The Story of my 1999 Land Rover Discovery II

I have now written about my first vehicle, my second vehicle, so now it’s time to write about my seventh vehicle. Some of the other ones were boring vehicles so i’d rather not bore you with them. Anyways, here’s the story of my 1999 Land Rover Discovery II.
Please excuse any poor quality photos, at the time my iPhone 4 had a very scratched photo lens.


After I sold my 1986 Suburban I was vehicle-less. My good friend had a Land Rover Discovery II for a very long time, and suggested that should be my next vehicle. I have always preferred American vehicles so I had no intention of getting a Land Rover. Later he sent me a craigslist link to a dirt cheap Land Rover Discovery II.

Our Land Rovers together. Mine is on the left.


My friend’s Land Rover has been through hell and back. It has been on trails all over Arizona, and been driven very hard off-road. If his Land Rover was still holding together, I figured that the one on Craigslist probably would too.

Going to Buy the Land Rover

The ad was pretty straight forwards, and made clear that the vehicle had been sitting for a while. The next day my friend and I hopped in his Land Rover to go look at what could potential become my Land Rover.

The Land Rover was covered in dust and spider webs, had a dead battery, a flat tire, and looked rough. But, the interior was in nearly perfect condition, and once we threw a different battery in it ran great. The owner needed to find the title and get it notarized so we went down to Burger King for lunch.

At the owners house. Mine is the one in back.


About an hour later we returned to the owners house and handed him $1,700 cash, and called a tow truck. The tires were in very bad condition from sitting for so long, so I wanted to get it towed (It was all highway driving on the way back).

When it Ran Good

After washing off years of dust and grim, we found a really nice looking Land Rover underneath. It ran pretty good, and drove pretty good. After a few minor repairs I drove it all of the place for about a month. It was so amazing to drive. It rode super smooth, handled great, and it was super quite. It was hands down the nicest vehicle I had ever owned by a long shot.

After being cleaned


Unfortunately, all good stories come to an end. I was supposed to go to a wedding, and I decided to get some fast food before I left to go to the wedding. While I was sitting in the drive-thru I saw the temperature gauge rise higher than it was supposed to at idle. I immediately shut the engine off knowing that something was wrong.

After painting wheels & side steps


After eating my food in the parking lot I investigated under the hood and found that there was no coolant in the system. This seemed odd since it had never leaked coolant, so I assumed that the head gaskets may have gone bad. I limped it home and parked it.

Near Engine Failure

Before the issue of disappearing coolant I encountered an entirely different issue that nearly killed the engine. I was driving when all of the sudden the engine started making a lot more noise than normal. I knew it was from low oil pressure and stopped for oil immediately. After putting a quart or two in, it was still making lots of noise.

I didn’t find anything out of the ordinary, so I was forced to limp it to my buddies house with nearly no oil pressure. By the time I made it to his house it sounded like a diesel truck. We dropped the oil pan to find that there was a few inches of nearly solid sludge in the pan. The thick sludge had pretty much blocked the small mesh screen on the oil pickup tube.

RELATED: 8 Reasons Why the Discovery II is so Awesome

After hours of oil pan and pickup tube cleaning we reassembled everything and the engine ran perfectly fine. I was very lucky that there was no permanent engine damage at all. I changed the oil a couple hundred miles later and found no metal shavings. Talk about good luck!

Engine Failure

After it was parked for about a week I decided to disassemble the engine. We got the engine torn down completely, and didn’t really find any sign of a bad head gasket. It sat for a month or two taken apart due to lack of funds. After what seemed like forever, I bought a top end rebuild kit and got the heads machined.

Being disassembled


We reassembled the engine, and it fired right up. It seemed to run great, so I went back to driving it regularly. Eventually though, it tried to overheat. Once again there was a lack of coolant in the system. Just like before it wasn’t leaking, so where the heck was it going?

After reassembly


After some research I came to the conclusion that the engine essentially was unrepairable. The cylinder sleeve was more than likely slipped. This required replacing the engine block, which I was not game to do. If I cared about that vehicle more then I would’ve found a used engine and thrown it in there. Since it was broken almost the entire time I owned it, it never grew on me and I really didn’t feel like doing an engine swap on it.


It sat for a little bit longer after I realized the engine was terminally damaged. Eventually, I put it up on Craigslist and a few people looked at it. However, the people that looked at it didn’t seem like they would know how to repair it if they bought it. Eventually somebody drove a couple hours to see it.

