Sterlin’s Service History

Before the trip started Sterlin was checked over by Philippe our local Land Rover mechanic. Philippe had competed all of our major repairs and we certainly trust him with Sterlin. Before we set off, he wanted to have one final look over Sterlin. Nothing was found.Land Rover has a pretty good service network throughout the world, and the plan was to tap into this network while we travelled. It is always a good idea to keep a close eye and ear on unusual sights and sounds. But any work would be done by mechanics, ideally Land Rover trained mechanics. This blog post lists the work we had done during our trip

Thursday, October 10, 2013. 169,534 kms

Fremantle, Western Australia

This was our first planned service. We also had a small transfer case leak which had developed a week before this service. As part of the service Sterlin got new engine oil, oil filter, air filter and a little surprisingly two new brass plugs for the front and rear diffs. There were no issues found and the fluids were not even topped up. In fact the owner of the indy shop declared that our car is in “immaculate” condition. High praise indeed.

The transfer case leak was determined to be too minor to worry about. So no repair was completed and I continued to worry.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014. 169,534 kms

Chang Mai, Thailand

This was our first unplanned service. The right rear brake had developed a squeal during light braking. Probably not a safety issue but very annoying and best to have it checked out. The brake pads had some wear but were not ready for replacement. Both rear rotors had some grooves and these were quickly removed with some grinding. In America we would have got replacement rotors, but this is Thailand after all.

The mechanic also checked the transfer case for signs of leakage and the oil level. No problems found. The transfer case leak seems to have fixed itself.

Wednesday, March 28, 2014. 185,387 kms

Vientaine, Laos

This was our second planned service. A little late maybe, but we wanted to do the service immediatley prior to travelling through China where it is probably harder to do. There are no authorized service centers and we are on a bit of a schedule making it hard to stop to fix things. We also had a very good feeling about the expertise of the Land Rover garage here in Laos and did not get the same warm fuzzy feeling while in Cambodia.

The service consisted of an inspection of the fluid levels and brakes as well as new consumables like engine oil, oil filter and a much needed air filter (the roads have been very dusty lately). In addition to the regular service items, the following was completed.

  • Rear Vision Mirror was loose and needed to be more securely attached (somehow).
  • Rear brake pads were starting to get low and decided to replace them a little early. They probably had another 3,000 kms left on them. The garage performed a safety check on the brakes using their equipment.
  • Check for coolant leaks. None found.
  • And my favourite, check for oil leaks and oil level of the transfer case. No signs of oil leaks and the oil level was just fine.

We supplied spare oil filter, air filter and rear pads that we purchased the previous month in Belgium and the garage used these. Turns out however, the garage probably had the parts (or could get them quickly from Thailand). We also found out that there is indeed a service center in Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia owned by the same group. Good to know.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014. 186,775 kms

Luang Prabang, Laos

This was our second unplanned service. A few days earlier Sterlin had developed a terrible vibration at low speed. The vibration was so bad, Sterlin was not drivable. A very close inspection of the Universal Joints on the front prop shaft revealed a potential issue. It was really hard to see, but something didn’t quite look right. And if it was the Universal Joints, then all the advice is not to drive the car until this is repaired. Stephen tried to remove the prop shaft to have a closer look, but that proved to be difficult as the bolts would not budge. Finally Sterlin was towed to a local mechanic where the prop shaft was removed and the Universal Joints were inspected, greased and the prop shaft returned to service. The whole process including the tow took less than 2 hours. And although Sterlin seemed to be running fine after this work, the concern was that there was still some issue that the new grease was hiding.

New Universal Joints were on order from Australia and at least we would have these should the problem return.

Monday, May 5, 2014. 190,850 kms

Xī’ān, China

This was our third unplanned service. The replacement Universal Joints had finally arrived after a small journey around South east Asia and China. Stephen consulted with other members of the China convoy on the pros and cons of either a) fitting the replacement parts or b) waiting to see if the old part would fail, and if they did, make the repair then. In the end the pros of option a) won the day, so Stephen headed straight to the Land Rover garage to get the replacement parts fitted.

After 5 hours the mechanics still had not managed to install the new parts so Sterlin stayed overnight in the garage. The following morning he was all fixed up and back in good form. After a good look at the Universal Joints removed from Sterlin, it was easy to see significant wear on one of the four bearing ports. The decision to make the repair early was clearly the right one.

The decision to replace the parts pro-actively was made for the following reasons:-

  • A field repair would certainly be more difficult to complete than a repair carried out in a garage by mechanics.
  • Although we believed we had ordered the right replacements parts (based on Land Rover part numbers), it is only certain that they are right ones once they have been fitted. It would be quite possible and very terrible to carry spare parts thinking that they are the right ones only to find out later that they were not quite right once things go to custard.
  • A window existed where we could get the repair completed without impacting our travel schedule. If we needed to make the repair after a failure, it might happen at an inconvenient time and place that might also impact our travel schedule.
Monday, May 19, 2014. 193,318 kms

Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia

This was our forth unplanned service. While driving through China the onboard diagnostics told us that we had a potential misfire issue on clyinder 7. Well that was 1,600 kms ago and the issue has not been reported by the car’s electronics since. We suspecte the issue was with the spark plugs and maybe exotic South East Asian fuel. The hope was the Land Rover service center would be able to probe deeper into the car’s electronics to find out what was really happening. And while Sterlin was in the garage, we thought it best to have a full inspection as well given we are about to go into the Mongolian back country.

There was some buildup on the spark plugs, but nothing too bad. Not good either. The decision was made to fit new plugs. The inspection revealed two other issues. The passengers side exhaust manifold connection to the rest of the exhaust system had a faulty nut. Very similar to the problem on the drivers side. Just a few minutes to find a replacement nut and fit it. The second issue could have been very serious had it not been spotted and corrected. The engine drain plug had oil leaking from it. Turned out the plug was loose. If it had come undone while driving, all of the engine oil would have drained in seconds and Sterlin would be in serious trouble. This was fixed in less than a minute.

Overall very happy that we had this unplanned service.

Friday, June 20, 2014. 198,549 kms

Almaty, Kazakhstan

This was our third planned service. We had read good things on the Internet about the Land Rover garages in Kazakhstan, and we weren’t disappointed. The Land Rover garage can also be found on Google maps as Caspian Motors. The location is Suyunbay Ave 15, Almaty (or  N43.273263° and E76.950101°).

The service was typical, new oil and oil filter and replace the air filter. They also did a check of the suspension, brakes, lights and other fluid levels. We supplied the oil filter and air filter and the garage supplied the oil. Again, they did not have the parts. No issues found.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014. 209,558 kms

Gent, Belgium

This was our forth and final planned service. We had the service completed at the Land rover garage located in Gent. The service and repairs only took 2 hours!

The service was typical, new oil and oil filter and replace the air filter. They also did a quick safety check of the suspension, brakes, lights and other fluid levels. There was one little issue with a coolant leak from the throttle body de-icing unit that was remedied by disconnecting the coolant hoses and by-passing the leaking gasket. A small oil has also developed, but being a Land Rover that is to be expected. And the best news, no issues found.

Next planned service at 222,000kms or 138,000 miles.