2011 LR4 Honeymoon - Day 1

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BigBriDogGuy

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Thanks alldazed. So from the YouTube videos I'm seeing, everything is either bolt on or plug-n-play. Doesn't seem like there is anything to be all that concerned about. Any thoughts on how the ECU will interpret the addition of these electronic components? Reading these posting boards, it seems that anything you do electronically can cause the ECU to throw a fit if it isn't done by an authorized dealer. It's almost like my hp printer yelling at me if it detects I didn't buy certified hp ink. (But will it still print?)
 

alldazed

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I installed the wiring on my 2011 Range Rover sport sc. I was in the same position as you. Hitch assembly there and that was it. Got the plug and play wiring from AB along with the brake controller. Took me about 3 hours but I think the lr4 is easier. I had to remove back bumper and driver side panel inside trunk. I got the slot in factory receiver hitch from Kijiji. It is a robust item and is easy to remove. That is what you see of the hitch was designed for in NA and uk. It just locks in by sliding up from the underside.
Apparently it knows when you are towing and adjusts shifting etc accordingly. It knows because of the extra power draw from the trailer. When you signal a picture of a trailer flashes in sync with the turn signal. The only problem is LED bulbs don’t cause enough draw for it to know you are towing. To overcome that curt also sells an adapter to plug into the towing outlet that you then plug the trailer into. I did this 3 years ago and tow regularly and no issues so far.
I would suggest a tranny service if you are going to do a lot of towing. Again AB has a complete kit that simplifies the process . Currently on my to do list as the kit has sat in my basement too long.
 

BigBriDogGuy

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Super cool alldazed. Sounds like a good first project. I don't even have anything to tow yet, but have my eye on a few "toys". Would like to take the family out camping (pop-up or smallish camping trailer), maybe haul a medium-sized power boat down to the water. I'll let you know how it goes. Thanks again!
 

BigBriDogGuy

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I got a cheap diagnostic tool today. That was discouraging in all sorts of ways. First, it did show faults, so at least I knew it worked. In fact, out of a list of 30 items, 17 came back with some sort of fault. The next thing I realized is I have no idea how to interpret those faults. Is it something serious? Is it nothing at all? Can I trust the cheap knock-off to give me a solid reading? And let's that it were, good enough, that is, and those readings were accurate. Then what?
 

BigBriDogGuy

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The status of roughly 1/2 of the codes are "historic" and 1/2 "intermittent". I assume the historic are problems that were resolved in the past. Not sure about the intermittent. Would those be "communication" errors that can be ignored?

I looked up intermittent code errors. Some dealerships and repair shops don't consider them true errors because they resolve themselves. Plus, they are hard to track down and fix because they occur randomly.

When my alternator went dead a couple weeks ago, I got a ton of random fault messages as the battery drained. The shop replaced the alternator and cleared out all the faults. It wouldn't surprise me if many of the faults showing up in the diagnostic tool relate back to that event.

I just picked up the kids from school and the rig starts, runs, drives, and stops. It actually does a lot better with the kids in the car, they keep me distracted.
 
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BigBriDogGuy

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Went on a road trip for the day from Bellingham, WA to Renton, WA (South Seattle area). It was about 250 miles round trip and almost exclusively freeway. The good news is the LR4 drove just fine. It was solid the entire trip. I was nervous that it might break down along the way. I've only owned it for a couple of months and it is 12 years old with over 100,000 miles. I really didn't know what to expect.

My sense is that I'm in the sweet spot where the vehicle is broken in, but not broken down. Not a bad place to be.

The freeway handling characteristics were average overall. When I stuck to my lane and cruised at around the speed limit, the LR4 seemed fine. I felt like I could drive it that way all day long. However, I wouldn't exactly call it nimble or highly responsive. Sure, I could speed up and pass or change lanes well enough, but other vehicles around me were weaving in and out of traffic, zipping along effortlessly. I could try to force my rig to do something like that, but it just doesn't feel built for that action.
 

BigBriDogGuy

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So after two-and-a-half months the honeymoon is officially over. Like the ending of most honeymoons, it wasn't anything big, but a bunch of small things. It happened this evening when I was at the after-hours clinic waiting to get seen because I didn't have time to go during the day. They were slammed and it was a 2-hour wait, so I found a shady spot to park and hung out by the truck waiting for them to call me on my cell phone.

I was getting a little bored, so I decided to try sitting in the back seat. My 8 and 10-year old girls ride there all the time and I wondered what it was like. I climbed in behind the driver's seat and was unpleasantly surprised at how cramped it felt. Instead of a nice view, I was staring right into the back of a big, fat, leather headrest. The leather seats were sturdy to the point of being hard and uncomfortable. They didn't recline, but were permanently set in the fully upright position. I tried folding down the center section thinking that might improve something, or make it different. It was different, but I wouldn't say it was improved. Instead, it took up nearly 1/3rd of the seating space making it seem even more cramped. Plus, it was just a wide, flat, surface between the two halves of the back seat. No cupholder. No tray. No storage compartment. It didn't even make a very good armrest. I unlatched it and lifted it back into the upright position and tried the middle seat. It was too narrow for anything other than a toddler. The passenger's side seemed a bit better. At least you had a view of the steering wheel and instruments. Those looked kind of fancy, gave it a bit of a luxury feel.

I turned around and looked into the back tailgate area where the third row seats were folded down. Through the center section was a 32" wire dog crate that took up most of the space. I got an Irish Setter pup for the girls this Christmas and at 8-months old she can't be trusted not to chew and claw everything to shreds. She's very sweet, but still pretty destructive. Plus, it's not safe to have her loose in the cabin in the event we got into an accident.

