Your questions answered: Steering, suspension and exhausts


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Reader Will Meacham has a question about his Range Rover Classic exhaust : credit: © Alisdair Cusick
Defender steering centring, Range Rover Classic exhaust and Discovery 3/Range Rover Sport suspension warning

Centring the steering wheel

I need to centre the steering wheel on my 1994 Defender Tdi. I have tried to take the steering wheel off but, after removing the nut, it doesn’t look a simple as my Series III did, and it won’t pull off. There’s also a circular piece of metal under the nut; how does this come off? The steering wheel was straight, and I wonder if it’s happened a few weeks back when the garage was replacing track rod ends?
Cara Jones

The safe and proper way to remove the steering wheel. It’s not worth making your own: this cost £12

Ed Evans replies: Steering wheel centring shouldn’t have been affected by replacing the track rod ends, but it can need re-adjustment after replacing the drag link end joint. The centring can be easily and accurately set by adjusting the screwed position of the drag link in respect of the joints at each end, and a garage will do this.

If you want to remove the steering wheel to re-position it on the splines, or for any other reason, you need an inexpensive steering wheel puller (you’ll find one on eBay). Screw the two studs fully into the tapped holes in the round boss (which is part of the steering wheel), then use a spanner to turn the central bolt against the end of the steering shaft. The wheel will ease up gently – don’t try to pull it off with your hands because it may release suddenly and hit you in the face.


Range Rover Classic original exhaust

Does anyone have a clue how one might obtain a period-correct exhaust for a 1990 Range Rover 3.9Efi auto? It seems there are many sports systems on the market and a few cheap mild steel options, however none has the correct curved tailpipe that a vehicle without a catalytic convertor should have. It seems that people are largely fitting Discovery 1 back boxes, or back boxes from cars that have a catalytic convertor, which have a straight exit pipe. Extremely frustrating indeed, but this incorrect fitment seems to have been normalised. Hopefully someone will make a stainless steel original fitment exhaust that can be patented and stocked by suppliers in the UK.
William Meacham

Exhaust systems are often supplied with a non-authentic tailpipe; in this case with a long downward extension and a rolled end

In the case of my own Range Rover, a simple cutting job (wearing protective thick gloves and visor) at the correct angle reduced the length and produced the correct end section

Alisdair Cusick advises: I would be surprised if you couldn’t find a supplier currently offering a system with the correct rear pipe for a 3.9 non-cat car. You can definitely get the correct systems for the earlier, double tailpipe 3.5 V8s. That said, aftermarket production doesn’t always follow logic. When I ordered a stainless system for my later 1995 Classic a number of years ago, it came with an incorrect tip: the tailpipe was angled as it should be, but was extended considerably further, ending in a rolled tip. On querying this, the supplier had no idea and I was told the fabricating company probably did it because it was easier for them. Don’t forget these parts are made by subcontractors, not Range Rover enthusiasts, so period accuracy isn’t necessarily as foremost in their mind as workshop efficiency is. Equally, if many people are happy to fit the (incorrectly tipped) cat-piped systems, then market demand might simply be dictating the production range today.

You have a few options though. Firstly, it is worth enquiring direct with an exhaust manufacturer you favour. They may possibly have one in warehouse stock, but not at one of their retailers, yours being quite a specific specification and vehicle age. Non-cat 3.9 aftermarket systems were definitely available 20 years ago, so some manufacturers may still have the pattern for the tailpipe, even if they don’t hold a stock of the part. So again, it may be worth a call.

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Secondly and easier, would be to buy the complete stainless steel system you prefer, with the incorrect tip. Then, take it to a local fabricator or exhaust specialist who could simply cut off the existing tip, fabricate the correct one and TIG weld that on. That is what I’d do. There are plenty of bespoke exhaust manufacturers who will fabricate a complete system from scratch to your instruction. However, to balance cost against benefits, I’d bypass much of the basic fabrication by purchasing an existing well-fitting stainless system and just modifying the tailpipe.

Period-correct parts supply is an increasing challenge for Range Rover owners in recent years, as enthusiasts progressively begin to prize originality. But there are few problems that cannot be overcome with a little lateral thinking, plenty of research and a degree of enthusiasm. In my case, some careful measuring and 30 seconds with a cutting disc and then removing the sharp edges, gave me the correct tailpipe I needed.You’ll get there in the end, just with a little extra hassle.


Suspension warning – Discovery 3 and Range Rover Sport

Ed Evans: The suspension on these two trucks is pretty much identical and you might expect that, given the size and weight of the Discovery and Sport, there would be sufficient meat in the components to withstand corrosion for many years. Of course, lightness of suspension components is necessary to save fuel and cut emissions, but the thickness of the material needs to be moderated according to the grade of steel and the surface treatment.

The problem here affects the rear upper suspension arms which can corrode particularly badly on their underside where it’s difficult to see the damage. Don’t rely on the MoT test to give warning of this (unless using an experienced specialist) because the test is carried out with the road wheels in place which restricts visual access.

Both these rear upper arms are severely corroded, but the arm on the right looks about to collapse, and may have been flexing when driving. Additional material welded around the arm (during production) probably helped it survive

Suspension arms might not come out too easily on old vehicles. Often, the only way is by cutting out the bolts, joints and bush housings bit by bit. Garages know to expect this

Here’s a new rear left side upper arm in place. The worst of the corrosion occurs on the underside of the arm. Check right along the forward leg (next to the air spring) where it runs inboard to join the chassis

The corroded arms in the photos here have obviously passed at least one MoT test – corrosion like this doesn’t suddenly happen in 12 months. The lower rear suspension arms had been changed three years ago on this vehicle so they were still solid, but you can see that surface corrosion is well under way so they, too, need monitoring.

This vehicle is 15 years old, so it’s worth inspecting any that are ten years old, and then every two years after that. If doing it yourself, securely support the chassis on suitably rated axle stands before removing the wheel, then place a further stand under the lower arm to prevent the suspension moving. To inspect, scrape and brush the muck off and look underneath the arm using a torch and mirror, poking with a long screwdriver. Do not use your fingers – there’s a chance of cuts and, more importantly, being trapped by minor suspension movement. If the vehicle is on a lift there will be limited access looking up from the inboard side. Alternatively, ask your garage to take the wheels off and specifically inspect the area at service time. If possible, check the paint on new replacements arms and add a suitable coat of protection.