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Land Rover Freelander 1 Transmission Components


The Freelander 1 has a fairly simple four wheel drive transmission system which, if looked after, can last and perform very well. There is the usual gearbox and front driveshafts, and Intermediate Reduction Drive (IRD) which feed power to a propshaft and then to the rear wheels via a differential. Centrally positioned in the propshaft is the Viscous Coupling Unit (VCU) and a pair of bearings.


Often due to the age and use of these vehicles the drive train can be ignored until it breaks !


Regular attention to tyre wear (fit four new tyres together) and tests (which can be done non-invasively) to the Viscous Coupling Unit will identify weak or worn components and prevent damage. In worst cases the IRD and / or rear differential can smash under the load generated by a failed VCU.


Again, due to the cost of repair, you may find the whole propshaft and VCU has been removed from a vehicle to prevent repair costs. This leaves the vehicle in two wheel drive and can be unstable on the road.


Replacement IRDs, Differentials and VCU / Bearings are all expensive items (costing up to and above the value of the car) and so testing and replacement with tested second hand parts can be very cost effective.


Notable differences across the vehicles include:

  • KV6 engine only supplied with a Jatco automatic transmission. The IRD and VCU are also different items to the rest of the vehicles.

  • 1.8 K series only supplied with a manual transmission.

  • Change in driveshaft design in 2002 (VIN 2A*** onwards) - easily spotted as the early ones use a reluctance ring (a metal ring with gaps in) for the Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) and the later ones utilise a different design of wheel bearing with magnets on which influence the ABS sensor and so no reluctance ring is fitted.

Regular fluid checks and changes enhance performance and extend component life.

If the car feels 'tight' on full lock, particularly when reversing, get the VCU checked before the secondary damage occurs and triples the repair bill !

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