After driving a Land Rover for a while, you start to feel in tune with the vehicle. Gear changes are smoother, there's less body roll in the corners and you can judge the turning circle properly. And then, something doesn't feel quite right. Is that a sound that you've never heard before? A noise that doesn't become any louder, but becomes more and more noticeable. Slightly mechanical, slightly echoey and you just can't put your finger on it.
Experience has taught me that by the time something makes a noise on a Land Rover that it shouldn't be, it's already time to replace it. It is literally the vehicle telling you that something's wrong. Of course the easiest solution is to turn the radio up, but somewhere along the line something will jump up to bite you when the noise gets louder and more violent, and then for some reason the Land Rover won't drive....
If you ask yourself a few key questions, then you may be on the way to finding out what's crying out in pain.
Where is it coming from?
Is it from the engine? Is it left or right, front or back? If you find it hard to discern where the noise is coming from, it probably means it's right underneath the vehicle and the sound is reflected from the road surface. Driving down a hedged lane or alongside a wall can help reflect the sound so you can hear it more clearly, but will mask its location.
If the noise is from the engine, a mechanic's stethoscope can really help to identify the exact location when by touching different parts of the engine and listening for a change in the sound.
When does it make the noise?
Nine times out of ten the noise will come from a moving part and can be pinpointed to when that system is functioning. Is it noisy accelerating or decelerating? Braking or crusing? On idle, when you change gear, when you depress the clutch or turn the steering wheel? This can narrow it down to the vehicle system involved.
What motion could create that noise?
With the type of noise, you can help further identify systems involved from what its parts might be doing. Is the noise grinding like metal on metal? Is it tapping, or clunking? Things that turn or spin make whiny, rumbly grindy noises. Things that are loose make rattly jingly noises.
Some recognisable noises
These are some of the noises that I have eventually deduced, which now signal a recognisable issue is at hand.
- Worn Universal Joint: a rattling metallic noise under acceleration or deceleration
- Loose shock absorber/trumpet: A clang from the front sounding like Morse code
- Worn brake pad: A grinding more apparant on cornering when more pressure is against the troublesome brake pad
- Leaky intercooler pipe: A chuffing sound from the bonnet as air escapes
- Rear lower link bush: A clunk from the back as you rapidly decelerate
- Detached A frame bracket: A low sounding clunk on uneven ground
- Bent Track rod: A grinding and vibration in the steering as it rubs the steering guard
- Broken Viscous Unit (Fan): A grinding and rattling from the engine that doesn't go away on idling
- Worn Gearbox Roller Bearings: A whine from the central console
- Worn Clutch release bearing: The noise from the vehicle changes when you depress the clutch
This list is by no means exhaustive. Sometimes there can also be multiple sources of a noise. The A frame bracket that sheared off illuded me for a while, as the noise wasn't very noticeble when driving, just a low clunk, and wasn't able to be seen unless you laid right under the rear axle.
Invariably though, it pays to be in tune with noises that appear in your Land Rover, to prevent things becoming more costly in a month or so. Or just turn the radio up.
What other noises immediately signify to you that something's gone wrong? Comment below.