Our Defender showed strange performance recently. When hitting a pot hole or bumpiness sometimes the front axle started shaking heavily, and didn’t want to stop until having slowed down very much, and then gaining momentum it does run very fine again.
Chatting about this with a colleague – a Defender owner too -, he had the same experience caused by misalignment. So I passed by at a tyre dealer to get alignment checked.
The head mechanic asked whether he could do a test drive. Of course I agreed, but felt to give some advice.
First he would need to hold the ignition switch when starting, because otherwise it would fall off.
And secondly that he should be aware that there is no power steering nor a brake booster. “Don’t worry”, he replied, “there are too many of these vehicles where I am coming from, in Zimbabwe”.
He drove merely 25 meters uphill on the parking lot, turned, and came back to the workshop.
“Sir, I am 99 percent sure, the root cause is not misalignment. But I will check my suspicion.”
He drove the Defender on the car hoist, lifted her just under the garage ceiling, stepped in the inspection pit, and called me after a couple of minutes.
“Look at your front propshaft and feel the difference to the rear propshaft.” It has play indeed.
“I could sense and hear it when I drove the vehicle. Get the propshaft balanced and fixed, and I a sure there will be no more this shaking at the front axle. But of course I will do an optical measurement of the alignment, if you want me to.”
I was okay with his proposal and ask the sales manager to check whether he had tires in the right dimension on stock to replace my blown (second) spare tyre.
While doing the paperwork and waiting for the tyre to be changed we chatted about the inconveniences and the benefits of basic vehicles like our Defender. Rian proved to be an enthusiast of mechanical solutions. “Can you imagine, recently I had a customer with an old Volkswagen Beetle. They have the spare wheel under the bonnet. And can you imagine the tank of the windscreen washer system is connected to the spare tyre. So the windscreen washer system works purely mechanical, even after more than 50 years”.
Well, I didn’t want to deflate his exaltation. He was clearly speaking about pneumatics, not mechanics.
But I understand where his ardour is coming from.