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HOW TO REPLACE A DEFENDER REAR CROSSMEMBER

HOW TO REPLACE A DEFENDER REAR CROSSMEMBER

by Lindsay Porter, 4th September 2016

How to

It’s usually a job for the pros, but replacing a rear crossmember is a practical DIY job if you have the skills and knowledge

Don’t take that Defender rear crossmember for granted. One with visible corrosion – or one that’s been badly repaired – could turn out to be literally a death trap when towing or winching. Here’s how IRB carries out a professional replacement on Land Rover driver Phil’s beloved hard-working and hard-towing Defender, using one of the crossmember repair sections that they can supply through mail order. So, you’ve got an MoT on your Defender, which proves the rear cross-member must be safe and sound, right? Well unfortunately, that’s not always the case – and that’s because Defender crossmembers can only be visually checked and lightly tapped by MoT testers. But you can do what an MoT tester may not – give any suspect areas a good wallop with a hammer or even the point of a cold chisel. If it’s sound, the worst damage you can do to it is dent it, but if it’s rotten you might be shocked by the holes that appear. Bear in mind the great forces involved when towing, and often even greater when winching – forces that are often carried primarily by the crossmember. And since it’s not unknown for a corroded crossmember to fly apart when under great stress, you really do need to make sure that yours is sound. One more point, though: the chassis to which you are planning to weld your replacement crossmember must be sound, or else you’ll be moving the weak-point further along the vehicle. If chassis rails are too corroded to take a new crossmember, it will need replacing. 

TIME: 8 HOURS |  COST: £195+VAT
IRB crossmember as fitted (supply only) is £195 + VAT. (A 1/4 chassis version is £280 + VAT). The total price is always, of course, based on a quote – it all depends how bad the chassis is.

TOOLS:

  • 100 mm angle grinder as well as cutting, grinding and linishing discs (or plasma cutter with compressor)
  • Welding equipment and safety gear
  • General hand tools

1
STEP 1
STEP 1

Rear-mounted fuel tank has to be removed, so run tank low before starting work, then drain or pump fuel out (see this month’s Product Test).

2
STEP 2
STEP 2

Bolts holding the fuel tank’s support plate to the chassis leg brackets are removed. But they are well rusted to their captive nuts and several shear off.

3
STEP 3
STEP 3

Similarly, some of the anti-roll bar mounts have seized bolts. It’s quicker to let them shear off and renew them, and their captive nuts, later.

4
STEP 4
STEP 4

Two of the fuel tank support plate bolts are accessed through holes in the crossmember. Again, threads and bolt heads are corroded badly…

5
STEP 5
STEP 5

...meaning the correct socket won’t fit. James, IRB’s fabricator, used a special tapered socket after cutting part of the scrap crossmember away for access.

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