RELATED: Jeep vs Land Rover: Which One is Actually Better?

The person who came to see it was an avid Land Rover enthusiast and understood everything I told him. He understood the issues and was up to the challenge of repairing it. So, I sold it to him for around $2,000 (I can’t remember the exact number).

Land Rover Discovery II: 8 Reasons to Buy One Today

In case you’ve never seen any wildlife documentaries, the Land Rover Discovery is the go to vehicle for wildlife videographers. It’s also a very popular vehicle among successful people. Why do outdoorsmen and the wealthy love the Land Rover Discovery II?

There are tons of things that make the Discovery II special. Here are 8 reasons to buy a Discovery II today.

8. World’s Best Leather

Discovery II interior

The leather in the Discovery II is a super high quality and very soft leather. It covers the seats, door panels, dashboard, and basically everything.

Land Rover went as far as adding Kangaroo leather to the door panels. Kangaroo leather is a very soft, and subtle material. Land Rover added it right where you rest your arm on the door, putting your elbow in heaven as you drive.

What other vehicle can you brag to your friends about having Kangaroo leather inside of it?

7. Stadium Seating

The Land Rover Discovery II has what is called “Stadium Seating”, which means the rear seats are elevated. This gives the rear passengers excellent visibility, and allows them to see over the front occupants so everyone can complain about your driving at once.

Since the rear seats are elevated, that means their headroom goes down. But, Land Rover has solved this problem by elevating the roof from the rear seats back by a few inches.

You can clearly see the raised roof from the outside of the vehicle. The back seats in the Discovery II are probably some of the most comfortable rear SUV seats you’ll ever sit in.

6. Sound system

The optional Harman/Kardon sound system is truly amazing for any automobile at that time. It includes no less than 12 speakers, which are scattered about to provide optimal sound for all passengers. The 12 speakers are powered by a 320 watt amplifier, along with an amplified subwoofer.

All of this put together adds up to a near jaw dropping factory sound system. Seriously, the optional sound system in the Discovery II is amazing, especially for a vehicle of its age.

5. Jumper Seats

Discovery II jumper seats

Say you own a family of 7, well Land Rover has you covered. The SE7 optioned Discovery II has rear jumper seats, which fold up to give full trunk room. They’re actually big enough to fit a full grown adult.

The Discovery I had a similar design, but the jumper seats faced each other, instead of facing the front of the vehicle. The design in the Discovery I looked a little cooler, but couldn’t really fit full size adults.

4. Build Quality

Land Rover Discovery II

Unlike Land Rovers of today, you really got what you were paying for if you bought a Discovery II brand new, and they weren’t cheap either. The extremely strong ladder frame for example, it’s stronger than most 1-ton pickup trucks. The axles are just as strong as 3/4 ton truck axles. The radius arms are extremely beefy, and almost all the suspension components are extremely beefy as well. Additional Discovery II Info

Even little details like glass headlights, dual sunroofs, and rear climate control, they all add up to a vehicle with build quality that is better than most cars of today (2015). Quite honestly the Discovery II has a better build quality than any other off-road vehicle of the time.

3. ACE System

Discovery 2

When the Discovery I was out, the biggest complaint was its handling, Land Rover customers wanted an SUV that handled like a sports car. Well, they listened, and when they launched the Discovery II one of the options was the ACE (Active Cornering Enhancement) system.

RELATED: Land Rover vs Range Rover: What is the Difference?

What the ACE system does, is stop the body from rolling so much. It uses a hydraulic pump, which is driven by the serpentine belt, and a hydraulic ram attached to the front and rear sway bars. If you turn either direction, the hydraulic rams push the sway bars the opposite direction, and keeps the vehicle flat in a corner.

It also completely disengages at very low speeds, which allows more articulation from the front and rear to help with off-roading.

2. Air Suspension

The Discovery II has air suspension equipped in the rear, and was the first SUV ever to have air suspension of any kind. This allows it ride extremely smooth, and also helps with off-roading because it can lift up the rear of the vehicle 1.6 inches.

This system is also self leveling, so if you have a lot of cargo or are towing something heavy, it’ll automatically level out the vehicle for you. Unfortunately the air bags aren’t the most reliable system in the world, and many Discovery IIs now have coil spring suspension in the rear.

