FreeLander Head Gasket

I have set this site up to collect as much detail as possible from FreeLander Owners Experience of Head Gasket Failure with regularly serviced, pre 50,000 mile vehicles.

Our own experience is, our cherished 4.5 year old, 23k mile FreeLander, which has never been mistreated, just died one day, our local mechanic confirmed, head gasket failure or worse. After speaking to Land Rover (0800 5000 500), they directed me to take the car to Stratstone Land Rover (in W1), who would put in a post warranty claim, which we did, after one week after having told the service department 3 times that I left the service book in the tailgate, they swore that it was not there. I insisted it was, told them I had witnesses, and that if they did not find it by that evening, I would report the service book as stolen to our local Police. With in an hour I had a call back to say it had been found, some BS about it falling out the folder. a week further on, and after a lot of chasing later, I got a promise of 25% "ex-gratia" payment towards the labour costs (1100), and cost of parts. and it would take another week to repair. Well after discussions with Stratstone's MD, and us promising to pay whatever the cost was, as Land Rover had not at that time confirmed the offer. Stratsone's started work, we collected it 7 days later. and all seems fine for now.

Our bill from Stratstone came to 675.10 in total including the discount. it took nearly a month, dozens of phone calls.

If I'd listened to my local mechanic, and just given it to him to do, it would have taken a couple of days, and cost no more than 600. but it was implied by Land Rover that if I went through the official channel, we would have been fully covered.

In a year since this has happened, we have had 3 clutches including slave cylinders, luckily we only paid for the one, CB Motors of Golders Green that installed it honoured their guarantee and replaced it, when that didn't work, they took it back to landrover as they supplied the parts and got them to do it. Its still not quite right. looks like faulty clutches are another issue.

An Australian users story here, and his taking action with the ACCC

A FreeLander protest forum

I cant really help much I am afraid (not a solicitor or mechanic), but I feel a great sense of justice knowing that what Stratstones and Landrover have done has not gone un-noticed, and that after 2 years of this website being "up" it has received 10's of thousands of hits. When I had an angry director from Stratstone's calling to demand I pull the website, I knew I was getting some justice, that was only a few weeks after the site went live.

So email your stories or other interesting links regarding complaints about Land Rovers handling of this obvious design fault, and i will gladly publish. Any stories may be published, unless we are asked specifically not to, requests for anonymity will be respected.

I got a little mention here in AutoExpress that someone was kind enough to email me, if you know of any others, please let me know

to marc @ (remove the spaces in the email address)


Here are the most recent stories emailed to me:-
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Hi Marc 15/1/2007

Not sure if you still doing this but:

I have a Freelander Y Reg 1.8 Petrol (48,000 miles) and coming home it became very sluggish - I have an excellent mobile mechanic who came to look at it and YES the head gasket had blown, it only cost me 170 to have it repaired, but now very worried after reading your site.

2 weeks after having the work done I now have a problem with the TC, ABS and hill descent warning lights coming on. Took it to one auto electric garage but their computer can not get into the computer in the Freelander - so off to another one - LandRover garage will be the last resort.

Keep up the good work


Hi 8/1/2007

I live in Guernsey, Channel Islands and when my Head Gasket went in 2004 found out that approx 80 other vehicles in Guernsey alone had had the same problem. Any way after lots of phone calls and standing my ground Landrover paid for new engine except I had to pay for new belts and air filters because they were consumables!!!!

Any way 2 years 2 months and guess what losing water and it has oil in it - I am about to start the long struggle to try and get things sorted.

Havent used the local Landrover dealer since it was out of warranty as their charges and service are horrendous. So here goes again - wish me luck.



Hi Marc, 8/1/2007

I have the misfortune to own a 2001 Freelander with 32,000 miles on the clock - it also has a full Landrover service history from new. Last week the engine started misfiring and eventually stalled - on restarting the engine I filled the entire street with billowing blue smoke. It has now been confirmed that the head gasket has blown plus other associated damage - basically the engine needs replacing.
Given the resale value of this trashy car I have taken the difficult decision of having the car towed to the nearest breakers yard where it will be in good company. I will not waste my time contacting Landrover for compensation but will do my utmost to trash the name of Landrover to anybody who cares to listen.The K series engine appears to have a life span similar to a 1920's model T ford - well done Landrover for their impressive advance in engine technology !

