I always find it interesting when talking to other Land Rover owners, especially when it comes to vehicle maintenance, breaking down and general reliability. Although I appreciate some enthusiasts are less mechanically able than others, no matter what your level of technical ability it's important to realise if and when your Land Rover needs attention.
I recall one of a few instances of this from my main dealer days. A gentleman brought his newly purchased 2005 Sport in, for us to give a once-over and report any work that needed doing or would need doing in the future. The Range Rover in question had quite some cosmetic 'upgrades', including but not limited to faux chrome door handle covers, 22" alloy wheels, red-painted callipers and additional ‘Supercharged’ badges (despite the car being a TDV6 model).
I was allocated the job, and went to bring the vehicle in to start the inspection on the ramp. The first thing I noticed was the brake pedal action- it'd travel almost all the way to the floor before actually doing anything. The second thing was the absolutely terrible graunching noise at low speed when maneuvering.
Raising the Sport on the ramp and 'wheels-free'-ing it immediately showed why. Both front hub bearings were totally destroyed, allowing the wheels and brake discs to move excessively- to the point where the nearside disc had actually tilted enough to wear a ridge in the calliper carrier. This was the tip of the iceberg for this neglected Sport; almost all the suspension bushes and balljoints needed replacing, the rear ACE bar leaked, air suspension compressor bracket was broken among other fairly major faults.
Now, if a customer wants to pay for a thorough inspection in dealer, it's generally a more in-depth examination than the 'visual health check' the car would get for free as part of a service or warranty job. This means picking up smaller non-safety related items such as paint and bodywork blemishes, interior trim wear, scuffed alloy wheels etc. On this occasion I noted the 'Range Rover' bonnet lettering had started to peel in places, so noted it down on the checklist with all the other work, which I then forwarded to the parts department after I finished the inspection.
The service receptionist rang the customer, strongly advising them not to pick the Sport up and to either have the (quite extensive) remedial work carried out a or to have the car recovered if they wanted to have the jobs done elsewhere. Hours passed, and the gentleman came into dealer where he was adamant he was going to have his friend collect the car on his trailer and they would book the work in at a less expensive garage. Payment and keys changed hands, and the customer was then seen driving his car off down the road, against everyone's advice.
I suppose what I'm getting at is vigilance and awareness of what your Land Rover's trying to tell you. If you notice a new noise or quirk, don't just ignore it or turn the radio up. Ask yourself if you've done anything different leading up to the event and if you're up to date on servicing, and don't treat the annual MOT test like a guarantee that your vehicle's good for another year. As an ex-tester, I've had to pass and advise cars that I know will be unroadworthy in a few months time due to brake, tyre or suspension wear. The MOT test is a test of the vehicle's condition on the day. You can strongly advise work, even be quite assertive with the customer, but they are under no obligation to the garage to get the remedial fixes done.
Listen to your Land Rover and question changes to how it drives, feels or sounds. If you don't know why, take it to someone who might- because longevity, and more importantly safety of yourself and other road users depends on it.
Oh, and the parts department received a phone call later that same afternoon asking for the bonnet letters to be ordered in.