Land Rover Defender 1987

Land Rover Defender 1987: A Tale of Dependability, Adventure and a Lot of Breakdowns

As a car enthusiast and owner of multiple Land Rovers over the years, I have a plethora of personal experience when it comes to owning a Land Rover Defender 1987. If you’re reading this, chances are that you’re one of the few lucky people who has had the pleasure of owning this iconic vehicle. Congratulations, and welcome to the club – you’re in for a ride!

However, before we get started, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the elephant in the room: Range Rovers. Ah, Range Rovers – the luxury SUV brand that makes us Land Rover owners green with envy. Sure, they may have heated seats, a fancy infotainment system, and all the bells and whistles. But do they have the ruggedness, authenticity and classic charm of a Defender 1987? I think not.

Now that we have that out of the way, let’s dive into what you really came here for – some good ol’ Land Rover Defender 1987 information, experiences, and tips.

Overview of the Land Rover Defender 1987

The Land Rover Defender 1987 is the ultimate off-road vehicle, capable of taking on any terrain and any challenge. It was the year the 90 and 110 models were introduced, both available in pickup, station wagon, and hardtop body styles. It was powered by a 2.5-liter diesel engine, which was later upgraded to a 2.5-liter turbocharged diesel engine. With a steel chassis and a rugged body, the Defender 1987 is the epitome of dependable, go-anywhere vehicles.

Driving Experience

Driving a Land Rover Defender 1987 is a unique experience that can’t be compared to any other car on the road. The first thing you’ll notice is its sheer size – it’s big, tall, and sometimes feels like you’re driving a tank. The handling can be clunky, and the steering is a bit heavy, but that’s all part of the charm.

On the road, the Defender 1987 is far from perfect. It’s loud, it shakes, and it isn’t exactly aerodynamic. You’ll feel every bump and rock on the road, and driving at high speeds isn’t recommended. But let’s face it, you didn’t buy a Defender to be a speed demon on the highway. Instead, you’ll be able to tackle any off-road or tough terrain challenge with ease.

Common Problems

While the Defender 1987 is built like a tank, it isn’t immune to breakdowns and issues. Here are some of the most common problems that Defender 1987 owners face:

  • Rust: Due to its age, rust is a common issue that plagues the Defender. Check the body and frame for rust, and if there is any, it should be addressed immediately.
  • Cooling System: The Defender’s cooling system can be another headache for owners. Keep an eye out for leaks, coolant loss, and overheating.
  • Electrical Issues: With an older vehicle like the Defender 1987, electrical issues can be a common problem. Look out for non-functioning headlights, faulty wiring, and corroded battery terminals.
  • Transmission Problems: The Defender’s transmission is known to have some issues, such as stiff shifting, slipping gears, and leaks. Keep an ear out for strange noises or difficulty shifting gears.

Maintenance Tips

To keep your Defender 1987 running smoothly, follow these maintenance tips:

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  • Oil Changes: Regular oil changes are key to keeping your Defender’s engine running smoothly. It’s recommended to change the oil every 3,000 miles or three months, whichever comes first.
  • Cooling System Maintenance: As previously mentioned, keeping an eye on the cooling system is important. Ensure that the coolant level is topped up and the radiator is free of debris.
  • Tire Pressure and Tread: Always ensure that the Defender’s tires are properly inflated and that the tread is still good. Low tire pressure and bald tires can lead to decreased traction and a higher risk of accidents.
  • Rust Prevention: Prevent rust by rust-proofing your Defender. Waxoyl or Dinitrol treatment is a great option to keep rust at bay.
  • Transmission Fluid Changes: Regular transmission fluid changes can help prevent transmission problems. It’s recommended to change the fluid every 30,000 miles.


Owning a Land Rover Defender 1987 is not for the faint of heart. It requires dedication, patience, and a love for adventure. While it may have its fair share of problems, the Defender 1987 makes up for it with its undeniable charm and go-anywhere capability. With proper maintenance and attention, your Defender 1987 can be a reliable and dependable vehicle for many years to come.

So, go ahead, take it off-road, explore the unbeaten path, and enjoy the ride. Just remember to bring a toolkit and spare parts along, just in case.

Last updated and verified on 4th September 2023

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Gareth Boyd
Gareth Boyd

An avid Land Rover fan, and lover of all models, specifically Range Rover Sports. Having owned over 5 Ranger Rover models, he has encountered every error code and problem you could imagine!

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