Yours disgusted

Paul Tye

Hi  7/1/2007

Just found your website whilst googling for ideas on how to tackle my landrover dealer in the morning! My 1.8 freelander (03) with 20,012 miles on the clock has just broken down - yes, head gasket gone! I am so cross, it went for a service on 22 December everything fine, I have had it for less than 2 years and only done 7,000 miles in it! Any tips on how to approach them when I ring in the morning? I am the second owner and my years warranty has expired.

Sally Loftus



Marc, 10/05/2006

As you will have gathered I am another Freelander owner which has blown its head gasket.
From the moment the recovery person picked me up i was informed of the dreaded K series engine.( I am not mechanically inclined and as such was oblivious to this problem).

I  opted to have the car taken to my local garage where I know the work will be carried out properly and at a fair price - although it is still going to be expensive.

Reading the horror stories on your site and other forums it appears that i have done the right thing in taking to my local garage rather than a LandRover dealer who will charge me a much more inflated price.
Can you give me any numbers at LandRover where i can still make a complaint and see it i can get any financial assistance from them as this appears to be a common fault rather than a one off.  The car s a 2001 Y plate with 43000 mile. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Dear Marc 20/12/2006

Just looked up your excellent website and yes this is another sad story.

I purchased my W reg 1.8 petrol freeleander 3 years ago for 10,600 with 45,000 on the clock from Green Lane Landrover in Gloucester. Within 2 months the IRD bracket and head gasket had gone, fortunately the one year warranty covered the full replacement.

2 weeks ago (Dec 2006) I spent 300 on a service and MOT which the car failed due to a ball joint and some bushes needing replacement. The dealer assured me that the car would be OK to drive to Gatwick and back, and booked the car in for the work the following week. To my annoyance the car would not start on my return to Gatwick a week later, the fault was tracking in the distributor cap, despite the service (the dealer explained this item is not checked as they just wait for it to fail then replace it). On the way home the recovery vehicle driver stated that the head gasket on these engines fail every 45,000 miles. When the booked work was completed on the car in mid December at a cost of 1600 (including a new heater matrix) I asked for a quote for a year's insurance, the dealer wanted 625, I asked about the head gasket and was told that it was not likely to fail again as the fault had been fixed. Two weeks later after I had decided to decline the insurance the head gasket failed leaving me with a prospective bill of over 800. Green Lane Landrovers say they will refer this to Landrover in the hope that I may get a contribution to the costs and that a new improved head gasket is now available in the last few months (that was what they told me last time)

I like the car as it feels solid and comfortable to drive, and would be reluctant to sell it with 103,000 on the clock ( without looking up the prices, I doubt I would get more than 4500 for it) making it a rather expensive 3 year's driving. I would never buy another landrover, despite enjoying driving it, on the basis of my experience. So what do I do sell it now and hope to limit my losses, or keep it and run it into the ground?

Regards Mike Machnicki

and later

Marc 5/1/2006

Further to our discussion, I thought you maybe interested in the outcome

I have had the work done on the car as there was no alternative, the cost came to 1700 including a new cylinder head and bolts + a few other bits. I paid 21 + VAT for a cam belt tensioner which was not part of the original head gasket problem, but a worn part which may have caused further problems at a later stage. Landrover agreed to pay 100% of the bill (god only knows why - looking at the response your contributors have had) and the work is guaranteed for one year by Landrover.

The sad part of the story is that the car is only worth 1500 and Honda CRV or equivalent would cost about 4000 from a garage so it will not be cost effective to replace the car, even if I have to pay for replacement clutch etc. in the next year.

I still feel that 3000 pa depreciation on a car like this is excessive. If I can manage to keep it another year without spending excessively on repairs the depreciation will come down to 2200 pa

Regards Mike


Hi Marc 28/12/2006

Just noticed your site and would like to contribute.

My 2004 HSE Freelander has been back with Land Rover (Hunters, Frosts, Starstones, Guy Salmon, Jack Willis London) for over 85 days since the 30th April this year. It has been recovered 5 times from the motorway, once from the outside lane. The main trouble is the tranmission and gear box, combined with Land Rover's in ability to to fix the problem. My complaint is being handled by Terry Hill, Director of Customer Service for Land Rover UK, and his Head of Service Brett Phillips. If I pass you there contact details, would you be prepared to publish them on your website, or could you let me have a list of those who have contributed to your website so I can email them there details should they wish to pursue a claim for actual financial loss etc.?

Also I would be happy to let you have a copy of Land Rover UK's technical report which clear states (by their Head of Engineering) that the vecvhile is unsatisfactory to drive, despite Land Rover having had it 80+ days since 30th April this year.

Please feel free to ring me if you would like to discuss further.


