the middle of nowhere. With a 3" lift and 33x12.5" ties it is very capable and nice to drive on the trail, but is not fun on the road and ultimately doesn't have much "soul". That combined with the whopping 10-15mpg means the truck is only used for a few camping trips a year.

    I've considered replacing it with a 5spd ~2000 Tacoma or a 3rd gen 4runner but ultimately the $10k starting price means that the investment increases quickly when you start budgeting for mods. A FJ80 would be nice, but they are a bit big and get worse mileage than my ZJ, plus the maintainance can be expensive. I've also considered the Montero SR, Xterra, Pathy, and many of the other common vehicles but none felt quite right.

    Here's a list of some requirements (1=nice to have,2=somewhat important,3=critical):

    - SUV so equipment can be stored inside (2)

    - Ability to run level 4 trails when driven carefully. For comparison I'm thinking of Deer Vally in CA or Golden Spike in Moab. I've been through the Rubicon in an Xterra on A/Ts with no real damage, just had to take it slow. (3)

    - Reasonable reliability. This one is hard to define, but ultimately I need something I trust more than the Jeep. I do most of the work on my truck and don't mind spending time getting things sorted out, but once the truck is at that point I'd like to feel comfortable that it will get me home. With the ZJ I'm constantly concerned that the transmission or diffs will go out at some point.

    - Decent gas mileage. If I could get 18mpg on the freeway that would be great. The possibility of a future diesel conversion is also a big selling point.

    - Price. A base vehicle cost of say $5k would leave a good amount of budget for maintainance and modifications.


    The Disco I seems to fit many of the above requirements. It has decent space inside, but unfortunately I don't think it's long enough to sleep in. With the solid front axle and locking center diff the trail capability should be no issue. Used discos seem to go for $3-6k so the price is right. And I have to admit that the Rover has a lot of soul and personality.

    I would keep the modifications moderate, probably starting with 235x85 tires, 2-3" lifts, rock rails, and driveshaft upgrades.

    Here are my questions which I hope the expo community can help with:

    - Could a Disco I on 32's achieve 17-18mpg at 65-70mph? Based on what I've seen on several of the Disco boards this could be possible on a flat road. My ultimate plan would be to swap in a diesel (300tdi) and I've already talked to a couple shops about this. Registration does not seem to be a big obstacle, but I am not yet convinced I could pass CA smog tests.

    - Rovers do not have a good reputation when it comes to reliability, but from what I can tell the items that tend to break are not part of critical systems (sunroofs, power windows, etc). I have not read about a lot of situations where the truck was rendered un-drivable, mostly just about annoying accessory failures. Prices for common parts are higher than they are for a domestic vehicle, but not what I could consider unreasonable. Are there any major common "not driving home" issues I'm missing?

    - Are there any problems with my requirements and assumptions above? Specifically anywhere that the disco falls short?

    - Is there any major benefit of getting a 96-98 over a 95? I know the engine was redesigned, but I think they are both ODBII engines. I'd prefer a 5spd and am a bit discouraged by the ~35:1 crawlratio and high price of gearing options.


    That's about it. Any comments, corrections, or input are greatly appreciated. Know anybody who wants to buy a built 96 ZJ for cheap.

    - Matt

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    Clarksville, Tennessee
    Posts
    54
    Good luck with the search. I'm a Land Cruiser man myself but do appreciate/respect and like Land Rovers. You mentioned that an FJ80 was too big and has bad gas mileage but from what I've experienced, mainly in Disco's owned by two different friends the size and mpg seems to be fairly close. Then again I am a bit biased... I do have an FJ80 for sale for $6,000!Good luck and I hope you find the right one! You're right, they do have a lot of soul and personality.
    Wesley

    '70 FJ40
    '74 FJ40
    '84 FJ60
    '53 Willys Wagon
    '11 Tacoma

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    NorCal
    Posts
    1,750
    Quote Originally Posted by slomatt
    Here are my questions which I hope the expo community can help with:

