Land Rover Diesel Engines

Land Rover have been making their famous Land Rover engines since 1948 in both petrol and diesel format. From 1948 to 1998 there were three basic types of engines:

  1. The inlet over exhaust (petrol) engine
  2. The four-cylinder overhead valve engine type (diesel and petrol) in 1957 it appeared in diesel form only which evolved over the years to become the TDI 300 turbo diesel which is still in production today but only for overseas markets.
  3. The all aluminium V8 (Buick sourced)


Models of the Defender from 1998 were equipped with the TD5 engine which was a five cylinder turbo-diesel, but that design was abandoned in 2007 and replaced with a diesel engine made by Ford, who owned Land Rover at the time.

The diesel engines installed in all of the series 2 units since 1958 start with the famous first-ever diesel engine made by land rover; the 2052cc, overhead valve diesel engine which first appeared in 1957 and was in production until 1961, very few of these units are still in operation. In terms of the power it could produce; just 51 bhp which, even in the late 50s, was not very powerful.


Next came the 2286cc overhead valve three bearing crank diesel engine which came into Service in1961 which was a big improvement over the previous unit with 62bhp power output. The fuel injection pump driven from the camshaft had a tendency to be somewhat unstable in terms of timing. Also this unit had a tendency to flex on high revs and would even break under excessive loads. Another problem with these engines was a tendency towards timing chain stretching, but they still are in use today and will work fine as long as you don't go over 45 mph.


The 2286cc overhead valve five bearing crank engine came into Service in 1980 and was a petrol/diesel engine. They had improved the crank design considerably allowing the same motor to be used in both petrol and diesel units. This was a superior engine, much more reliable than its predecessors and they lasted well beyond the series 3 units even some of the 90 and 110 Land Rovers.

It also has a remarkably superior oil seal design on the crankshaft rear end. The 2495cc overhead valve diesel engine was considered a slow but highly dependable and strong engine which had toothed belts which drove the injection pump which help to fix the timing of the pump which tended to drift on the old models and thus gave it a bit more power.


The Type 19J 2 .5 turbo diesel seemed ideal candidate for turbocharging but became a bit of a nightmare in terms of warranty. Cylinder block cracks and blown head gaskets were all a result of poor crankcase breather design and these engines were known to regularly dump engine oil straight into the air filter housing causing oil to get into the air intake and irreparable damage to the engine.

The problems with the engine block cracking was solved when Land Rover produced an improved cylinder block; the 2.5 turbo diesel which improved reliability and performance a lot.


200 TDI and 300 TDI turbo diesel models had a strengthened cylinder block and direct injection fuel system introduced and this gave these engines a great reputation for both durability and power. Both models proved to be highly reliable and powerful there was a 107bhp defender and a 111bhp model, which had improved soundproofing along with various minor differences that would distinguish the 300 TDI from the 200 TDI units although producing identical amounts of power. They are no longer available in Europe due to emission regulations.

Land Rover ultimately had to develop a new engine for the next-generation Discovery, which also ended up in the Defender, which was the 2495cc turbo diesel five cylinder TD5. This was designed to comply with the new emission regulations. One of the features of the TD5 is an electronic control fuel injection system, a drive by wire throttle. This engine was easier to install than earlier diesel engines but here were some reports of failures of the oil pump and problems of the cylinder head but nowhere near as bad as the problems that were had with the 2.5TDi.


Most of these problems are been now resolved but there have been reported electronic problems and the dual mass flywheel has been known to fail when used extensively but overall an absolutely great engine when it set up correctly.

Various other non standard engines and have been fitted to Land Rovers including Ford Perkins Prima, Peugeot 2.3 and 2.5 as well as the Perkins 4.203 and 4.236 as well as a number of Japanese diesel engines but the most popular is without doubt the 200 TDI.