Project D2 – Part 1: Before the Project Can Begin

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With the first issue of Alloy+Grit magazine, we introduced a pair of official project vehicles: Art Director Chris Holewski’s 1959 Series II and my 2000 Discovery II. While Chris’s vehicle is in something of a holding pattern until construction of his new house (and garage) is complete, the Discovery project is off to a slow start for a much more conventional reason – it’s just acting like a Disco.

Literally days after that inaugural issue arrived from the printer and started shipping out to subscribers, announcing our intentions to build it up as a dual-purpose daily driver/trail rig, my trusty Discovery started behaving badly. In the parking lot at Newark International, I started up to head home. While it was warming up, I lifted the hood to give it a quick pre-flight – no new leaks, oil level still full, no mysterious residue under the oil cap, all good – when without warning it simply shut down.

It eventually started and got me down the road several miles before dying once again. The rest of the day was wasted being towed to a Pep Boys, ordering a crankshaft position sensor, replacing said sensor in the parking lot of said Pep Boys, and eventually discovering that the crank position sensor was apparently not the issue. I left it with Manny, Moe and Jack for the night, got a ride home and started hunting for a local tow truck to retrieve the dead beast so I could bring it home for more thorough diagnosis on my own time and turf.

The Disco sat in my driveway for a couple weeks while I was busy with more pressing issues. Several times I attempted to start it once again, only to have it crank fruitlessly, without so much as a whiff of fuel in the air. The battery exhausted from too many failed starting attempts, I put a charger on it and let it recover. To my amazement, it eventually came to life. Meanwhile, advice from reliable sources suggested the fuel pump might be acting out intermittently, so I ordered a new one from Atlantic British.

Fuel pump failures are fairly uncommon on the Discovery II. And that’s a good thing, because changing one can be a tedious job. Not complicated, necessarily, but time-consuming because of all the interior trim required to access the pump, which is located beneath the carpet in the cargo area. Some people shorten the official procedure by cutting the cargo area carpeting to access the pump, but this isn’t an operation you’ll be doing on a regular basis (hopefully) so we recommend spending a little extra time to do the job right.

Should you find yourself in the same predicament, we’ve documented the correct procedure for you below. Take your time, heed all the necessary precautions, and you can do the job in a couple hours easily. Hopefully the next time we write about the Discovery project, it’ll be something a little more interesting.

Procedure: Replacing a fuel pump in a Discovery II

Step 1: Disconnect the battery.

Step 2: Clear the cargo area of any external items, including floor mats. Fold and tilt the second-row seats completely forward.

Step 3: Remove the trim piece at the rear of the cargo area. Six Philips head screws (located underneath a snap-in plastic cover) hold this to the body. Be careful not to strip the screw heads; there’s a good chance they’ll be at least partially corroded. With all the screws out, you may need to carefully flex the plastic trim to remove it from under the surrounding trim.

Step 4: On 7-pssenger models, remove the right-side jump seat. Remove the plastic hardware covers to reveal the two 13mm nuts and two 13mm bolts that hold the seat to its side mounts. Note that the seat mount is spring loaded and there will be tension against the hardware when removing (and eventually reinstalling) the seat. Be careful not to pinch hands or fingers during the removal and installation of the seat.

Step 5: Unbolt the right rear seat (second row) belt at its lower mount. It is mounted with a 17mm bolt beneath a plastic trim cap. Retain all of the washers and spacers in the order in which they’re assembled. On 7-passenger models, also remove the lower seat belt mount (third row)

Step 6: Remove the right-side lower trim panel. Start by removing the grille trim at the rear to access the large plastic retainer cap inside. Mounting hardware (plastic studs and/or trim screws) hold the upper and lower side trims together. Remove these to free the lower side trim from its mounts. On 7-passenger models, a Philips screw located in the mounting receiver for the seat must also be removed.

Step 7: Carefully pull the lower side trim out from beneath the upper trim. Move it out of your workspace.

Step 8: Lift the carpet, starting at the right rear corner of the cargo area. You’ll need to slip the carpet over the cargo tie-down D-rings and the cross bars for the second-row seat mounts. Push the carpet to the left side of the cargo area without removing it completely. Use a bungee strap or other retainer to keep the carpet out of your way if necessary.


Step 9: Remove the circular cover plate from the center of the cargo area floor. Six Philips screws secure it to the body. With the screws out, carefully pry the cover plate away from the floor to reveal the top of the fuel pump.

Step 10: Before disconnecting any hoses or electrical connections, clean the top of the fuel pump to remove any loose debris that may fall into the fuel tank when extracting the pump. A quick vacuuming of the area followed by a wipe with a general purpose cleaner should remove the potential contaminatnts.

Step 11: A metal sealing ring secures the fuel pump in place on the top of the fuel tank. This must be unscrewed in a counterclockwise direction. Land Rover makes a special tool (LRT-19-009) that attached to a ratchet, but in its absence you can improvise by carefully tapping a flat screwdriver with a hammer against the series of raised lugs on the top of the ring. It will take several complete revolutions to full loosen the ring, so work patiently and be careful not to damage the lugs.

Step 12: With the sealing ring free, unplug the pump wiring harness, and if equipped, the second harness for the leak detection pump. Move the wiring to the side without kinking it.

Step 13: With an absorbent mat or shop towel on hand, carefully remove the fuel supply hose from the pump connection. The fuel will likely still be under pressure, so be careful not to have any ignition sources (hot work light, lit cigarette, etc.) nearby when you disconnect the line. If your vehicle is equipped with the leak detection pump, disconnect the rubber hose connected to it at this time.

Step 14: Remove the sealing ring from the top of the fuel pump and set aside.

Step 15: Take a good look at your new fuel pump to become familiar with what you’ll be removing. Carefully withdraw the fuel pump from the tank. Be aware of the armature and float assembly for the fuel gauge, as the float piece may become caught on the edge of the tank on its way out.

Step 16: Using a spare reservoir, empty any residual fuel from the old fuel pump and safely dispose of it. Do not reuse the fuel in the pump well.

Step 17: Loosely install the new rubber pump seal onto the pump assembly. The large flange should be on the top of the pump. Refer to the old pump if needed. Leave the ring loosely on place, as it will actually be fitted into the tank before final installation of the pump.

Step 18: Carefully insert the new pump into the fuel tank, being careful not to damage the fuel gauge float and arm assembly. Align the pump properly with tank, and then seat the rubber seal in place along the opening of the tank. With the rubber seal fitted to the tank, press the pump firmly into place, being careful not to dislodge the seal.

Step 19: Fit the metal sealing ring to the top of the tank. Press it firmly in place and start turning the ring by hand to catch all threads. You may need to apply downward force in order to get the ring started properly. Hand tighten as far as you can, then use the screwdriver and hammer to lightly tap the ring clockwise until it is fully seated.

Step 20: With the new pump fully installed and secured in the tank, reconnect the fuel line, the leak detection tub (if fitted), and all wiring. Clean any remaining fuel from the area.

Step 21: Before reassembling anything else, reconnect the battery and test the operation of the new pump. It may take several cranks before the fuel system is fully pressurized and the vehicle starts. Once it does, confirm there are no leaks before reassembling the trim pieces.

Step 22: Reinstall trim in reverse order of removal. Using a torque wrench, tighten seat belt hardware to 24 lb-ft. On 7-passenger vehicles, torque the jump seat hardware to 22 lb-ft. (you may need a second set of hands to get the seat mounting hardware properly aligned).

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