1. Offroad Prowess

Disco 2 offroad

Of course, the heart of any Land Rover is its off-road abilities, that’s the main reason it’s a safari vehicle after all. Features like the hill descent control, and traction control help you get anywhere you want safely. The center diff lock allows you to turn all-wheel-drive into four-wheel-drive, and locks power output to 50/50.

RELATED: Land Rover vs Jeep: Which One is Actually Better?

All of this combined with extremely strong axles and strong suspension components allow the Discovery II to go almost anywhere you want, the Discovery II will almost always keep up with a Jeep except when rock crawling, and as a Jeep owner I don’t say that lightly


Don’t get me wrong, the Discovery II isn’t the most perfect vehicle ever. But, for what you’re paying, you’re getting a lot of features that most brand new cars don’t even have.

From interior quality and features, to groundbreaking suspension components, and off road durability. Nothing beats a Discovery II when it comes to quality and luxury, especially for less than $8k.

Jeep vs Land Rover: Which One is Actually Better?

If you’re just getting into off-roading, than chances are you’ve heard something about the Jeep vs Land Rover debate. Both are designed with off-roading in mind, and both are exceptionally good at it. One is built in America, the other is built in the UK, but which is actually better? Well, there’s a lot of different aspects to cover, as well as different generations of the Jeep vs Land Rover debate. So, lets dive in, and compare Jeep vs Land Rover.

Jeep vs Land Rover: Interior

Assuming you don’t live under a rock, than you should know that the Land Rover brand is known for its luxury. When you think of high end vehicles, most people will think of a Range Rover, and thats exactly what I’m talking about. The luxury of a Range Rover transfers over into other Land Rover models. For this example lets look at the Discovery II.

Discovery II Interior


The Land Rover Discovery II was an impressive new version of the loved Discovery. With this new model, Land Rover upgraded nearly everything, including the interior. All Discovery II’s came standard with dual power sun-roofs, power windows, power locks, power mirrors, power seats, heated seats, Home-Link system, all leather everything, dual-zone climate control, and more. So, as you can see from that quick list of features, Land Rover’s are really luxurious. Even by modern standards, the Discovery II is a really nice vehicle.

RELATED: Is The Discovery II The Last Real Land Rover?

Jeep’s on the other hand are a little lacking in the luxury department. For this comparison lets look at the XJ Cherokee. The XJ came standard with cloth interior, manual windows, manual locks, manual seats, a standard climate control system, and nothing else fancy. Yes, you could get higher up XJ models like the Laredo, which came with power everything, leather seats, and an upgraded sound system. But, standard vs standard, Land Rover blows Jeep out of the water.

XJ Cherokee Interior


Newer models on the other hand are much nicer for both Land Rover and Jeep, but Land Rover’s still have much nicer interior’s in 2016. At this point Land Rover has become a standard for luxury vehicles.

Jeep vs Land Rover: Reliability

Okay, so when it comes to reliability, what do you think would be more reliable? If you said to yourself “Land Rover’s and Range Rover’s are super  unreliable, so of course the Jeep must be the more reliable one!”, than you wouldn’t be alone. I too thought that since Jeep was American made, it would be way more reliable than anything European, but man was I wrong. Don’t believe me? Here’s reliability articles for both Jeep and Land Rover.


Unfortunately the numbers don’t lie. As a big Jeep fan, it pains me to see this chart. This chart is a list of reported problems/repairs per 100 vehicles. The vehicles are all 2014 models. As you can see, Jeep and Land Rover, are nearly tied. Quite honestly, they’re both absolutely terrible when it comes to reliability.

Jeep 4.0L


What about the good ole’ 4.0L Jeep engine? Yes, the 4.0L Jeep engine is one of the most reliable production engines ever, but the 4.0L Land Rover engine is also pretty good. While both have their Achilles heel, they’re both incredible durable engines.

Jeep vs Land Rover: Off-Road

These are both off-road oriented vehicles, so it would make sense to compare how they do off-road. As much as I would love to give you a good off-road comparison, its not that easy. “Why?” you might ask, its because off-roading is just more than ground clearance. Its articulation, wheel base, approach and departure angles, chassis strength, axles, and most importantly, the driver. I’ve seen Mazda 3’s go where some Jeep’s couldn’t, because the driver knew what he was doing.

RELATED: Jeep vs Toyota: Which One is Actually Better?

