Land Rover LR3 years to avoid — most common problems
Discover the Land Rover LR3 years you should steer clear of for a hassle-free ownership experience.
Thanks to the stellar success of the Range Rover model, Land Rover SUVs are these days as popular as ever. However, there were notable models even before the release of a modern Range Rover, and the LR3 Discovery was one of those. To make things even better for all the petrolheads out there – it came with a 4.4-liter V8 as the only engine option for the US market, making it a bit more fun to drive.
However, we’ve had a fair share of complaints about the LR3 years to avoid, so our team just had to dig a bit deeper. Based on your preference, you may or may not like what we found, but you still deserve to know the truth about LR3 maintenance, frequently reported problems, and model years that are simply best avoided.
Why you can trust REREV’s advice on which car model years to avoid: Our car experts look at official data, ask real drivers what they think, and talk to experienced mechanics to make sure our list is useful. This reliable info can make buying a car easier for you. Want to know how we do it? Find out more about our research methodology.
Most common LR3 problems
The Land Rover LR3 started production in 2005 and it lasted up to 2009 without many complaints about excessive wear of crucial components like the engine or the transmission. The V8 engine that came as standard for the US market proved to be as sturdy as a V8 gets, but drivers have reported a few other issues that were specific to this model.
We have to start with the problem of fractured airbag wires and malfunctioning airbag systems which sometimes caused failed airbag deployment. There’s also the matter of the vehicle simply rolling away while it should have been parked, even though the gearbox lever was put into park mode.
On top of that, the vehicle was equipped with air suspension which was the technology on top of its class back in the day. Still, this may not be exactly good news for those looking to buy a used LR3 that’s nearly 20 years old since it requires expensive repairs.
We wrap things up with the fuel scent entering the cabin and odd engine behavior like misfires or even stalling in the worst-case scenario. We feel like all these problems require additional explanation, so let’s see if we can aid you every step of the way by going through these individually.
The worst problem that you could have in an LR3 Discovery regarding driving safety is a malfunctioning airbag module. It’s not so uncommon and drivers often visited the dealership to check why is the airbag light on in their cars.
We tried to get to the bottom of it and it seems that the problem was caused by a fractured airbag wire. This affected the operation of the airbag module and it was mostly down to the severity of the issue as to whether the airbags deployed or not in case of emergency.
Transmission lever issue
While the LR3 didn’t have any problems with the transmission itself, there’s a reported problem with the ignition switch and the transmission lever. This made it possible to remove the key from the ignition even if the transmission lever hasn’t been moved to the park mode previously.
Because of this, the driver may think that the vehicle is secured in park mode, while it turned out that a lot of cars would simply roll away. Not only would this cause damage to your car, but also to other cars by rolling down onto the street. Since it’s a serious issue, Land Rover issued an official recall in 2006 and the problem for the affected 2005 and 2006 models was solved during the software update of the ECU.
Air suspension height issues
As mentioned, the LR3 was equipped with air suspension and this was a technology reserved for luxury limousines of the time such as the Mercedes-Benz S-Class. However, while this update made the drive feel like the wheels were rolling down the cloud, things got worse when the time came to do some repairs.
Due to the age of the LR3 vehicles, the air suspension will likely fail sooner or later, and that’s a risk you’ll have to take by buying one. There’s a bit of a twist to the good side here as well – the issue was sometimes caused by a faulty suspension height sensor, so that made an easier fix. However, the price of repairing the entire air suspension system goes between $1800 and $2500, which is a big deal considering the current market price of the car.
Gasoline smell within the cabin
One of the worst things that could happen while you are driving is feeling a fuel smell within the cabin. Not only is it bothersome and bad for your health, but it may also take your focus off the road if you try to figure out why the fuel smell appears in the cabin.
The problem was in factory-installed fuel tanks that had a breather pipe in which fuel entered in case of fuel level higher than the detached pipe. Naturally, it causes fuel smell and improper fuel pressure which leads to misfires, lower engine performance, or rough idling. To make things worse, the leaking fuel could sometimes be seen below the car and these leaks caused a fire risk.
Which LR3 years to avoid?
Well, now we come to the big question of which model years of the Land Rover Discovery LR3 to avoid due to the listed issues. The truth is – this car is often considered unreliable by drivers that only view it through expensive repairs like air suspension fixing or the matter of dealing with the airbags.
However, these cars received far fewer complaints than some competitor models, so let’s see if you should truly be worried enough about some models to avoid buying those.
Second-generation Land Rover Discovery LR3 (2005 model year)
The first generation of the LR3 is the second-gen of the Discovery as a model, so that’s why we’ll refer to it based on the famous Discovery nameplate. When you look at it that way, it’s clear that this generation of the Discovery is as sturdy as the other two, except for a 2005 model.
The 2005 LR3 had a few reported issues that made it the “worst” LR3 model, even though it didn’t receive a worrying amount of complaints. These were usually minor reported issues such as electrical issues, paint peeling, or drivetrain issues that were few, but still there.
However, there are some serious issues like fuel delivery system leaks and suspension problems. There was also a recall that dealt with the steering column issues for the 2005 and some 2006 models, so that’s another thing to keep in mind before the purchase.
There were a few reports of transmission failures, but these were so rare that we don’t think you should place them high on the list of things to keep in mind. It’s just worth knowing that if everything else seems fine, you may want to have a trusted mechanic check the shifting precision and hydraulic pressure of the automatic transmission.
Best LR3 years
Knowing about the one LR3 model year to avoid also makes things a lot easier when it comes to the best model years. Naturally, all the other model years are pretty much safe to buy since there were only five production models offered on the US market. So, here’s a list of the best LR3 models you can buy on the used car market:
- 2006 Land Rover LR3
- 2007 Land Rover LR3
- 2008 Land Rover LR3
- 2009 Land Rover LR3
Out of all these, we recommend the 2009 model due to its reliability ratings and the fact that facelift models often get a lot of previous issues sorted. It certainly seems that way with the LR3, and you won’t make a mistake by going for any of the other models except for the 2005 one either.
You simply have to consider the costs of owning a premium-level off-road capable SUV that gets a bit old and outdated these days. We recommend you check the components that could lead to expensive repairs such as air suspension, transmission, and the fuel delivery system before making the purchase.
Is Land Rover LR3 worth buying?
Making a final verdict on the value of a used LR3 isn’t as easy as it seems. You simply have to consider all the maintenance costs which are frankly in the higher range for this type of car. You can expect to pay an average of around $1000, which is quite a sum considering the current value of the car.
Still, we have to say that it’s a reliable car as long as you avoid the 2005 model. The 4.4-liter V8 engine is a reliable option for US drivers and it’s only necessary to inspect the fuel delivery system, transmission, and air suspension before making the final call.
How long do LR3 engines last?
LR3 engines can last up to 200,000 miles and the most reliable one is a 4.4-liter V8.
What to look for when buying a used LR3?
When buying a used LR3, you should look for signs of gas leaks, lowered air suspension, and deployed dashboard lights like SRS lights or a check engine light.
What years are the most reliable Land Rover?
The most reliable Land Rover LR3 years are 2008 and 2009.