Like Defenders, old Range Rovers exert a thrilling mix of desire, fascination and abject terror on those who think they absolutely have to have one, i.e., most of us. Shed gets the exact same feeling whenever Mrs Shed walks into the parlour with her lipstick on, except without the desire or fascination.
Like the sad-looking pit bull in the dog shelter, this 2003 L322 Vogue has been sitting around unwanted in the classifieds for a while now. Shed has resisted it so far because, like you, he knows all the L322 horror stories and a few more besides. As the vendor of this one says, ‘faults will be present… it’s a Range Rover for banger money so don’t expect a new car but do expect it to need repairing soon.’
Never a truer word etc. Thing is though, it depends on the faults. With 2.4 tonnes to move, the BMW X5 174hp/288lb ft 3.0 diesel was marginal on performance compared to the 272hp TDV8 that came along in 2007, but both units have a decent rep for reliability. There’s nothing on the MOT history to give real cause for concern. Long-standing leaks of oil (non-excessive) and power steering fluid appear to have been successfully staunched in 2021.
This one does have a suspension issue (surprise!) which the previous owner put down to a faulty height sensor. It could well be just that. If it is, fitting a new one is actually remarkably straightforward. John Paul at Rimmers did a four-minute video on it a few years back, and it’s still showing on a well-known video internet channel near you. The only tools required are a 13mm socket and spanner and a 4mm Allen key, plus probably an M8 nut and bolt to replace the rusty one you’ll be removing and a well-thumbed copy of Viz Profanisaurus just in case. A replacement height sensor should pop onto your screen for under £50.
If it’s the air compressor that’s wonky, well obviously that’s going to be different isn’t it, Land Rover will want a fortune to sort that. Yes they will, but again in the gritty real world outside the expensively carpeted ambience of an LR dealership this is a straightforward fix that you can easily do yourself. The compressor sits under the boot carpet and takes very little time to remove. A rebuild kit – basically a new piston ring, a couple of O-ring seals and a handful of cable ties – could very well put things right for under £12 including postage. Even if you do need a new pump, which you probably won’t, they’re all over the place at between £150 and £200. There’s loads of video help available to help you do the pump replacement job on your living room coffee table, wearing a crash helmet of course in case your own Mrs Shed stomps unexpectedly into the room.
And hey presto! With luck and a following wind your Range Rover will once again jump up to the right height in five seconds, its reservoir will be back up to a healthy 170psi and there will be no more bowel-loosening warning comments on the dash. Well, not the ones to do with the suspension anyway. It’s worth repeating here that ‘faults will be present’. In fact you might want to engrave that motto onto a slice of aluminium and mount it on the dash as a reminder of the mindset needed to run an L322. Better yet, glue it over the warning lights panel.
The MOT testers made some suspension-related comments at the last MOT in November, when play in the front ARB ball joints was the only advisory. The good news once again is that L322 spare parts are not as dear as you might think. Replacement BJ assemblies are £40 each plus fitting. Mending perished rear hub bushes is a dirtier and longer job than the compressor or height sensor fixes but this hasn’t been mentioned by anyone yet so let’s just whistle a merry tune and move on. It’s a good idea to check the exhaust for damage on an inadvertently slammed car like this as that’s one of the dearer bits at getting on for £600 for the full system.
£300 for a diagnostic tool that will tell you which height sensor might be at fault is an expense that will probably pay for itself many times over if you’re planning on being a proud long-term RR owner without the attendant misery of being a long-term LR dealership visitor. Finish off with a £50 valet, or whatever the going rate is for a valet round your way, garnish with a wheel refurb when finances allow, and hey presto again! You could be that proud owner for less than £2k all in, which is a thousand quid less than the price of the next cheapest 3.0 L322 with comparable mileage that Shed could find for sale in the UK.
Plus you’ll enjoy the rosy glow that comes from honest toil and a good result at the end of it. You will have invested not just money but a little bit of yourself into restoring what was, in 2003, a brilliant vehicle that would have been the envy of the neighbourhood. And remember, whilst Mrs Shed is unlikely to win any beauty contests anytime soon, it’s a fact that many rescued pit bulls do turn out to be wonderful pets.