Owning your first Land Rover is a series of emotions ranging from excitement to frustration to happiness and hopelessness. These vehicles are certainly not for anyone who feels an emotional attachment to money, because it can surely rack up bills quickly, but they are also some of the most amazing machines you’ll ever get to drive and experience.
We’ve put together a list of some of the most important tips to follow when looking for your first Land Rover, but if you’re looking at an L322 Range Rover, be sure to check out our in-depth guide designed for that generation. This video will go over more general tips to follow no matter what Land Rover model you’re looking for.
Tips for Buying A Used Land Rover
Understand the Risks
Land Rovers have always been one of my biggest passions. I used order marketing material when I was a kid just so I could look at the models over and over again, but when it comes right down to it, there’s nobody out there saying Land Rover ownership is trouble free and cheap.
While it’s unlikely your Land Rover will explode, it’s always best to operate under the assumption that it could. Let’s face it. Nobody who has owned a Land Rover for any period of time has experienced it without anything needing some work.
If you’re coming from something more common such as a Tahoe or even something like an Accord, be ready for regular things to become much more expensive. From oil changes and putting fuel in the car, everything is about to get a bit more expensive. Obviously, that’s to be expected, but there are a lot of people who do not realize that these cars are more than just a quick oil change and low-grade fuel.
No matter what model Land Rover you buy, you should be prepared to know what type of scheduled service to do. From basic oil changes and brakes to fewer fluids like the gearbox and differential, there are quite a few mechanical parts that are more complex than other SUVs.
If you buy the wrong one that hasn’t been taken care of, you’ll end up paying for the thing multiple times over. So when you do choose to buy one, make sure you have service records to show what work was done and what work still needs to be completed. Frequent maintenance and service will always be the easiest form of Land Rover ownership, so make sure you have a list of scheduled maintenance intervals.
Models to Avoid
Now let’s talk about something that could save you a Rover load of money and time – models to avoid buying.
There are actually quite a few Land Rover models that probably wouldn’t be the best first car if you’re not mechanically inclined or in a financial position to visit the mechanic frequently. As much as I love Land Rover and their heritage and how far they’ve come, they’ve had some issues in the past believe it or not…
Because of that, there are some models that you may want to stay away from for your first Land Rover. On the flip side, though, if you’re looking for something to be tough on and work on and learn about your vehicle, these will probably be the best options. If you’re looking for something slightly more reliable, try to avoid these.
The P38A Range Rover
Oh, the P38 – one of my all-time favorite Range Rovers is notorious for being one of the most difficult models to maintain. I think the P38 Range Rover from 1994 to 2001 is one of the coolest Land Rovers ever built. It was a huge update from the Range Rover Classic, which was in production for near record time, but it isn’t the best Range Rover ever built.
The P38 was one of those models that Land Rover got a bit too techie for their own good. Because of that, there’s everything from engine trouble to oil leaks to air suspension faults. Really, nothing has changed too much, but as much as I hate to say it, avoid the P38 if you can’t work on it yourself – especially if it wasn’t owned by someone who took care of it.
Most Land Rovers suffer from horrible depreciation, so it makes it appealing for people who have some cash to buy one without understanding what they’re getting into, which makes it a good time to talk about the next one – the D2.
The Discovery II
Now hold up. Before I get jumped, I want to say this. The D2 is one of the most capable Land Rovers in history. I think they are BEYOND fantastic for enthusiasts and people who aren’t concerned with maintenance, but for someone buying their first Land Rover with no experience, it’s probably not the best choice.
I will say this. I’d have a D2 any day if I was looking for a 90s Land Rover, but that doesn’t mean they’re the best choice for everyone. I’m not going to say the D2 is awful. In fact, I think it’s an icon in Land Rover’s history that still tackles the hardest off-road challenges today. I’d love to have a D2 to work on and take off-road, but the issues come from previous owners who haven’t looked after it.
From blown head gaskets to marking their territory with oil everywhere, owners get fed up with repairs quickly. They end up neglecting maintenance, and this model is notorious for not being well taken care of. If you can work on it yourself, go for it. There’s nothing like the Discovery out there. Otherwise, if you’re looking for a daily vehicle, something else might be a better choice.
I think it’s important to point out that I think these are two of the most iconic vehicles in Land Rover’s history. If you can work on it yourself or want to build the ultimate off-road vehicle, these are two of the bests. And they’re also great workhorses for weekend jobs. Unfortunately, they can also quickly become their own weekend job. So as much as I love them, I find it hard to recommend to someone looking for a daily driver Land Rover.
Related Article: Cost to Own a Used L322 Range Rover
Model to Buy
So with two of my personal favorite vehicles, Land Rover has ever built out of the running, here are some models that might actually make more sense to buy if you’re looking for your first Land Rover.
