Category Archives: Land Rover Repairs

New Vs Old

McDonald 4X4 Discovery G4

Generations of offroaders, picture courtesy of The Telegraph

British offroad veterans have told The Telegraph that they spurn the trappings of modern soft-roaders. Not that they’re rejecting climate control or multi-zone entertainment systems.

What’s at issue here is the very DNA of the vehicle. Pick any modern SUV and you’ll be swamped in a raft of acronyms which let you know that you’re in the best of hands. You don’t have to worry about going fast, or going slow, or going sideways, because #insert name here# is the only manufacturer to keep you and your loved-ones safe.

Except all this techno-wizardry comes at more than a financial cost. It may be a hoary old chestnut, but until turbo-charged engines came along, you could keep your Land Rover going on a shoe-string budget by doing most of the work yourself with the tools you had in your own garage. Even with Tdi engines, the rest of the car was mechanical (and didn’t you just know it if you ever had to push one) so bounced rather well along rutted lanes.

So when you take a Land Rover Discovery 4 for a drive, would you assume it’s natural environment would include mud, or mud packs? Is the intelligent 4 Wheel Drive system going to work this well in 15 years time? Will it do 200,000 miles? How much will it cost to fix when the super-computer in control of everything goes AWOL?


McDonald 4X4 JLR Urban Wnindscreen

Technology can show you the way, picture courtesy of Auto Express

And from the sub-slime to the LEDiculous. Jaguar Land Rover has conceived of a time when the computer and the car merge to the driver’s benefit in a Frankensteinian HUD-meets-HAL windscreen, where a series of cameras can be used to replace the view of the car’s internal structure, providing a 360 degree view of the outside world. How likely this is to come to fruition is debatable, as the cost of a TV unit is one thing whereas turning the inside of your car into the outside of your TV is another.

Of greatest interest and use though is the ‘urban windscreen’. Linking a projector to the internet provides a windscreen display with not only a ‘ghost-car’ navigation system but also visual prompts including available parking spaces in car parks or fuel prices at the up-coming service station.

Considering their previous concept of cameras under the body to show the state of the ground under the prodigious bonnets of Range Rovers, we can only wonder when the interior of cars will consist almost exclusively of TV Screen…

If you need parts and accessories for Landrover Defender or indeed any other Land Rover model, from in-car entertainment to air-locking diffs, you can buy Land Rover spare parts and accessories online at


This article was written by Rupert Astbury.

Print Your Own Land Rover

3d Printer McDonald 4X4

Your new garage?

Time and again, we’re told  that buying a brand new car is the second biggest purchase you’ll ever make. So you want to own a car, but you can’t decide which one to spend your hard-earned on? You like the look of this one but the colours of that one, the driving position of this one and the gadgets of that one. Front wheel drive, rear wheel drive or all wheel drive?

What if you could have it all?

3D Printing is having a major effect on manufacturing by providing rapid access to prototypes; the sooner you can see a design in real life, the sooner you can assess it and make changes.

The benefit for Joe Bloggs is that the trickle-down effect has meant an ever-increasing supply of machines for home use, and a year-on year reduction in price. With a 3D Printer capable of creating plastic or metal alloy parts already available for under £1000 you could conceivably be replacing parts suppliers for cosmetic parts with a software program. Scan the old part, and print a new one. As the meerkat said, simples!

McDonald 4X4 Jay Leno Blog

Picture courtesy of Popular

As you can see in this article in America’s Popular Mechanics blog by Jay Leno, including the comments made by car fanatic readers, the vintage car market is already benefitting considerably from the new technology:

One of the hardships of owning an old car is rebuilding rare parts when there are simply no replacements available. My 1907 White Steamer has a feedwater heater, a part that bolts onto the cylinders. It’s made of aluminum, and over the 100-plus years it’s been in use, the metal has become so porous you can see steam and oil seeping through. I thought we could just weld it up. But it’s badly impregnated with oil and can’t be repaired. If we tried, the metal would just come apart.

So, rather than have a machinist try to copy the heater and then build it, we decided to redesign the original using our NextEngine 3D scanner and Dimension 3D printer. These incredible devices allow you to make the form you need to create almost any part. The scanner can measure about 50,000 points per second at a density of 160,000 dots per inch (dpi) to create a highly detailed digital model. The 3D printer makes an exact copy of a part in plastic, which we then send out to create a mold. Some machines can even make a replacement part in cobalt-chrome with the direct laser sintering process. Just feed a plastic wire–for a steel part you use metal wire–into the appropriate laser cutter.

