Apparently, if you keep asking Land Rover’s PR agency politely for the past eight years why you weren’t invited to any of their major press events, they keep saying they have no space. Then when you publicise that they aren’t inviting you to events, instead of making amends, they simply bury their heads in the sand and ban you. So we won’t be able to bring you any review of the Explorer-esque new Range Rover, but we can certainly keep bringing you updates on our very own Range Rover. It’s been four months since we picked it up, and we’ve finally taken it in for an issue that’s been bugging us since we bought it.
When we purchased the used Range Rover, the brake-pedal feel was absolute mush. When you pressed the pedal, nothing happened until near the end of the pedal-travel, where the braking power would be just fine. But it was a disconcerting feeling, and increased our reaction-times in emergency stops. Drivers of Toyota Land Cruisers would think such awful brakes are normal, but we guessed it was time to change the brake fluid, as a Range Rover isn’t supposed to be like this.
From our experience, dealer service-centres are reluctant to change the brake fluid, and many service schedules don’t include it on their lists of regular maintenance items. For whatever reason, you have to specifically ask for it. We had the same issue with Mitsubishi and Jeep service centres. When the Range Rooney was in for service, we forgot to ask for it, and they were more intent on selling us entirely new brakes than pointing out that we maybe needed new fluid.
So after driving around by keeping huge safe distances on the highway for this long, we finally found the time to take the Rooney in for a brake-fluid flush. Initially, we tried to take it to Emarat Fasttrack, but after several assurances that they could do it for Dhs 400, they backed out at the last minute, citing their fear of electronics! These time-wasters should specify from before that they can only handle Corollas and Tiidas.
Next we went to Dynatrade on Sheikh Zayed Road, a polished independent garage that we had a fairly positive experience with, when we took our Mitsubishi Galant GTS there. They initially quoted us Dhs 1,300, and said they’ll do a full flush and check for leaks as well. We figured this was their “Range Rover” tax and we’ll argue about it later. Next day they called me up, said the car was ready so we could come in for a road test, and that the charge was only Dhs 500 now. We went the day after and drove it for a bit with the mechanic.
The brakes were still on the mushy side, but the feel was a fair bit better than before. The car actually starts stopping as soon as you press the brake-pedal in a little. It was finally behaving like a car we could confidently tailgate with, as Range Rovers were apparently born to do. They also confirmed that they used the correct “DOT4″ fluid, since using the wrong “DOT5″ fluid is never a good idea. And it cost us Dhs 500, so there was no “Range Rover” tax in the end. However, we actually didn’t ask the Land Rover dealer itself how much this job would’ve cost, so we don’t know how much money we saved, to be fair. Maybe the dealer was cheaper? Yeah, right.
So Dynatrade still remains our garage of choice for basic maintenance, if not for more specialised issues with specific cars. The experience was fine, except that we had to wait more than an hour to get the car washed after the road test. We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on that one, since we showed up there just before lunch break and most of the staff had disappeared at some point.
Frankly, we find it astounding that so many dealer service-centres of various brands treat this brake-fluid safety issue so lightly. It is very dangerous, and the fluid needs to be changed every two or three years. With the advent of “free service contract” deals, some greedy dealers are skipping the brake-fluid part just so they don’t have to do it for free. If your brakes feel like air, go ask for a fluid flush, and make sure they don’t just top it up like they normally do.
Original Mileage When Bought: 99,980 km
Latest Mileage To Date: 102,800 km
Latest Average Fuel Economy: 17.8 litres/100 km
Cost of Latest Problems: Dhs 0
Cost of Latest Maintenance: Dhs 500
Total Non-Fuel Running Cost Since Bought: Dhs 8480