    - Could a Disco I on 32's achieve 17-18mpg at 65-70mph? Based on what I've seen on several of the Disco boards this could be possible on a flat road. My ultimate plan would be to swap in a diesel (300tdi) and I've already talked to a couple shops about this. Registration does not seem to be a big obstacle, but I am not yet convinced I could pass CA smog tests. No to the mph, possibly come close on the freeway but once you start modding your landie it becomes an addiction... As for the diesel, you can plan on that costing you around $10K total to have someone do it for you. There is a shop up in Redding, CA - Rover Hybrids IIRC. They are hecka cool and will be happy to answer any questions for you.

    - Rovers do not have a good reputation when it comes to reliability, but from what I can tell the items that tend to break are not part of critical systems (sunroofs, power windows, etc). I have not read about a lot of situations where the truck was rendered un-drivable, mostly just about annoying accessory failures. Prices for common parts are higher than they are for a domestic vehicle, but not what I could consider unreasonable. Are there any major common "not driving home" issues I'm missing? Maintenance is the key. And I mean maintenance by the PO. I beat the crap out of my DI and she only left me stranded twice - once it was the fuel pump crapping out and the other time it was the belt tensioner - both were fixed within 15 minutes once I had the part. May she RIP... My current rig - see sig line - was obtained from a gentleman who was moving out of the country. He had all the receipts to it from day one, including the original purchase receipt from the dealer. It's all about maintenance.

    - Are there any problems with my requirements and assumptions above? Specifically anywhere that the disco falls short? LUCAS haunts them all - the electronics suck.

    - Is there any major benefit of getting a 96-98 over a 95? I know the engine was redesigned, but I think they are both ODBII engines. I'd prefer a 5spd and am a bit discouraged by the ~35:1 crawlratio and high price of gearing options. LOL... you will not be disappointed with the ability of the landie to "crawl". 95 is OBDI, after that is ODBII. 94 & 95 are 3.9 engine, after that is 4.0. Some say '95 year sucks but I loved mine!


    That's about it. Any comments, corrections, or input are greatly appreciated. Know anybody who wants to buy a built 96 ZJ for cheap.

    - Matt
    Answers in bold. But my advice is run like heck Matt, run like heck... once you are sucked in there is no way out... but seeing your choice of trails and if you get a landie, you have no choice but to join us (http://nclrclub.org/). And you can always check out lrrforums.com.
    Last edited by stevenmd; 02-18-2008 at 01:43 AM.
    1994 RRC LWB
    1974 RHD Series III 109 - sold
    Current projects: www.seedshop.com www.mmacrue.com

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    NorCal
    Posts
    1,750
    Quote Originally Posted by slomatt
    - Price. A base vehicle cost of say $5k would leave a good amount of budget for maintainance and modifications.

    - Matt
    Forgot about this one... you should be able to get a decently modded truck for that price. Have you ever thought about a rangie? They are usually cheaper. The '95 has a 4.2 and a disco interior. You would just have to add CDL. If you are in NorCal you can swing by and see mine.
    1994 RRC LWB
    1974 RHD Series III 109 - sold
    Current projects: www.seedshop.com www.mmacrue.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2007
    Location
    A town called Malice
    Posts
    1,337
    I think the majority of your questions can be answered here.

    A diesel conversion will be impossible in California.

    There seems to be a consensus among certain folks that the 97 -98ish D1's are among the most reliable which they attribute to BMW ownership. Early examples (94-96) are somewhat simpler but be weary of an unmaintained example. Cheap in the short run can be expensive in the long run.

    If you're not excessively tall, sleeping in back is a possibility.

    Discos are not known for the spacious cargo area, but that is waht a roof rack is for.

    Full time 4WD means gas mileage sucks. No way around it.

    Rovers are slow, bigger tires will make it slower. Gears are a huge help.