As an example, see’s story about kiwi Ivan Sentch’s project Aston Martin

Ivan Sentsch's 3d printed Aston Martin DB5

Ivan Sentsch’s 3d printed Aston Martin DB5

Using a $500 Solidoodle 3D printer, Ivan Sentch, a programmer from Auckland, is printing a mold of the the car. “I have been printing since January and I have printed about 72 per cent of everything,” Sentch said…

Once finished, he will make a fiberglass mould of the print and fit that to the engine, electrics, suspension and drivetrain of a 1993 Nissan Skyline. He will then have to build the interior. The project is a labour of love that comes second to his day job and family life and Sentch doesn’t expect to have the mould ready for another 18 months. He won’t be driving the car for another five years.


McDonald 4X4 3D Printed Car

The Strati 3D Printed Car, picture courtesy of The Guardian

The Strati is made by Arizona, USA company Local Motors, and although it’s an electric car, it points the way to a revolution in kit-car building.

So before long, you could see major manufacturers getting in on the game. This Autoexpress article from 2013 discusses the Urbee 3D printed car;

The first Urbee was custom printed using Fused Deposition Modelling – the spaghetti and glue gun approach – to create a honeycomb structure like a bee hive. This material was only used where necessary, giving a light, strong and green structure that performed well in a crash.

For the Urbee 2, all visible components inside and outside the vehicle will be printed in what KOR EcoLogic calls a factory of the future – a bank of printers working on 40 discreet panels, with ducting and wiring incorporated into each printed part.

Read more:

So it seems that even if it doesn’t happen soon, it could well be worth saving up not for your dream car, but for your own factory…

This article was written by Rupert Astbury

Workshop Tales

McDonald LR

Range Rover Cream Interior Kills BECMs. ish…

Workshop chatter is cut to a bare minimum as it’s inefficient and wasteful…

…although it does have its uses.

Over a boiling kettle the issue of Range Rover Beckhams was discussed.

Then the workshop-ingenue was slapped down viciously corrected; the Body Electrical Control Module or BECM is the all-important brain of the vehicle, and must be functioning correctly for the vehicle to run at all.

IT is responsible for:

  • Instrument pack
  • SRS (Airbag) Diagnostic Control Unit (DCU)
  • Selector lever display panel (Automatic transmission
  • vehicles only)
  • Engine compartment fusebox
  • Fuse 1 – Power supply
  • Fuse 4 – Power supply
  • Fuse 5 – Power supply
  • Cruise control ECU
  • Transfer box ECU
  •  Engine Control Module (ECM)
  • Electronic Automatic Transmission (EAT) ECU
  • Electronic Air Suspension (EAS) ECU
  • Center console switch pack
  • RH door outstation
  • LH door outstation
  • RH seat outstation
  • LH seat outstation
  • ICE (Radio) unit
  • Diagnostic Socket

Of course, if it should fail, you’ll see all kinds of problems, including but not limited to:

  • mis-operation of headlights
  • door locks
  • electric windows
  • fuel filler flap
  • indicators
  • sun roof
  • rear washers/wiper
  • fuse failure codes
  • engine won’t turn over

These faults may be intermittent.

For a fantastic article on the workings of the BECM, try’s Demistifying the BECM

There’s nothing a home mechanic can do to fix a BECM, but you can try to avoid trouble by buying dark-carpetted P38s.

I know, it sounded strange to me too, but it’s a little-discussed fact.

The lighter carpets featured on the Range Rover options list encouraged dirt and stains to hitch a ride, necessitating a motivated schedule of interior cleaning. As the BECM is under the seat, next to where your feet are, it’s right in the firing line.

The more carpet Cleaner you use, the more moisture there is around the box, the greater the chance of degradation in the circuit boards.

So buy a P38 with dark carpets and you’ll have a much-reduced chance of BECM woes.

If you’ve got a P38 (brave little old you, well done) and you need anything at all for it, from the smallest washer to a brand new 4.6 V8 engine, give us a call or go to


McDonald 4x4 Timing Belts

Timing belts, so innocent-looking.

One of the spanner monkeys highly-qualified and -skilled workshop technicians was relating the tale of a damaged-repairable vehicle (all identifying details have been removed for fear of being sued mercilessly) which had had a fair old smack on the nose. Serious enough to write it off, but only for the sake of the insured value.

Parts had been ordered and fitted and all was well in the world until the key was turned and the engine refused to fire up.

Everything was tried, to no avail, and the word went out. Help was needed.

One phone call later, our chief spanner monkey highly-qualified and -skilled workshop technician was on the scene, tuning his ear to the engine’s sound.

Doesn’t sound right when you turn it over.


Have you checked the timing?

Why would we do that?

And lo, there were degrees of separation between where the belt should have been and where it was.

Not so bad a knock you’d have thought the motor had been affected, but still enough to move the belt.


If you’ve a need for Tender Loving Care for your car, give us a call or go to

Written by Rupert Astbury.