Rovering On: Overland Vehicle Maintenance

Maintaining an overland vehicle – especially an older Rover with so much character – requires constant upkeep. And if you’re talking about vehicle-dependent travel as a way of life, preventative maintenance is the backbone of the whole operation.

We were already overdue for some work when we had our rollover in 2016 (you can read about that here). Years of traveling on a shoestring budget were catching up to us and the swampy rollover just meant we could add the electrical system to our list of projects.

Overland Land Rover Maintenance

Our engine control unit couldn’t be revived so we reached out to Hill Country British, a solid Rover repair shop in San Antonio Texas, and they sent us a 14CUX unit out of a Range Rover Classic that today sets the pace for all of our Rover adventures.

With fuel coursing through the system once again, we hit the road and made our way north from San Miguel de Allende to the border and spent 6 months exploring the western United States. While in the States, we ordered many of the Rover-specific parts we needed. The US Post Office does a good job; mailboxes seem to be directly connected to the Internet and you’re pretty much guaranteed to get your stuff in a timely manner.

Overland Land Rover Maintenance

On this trip, we put in a new fuel pump, clutch plate, 4 u-joints, changed all lubricants, rotated and balanced the tires, replaced 3 leaky injectors and all 8 spark plugs.

Overland Land Rover Maintenance

It’s great to feel ahead of the curve for the first time in a couple of years but there is always more to do. Our list still includes spark plug cables, hoses, belts, bearings, door hinges, and as of today, a tail light…my duct taping a non-Rover socket to the lens to get us somewhere may have caused a minor fire so let’s add a fire extinguisher and a proper Rover tail light assembly to the list. Or maybe it’s time to switch to LEDs.

Overland Vehicle Maintenance

We replaced a bulb out of this same socket a few weeks ago – check out its almost poetic reaction to water:

Overland Vehicle Maintenance

One the way home, we stopped by Hill Country British to get their opinion on a few lingering issues and to pick up some Range Rover Classic wheels. Not everyone is enthused about this project but I have always loved the iconic Range Rover Classic 3-spoke design, introduced to the US market on the second series of the In Vogue Range Rover in 1982. Once I clean them up & get them painted, they’ll look amazing!

Overland Land Rover Maintenance - Range Rover Classic Wheels Three Spoke

When working on an older vehicle (she’ll be 23 years-old this May), where several little things can be failing at once – like sensors and electrical connections – having people who know Defenders weigh-in is invaluable. We have good mechanics in San Miguel but when things get quirky, you can spend a lot of time and money without resolving the issues. Our visit with Hill Country British helped us to hone in on a few key components that were not working so well anymore. Thanks for keeping us rolling, guys!

Overland Land Rover Maintenance

Low temperatures at cooler latitudes and higher altitudes hampered us a little on this northern adventure and we ordered a full soft top from Badger Coachworks, the premier soft-top maker for North American Defenders. We’ve managed to get by in sunny Mexico for a few years but this will be a game-changer for us as we contemplate routes with cold or wet weather.

2017 was a great year for La Poderosa. The preparation we put in this year will help us avoid large & potentially mission-jeopardizing surprises when we’re traveling far from home. We can now look forward to 2018 and the adventures this year will bring.

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