The L322 Range Rover
I’m taking a bit of a risk here by recommending the L322 after the infamous Doug Demuro Range Rover, but hear me out. The L322 is modern enough that most mechanics still work on them frequently. Parts are readily available in most areas, and Land Rover changed ownership a couple of times during production, which gave them access to more money and parts.
You’ll still need to be ready for repairs and scheduled maintenance. It is still at the end of the day a Land Rover, but you’ll be better off being in a newer model than you would one from the 90s as far as getting replacement parts and labor.
I have plenty of videos on the L322 Range Rover so I won’t spend all your time talking about it in this one. If you’re interested, here’s a playlist of almost everything you need to know about buying an L322 Range Rover.
The LR3/Discovery 3
After the D2, we saw the completely new generation of Discovery – the LR3 or Discovery 3 depending on where you are in the world. Land Rover has always had marketing issues with names, so just let it slide. We’re all still confused about that one.
Regardless, the LR3 was a massive step forward from the Discovery 2. From interior upgrades to a complete exterior redesign, the LR3 was lightyears ahead of the D2. And surprisingly the LR3 has held up very well over the years. Aside from the usual air suspension and random electronic glitches and leaks, you’ll run into a lot of cracking plastics. If you can look past that or replace it, you’ll be in good shape.
We’re starting to see a lot of LR3s come up with nearly 200,000 miles on them, which is nothing new to used Land Rovers, but it’s still pretty impressive that such a complex machine known for reliability issues has made it that many miles without owners completely throwing them out to parts bins.
Like I said, though, the LR3 is far from perfect, but a lot of models on the used market have been converted to springs from the original air suspension. Sure, some say the ride quality is compromised, but this is an LR3, not a Rolls Royce Phantom. More than likely, you won’t notice the difference if you’ve never driven one with air suspension long term.
On top of that, most of them should have had their major services done if they have over 120,000 miles on them. If they haven’t, though, you may want to keep looking.
The LR2/Freelander 2
For the third recommendation, let’s talk about a peculiar Land Rover – the LR2. The Freelander was released in originally in 1997 as the brand was making a push at marketing to people with quote “active lifestyles,” whatever that means.
It was later replaced with the LR2 or Freelander 2. Again, they’ve always had some trouble with marketing, but we’ll keep ignoring that. Regardless, the LR2 makes it to the list because of it’s simplicity – something rare for Land Rover. The LR2 has a much smaller engine and an easier layout to work on yourself to fix small issues.
On top of that, the LR2 is much more economical easier to drive around cities than the massive LR3 and L322 – trust me. With that, though, it doesn’t compromise any of the practicability that you may think it would from the smaller form factor. There’s plenty of room, storage space, and off-road credibility. In fact, there’s much more practicality than you’d expect.
Obviously, the LR2 is not perfect, but for a first Land Rover, it’s a good place to start. There are fewer heavy-duty components to go wrong, and it’s a good entry point into the Land Rover cult that you’ll inevitably become a member of. Just be sure to use my code when you join so I get 10% off parts and labor.
Join the Community
The next tip is a bit unconventional, and it’s probably not one you’d get from most places, but hear me out for a minute. Land Rover owners are full of passion for these vehicles and the Land Rover brand. With that, you’ll have access to more resources to help you figure out small problems.
Don’t get me wrong, though, if there’s a problem with your Land Rover, get it fixed from someone who knows what they’re doing. But for simple things or finding resources for parts, repair guides and more, there are plenty of Facebook groups of people who are willing to help.
It’s also a fun place to meet some people to take your Land Rover to do what it’s built for. Just don’t tell them I said avoid the D2 and P38 – I’ll be shot.
Overall, though, owning a Land Rover is certainly an experience. It’s a RANGE 😉 of emotions that really no car should give it. It’s irrational, and there’s no logical reason to do that to yourself. After a while, though, you just get hooked. Look at the Facebook groups and forums like a Rover-holic Anonymous group that just encourages you to get into more pain. It’s great!
In all seriousness, though, it’s a lot of fun to know what to expect, learn about your Land Rover, and see other people’s experiences with theirs. It’s definitely one of the best parts of ownership.
Get a Pre-Purchase Inspection
For my last trick of the night, I’ll tell you the single most important piece of advice you’ll need when looking for any used car. It’s also one that I’ve mentioned in every other video, so I’ll keep this one simple.
Please, if you’re going to buy a Land Rover that has some use, get it inspected by someone who knows how to work on them or knows what to look for. If you can do it yourself and save the money, that’s great. Otherwise, know what you’re getting into before you spend your money.
But I suppose that’s about it. If you’re interested in learning more about Land Rover ownership, be sure to check out our Land Rover playlist on the channel. There’s a ton of video explaining some of the different parts of Land Rover ownership and costs of ownership.
Owning a Land Rover is a ton of fun, and it’s still certainly The Best 4x4xFar. Take care of your Land Rover in the garage, and it will surely take care of you on and off the road.