Project Freelander: Front wiper mechanism

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10 June 2023
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Ed finds fault in the Freelander's front wipers : credit: © Ed Evans
Ed finds plenty of faults while replacing the wiper mechanism, and takes the opportunity to renew scruffy bonnet hinge trims

Need to know

Cost so far: £833.38
Parts used: DLS100100 Genuine right-hand drive wiper linkage mechanism, £227, Famous Four; Britpart DKB103080 left-hand wiper arm, £19; Wiper blades, £17, Halfords; Britpart ECB100212 LH bonnet hinge cover, £39.98; Britpart ECB100202 RH bonnet hinge cover, £39.98.
• Fuel injection pump drive: LHP100550L tensioner assembly rear, £21; MVF100040 fuel injection pump timing belt, £8; LJQ100690 casing
seal, £6.
Work safely:
• 
Use barrier cream or gloves to protect hands, as preferred.
• Keep hands clear if testing the wiper system with the intake moulding removed.
 Ensure the bonnet is securely propped up and take care not to dislodge it while working on the wiper system.

The story so far...

This Freelander 1 station wagon with its early L-series 2.0-litre diesel engine was bought for £300. Of course, it needed plenty of work to turn it into a reliable long-distance vehicle and so an extra £700 was budgeted for parts, with the labour being on a DIY basis to keep the costs down.

Initial assessment pointed to a serious engine cooling problem, but that was easily fixed. Then there have been leaking fuel pipes, a leaky injector seal, inoperative handbrake, new camshaft and fuel pump drive belts, new differential mountings and a professional interior clean to add to the bill. But we’re still comfortably within budget, including the parts for these jobs...

To see Ed's previous features in this project, go to our How to section here.

 

The screen wipers on this machine didn’t work when I bought the car, but £120’s worth of new column switch had fixed that. And, naturally, with the car still in my workshop I tested the wipers by squirting screenwash onto the glass and watching them clear the screen. That’s not a good enough test.

I was lucky it hadn’t rained during the recent 360-mile round-trip to Britpart, which I flagged up as proof of this £300 car’s long distance reliability. The very next day I drove in torrential rain and high wind and the whole wiper system fell apart in about five minutes, knocking, banging, grinding and, to be honest, I could see more through the screen when I stopped the wipers than when they were running.

I turned and drove straight home to my workshop, lifted the bonnet and began digging down in the scuttle to find out how a simple wiper system could be so floppy and make such a racket. To reach the mechanism, the intake moulding (the black plastic trim under the windscreen) needs to be removed, after first detaching the wiper arms from their spindles. Replacing the wiper mechanism is a straightforward enough job, which begs the question of why so many botch repairs had been done in the past to keep this system wobbling on to the end.

 

Removing the wiper mechanism

Wiper arms: The wiper arm caps are prised off (using fine screwdriver in slot), and the securing nuts removed. With the wipers hinged up, the arms will wiggle off.

Easy to break:  Six plastic clips secure the intake moulding. Two fine screwdrivers are used to lift the inner pin slightly, allowing the whole clip to be removed.

How it works: Lifting that inner pin of the clip allows the three lower legs to fold in so the clip can be pulled out. Squeeze legs in when refitting later.

Left in place: This rubber bonnet seal is secured through the moulding with plastic clips that protrude through the scuttle flange, but the moulding lifts out with these still in place.

First sight: The forward edge of the moulding will now lift up from the scuttle, exposing the wiper motor and part of its linkage here on the driver’s side.

Best way: Because of its width, it’s a struggle to withdraw the moulding into the engine bay – easier to push it up the screen and withdraw it from the side.

Electrics: With the moulding clear, the wiper motor’s electrical plug is disconnected by pressing the release tab, then the harness is moved safely out of the scuttle.

Botched: When buying this car, I’d noticed this overlong stud poking out of the scuttle, but was too busy assessing the rest of the car to investigate then.

Wobbly: The rogue stud (with five nuts) was there to support the wiper motor. In reality, the motor plate was holding the stud in place – all very wobbly.

Released: With the rogue stud released, the wiper mechanism was now just held by two standard hex-head bolts, easily accessed with the 10mm socket.

Easy out: Wiper mechanism and motor is lifted out as a complete assembly. Rather than simply renew the mechanism, it’ll be important to understand how it had failed.

Cost saving: The electric motor will be saved for fitting to the new wiper linkage. Removing this single nut releases the crank arm, which is part of the linkage.

