Trim and proper


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08 December 2023
First on the list was sound insulation : credit: © Steve Miller
Steve adds sound deadening and storage to his Defender

I recently celebrated two years of owning my Td5 Defender 90, but in that time a few jobs have been languishing on the list of things that needed doing it. They include tired suspension and a noisy spigot bush, which in turn would necessitate the removal of the gearbox. Both big jobs that would have to wait. But in the meantime, what can I do to improve my 90 at home?

It is no secret that a base-spec 90 such as this is, well, basic. The spartan,
no-nonsense interior is all part of the ‘charm’. That said, day to day – and I do like to use it – it gets a bit wearing; the constant drumming from bare alloy panels, the sloshing from under the rear wheelarches on wet roads. All in all, it is not that pleasant. Besides, my ‘farm-spec’ motor doesn’t even have a radio – and if it did, I would need some decent speakers to hear it! It is time, I feel, to finally modernise things a tad.

Dodo Mat’s 4x4 kit is supplied on cut-to-shape self-adhesive sheet

It all kicks off with sound insulation. A quick search online gets me on to Dodo Mat. My mate, Pete, had used the same in his 110 and he said it has made a real difference. Dodo Mat supplies loads of different kits; I opt for its 4x4 kit, made up of an initial ‘Deadn’ layer – a synthetic Butyl core with a diamond foil-like outer, which is supplied on a cut-to-shape, self-adhesive sheet. This layer is followed by a 6mm thick dense foam rubber, which further enhances sound insulation and helps keep heat out. The kit I bought, which is a suitable size for the 90, comes in at £169.99 delivered, which seems reasonable to me.

Fitting it is straightforward; measure the area you’d like to cover, mark the shape of what you want to cut and follow the lines that are pre-printed on the backing paper. I used an old pair of kitchen scissors rather than a craft knife, but either would suffice. I know you don’t necessarily need to cover the entire panel to benefit from the sound deadening, but as the kit included enough for the project, I thought I may as well go to the edges.

Foam boosts sound insulation and helps keep heat out

It was rather interesting to see, when fitting the first Deadn layer to the inside of the van sides, how much heat built up as the sun was directly shining on the outside. So much so, it was almost too hot to touch. All this was resolved when I fitted the second layer – the foam sheet.

I’m expecting the Defender to be cooler in the summer, and warmer in the winter having now lined the entire rear section. I’ll leave the roof panels for now, as I need to work out if I can fit a headliner in the rear half without Alpine light windows – all the headliners I’ve seen come pre-cut with these window apertures, which my 90 doesn’t have.

The test, for me, was tapping the van sides on the outside before and after the fitting – afterwards you get a reassuring thud and no vibration. I had downloaded an app on my phone which records decibels, and on a drive I was getting an average of 78 decibels before the soundproofing work commenced, so will update you in the future when everything is all back together and the interior upgrade is finished.

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Steve gets busy fitting the Mud UK side panels

Following on with the interior refurb, I wanted to line the insides of the van panels with some quality trim. I soon found myself on Perusing its interior trim section, I ordered a pair of side panel trims with the optional extra side nets, a pair of rear quarter panels and two speaker pods which fit directly below (I do intend fitting a radio in the future – especially now I might actually hear it). Lastly, I removed the battered old grey rear door trim panel, which was long past its best, and replaced this with a new one, again with storage net. You can never have too much interior storage in a Defender…

Sound insulation covers the floor as well as the sides of Steve's 90’s loadspace

There is little point in me showing you how to fit all the trims here; the colour instructions supplied in the kit by Mud UK are so comprehensive, they make the task at hand very straightforward. You just need to take your time ensuring everything fits flush before drilling any holes, then it’s a matter of using the fitting kit to secure it all in place. It’s a very rewarding job – and an oil-free one at that.

Genuine Land Rover rear floor mat alongside Mud UK trim panels complete the rear section nicely

I think the interior transformation speaks for itself and, topped off with a genuine Land Rover rear load mat, that’s the rear section of the 90 completed. I have more than enough Dodo Mat left over for the front half of the cabin which I will tackle next, and I look forward to an even quieter drive afterwards. Well, until I buy a stereo system, that is!


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