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Series Land Rover - Problematic Noises (Part 1)

There are few things that quicken the pulse more than when you hear an unaccustomed noise whilst you are driving. The first thing to do, and the best time to do it, is to go through a quick diagnostic routine whilst you are still driving. It may take only a few seconds to realise that the noise is serious and you could lose control of the vehicle; in which case you need to stop immediately. You need to make a note of where the possible source of the sound may be.

Establish first whether the sound is independant of engine speed by slowing the vehicle down a little whilst listening carefully. Then (if safe to do so) try disengaging gear and coasting in neutral whilst listening to the sound; if the sound stops, then the problem is probably gearbox or clutch related, but if the sound continues then you have already illiminated these two vehicle components.

If the noise seems to relate closely to road speed whilst not in gear, then the problem is likely to lie somewhere in the transmission. Faults with large heavy parts such as wheels and propshafts tend to produce characteristic low frequency deep sounds, whereas small items like objects stuck in either the propshaft joints or tyres produce higher frequency sounds. You need to try to locate the approximate source of the sound; for example is it from a wheel or more central to the vehicle. If you think the problem is from a wheel then you need to jack up that wheel (support the vehicle securely) and rotate it until an unusual sound or movement is found. For centrally located sounds suspect the propshaft and get under the vehicle - handbrake off but wheels securly chocked on level ground. You should be able to rotate the propshafts by about one quarter turn, so feel for movement in the propshaft joints as you rotate them a little. Look for either wear in a universal joint or a loose bolt.

Transmission noises may not necessarily be due to wear or component failure; if you have not been paying due attention to regular greasing and oiling, then diffentials, universal joints and wheel bearings may shout their complaints at you.

It's at times such as this that freewheeling hubs can display their advantage of being able to assist in diagnosing front axle-related faults. If your Series Land Rover has freewheel hubs fitted, then test the effect on the sound with them engaged and then disengaged. Remember that the axle halfshafts, differential and propshaft will not be rotating, and therefore not a possible source of sound when the hubs are disengaged.

If the noise is not related to vehicle movement then the next thing to do is stop the vehicle and vary the engine revs to confirm that the problem is engine-related. It is useful to illiminate the clutch as a source of the trouble by depressing the clutch pedal whilst varying the engine speed whist in neutral. To trace the source of the sound it is best to apply the handbrake and vary the engine speed from under the hood.

See more details on engine noise diagnosis next month.


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