    If you know where to look parts aren't that expensive.
    Last edited by MuddyMudskipper; 02-18-2008 at 01:21 AM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    Tracy CA
    Posts
    573
    Quote Originally Posted by slomatt
    Here are my questions which I hope the expo community can help with:

    - Could a Disco I on 32's achieve 17-18mpg at 65-70mph? Based on what I've seen on several of the Disco boards this could be possible on a flat road. My ultimate plan would be to swap in a diesel (300tdi) and I've already talked to a couple shops about this. Registration does not seem to be a big obstacle, but I am not yet convinced I could pass CA smog tests.

    - Rovers do not have a good reputation when it comes to reliability, but from what I can tell the items that tend to break are not part of critical systems (sunroofs, power windows, etc). I have not read about a lot of situations where the truck was rendered un-drivable, mostly just about annoying accessory failures. Prices for common parts are higher than they are for a domestic vehicle, but not what I could consider unreasonable. Are there any major common "not driving home" issues I'm missing?

    - Are there any problems with my requirements and assumptions above? Specifically anywhere that the disco falls short?

    - Is there any major benefit of getting a 96-98 over a 95? I know the engine was redesigned, but I think they are both ODBII engines. I'd prefer a 5spd and am a bit discouraged by the ~35:1 crawlratio and high price of gearing options.


    That's about it. Any comments, corrections, or input are greatly appreciated. Know anybody who wants to buy a built 96 ZJ for cheap.

    - Matt
    I'll try my best to awnser and this is based on my experience with my 1996 Disco and Stevenmd can also give some good advice as he had a Discovery I

    Your best bet with any Land Rover is about 12-15 mpg and with a Lift and 235/85's it may be a little less. Keep in mind these trucks have small V8's and require Premium Gas.(I know it stinks) If you have a easy foot and don't floor it and the engine is kept in good Shape then you may be able to get about 16mpg on a good day. good thing is they have a lot of torque wtich is useful for offroad. If you can do a Diesel swap that will be awesome but it's pricey witch I'm sure you aware of.

    As with any auto brand none are perfect. Land Rovers do have their moments. Personally I think If the Land Rover is kept up in good condition it will give many years of problem free service. The good thing is that the major components are very tough and only require oil changes at the right service times. Most of the unreliable stories comes from soccer-moms that think the vehicle is to only be driven and not serviced. The electronics (LUCAS) will annoy you from time to time. mostly is sensors coming on when nothing is wrong with the truck or windows not working. Stuff like that. My Disco has 113K miles and she is still going good at her age of 12 years old only time was stranded is when the Fuel pump died but it was old. The Key to long with the Discovery or any Rover is routine maintnence. The Discovery is a very Rugged Vehicle with tough parts and does require more attention than most other autos but she is a straightforward truck and most parts that act up are easily accessable and easily repaired also usually when something is fixed on a Discovery it's fixed for good.

    I would look at a 95 before going to a 96-98. they are simpler due to the Design of the engine. I have a 96 and while it is a great truck the engine managment could be a little better. The 96-99 have a 4.0 V8 engine with a OBDII code reader thus easier to find the problem furthermore if you can find a 99 in goodshape you'll have the best of both worlds because most bugs are gone by then. 95 have a OBDI reader and a 3.9 V8 engine. Actually the disco can crawl pretty good for a Stock vehicle. The mods you listed earlier will provide you with a nearly unstoppable truck. the CDL is a warrior within the Discovery and can make the truck do things that you wouldn't think was possible.

    I hope this help also many more advance will chime as well.

    Again this is based on my experience.
    Last edited by Green96D1; 02-18-2008 at 05:21 AM.
    1997 LR Disco
    6" lift, 33's, Bumpers and HD steering.
    1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee 5.2 V8
    stock!

