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Bell Engineering - Freelander & Evoque Transmission Specialists Bell Engineering - Freelander & Evoque Transmission Specialists

Freelander 1 - Common Problems And Symptoms

The freelander suffers from a few common problems, but it is important to find the route cause of the problem. There are several symptoms and causes which are explained below.

Simple diagram showing the freelander 1 transmission system :


Freelander IRD's are a common failure on these 4x4's. If the vehicle is making a clonking or grinding noise when letting on and off the power or turning a corner, especially noticable in reverse, or you are intermitantly losing drive followed by a loud bang/grinding noise, then your IRD has/is failing. The root cause of this failure 9 times out of 10 is a faulty viscous coupling unit (VCU), which should be changed at the same time as the IRD.

If your Freelander feels "tight" or it appears the brakes are binding, especially when reversing on full lock, this means your existing VCU is past its servicable life and you should change it as soon as possible. A damaged VCU put massive strain on the rest of your transmission line, causing the IRD unit, rear diff and gearbox to wear at a hugely accelerated rate, and will cause a very costly failure of these parts. A VCU's servicable life span is usually no more than 70k miles, but it can be a lot less (we have seen cars with failures at 30k miles) depending on how the car has been driven.

It is a common fallacy that VCUs seize. In all our years of experience we have never come across a seized VCU. What actually happens is the silicon viscous fluid gets thicker and thicker with wear and slowly causes the viscous coupling to become stiffer and stiffer to rotate. More and more strain is therefore put on the gear train and failure eventually occurs to the IRD and rear diff.

It has been reported on some internet sites that to test the VCU if you jack the one back wheel of your Freelander without the handbrake applied you should be able to turn the rear wheel and that if you cannot turn the wheel your VCU has seized -THIS IS TOTAL RUBBISH! You would hardly be able to do this by hand as you would need a 2 foot breaker bar and stand on it, the wheel will move very slowly - this still does not indicate whether the VCU is any good or not as all wheels will turn regardless of the condition of the VCU.

Another common fallacy for testing VCUs is the tipex test whereby you put a tipex mark on the shaft next to the front prop shaft and one opposite on the viscous coupling and if these marks have moved out of line after being driven round

If a VCU has failed it is highly likely that it will have damaged the taper roller thrust bearing in the IRD unit. There will be no obvious sign or noise and IRD failure usually occurs when reversing the vehicle upon which the thrust bearing collapses and total failure occurs normally breaking the teeth off the crown wheel and pinion which causes the banging and grinding noise.

Another cause of IRD failure is due to bad wear in the inner constant velocity joint on the offside drive shaft. This usually results in the outer taper roller bearing (next to the CV joint) collapsing and causing the top gear shaft to break teeth, which in turn usually cracks or smashes the IRD main casing and end casing with subsequent loss of all oil.

IRD and/or VCU failure is also caused by miss matched tyre sizes between the front and rear axles. The difference in tyre diameter, and thus the rolling radius of the wheel causes a constant difference in the rotational speed of the front and rear prop shafts, this difference has to be compensated for by the VCU slipping at a higher rate than which it was designed for. The extra rotations cause the VCU to heat up and become stiffer ,which is what they are designed to do off road if the wheels start to slip and this transfer drive to the the other wheels, but as this is happening while driving in a straight line on a road it has the same effect has an old stiff VCU and transfers extra load to the entire transmission line, eventually resulting in IRD failure. This constant heating also cooks the VCU so that it does not operate correctly, even when correct tyres are fitted. You can measure the diameter the tyres, but this can be slightly misleading, especially on worn tyres as the tyre maynot be evenly worn from the inside to outside edge, so the best way to check is to check the external temperature of the VCU after driving it for a few miles on a relatively straight road, it should be virtually cold. If its slightly warm or hotter then the wheels have a ratio problem. We have seen various examples of miss matched tyre sizes such as a garage fitting different size profile tyres to the front of the car compared to the rear, putting new tyres on one end of the car but leaving the old worn tyres on the other, significantly more tyre wear on one axle, low tyre pressures and cars that have done a lot of towing (rolling radius of tyre is less due to the weight of the trailer compressing the tyres). A difference of just 5mm in diameter dramatically increases the rotational differences between the front and rear axles, so it is imperative that the tyres are always matched. Always change all 4 tyres at the same time, rather than trying to save a few pounds by changing the fronts and getting a few thousand more out of the rears. The variations between makes of tyres with the same profile can be even more than this, so tyre makes should also be matched.

Freelander rear diff failures are not as common as IRD failures, but are still a weak point. Usually the root cause of this is a faulty viscous coupling unit (VCU), which should therefore be changed at the same time as the diff.

Freelander 2 / Evoque - Common Problems And Symptoms

If there is a drumming or humming sound coming from the rear of your Freelander 2 or Evoque, the chances are the rear diff bearings are failing. This is very common on the 2007-2011 models and can occur even in very low mileage vehicles. According to Land Rover The damage is caused due to the way in which the Haldex coupling unit applies torque when moving away from standstill or during slow speed manoeuvring. We actual believe the main cause of the failure is that the size/load rating of the nose bearings on these units were too small when designed and manufactured by Land Rover, at Bell Engineering we have devised a method to modify the diff to allow us to fit a larger nose bearing that can withstand 25% greater loading, greatly improving the life of these diffs. These upsized bearings are fitted to all our diffs from April 2015 onwards. At present we are the only company offering the upsized bearing.

From 2009 models onwards the Haldex unit was also upgraded to the 4th generation, which if taken to a Land Rover dealer will accept updated software (early models have the 3rd generation fitted which cannot be reflashed) which Land Rover state will also reduce the load on the pinion.

An "All terrain mode disabled" message appearing on the dashboard signifies an issue with the Haldex unit. There are several reasons for this;-

  • The Loom between the haldex unit and the cars loom can rub between the rear subframe and the body, causing a short in wiring
  • The fuse to the Haldex unit (Fuse FB6 or FB2 on later cars in the rear fuse compartment) has blown
  • The Haldex electric pump has failed
  • The Haldex pressure sensor has failed
  • The Haldex unit requires a full service

If the car is suffering a juddering on full lock and there are no error messages displayed this is a sign that the Haldex unit is failing/failed internally, unfortunately the only solution is to change the complete unit for a reconditioned or new unit.

At Bell Engineering we consider the low cost servicing of the Haldex unit imperative to sustain the correct operation and future life of the component and recommend the Haldex unit has the fluid and filter change every 20k miles. Land Rover do not state the Haldex unit and fluid as a serviceable item, but other manufactures who use the same units do.

A drumming or whirring noise from the front footwell area of the car, that can then if left develop into a banging or graunching noise is a symptom of the front transfer box (otherwise known as power transfer unit, PTU, front diff or IRD) nose bearing failing. If treated quickily enough the unit can be fully reconditioned with new bearings and seals throughout, but if left too long will fail catastrophically. The splines from the gearbox to this unit also wear, if the transferbox is failing it can also cause damage to this spline (see below).

If the car is suffering from front wheel drive only, there are several possible reasons:-

  • The splines between the gearbox and front transfer box have stripped
  • The crown wheel and pinion have stripped inside the transfer box
  • The haldex unit has failed or been disabled
  • The propshaft, diff or rear driveshafts have been removed
  • You have bought the 2wd version of the vehicle
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