Tempting fate


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Martin ready to replace his Freelander's faulty Alternator : credit: © Martin Domoney
LRM Editor Martin Domoney silences his Freelander’s new noise

It’s always the way, isn’t it? One minute you’re singing your Land Rover’s praises, and the next it throws a wobbly – it’s almost like it can hear you.

If you saw my last Writers’ Rovers about my beloved Freelander 2 in the May issue, you’ll know I fell into the trap of doing just that; waxing lyrical about how brilliant and reliable it was. Well, shortly afterwards, the TD4 engine developed an horrendous vibration and rattle at idle. Fearing the worst, I stripped the plastic engine cover and inner wheelarch liner out to see if I could find the culprit. First, I wanted to see if the noise was coming from the engine itself or one of the ancillaries, so I dropped the auxiliary belt off and fired it up – no noise. Phew!

Looks scary, but stripdown is quite simple

Next, I needed to see which of the various ancillaries was making the racket. The tensioner bearing felt okay, and the idler only had slight roughness. When I span the alternator, I found the issue.

The alternators fitted to the Freelander 2 (and many other ‘modern’ models) use a pulley with a built-in one-way bearing, so that the alternator keeps spinning nice and quickly when the engine revs drop off sharply. Over time, the one-way bearing can lock up, which means the alternator isn’t allowed to freewheel – and one of the symptoms is a chattering noise and roughness at idle. Bingo.

New alternator pulley, tensioner and idler

A quick order to Advanced Factors saw a new alternator pulley, tensioner, idler and auxiliary drive belt winging their way over to me, and I tapped up a friend for the loan of the special splined tool needed to change the pulley.

With the parts in hand, I set about removing the alternator. Now, there are stories of people being able to change the pulley with the alternator in-situ, but the pulley is incredibly tight and, given that it doesn’t take long to get the alternator out, I decided to play it safe and remove it. If you’ve ever managed to do one in place, hats off to you.

With the plastic engine cover off, it’s a case of freeing the fuel filter, unbolting its metal housing from the front of the engine, then removing the power steering pump and pushing it aside to give access to the alternator. Two bolts, a nut and an electrical connector later, the alternator can be wiggled free and operated on.

Old pulley took serious force to come free

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​​​​​​I’m glad I chose to remove it, because I was certain I was going to break the special tool trying to get the old pulley off, it was threaded onto the shaft that tightly. Finally, by holding the alternator shaft still with a long half-inch drive breaker bar and standing on the spanner acting on the splined socket, it relented and came free.

Alternator shaft end is threaded

Rebuilding was fairly straightforward; fit the new pulley to the alternator and tighten it as much as possible without bringing about a hernia, then refit the alternator followed by everything else. I also took the opportunity to fit the replacement idler, tensioner and belt while I was in there – no point in waiting for them to fail.

The key to silence – new pulley in place

Home straight: new idler, tensioner and belt​​​​​​

After an afternoon’s work and around £100 in parts, I am happy to report the Freelander is idling smoothly and silently again, and continues to impress me with its refinement, relative economy and reliability. Uh-oh, maybe I shouldn’t have said that…


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