Before I tell you which is better off-road and why, let me tell you this. I am a big Jeep fan, and the other writer (Kristoffer) for this website is a big Land Rover fan. We’ve both taken our vehicles off-road tons of times, so I have a lot of real world experience with both of these vehicles.


One big difference between the Discovery II and the XJ Cherokee, is how the 4WD system works. In the Land Rover, its actually AWD, which means that there is a differential in the transfer case. The Jeep on the other hand is 4WD, because when 4WD is engaged power is locked 50/50 between the front and rear axle. Why does this matter? Because it greatly changes the characteristics of how it handles off-road. See, the Land Rover is always in AWD, which means if you’re going down the road, and hit a sudden patch of ice you’ll be fine, but the Jeep has to be in 2WD on the road, which can cause that same patch of ice to send you flying off of the road.


RELATED: Land Rover vs Range Rover: What’s the Difference?

Another big difference between these two, is the traction management. While some Jeep XJ’s came with a rear LSD, most didn’t. If you know how open differentials work, than you know they’re not that great for off-roading. The Land Rover also came with open differentials. The difference here is that Land Rover’s come with a pretty advanced 4-wheel traction control system, whilst Jeep’s don’t. This traction control system is basically the equivalent of having lockers front and rear.


There is so much more I could go into regarding the off-road performance of these two but it would take all day long. Bottom line, my Jeep(s) have gone places that Kristoffer’s Land Rover couldn’t, and his Land Rover has gone places my Jeep(s) couldn’t. We’ve both gotten stuck countless amounts of times over the years.

Jeep vs Land Rover: Old

Thus far we’ve focused on mainly the older Jeep’s and the older Land Rover’s. The Discovery II has a way nicer interior, and overall is a way nicer vehicle to drive every single day.  The XJ Cherokee is more reliable than the Discovery II, but not by much. When it comes to off-roading its more about the driver than the vehicle, and both Jeep’s and Land Rover’s are incredibly capable off-road machines. So when comparing older Jeep’s vs older Land Rover’s, you’ll find that quite honestly, the Land Rover’s are nicer to drive every single day. But the Jeep’s might be a better choice for reliability. It honestly comes down to personal preference.

RELATED: Why Are Jeeps so Ridiculously Expensive?

I’ve owned both and I can tell you right now that I would rather drive a Land Rover Discovery II every single day, and rather have a Jeep XJ Cherokee for an off-road rig.

Jeep vs Land Rover: New

If you’re not a car/truck enthusiast, and just want to know which one is the better option for you, than this is the part you’ve been waiting for.  When it comes to newer Jeep’s vs Land Rover’s things like off-road ability aren’t that important. Why is this? Because over time Land Rover has become less about off-roading and more about luxury.

One big difference with both Jeep and Land Rover is that now in 2016 they all comes with fully independent suspension, other than the Wrangler. The solid axle suspension design is quite ancient and can only handle so well on the road. The independent suspension might be loads better on the road, but its not so good off-road. Both now come with pretty advanced traction management systems, as well as a ton of other driver assists.

RELATED: 8 Reasons to Buy a Land Rover Discovery II


One thing that hasn’t changed is the interior comparison. While new Jeeps are much nicer than old Jeeps, they still don’t compare to Land Rover’s. Like I mentioned earlier, the Land Rover brand has become the pinnacle of luxury SUV’s and luxury vehicles in general for that matter.

In all reality, modern Land Rover’s are way better than modern Jeep’s. But, as a die-hard Jeep person I would still rather have a new Wrangler than a new Land Rover.

Jeep vs Land Rover: Summary

So, when it comes to the Jeep vs Land Rover debate, the winner really depends on the age. Older Jeep’s aren’t that nice to drive on the road, but are slightly better than Land Rover’s off-road. Older Land Rover’s are arguably better than Jeep’s off-road, and are way nicer to drive on the street daily.

Newer Jeeps and newer Land Rover’s are both much nicer than their older models, but the Land Rover brand has gone in a different direction. Newer Jeep’s are unquestionably better off-road, but are still lacking when it comes to interior comfort, especially when compared to the Land Rover.

So basically it boils down to this. If you drive off-road a lot, get a Jeep. If you drive on the road and off-road a lot, get a Land Rover. Or just pick your personal preference. I prefer Jeep’s, but thats just me.