So there you have it. A driver's seat for me and a front passenger's seat for the wife. A couple of back seats for the 8 and 10-year old girls. As young girls, I think the back seats are fine, adequate at least. But once they become teenagers, I'm not sure it's going to work - especially on a long trip. Then the dog in the crate in the back. And... and what? Where are you going to put stuff? Any stuff? There is a little room here and there. A bit in the back. Get rid of the dog and the crate and you're golden, but you're not going to get rid of the family dog or leave it behind because the rig doesn't have enough space.

The bottom line is that the LR4 isn't all that big. There is a lot of excess headroom, but what can you do with that? Makes for good visibility and that's about it. Put in a cargo net across the back towards the headliner? I suppose, but then there goes your visibility. Plus, what is all that "moon roof" stuff about if it's covered in a cargo net and packed full of stuff. A roof rack? Maybe that's the answer. Seems like the only option if you want to take anything with you. Then you have to climb up and down and mess with all that. Also, anything up top you have to worry about getting stolen.

I'm thinking after a couple years I'll get something bigger (a Sequoia or Durango or even a Caravan) and keep the LR4 as a hunting rig. It's fine with just me and the dog. A shotgun, some supplies and gear. I could see something like that working out. I have to look at it like a Jeep. If you think of it as a large Jeep then it seems pretty roomy. If you compare it to a full-sized SUV or truck, or even a mini-van, it's not big enough to comfortably and conveniently carry a family of 4 with a large dog and a bunch of stuff. That's a problem.

Still looks cool though.
 
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BigBriDogGuy

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Okay, I pull into the local supermarket to grab a few things for a late dinner. It's pretty dark, except for the overhead parking lot lights. The lot is nearly empty, except for a black Range Rover. Thinking it would be fun and amusing, I park next to it with my black LR4.

When I get out of my rig and casually take a look at the RR, what I see is the most beat up, poorly maintained, Land Rover I have ever seen. It was jarring. Windows in various stages of half-open. Cigarette b-u-t-t-s overflowing from an ashtray lodged in the center column. Paint flaking away. Dinged up and dirty all over. It had an old tactical bumper over the front grill. It was like walking up to a gal in a bar with dim lighting that you think must be hot and when you get close you realize that she is old and used up and takes really bad care of herself.

When you see a Land Rover in that condition and then look at your own, it makes you think, "Is that what mine really is underneath? Just a big, ugly, misshapen, awkward, hunk of old metal that you lovingly hand-wash and dump good money after bad into in order to keep the illusion alive that it is still a high-end luxury ride?" It's a scary thought.
 

BigBriDogGuy

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Took a 5-hour long, mostly freeway, round-trip drive this evening. I had to go down to SeaTac airport in Seattle from our place in Bellingham to drop off my wife. She is flying down to Mexico to see her family. Her father is getting older and having some health problems. The round trip distance was a bit over 200 miles.

My main take away is the LR4 needs to be in tip top shape to be able to handle any real road trip. The traffic and driving conditions in and around Seattle are like a high-speed demolition derby compared to my sleepy little home city of Bellingham. Getting into the airport was a nightmare. It was socked in wall-to-wall for a couple miles headed into the Arrivals and Departures drop-off areas. You literally needed to fight to squeeze into the next lane in order to get to where you needed to be. I'm not saying the LR4 is in poor condition or that the trip was terrible. Neither are true. But you really need to jump on it in certain situations and if you can't do that, you may easily get boxed in.

I would say my LR4 is in generally good condition, but it does have some stuff that could use some attention. For instance, the previous owner had the windshield replaced with aftermarket glass and it rattles and vibrates when you get to freeway speed. It's a little annoying, but not serious. Probably the transmission fluid could stand to be flushed and replaced. I feel a bit of a vibration coming up through the steering wheel and a muted whining sound coming from the drive shaft area. Could be something, or maybe not. Anything I can do to give it a little bit more power and zip would be helpful. Maybe a tune-up or something along those lines. Like I said, nothing really major with around town driving. What I am saying is there are times when you have to flat-out scoot and the current setup and condition of the LR4 seems a little sluggish and non-responsive. It's like a 6,000 pound bowling ball rolling down pavement at speed.

Couple of final thoughts. The suspension seems really stiff. Every expansion crack, every road patch, every little pothole, every manhole cover, I feel them. It's not like it delivers a heavy, dry, clunking sound or a popping, crunching, sound. Nothing like that. I've read about the control arm issues and it doesn't seem that serious. But who knows? Could be the start of something along those lines, or not. Instead, it feels like there is very little cushion when I roll over some minor road inconsistency. Like I said, you feel it up through the frame of the vehicle in a minor way and you hear it every time the tires make solid contact. The other thing is the weight. Nothing to be done about it, but I do believe it's a big factor. You can only be so nimble and responsive carrying around 6,500 lbs. or more (with passengers). Once you get up to speed, you can cruise along effortlessly and the rig feels smooth, solid, grounded. The downside being forward momentum behind that kind of weight doesn't lend itself to nimbly take evasive actions or make swift, minor, corrections. Topside body lean is a factor as well. Given thoe limiting factors, I'm not sure there is anything that can be done to make the LR4 feel sporty or responsive. It would probably need to be 1,000-1,500 lbs. lighter to have any chance of that.

Which brings me back to what I was saying earlier. You want everything locked down tight and in tip top working condition if you are going on a major road trip. You do that and my sense is the vehicle will perform well (or well enough given some of the inherent challenges) and you can travel down the road with confidence that you can handle whatever road and/or traffic conditions you face.
 
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