What to Look Out for When Buying a Classic Defender?

What to Look Out for When Buying a Classic Defender?

When it comes to purchasing a classic Defender, there are key factors to consider, and at Manor Automotive, we're the experts. With our extensive experience, having worked on lots of classic Defenders in all conditions, we know what to look out for. Whether it's mechanical integrity, bodywork concerns, or historical significance, we’ve put together some potential pain points to look out for when taking the leap into a Defender.

Firstly, which engine type?

Engines available: 200 TDi, 300 TDi, TD5, Puma 2.4/2.2 TDCI Ford engine.

From past experience the older 200/300 models have been bomb proof and we’ve seen many examples come through the workshop with well over 250k miles on.

TD5 and Puma engines are the more refined versions but each come with their own niggles.

TD5 engine oil runs back to the ECU causing major issues. (regular injector harness replacements can prevent this).

Pumas have been known to have timing chain issues/injector issues and oil pump failure, like any car with good maintenance this can also be prevented.

What condition is the chassis in?

Has it been launching boats into the sea? Surface rust never been wax oiled or treated? Or in some instances covered heavily in wax oil prior to sale to hide either poor welding or rust? We always recommend getting underneath the Defender with a torch and giving it a good inspection, you’ll be amazed what even the untrained eye can spot when it’s got a problem.


What condition is the bulk head in?

These are prone to rusting due to the thin sheet metal and poorly treated prior to paint, foot wells included. Sometimes blistering can be a sign of filler which often indicates a cheap repair.

Pulling back the interior matts will give you a good indication of bulk head condition, look for bubbles and blistering on the exterior for signs of patching and repairs.


What condition are the doors in?

The frames are prone to rusting to the point where they need replacing and these can be costly? Checking the door bottoms are solid is a good start. Sometimes you can see blistering through the door skin itself as well which is a good indicator.


Does the vehicle have good service history? Clutch replacement or timing belt replacement etc. Due to the nature of the work most Landies have endured throughout their lives, service history often falls by the wayside – but always ask the seller the question.

Doing a quick search on https://www.gov.uk/check-mot-history using the vehicle reg will give you an idea of previous MOT history and any issues that may have arisen. We certainly recommend spending the time and going through year to year.

Need help or advice with your purchase? Get in touch with the team

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