The Other Half tends not to notice when things go wrong with our Land Rover Defender. Well, not unless the truck stops dead because a diesel feed pipe has failed.
Instead, it’s up to me to spot things during the four or five times I get to drive the Defender each month. And so it proved when I had the truck on Thursday for my rugby coaching session.
I backed the truck up our drive, reversed out on to the road and drove the 25 metres to the junction, immediately noticing that braking, particularly at the front, was nowhere near as strong as it should be. As the brake pads are due for renewal and the new ones arrived with a courier on Wednesday, I assumed they were the cause of the problem and decided to tackle the job of replacing them at the weekend.
At 2pm today, I went out to replace the pads, anticipating a short and straightforward job that would involve remove one front wheel, removing the pad retaining pins, removing an old pad (one side at a time), retracting the caliper pistons on that side, dropping a new pad into place, doing the opposite pad of the pair, putting new pins in, replacing the wheel and then repeating the process on the other side.
It wasn’t to be. I tackled the front right hand side first as the truck was pulling slightly to the left under braking, indicating the right-hand brakes weren’t as effective. I removed the wheel to find the pads weren’t as worn as expected, especially on the inner side. Removing the inner pad revealed one of the caliper pistons was seized.
I had no choice but to tackle the job of freeing the piston immediately as I need to drive the truck into Aberdeen tomorrow. An hour’s work in daylight turned into a five-hour stint that extended well into the dark hours. Even worse, the ground was frozen, the air temperature dropped from 2ºC to -2ºC and a 10-15mph wind made it feel more like -7ºC.
By the time I finished, the muscles in my lower back, buttocks and upper thighs had contracted hard from prolonged contact with the frozen ground and I found myself staggering around like an invalid when I tried to stand up to put the last wheel on. The OH did notice something was wrong this time—from the comfort of our warm kitchen. (She did come out to help me pack everything away, though.)
I love chilling with the Land Rover in the Scottish winter—honest.