Our Discovery 3

The family car we had – A P38 Range Rover – had served us well for a number of years, but it was getting a bit old, and the family needed more seats. But with a limited budget our options were few. So when I was looking at the Pickles Auctions website one day and saw a Land Rover Discovery 3 – the HSE version, with the beautiful V8 motor – up for auction in the damaged vehicles section, I was interested. Being the HSE version, this car had an extra two fold down seats in the back. These were great seats, good for children and small adults. They came complete with seat belts.

In a nutshell, I thought this car would be a great family car. But it had been accident damaged, and was listed as a ‘repairable write-off’. This meant that it could be repaired and re-registered, but that the insurance company had thought it easier to pay the customer for the car.

Because of my trade background – I am a mechanical fitter by trade – I am quite familiar with the tools, and I have the skills to use them, so I thought it would be worth a look. So I went to the auction to look, and if I thought it was doable I would bid. I had a good close look, thought the project was doable, and bid at the auction. Successfully.

After it was delivered at our place:

The main problem is very obvious – it’s got a broken leg! We’ll see more detail shortly. Also, there is some panel damage above the wheel arch and the window is broken.

The other problems were a bent lower control arm on the left front, and a broken rear view mirror on the driver’s side. These will be addressed below.

Once the road wheel was removed extent of the damage became clearer:

Both control arms are twisted, the knuckle had been ripped out of the lower control arm, the driveshaft had come out of the inner CV joint, and the stabiliser link had come away from its mounting bracket. Also the electric parking brake cable was damaged beyond repair.

All the parts that needed to be replaced, with the exception of the parking brake actuator/ cable, were obtained from Triumph Rover Spares in Adelaide. Please see receipt elsewhere in this folder. Replaced were the upper and lower control arms, the knuckle and hub, and the complete driveshaft including inner and outer CV joints.

The road wheel was also damaged beyond repair. At this stage we decided that it would be a safer and more secure option for the family – this was intended to be a family car – to replace all the road wheels except the spare. A set of four identical wheels complete with very good tyres was obtained from a local tyre service.

We began by removing the broken and bent parts. This was not as straightforward as I would have liked! The upper control arm had to be cut to allow the bolts to be removed. Removing the inner CV joint casing from the diff was a bit of a challenge. But eventually it was all gone.

In this pic you can see that all the broken parts have been removed and the new lower control arm has been put into position. Also visible is the air spring / shock absorber strut. It had a minor ding in the aluminium casing around the air spring, and the dust jacket was torn. The dust jacket was re-attached with the time honoured but effective tie wire!

The bracket for the stabiliser bar had been distorted. This was straightened by heating with an oxy acetylene torch and a hammer and a drift, while another hammer was held behind it by an assistant. It was then painted with a rust resistant black paint.

The upper and lower control arms, the driveshaft, the knuckle and the hub were all re-installed. This was all pretty straightforward. The replacement toe link bar was also fitted.

The disc brake rotor and caliper were refitted and the brakes bled. Note that the electric parking brake was replaced with a complete new actuator / cable unit supplied and installed by a local Land Rover workshop. They also did a complete wheel alignment.

When I discussed the front left lower control arm with the people at Triumph Rover Spares they said that because front lower control arms are a consumable – they last about 120 000 kilometres – it would be smart to replace both right and left at the same time. Given that the car has done about 120 000 kilometres we decided to follow their advice. So we replaced both the left and right front lower control arms with new ones.

This was replaced with a new lower control arm. The procedure followed was as described in the manual, modified according to the advice given by the Triumph Rover Spares mechanic who is very familiar with the procedure. The procedure was as follows:

  • The drive shaft nut was removed and the driveshaft loosened in the hub using a hammer and drift.
  • The ball joint retaining nut was removed and the taper dislodged using a hammer.
  • The steering tie rod end was undone and moved out of the way.
  • The sway bar link upper nut was removed.
  • The bolts holding the lower control arm to the chassis, and to the suspension strut, were removed.
  • With the help of an assistant, the hub was swung out, the driveshaft removed from the hub and the old lower control arm lifted out of the taper.
  • The new lower control arm was then installed, and the suspension reassembled, using a similar procedure in reverse, with the following additional step:
  • Before all the bolts were tightened, the suspension was lifted to its correct position so that the rubbers are aligned correctly when the car is at road height.
  • The driveshaft nut was installed, torqued and staked.
  • The replacement road wheel was put on and she was back on her feet!

This procedure was followed for both right hand side and left hand side.

The driver’s side mirror was replaced. This was a simple clip in job. The two wires for the heating element were connected and the mirror clipped in place.

There was a relatively small amount of panel beating to be done, which was quickly done by a local panel-beater. The broken window was then replaced by a local automotive windows repair place.

The rear panel trim over the right hand side rear wheel was damaged and replaced, but the panel trim on the rear right hand side door was still serviceable and was re-installed.

It all took about three weeks, and then we had the VIV inspection done – an essential inspection for a vehicle listed as a repairable write off. It passed with flying colours, requiring no extra work to be done! We were pretty pleased with job, and especially that it was finished and the car re-registered in time for Christmas!

We have used the Disco in many places around Australia. Here it is on a sand track leading to the Eyre Bird Observatory, on the Great Australian Bight, south of the Eyre Highway, near Cocklebiddy, in Western Australia. It was a great car for us for many years, until we replaced it with a Land Rover Discovery Sport. You can read the story of that here.

© Copyright Willem Schultink