Motor off: Three 10mm AF bolts passing through the motor plate into the motor housing are removed, and the motor can be detached from the mechanism and cleaned for refitting.

 

Reasons for the failure

Well worn: The main problem was that the two joints attaching the operating rods to the wiper spindles had all but fallen apart with wear – there should be minimal play.

Evidence: Although these two inner joints (left) attaching the rods to the motor’s crank arm were okay, the nearby gouge showed the linkage had been rubbing against the bulkhead.


Past bodges: Previous owner’s plastic metal repair to the motor bracket had failed. The stud offered support, but no directional stability, allowing the linkage to contact and wear a hole through the scuttle panel.

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Field repair: The motor plate has, in the past, broken away from the mechanism and been subsequently secured with three self-tapping screws. This is probably when the main damage happened. It’s a ‘get you home’ repair.

 

Fitting the new linkage

The wiper linkages are in short supply. At the time, I could find only one in the UK and Europe so I snapped it up for £227 – that’s the price for just the linkage without the motor. Otherwise, they were obsolete as far as Land Rover was concerned and out of stock at JLR Classic Parts. At the time of writing, a few have appeared on the market priced between £64 (it’s probably gone by now) and £230. There’s a serious gap in the supply here – aftermarket manufacturers, please listen up.

Rarity: The new wiper linkage comes with new mounting rubbers and new wiper spindle seals, but no wiper arm securing nuts so the originals need to be saved.

Improvement: This bracket (modified from SIII part) will bolt to the scuttle, replacing the stud (Pic 8). It has a welded captive nut to accept the motor plate securing screw.

Testing: The wiper linkage is now test-fitted without the motor attached, to confirm the bolting position for the new bracket for the motor plate support mounting (arrowed).

Orientation: When refitting motor and connecting the linkage to the crank arm, the linkage is arranged this way to ensure the wiper arms set off in the correct direction.

Crank nut: To ensure the crank nut is tight on the motor shaft, the crank is held firm with one spanner while tightening the 13mm AF nut with another.

Simple refit: When all that was done, the motor and linkage assembly is simply laid in place on its three mountings, the three bolts inserted, and tightened down.

Another snag: When reconnecting the electrics I checked the wires and found the insulation to be damaged on one, because of contact with the worn mechanism...

Repair and protect: …so the wire was soldered, a shrink-sleeve fitted, and the complete harness was encased in conduit and secured clear of the mechanism, out of harm’s way.

 

Finishing off

From here it’s a simple matter of replacing everything in the reverse order of removal, while also renewing any broken plastic clips that secure the moulding to the bulkhead scuttle. In this case, the wiper blades needed replacement and one wiper arm with a weak spring was replaced. As the job is completed, there are a couple of points worth attending to.

Keep it dry: Base of the windscreen was cleaned to reduce water ingress past the intake moulding seal, and moisture-retaining leaves and debris were cleaned from the scuttle.

Stop the rust: Each air intake grille on the underside of the moulding is supported by a steel frame, so it’s worth applying a liquid grease to stop them rusting away.

 

Renewing the bonnet hinge covers

The £1000 budget for bringing this car into a reliable and usable condition was to be spent only on essential parts. But the bonnet hinge covers were letting the show down, so I splashed £70 on replacing them while the intake moulding was off to access the wiper mechanism.

Crumbling: Over the years, UV light had changed the composition of the rubberised hinge covers so much that bits broke away when they were lifted off.

Rubber pegs: The hinge covers are fixed to the intake moulding by rubber pegs through these holes. The pegs can be sliced off from the underside using a craft knife.

Cleaning up: The remnants of the old hinge covers are lifted off and the underside of the moulding cleaned smooth, and debris removed from the holes.

Push fit: Fitting the new covers is initially a matter of engaging the rubber pegs with the holes and then squeezing them gently in from the upper side, here.

Pull through: To lock the hinge cover into position, each peg is stretched through the hole with pliers until the larger diameter section passes through to expand and lock.

Final job: On the outside of each hinge cover are two rubber tongues that need to be carefully pressed downward to locate underneath the edge of the wing panel.

 

Coming up, in the final installment: Having already proved the car’s reliability, I’ll be expecting the final cost to be a whisker below my £1000 budget. Working against that is an upcoming MoT test. It isn’t due yet but, if it passes, it’ll be the final feather in the cap that qualifies the Freelander as a real road-going concern.

 

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