Land Rover Freelander

Power steering rack bolts shearing off

The Land Rover Freelander power steering bolt shearing issue
HAVE HAD TWO NEW REPORTS OF THIS PROBLEM, ONE ON THE 3RD, AND ONE ON THE 5TH OF JANUARY 2013. VEHICLES WERE 03 AND 05 PLATES. THIS PROBLEM IS BECOMING MORE COMMON. READ-ON.

There appears to be an uncommon but serious issue with the Land Rover Freelander power steering rack bolts. According to the Vehicle Safety Branch of Vosa there have been numerous reports of this, and vehicles with an (02) plate are in the middle in terms of vehicle age of all the reports.

This fault appears to be a manufacturers defect. The official line from Land Rover is, we cannot comment unless the vehicle is taken to one of our dealerships for inspection to diagnose the problem, and on phoning Land Rover I could not get beyond this despite googling similar reports on the internet, and reports where Land Rover had fixed the problem.

I found out from Vosa's Vehicle Safety Branch after phoning Land Rover that they had numerous reports of the power steering rack bolts shearing. I was also made aware that Land Rover knew about the problem and have know for many years, at least 7.

No recall has been done to correct the issue infact I've been told no-one knows what causes it; Land Rover have not even contacted registered owners to tell them of the problem or issue owners with new bolts.

My gripe with Land Rover is two fold. Firstly are they waiting for a fatal accident to occur before they act; and secondly when this fault happens, fairly obvious when you see the rack detached from the car, why do they say take to the local dealership for diagnosis. I must argue they already know of the fault and it does not need diagnosis. In stating the vehicle must be recovered, inspected and diagnosed by a Land Rover dealership would seem to be creating a bit of a monopoly on correcting the fault. This policy should be reported to trading standards, and especially because Land Rover know about the fault and have the ability to supply owners who ring them with details of a fix so that owners can get their vehicles fixed by trained professionals in their area, especially when dealerships are many miles away. The cost of recovery, dealership inspection and dealership repair may prohibit people from getting their vehicle fixed. The cost of local repair potentially being far cheaper. However, the fault is uncommon and few garages are aware of it, so there is a need for Land Rover to make information available to people.

I don't want to be alarmist but the fault seriously affects the drvers ability to steer the vehicle. It happenen to me whilst pulling off from a parked position, so at 1-2mph. However, should this fault happen when driving down bendy country lanes of A roads, or on high speed cornering, the rack bolts sheering could potentially be catastrophic for the driver and anyone in the car.

There is therefore an obvious need to report this issue if only to try and get Land Rover to help the owners of what they will deem old stock. The two bolts holding the power steering rack are huge and should not break in a lifetime, but they do and it can happen to anyone at any time.

I feel this issue needs serious investigation by a professional journalist. I feel VOSA Vehicle Safety Branch could do a little more, they do not deem the fault as critical, but I would say it was very borderline. Trading standards need to look at the issues relating to current Land Rover policy. I don't want to be too critical of the VOSA Vehicle Safety Branch, for they have been absolutely brilliant and I have been able to discuss this problem extensively with them and they were able to contact Land Rover technicians on my behalf.

The saga goes on and still looking to get the car fixed nearly a week on.

16.11.12.

In addition to the above I have to add here that awareness is the key; whilst the problem is not reguarded by VOSA as a critical issue, potentially it is. I did hear a noise on pulling away and the sound sounded very much like a brake sticking. I then continued to drive and go about my business not knowing the severity of the problem. The problem isn't of course noticable when driving in a straight line and I only noticed a problem on driving round a roundabout six miles away. I had already been round three roundabouts. Because of the handling issues if you are driving and don't know this has happened you will be at serious risk because of understeer and oversteer on cornering and constant adjustments will be needed to compensate. I would say cornering above 30mph would be vertually impossible without incident!

Have heard reports that the vehicle is still drivable when the two bolts sheer as the power steering rack is held on at the other end by a bracket. The bolts holding the bracket look similar to the ones that break, so I guess cannot be trusted either. Driving may also damage and cause adverse wear to the steering column.

My Freelander is finally fixed - 02.12.12
It took three days in total and wasn't without complications. Overall cost wasn't £100 as I was quoted, but £390, apparently due to corroded powersteering pipe replacement. Not needed just before Christmas.

Anyway that said, it was determined by the garage owner that the bolts on the car were probably under torked. The garage owner cut out a section of the bulkhead that housed the nuts, apparently he also found stress fractures in the bulkhead (something I never saw on inspecting the inside of the footwell where the nuts were housed), it was said under torked bolts would cause this.

Anyway I paid the money and the car was delivered back to me. Garage brought the car back and put the keys through the wrong door so knew they'd been but didn't know where the keys were. Found out where and fortunately got the keys back the following day. The car now appears to be OK.

On the day I got the car back I received a letter from Land Rover saying if I needed further assistance to contact them, I did. I put several points across to them about their policy regarding this issue, not that my conversation would change their mind about the information they give me or persuade them to compensate me, or partially compensate me for what has happened, however I did manage to get a 'I UNDERSTAND' from them which is more than I got last time. I told Land Rover I'd continue to alert people about the issue on the internet through my website, and advise people to contact VOSA, as if a more serious incident is reported VOSA might take some action to resolve the issue.

Land Rover must understand that in saying cars must be recovered and sent to a Land Rover dealership for inspection, that -

1/ Not everyone lives near a Land Rover dealership and recovery to a dealership and the cost of inspection might prevent people fixing there car because of the higher costs involved. This may leave people isolated and helpless. It's also creating a monopoly and a potential trading standards issue.

2/ Because of the the stance by Land Rover people may be forced to drive vehicles that shouldn't be driven, and this could very easily lead to a serious accident occurring. Driving a Freelander with the rack not secured properly creates serious understeer and oversteer on cornering.

Land Rover are definately not interested in vehicles over 3 years old or serious faults with them. Why VOSA can speak to them and find out the fix from their technicians, and I cannot is beyond me. Land Rover know the problem and how common and serious it is, know what the fix is, yet do not report it. I love my Land Rover but are left with very serious misgivings about the company. Land Rover cannot be trusted and I am left here having to wait to hear of a serious incident involving a Freelander who's power steering suddenly fails. Only then might there be something eventually done, as the problem has been known about for at least since 2005 from what I have seen reported. The problem really needs to be investigated by the press as only then will we know the full extent of the issue, it might not be common, BUT, can happen to anyone, at any time.

Land Rover Freelander Power steering rack bolts sheering snap repair fault issue