Pretoria - Crankshaft bearing failures in Land Rover V6 diesel engines produced before 2012 has led to warnings to owners of such vehicles to take precautionary action.
Land Rover Discovery owner Margot Birbeck has laid a complaint with the Motor Industry Ombudsman after a specific crankshaft bearing in her vehicle’s engine failed, causing the engine to seize.
Birbeck claimed that she had discovered that “hundreds of Land Rover engines” were failing as a result of the fault, which was ascribed to the incorrect location of the main bearing shells during assembly, or through rotation of the shells during normal use.
Models impacted included the Discovery 3 and 4, Range Rover and Range Rover Sport, Birbeck said. This was confirmed by Jaguar Land Rover South Africa.
“The cause of these engine failures is a known and published manufacturer fault related to the crankshaft bearing,” Birbeck wrote.
The problem was published in a so-called TOPix report, a technical report in which Land Rover dealers are advised about technical problems.
“The report, however, downplays the extent of the problem, misrepresents the expected occurrence and grossly overestimates Land Rover’s recovery plan,” Birbeck claimed.
“The report was published in May 2014, but was certainly not communicated to loyal Landy owners or to prospective buyers. In fact, Land Rover has failed in every way to take responsibility for the issue.
“Numerous preventative measures could have been implemented with regards to oil and services on affected vehicles (Land Rover has a list of all engine numbers and know exactly who has and will be affected). Better still, these vehicles should have been recalled as other manufacturers have been held to do in the past.
“The car owner will experience the problem with no warnings and by a sudden engine failure with probably less than 30 seconds to pull off the road. The vehicle will also have to be towed away.”
Birbeck said the next shock, after the initial breakdown and towing costs, would be the repair bill. The quote given to her for the repair of her 2008 Discovery 3, with 132 000km on the clock, amounted to R260 000.
“Land Rover’s lack of action and intentional disregard for its customers is appalling. Today, companies have a social and ethical responsibility. If other motor industry companies such as Volkswagen and Toyota are held accountable why shouldn’t high-end brands such as Land Rover?”
Land Rover South Africa said it was aware of the issue experienced by Birbeck.
Spokeswoman Nicola Clarke sas: “Customer safety and satisfaction is our number one priority, so it is unfortunate when instances such as this affect owners of Land Rover vehicles.
“The issue affects only 1.3 percent of Land Rover engines sold in South Africa over the past 10 years,” she said.
“Changes have been made at a production level and all new engines manufactured since 2012 use a new bearing design. Dealers have been briefed on the procedure for any engine that experiences this issue.
“While it’s not possible to establish whether an engine is susceptible, the cause was identified – as detailed in the TOPIx report.”
TOPIx reports were communications intended to aid the technical community with information and diagnostic process, as well as helping dealerships manage the expectations of customers who are affected, Clarke said.
These reports were openly published and available to third-party repairers or any individual who requested access.
“This is a transparent process that we fully support,” Clarke said.
Clarke claimed that Jaguar Land Rover South Africa had “gone to great lengths” to help customers.
“Vehicles that are under warranty will be repaired free of charge, as part of the comprehensive factory warranty. For vehicles affected outside of the warranty period we have offered customers goodwill assistance.”
Clarke said Birbeck’s vehicle was purchased as a used vehicle, from a non-approved retailer that has no affiliation with Jaguar Land Rover South Africa.
Additionally, this vehicle was last serviced within the Jaguar Land Rover retail network at 77 000km.
“We cannot comment on the service history from this point up until 133 000km when the incident occurred," Clarke said.
“Despite this, goodwill assistance was offered to Birbeck, where one-third of the parts cost would be covered. Unfortunately this offer was rejected, as the customer insisted on financial reparations as well as the opportunity to repair the vehicle at an unauthorised repairer.”
Clarke said the company’s customer service director was in contact with those who experienced this problem.
“The matter has been referred to the Motor Industry Ombudsman. Jaguar Land Rover South Africa has responded accordingly.”