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Southwest Missouri
    Posts
    254
    As mentioned earlier, before buying a Discovery check to make sure it has received service at or near the factory recommended mileages. I believe the key to longevity in these vehicles is following a regular maintenance schedule and watch for warning signs. My experience has been that prior to a major breakdown (one that strands you) there will be recognizable changes. Act quickly when you see, hear or feel changes in the how the truck is driving. You might not get much notice before a component fails but nine times out of ten it can be limped home. Im currently driving a 1998 Discovery with 162,000 miles. I bought the vehicle new in 1997 and drove it 112,000 miles until 2003. I sold it in 2003 and bought it back last spring with 157,000 miles on it. Fuel mileage is not stellar at about 12.5 mpg. Im running a tired old two in. lift and 235/85s on steel wheels. I personally like the later Discovery I models 97,98,99. These benefit from having the electrical bugs worked out and the 4.0 motor. Might be difficult to find a late Series I with the five speed transmission. With a budget of around five grand you should be able to find a nice truck with complete and up-to-date service records. Welcome to the addiction. You wont soon get tired of it.

    dd
    Im growing older but not up
    My metabolic rate is pleasantly stuck
    Let those winds of time blow over my head
    Id rather die while Im living than live while Im dead
    -Jimmy Buffett

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Conifer, CO
    Posts
    2,080
    Personally I have a 92 Range Rover, but much is the same. I have 200K on my rover and it does great!

    For the sleep situation, I have friends who have built a cargo box that when you fold the seat down is level, you can sleep there!

    The 1994 Disco's I hang out with do just as good as the later models off road and in general, maybe just not as much power.

    Gas Mileage - can you get it, Yes, is it likely, NO. If you are planning a lift and larger tires. on highway with 235 85's a 2" lift doing 65 - 75 I did about 15 - 16 MPG avg.

    Overall I think you will be happy with a Rover, they always get you home and are very comfortable.
    '92 Range Rover
    '93 Range Rover LWB
    '71 Mercedes 220 Diesel - The daily Beast

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2008
    Location
    indy
    Posts
    21
    just go and get one once your bit your hit

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Location
    San Francisco, CA
    Posts
    278
    First off, thanks to everyone for their replies, the input is greatly appreciated.

    Overall it sounds like my assumptions were mostly on track, but that my goal of 18mpg on the freeway is likely unrealistic. On other forums I have read people report getting 18-20mpg on the freeway, but those were with stock vehicles and probably special cases (downhill, tailwind, etc) Coming from a Jeep I'm already used to reliability issues, so I hope that worse case the parts that break with the Disco are not critical and best case it would work out to be more reliable than the ZJ.

    It sounds like people advocate getting either a 95 or a 97/98, the 99 wouldn't work for me since they stopped offering the 5spd. There is a 95 for sale (expo white) locally with 133k miles, I'm going to get some more information from the owner.

    Switching to the Disco from the ZJ would mostly be a lateral movement in terms of reliability, capability, and economy. The downside would be the cost of building another rig, the upside would be the opportunity to build from scratch and try something new.

    Ultimately I would really like to have a "green rover" running on biodiesel. I know that the legality of a swap in CA is questionable, but I have talked to two different shops in CA that claim it can be done and one of those shops is currently waiting for several 300tdi engines to show up. You can bet that I'll be watching the progress of those initial conversions to see how they work out. From what I've heard so far getting the truck registered would not be a major issue, but passing smog once they start requiring the sniffer test for diesels may be a show stopper. The emissions may be within the range, but the vehicle would fail the computer diagnostic part of the test. This is where the 95 OBD-I engine might be interesting since the criteria may be looser for a OBD-I test than they are for OBD-II. So, for now the diesel conversion remains a dream but I plan to do more research.

    stevenmd, thanks for the link to the NorCal Land Rover club. It looks like a good group and they have several outings planned to trails that I've enjoyed in the past. If I end up getting a Disco I will definitely join up.

    This just might be an addiction I can walk into, even knowing the potential issues.

    - Matt

Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •