Defender Hinges

The door hinges on the Land Rover Defender can rust, creak and eventually run too loose to feel like the door is going to swing out forever when you open the door. The good news is, they are really easy to swap.

Buy new hinges and bolts. Paint the hinges using a rattle can of spray paint or some Hammerite. I decided to contrast the hinges against the bodywork black on white. The extra benefit being that black Hammerite is more rust resistant the plain old white enamel. Put a little grease in the turning surfaces and on the pin running through the middle.

These need to go

First-off, have a good look on the inside to see if you can work without removing the door card. Chance are, you can. Otherwise, remove the handles and window winder and pop it off using a trim removal tool. In my case, I was good to leave it in place. Soak the bolts in GT85 and put the kettle on.

Wind down the window. Make life a bit easier when going in and out the car. Put your mug of tea on the wing and get to work.

The trick here is to do them one at a time, starting from the bottom one. Undo the nuts on inside of the door or better still, use a spanner to hold the nut and undo the bolt from the outside. If you have a screw head, go gentle. If you have a torx or hex head, you will be in a better position. Remove just those two bolts and close the door again. You will probably have some shims under the hinge. Keep them and remember where you got them from.

The two bolts in the pillar are secured with metal clips. Undo the bolts and take the hinge off. carefully undo the clip. Clean up the paintwork underneath. Drop on some rustkiller. Install ht new clip. Lose it inside the pillar. Use another clip. realise you’ll be short of clips. Make a fishing kit using some twine and a paperclip to rescue the missing clip. Fix the clip again more tentatively. Step back. Sip some tea.

Rusty old bolts and the hinges are metallic blue. My car was originally Silver and painted white at some point in the past. So, somebody went cheap by using second-hand hinges….

Fit the new hinge to the pillar using new shiny bolts, not forgettign to resue the same number of shims as before. Preferably A4 marine with a torx head. A2 Stainless is an option if you want to save a few pennies. Don’t tighten the hinge up too tight but tight enough so it can help support the door.

Push the two bolts in for the door and carefully open the door, bearing in mind one hinge is carrying the weight. Put the nuts (preferably new nyloc ones) on the other side and tighten them up. Close the door and tighten the pillar bolts. I would go back a half turn or so giving a tiny bit of adjustment potential for when the door settles after the other hinge is in place, but that is up to you.

If the door seems a bit off, remember you have another hinge to do yet and at the moment the door is a bit of a Frankenstein’s monster. If after doing both the door is fighting you, you can revert to the old shims to return the door to a similar fit as the older hinge had. This might be necessary if the door is old and mildly deformed due to wear and tear. New shims are obviously preferred, but you know, Land Rover.

The upper hinges are trickier. Fold the mirror back and undo the door bolts. Remove the nuts but leave the bolts in. Close the door if you had to open it. Having that window open is really rather useful right now.

Undo the pillar bolts and take the hinge off. The mirror will need supporting. Quite obvious but better to be wary than have to buy a new one. Once the hinge is off, remove the pillar clips and anti-rust the body work.

Put the hinge on a flat surface. The ground or a table or one of the seats is better than working on the wing so there is no risk of dropping the mirror. Unbolt the mirror from the hinge. Bolt it onto the new one.

Fir the hinge to the body work, then the door. Tighten it all up and check the door opens and closes OK. Loosen the bolts slightly to get it to settle rather than adjust the striker plate on the door because you’ll be fiddling for hours.

Stand back. Sip tea. Admire handiwork.

So much nicer

Repeat on the other side. Recycle the old bolts and hinges at your local recycling centre.