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SA4x4 Clinic got a technical query

Defender Braking Down

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Question by: Peter Gordon Grant Answer by: Mike PorterI need help, fast. My ’08 Defender 110 pick-up is used for farming and has in the last year or so chewed through seven sets of brake pads – it all started after I had a new ABS unit fitted in March ’11. I’ve never installed inferior parts to the Landy and have only gone with Ferodo, ATE or genuine Land Rover pads.
I use the vehicle in muddy conditions but only for two days of the week when driving through parts of the farm that are slightly wet. My Freelander drives the same roads, as does my Defender 90, but I’ve never had this problem with either vehicle.
I don’t know what the problem could be – there’s no binding, the callipers have been overhauled and the discs have been skimmed. What next – must I now stick to the tarred roads?
When the new ABS unit was fitted they had to remove the brake booster and master cylinder – could it be that the brake pedal switch was not properly adjusted when the master cylinder and booster were reinstalled?
Peter Gordon Grant

THE EXPERT’S OPINION:
What I’d like to know is why the ABS unit was replaced in the first place. This could be crucial to your problem as the ABS system is controlled by an electronic control unit under the driver’s seat; if this unit isn’t programmed correctly it’ll supply incorrect information to the braking system that will cause limited brake life.
What’s more, after working on the ABS unit it has to checked by a Land Rover diagnostic tool to ensure correct operation. Try diagnose the problem by driving with the ABS relay removed from the fuse box; do this for a few months to see if there’s any slow-down in brake wear.
NB: The above suggestion is purely a test method to see if the ABS system is at fault; you need to be aware that once the relay’s removed your ABS system will be inactive and therefore unable to help in an emergency braking situation – the brakes will function as normal but the ABS system will be deactivated and the warning light will illuminate. Furthermore, once the test is complete be sure to refit the relay and have the vehicle examined by a diagnostic machine, both to check its operation and to clear the fault codes.
Lastly, a tip on improving brake life: always engage the centre diff-lock when driving on loose surfaces. By locking the centre diff you split the torque transfer front and rear so the ABS system only has to bias torque left and right, thereby improving brake life.
Mike Porter
Land Rover Sales and Service
(021) 552 1979 / (021) 705 0474