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HOW TO FIT A DEFENDER 90 FUEL TANK GUARD

HOW TO FIT A DEFENDER 90 FUEL TANK GUARD

by Trevor Cuthbert, 16th August 2016

How to

Steel fuel tanks are tough, but they’re vulnerable off-road. Trevor Cuthbert shows that protecting the tank, and the fuel inside, is a simple job

My friend Matthew Spoerri owns a Defender 90 that is used mainly for weekend fun with local offroad clubs, such as the Northern Ireland Land Rover Club. He keeps it well maintained and constantly strives to make it as capable as possible and well protected against breakdown. This is because over the years we have had occasion to do in-field repairs or – worse – recover one of our Land Rovers home on the back of the trailer. This winter, Matt wanted to carry out some maintenance and improvements to the Defender, and the first of these was to protect the fuel tank which he always feared was going to get badly bashed in the course of his off- road driving. The fuel tank on a Defender 90 is mounted on the centre right (viewing from the driver’s seat) of the Land Rover on models up to the end of 300Tdi production in 1998. For the Td5 and TDCi models (1998 onwards), the fuel tank is mounted at the rear. Both locations have their vulnerabilities and there is an extensive array of protection solutions available from aftermarket suppliers to prevent physical damage from rocks and tree stumps, and on ramp-over exercises. Matt’s 90 is from the 1980s and has been retro-fitted with a 200Tdi engine, so the fuel tank is of the centre-mounted variety. Our local Land Rover specialist, BLRC, has plenty of underbody protection for all Land Rover models and they supplied the heavy galvanised steel tank guard to be fitted here. This particular tank guard is a good design from the fitting point of view. It bolts to the chassis in a very convenient way, needing only two 8mm holes to be drilled in a support bracket near the front radius arm mount where it is attached with two M8 bolts. The centre mount uses an existing bolt on the chassis rail, while the rear of the guard hangs firmly from the tubular outrigger via two U-bolts. The job of fitting the tank guard takes around an hour and is a very worthwhile addition to a Land Rover that’s used off-road. We took the time to clean the tank and coat it with underbody sealant first, as the guard forms a new mud trap. Such a trap holds moisture and therefore increases the chances of premature rusting of the fuel tank but, knowing Matthew, he will be clearing out the mud at every 

opportunity anyway.

TOOLS:  

  • 13mm spanners and socket wrench
  • Drill with 8mm bit
  • Trolley jack or transmission jack
TIME: ONE HOUR | COST: £125

CONTACT: BLRC Tel: 02897 511763

1
STEP 1
STEP 1

The main clumps of mud and dirt were scraped away from the fuel tank and the bracket, and then a stiff brush was used to clean the rest off.

2
STEP 2
STEP 2

A liberal coating of underbody sealant was sprayed over the underside of the fuel tank, getting it well into all of the nooks and crannies.

3
STEP 3
STEP 3

The dents and damage to the gearbox crossmember illustrates just how vulnerable the fuel tank is, in its location at the centre of the Land Rover.

4
STEP 4
STEP 4

The heavy-gauge steel fuel tank guard has been galvanised for rust protection. It is a well-engineered and very strong piece of underbody armour.

5
STEP 5
STEP 5

Fitting such a heavy piece of steel is best carried out by two persons. If using a vehicle lift, this transmission jack will take the strain.

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