Well, folks, it happened again. My Discovery stranded me. You all laughed at me last week and said, “the content will write itself if you have a Land Rover.” Here we are. That strategy has certainly worked for other individuals, cough cough Doug Demuro, and well, maybe it’ll work for me. Keep reading my stories and we shall see.
This past Tuesday, while on a day off, my friends and I wanted to take a trip to visit an automotive museum. We decided on the Newport Car Museum in Portsmouth, Rhode Island. I live on Long Island, about 4 hours away. Before you jump to conclusions, no I absolutely did not take my Disco on the trip. I’m much smarter than that, I’d like to think. My friend drove us in his BMW X7, a much comfier and dare I say more reliable ride.
Anyway, before departing, I was meeting my friend at his house, about 25 minutes away from where I live. I elected to take my Disco. I figured she could use some love. She’d not been getting as much attention from me, as I was busy with class, midterms, family, and my two jobs. The vehicle drove beautifully to my friend’s house – suspiciously so. Hmmm.
I left the Disco in front of the house for the day, and we set sail to Newport. It was a fun trip. I saw a Porsche Carrera GT, BMW Isetta, blah blah blah. Cool cars, I guess.
We got home around 8:30 PM, and I decided to leave a bit early from my friend’s house. I was exhausted; I had to do some writing for three papers due this upcoming Tuesday – well, I still have to, oops, so I decided to hit the road.
Good thing I did, rather than at 2 AM. Not even one exit after entering the highway I heard a loud pop, like a confetti popper thing people use on New Year’s Eve. Initially, I dismissed it as a pothole, as we have a lot of those in New York. Boy oh boy was I wrong. I suddenly lost all power steering and the battery light came on – not fun when you’re traveling 65MPH in a an old, tippy box!
Then my motor overheated. Of course it did, because it’s a 22-year-old Land Rover. For those unfamiliar with these Discos and the Rover 4.0 Bosch V8, overheating is the kiss of death. The most common outcome of an overheat is blown head gaskets. The Discovery 2’s complicated thermostat bypass loop does not help, often warping the gaskets. Additionally, Land Rover recommends the use of Dexcool coolant which corrodes aluminum parts, such as the block and heads. Not to mention, to comply with emission standards, the Discovery 2’s 4.0 runs significantly hotter than it did in the earlier Discovery 1 but did nothing to rectify that. Nice going, Land Rover.
The illuminated dashboard engine temperature red light, “Rudolph’s Nose,” was shining nice and bright at me. I pulled over. This can’t be good, I thought. I was right, it wasn’t!
I immediately turned the Disco off and opened the hood. It was an absolute disaster. There were pieces of broken belt, cracked fan blades, broken plastics, and coolant everywhere. It smelled horrendous. Hoses were flung around like pool noodles. It was also smoking like an Irish chimney. Ouch. I was stranded!
Naturally I called Triple A who stated that my membership had expired two days ago. I was in disbelief; my card wasn’t automatically charged apparently?
While stuck on the side of the busiest highway on Long Island, at 10 PM, I had to dig my card out and read the number aloud in the dark to the melancholy Triple-A agent. But get this: Triple-A was unable to come to my location. Why? The parkway I was stuck on, for you Long Islanders, the Southern State, has low clearance overpasses deeming a Triple-A tow-truck ineligible for travel.
The agent said to me, essentially: “You’re on your kid. Crawl home if I care. Your fault for buying a Land Rover.” He didn’t say that, but he might as well have since my emotions were certainly messing with my coherence.
He connected me to the highway department, and they showed up within 10 minutes and were a cheaper tow than I expected. Who needs Triple A?
My Disco and I got towed home as I sat in the front seat with the tow-truck driver, who proceeded to list off all the other cars he had picked up that day. I had him dump the Land Rover in the street in front of my house. I immediately went to bed, after some expletives of course, and said something like, “I’ll deal with this sh*t in the morning.”
The next morning I popped the hood and did some examining in the daylight. Thank you Mr. Sun for shining nice and bright onto my engine bay so I could see that a failed pulley wreaked havoc on the engine compartment. Yikes! There were no prior warning signs of this destruction. Believe me, I wouldn’t have driven it if so.
I called my mechanic, Bart at Independent MotorCar of Smithtown, NY, and he sent a tow truck to pick up my Disco. I watched as my Disco got loaded onto a flatbed for the 10th time since I took delivery of it in July 2022. Yikes!
A few hours later Bart called me up and listed off everything that was broken and needed repair. He sent me pictures and laughed with me about my license plate, CREAKY.
Here’s what the shop replaced: serpentine belt, belt tensioner, two pulleys, throttle body hoses, coolant tank cap, fan, and fan blades.
Between the two tows, the collection of OEM parts, 4.5 hours of labor, and my mental sanity, my Disco set me back about $1500. Not too bad for an old self-destructive Land Rover, but certainly not what a college kid wants to spend his work paychecks on. Disclaimer: I would have loved to have tackled the project myself and learned from experience, but it’s tough when I’m out of the house from 8 am-8 pm every day at school and work. If anything goes wrong over the summer, or I should say, WHEN something goes wrong, I will be sure to start a wrenching series.
I picked up my Disco early Friday morning and parked it right in front of my house. That’s where it’ll rest indefinitely until I muster up the courage to drive it again. We’re in a fight right now; I’m mad at it. It’s scary driving a car that can blow up on you at any second!
So that was just another week of Land Rover ownership. What do you all think, should I sell it? Should I sell my Disco to another unassuming college kid or should I keep it around for a bit? You tell me. In the meantime, make me an offer. I’ll still want an NAS Land Rover Defender. Don’t we all…