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Land Rover Diary

Part Five: Cor, strike a light

First Posted: 22nd Aug 2010 15:23

Sunday is traditionally a day of rest in this family, not due to any deeply held religious convictions, but simply a consequence of eating a very large Sunday lunch cooked by yours truly.

Normally, by about 2pm, the gentle sound of snoring reverberates through the house as some serious digestive processes are invoked.

At least, that's the case if there is no Grand Prix on the telly. If there is, the snoring may not start until at least half 2 - although I usually wake in time for the finish.

Today, though, as I have only been a Land Rover owner for less than a week, an excess of zeal overtakes me. It may have helped to see the bright sunshine outside, so calling for the lifting tackle, I hoist myself from the sofa and go and see if I can address some of the remaining niggles that beset my pride and joy.


Let us take a moment to reflect, and mull over the thought that Land Rover ownership could be likened to having one's own personal black hole, into which one pours money at an ever increasing rate. It has to be said though, that the aforementioned money gets you a lot more than it would with most modern cars.

For what other vehicle could you buy a complete brand new front bumper for 40 quid? Okay, so it's basically a girder, but still. And then there are light fittings - yes, Halogen bulbs are the same cost, no matter what vehicle you shove them in, but could you buy a new rear light unit - complete with bulb! for any other car, that costs you 3 quid?


The reason I bring this up, is that two of the remaining niggles are to do with lighting. The astute reader may have noticed that when I was checking over the Landy after I got it, I was amazed to find that nearly all the electrics worked as advertised - this is quite outstanding for a 13 year old Landy. The two exceptions to this triumph were the reversing light and the rear fog light.

Working on the K.I.S.S principle, I started by looking to see if the bulbs were actually there. So I wander round to the back of the beast, armed with my trusty screwdriver, secure in the knowledge that at no point during this exercise should I be required to grovel under the vehicle, getting my hair plastered with gearbox oil.

Actually - that's unfair, this is one of the least oily Land Rovers I have owned - and yes I did check there was some still left in the gearbox and sump, you doubting lot, you.

Anyway, reversing light first. The screws holding the lens in place still have some shinyness - unlike the amorphous blobs of rust I have encountered on previous vehicles - and it is the work of a moment to undo them and remove the lens.

Yep, there is a bulb, and the filament looks intact as well. In a way, that's annoying, it would have been simpler if it was just the bulb. Ah, this is more like it - the contacts at the base of the bulbholder are green and furry, not at all like the pristine bits of copper they should be.

I try to remove the bulb... gnnnnnnnhhhh... tinkle! Yes... well... what did you expect. I now have the bits of glass envelope embedded in my fingers, but the base of the bulb remains stubbornly in place.

I scrabble around in the toolbox, finding all sorts of sharp edged items, and triumphantly wave aloft a pair of long-nosed pliers. Grasp the edge of the base of the bulb firmly in the pliers, and reduce it to a bent and broken shadow of its former self, and remove it.

Dig about in the toolbox again, finding even more sharp things, and come up with a very sorry looking piece of emery paper.

I attack the once copper contacts with gusto... and watch as they crumble to dust under my assault.

Right then, so that's one new reversing light I need.

Before we move on, lets just check there is electricity getting this far. So I pull off the wires from the remains of the contacts, strip them back a bit to find something that isn't black with corrosion and attach my trusty multi-meter to the positive and earth wires. Then I stick the gearbox in reverse and turn on the ignition.


Well, I'm not stupid (ha) I know that earths are not to be trusted on Land Rovers or any other car I've ever owned,

so I hunt about for some solid metal to connect the meter earth to. Crocodile clip on the rear door striker plate, and...

Still nothing...

Errrmmm... you know I said I wasn't stupid?

I go and reset the immobiliser and then turn the ignition on...

You see, on this vehicle, the immobiliser only gives you 20 seconds to get the key in the ignition and turned on, after setting it, before it disconnects the power again.

Ooh, look, electrickery!!

Ah well, at least I don't have to investigate the gearbox switch.

So the shopping list has one reversing lamp unit added.

Next: rear foglight.

The screws on this are also relatively unscathed, but the lens has some interesting green lifeform living in it.

Undeterred, I remove the lens. Yep, there is a bulb in there, too. Older and wiser, I do not attempt to remove it at this stage. The contacts still bear some resemblance to real metal, so I attach the meter, and turn on the side lights, and then press the foglight switch.

Can I just ask, what blithering idiot decided that on later Landies, the fog light switch should be non-latching? How can I tell if it's supposed to be on, or off? after pressing it repeatedly, until I've lost track of how many times, I decide it should now be on.

Nip round the back... Nothing on the meter. Back to the switch and one more press. Still nothing.

Now what? Is there a relay somewhere that this switch is supposed to activate? I don't know.

I resolve to find out, so I screw the lens back on, tidy up and head for the Haynes Manual.


I love wiring diagrams. I can sit for hours admiring the elegant symmetry of the design. I imagine some poor sod in an office lovingly working out where each and every line will go, such that they don't cross more than necessary.

I envisage the distress he must feel, when, after spending weeks on a diagram, the technical department ring up and say "we've decided to re-route the phaser banks through the reverse cthonic matrix".

Anyway, I digress.

I turn to the back of the manual, and find the wiring diagrams...

12J engine models - nope...

all models 1986 - 1991 - nope...

all models 1991 - 1996 - nope...

all models 2002 onwards... what!... WHAT!... what the hell happened to 1997 - 2002?? Turn back a page... no, I didn't skip one... No, there is no missing page that I can see!

But... but... My Land Rover is a 1997 Defender 90, so what bloody diagram do I use?

I decide to look at the 91 - 96 one. I find the fog light, and trace the wire back. The colour code is "UP".

What the hell kind of colour is "UP"? Ultra Pink? Unicorn Poo? Or does it mean the wire goes vertically?

I look at the colour chart... Blue with a Purple trace... Well of course, obvious, I should have known!

The wire goes to fuse 6 and then disappears off the page... Oh, back a page... find the wire again, yes, it meanders around a bit, then makes a dart for the "Rear fog inhibit relay". Oh. Good. That's alright then.

Now where the hell is that relay going to be?


It is at this moment, gentle reader, that I am forcibly reminded that it is the weekend, and I should not be "wasting" it on "messing about" with the Land Rover.

So. I leave you, with bated breath, until the next thrilling installment.



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