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March 2015 Homepage (Australia & NZ)
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Series Land Rover - Wheel-Related Problems
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Wheel noises
Series Land Rovers require a finely tuned ear to pick out diagnostic sounds from the background noise of the journey - especially if you are driving a diesel model. There is usually so much background noise going on that directional clues to the location of the sound may be hard to interpret. The first thing to establish is whether the sound can actually be attributed to a wheel. So vary your road speed and see if the sound changes as a direct result and is independent of engine revs. Try depressing the clutch pedal and see if this alters the sound - if it does then the problem may be transmission related and not solely a wheel problem.

series Series Land Rover propshaft
These UJ propshaft joints make wheel-related rotational sounds when worn.

When attempting a diagnosis for the source of the sound remember that parts of the transmission, and certainly the front propshaft, will be rotating at the same revs as the wheels so be careful about attributing the sound to the wheel. If you have freewheel hubs fitted then disengage these and if the sound persists then the wheel should be the cause of the sound.

A ringing or whirring noise related to road speed may be due to a differential of propshaft problem so try driving very slowly; listen closely to see if the sound is more centrally located than from a wheel. If you are really unsure whether the sound comes from a wheel or the front propshaft, then remove the propshaft and test drive again.

True wheel noises could indicate a wheel bearing problem - lack of lubrication or a lose/damaged bearing. To check the free play on a wheel bearing the wheel should be jacked up and the vehicle supported on an axle stand. Grabbing the wheel top and bottom and trying to wiggle it should not produce any noticeable movement. If movement is easily noticeable then the bearing fixing nuts and their associated lock tab should be inspected.
It is worth noting that early Series Land Rovers that have an oil top-up plug in the drive flange for the bearings, can run dry if there is a leak and it is not topped up. Unlubricated bearings have even been known to catch fire.

Not all wheel noises indicate bearing problems though; The following are also possible causes:
1. there could be loose bolts holding the brake backplate in position
2. one or more brake shoes could be loose
3. a brake shoe could be out of position and rubbing on the brake drum
4. wear in the swivel pin housing
5. a loose or missing end nut on the half shaft will produce a heavy clunk sound on cornering
6. if freewheeling hubs are fitted, there could be an internal problem with the mechanism

There are also sounds that can be from tyre related problems:
1. an object embedded in the tyre tread
2. uneven tyre wear

Another wheel noise that is closely related to wheel rotation is when a wheel mounting nut or wheel stud is loose. This is more likely to be the case if the Series I,II and early IIA wheel nuts have been over tightened; these wheel studs are a screw fit into the hub and then just splayed over on the inside(part No. 561590). It is best to always use a torque wrench for tightening wheel nuts if your Land Rover has these early hubs. Later Series IIA wheel hubs have pressed and splined wheel studs and are not so torque sensitive (part No. 561886). These studs can replace the earlier threaded type but the stud holes must be drilled out accurately to 9/16in first and then the studs pulled into place using washers and a wheel nut. Series III wheel studs are metric thread and the studs are wider. Recommended torque settings for the Series III splined wheel nuts are 80lb.ft or 108Nm so on no account should the earlier studs and nuts be torqued to more than this. Replacement early hubs with screw fitting studs are hard to find now. A previous homepage(Australian) focussed upon Series Land Rover wheel studs.

Finally, a sharp clunk or thump heard from a front wheel area when cornering or crossing rough ground, but not related to speed, may be due to lose spring mounting U-bolts - torque to 58lb/ft or 78Nm.

Wheel vibration
Series Land Rovers are not immune to the wheel vibration experienced within a narrow range of road speeds and caused by an unbalanced wheel and tyre. The solution is to have small weights fixed to the wheel rim, as designated by a dynamic wheel balance test. Alloy wheels are more likely to exhibit noticeable balance problems due to their much lower weight than the original steel wheels.

Hitting a deep pothole at speed, may cause the front wheels to oscillate violently for some time. The combined weight of steel wheels and large tyres sets the wheels into motion such that it takes time to dissipate the energy acquired. The most effective solution to this problem is to fit a Series Land Rover steering damper as detailed on a previous homepage.


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