Patrick Nicholas

Hi Marc,

Nothing unusual with my situation in that the head gasket went at 49750 miles and Guy Salmon Land Rover are telling me the cost is 2500 to replace the engine with a reconditioned one. What absolutely flabbergasts me is the fact that the service history is 100%, and it was last serviced only 3 months ago, and yet the dealership is stating that Landrover will not cover/contribute towards the costs, because I'm not the original owner - what difference does that make? I would like to know who I can speak to regarding this problem, as I'm sure you're aware, this is not an acceptable situation.

many thanks for your consideration



Hi Marc, 28/12/2006

I just found your website in relation to this awful Freelanders and thought I would also like to have a winge!!!!
I'm in Australia and spent pretty much all my savings to buy a greta car that I could take off-road and have some real fun with. It's a 2000 model, 1.8 engine.... say no more!!!!
I bought it in 2004, it had really low mileage (now I wonder why!!!). Later that year, surprise surprise... the head gasket went. I had it reapaired and stupidly believed that it would now be ok.
Same year.... head gasket went a second time!!!!
Ok, must be ok now........
This year.... total engine failure. It's now sitting 3 hours from my home and I'm told I need a new engine. Not only do I have to pay an astronomical amount to get it home, but I'm looking at an extortinate amount of money to put in a  new engine, which I'm advised will no doubt fail in the future anyway.
Landrover.... never again!!!!
Can you let me know of any class actions that might be going ahead. I am willing to do whatever it takes to make Landrover be accountable for all the millions they must have cost the public.
Thanks for your website,
Leah Manning.


Hi Marc, 15/12/2006
Heres my story of how to loose thousands of pounds in two years, i purchased 1.8 freelander w reg in 2003 cost 8000.00. with 59,000 on clock, after six months the head gasket went, landrover didnt want to know because by the time the engine went it had done 62,000 miles,even though not
5 years old, cost of repair 1025.00, by the way the 25.00 was for a puncture repair i didnt ask the garage to repair.
a month later i noticed oil in the water header tank, I took the car back to the garage and they said and i quote ( yes you always get that when the head gasket has been changed ) Its not a problem they said. Okay i said How much will you give me for it against a newer onem 6500 trade against a 2001 <Priced at 8500.Okay but what about the problem with engine on the new vehicle. You wont have a problem he said this is a NEW Type ENGINE, all the old problems have been sorted.
Okay i thought its one way to get rid of the car with the oil in the water,and i get i newer better model.
What a mistake i made, My new freelander on a Y plate had only done 16,000 miles when i bought it,at 24,000 it needed the clutch master and slave cylinders 30,000 miles one of the front drop arms replaced.and the drivers door window winder i think that cost me around 250.00 34,000 miles, clutch went. so they put a new clutch in 366.00 paid when i went to reverse the car out of the workshop i could,nt get any gears.sounds like your clutch and slave cylinder pipe needs replacing,You can imagine my choice of words, they relaced the pipe and cylinders FOC.36,000 miles the Stainless steel part of the manifold snapped completly , new part was 400, or he could save me some money and try and have it welded. okay weld it i said.
that cost me another 200.All this plus regular service bills and new tyresthis vehicle has cost me 1,200 or more just to keep it on the road,

cost price 8500 plus 1200 in repairs total 9,700 So i thought lets see what trade in i get 3,700.00 a loss of 6,000 in two years.

when i look at other 4X4s they are still 6000-8000 to buy with more miles on clock.

and guess what. i have just noticed the damn thing is starting to loose water.
I went for what i believed to be a good british name with years of experience behind them, but i have been let down like so many others.

I dont think i will ever buy a british vehicle again.

Hope you add this to your site , it might make other owners of freelanders feel a little bit better.

Mark Greenhalgh

just come across your freelander site made good reading but nothing suprising i work in an engineering shop and freelanders are regular visitors as are all rover k series engined vehicles. i dont have an issue with k series motors when they are in rover 200s or elises but what a stupid idea it is to put an 1800 engine in a big chunk like a freelander or rover 75.
75s are just grief and we do not do any engine work on the k series variant as they never worked from the start. we do alot of freelanders and when weve done them they right. the reason for this email is to offer a little advice for your site. when anybody has a head gasket fitted or a recon engine fitted ALWAYS insist on a payen head gasket (its the only one that works) a new radiator, thermostat (the big Y shaped housing), water pump and a new header tank cap. if these are fitted correctly and the head has been skimmed flat the vehicle should be good for a couple of years. hope you can put this info on your site to help the people out there and keep the land rover dealers on their toes

Derek Lawson

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