We bought the Land Rover on 13 April 1994, which I hoped wasn't a bad omen. We chose the Discovery because we wanted a large, robust vehicle which we could pack the children and dog into, plus enjoy regular weekends away in the Cheshire countryside near our home.

At first there were all the little niggles you come to expect with a new car - various squeaks and rattles. Then we noticed that oil consumption was high; we were pouring in a couple of litres a month. There were also rattles from the engine, and an annoying misfire. I remember them tinkering with some gaskets, but what shocked us was that the faults were blamed on the make of unleaded petrol. We filled up with Total, but the garage used Burmah which they insisted would be better for the engine. Well, it wasn't. The misfire and rattles continued and culminated in a serious breakdown.

The diagnosis was a sticking valve and piston wash, whatever that is, and the only cure was a new engine. This was March 1995. The Discovery kept playing up. One bizarre way to restart it when it stalled was to stand on the bull bars and shake them vigorously.

On one occasion my wife, who was seven months pregnant, was going to pick me up from the centre of Manchester when the Discovery stopped in the middle of a box junction. A nice chap in a Jaguar stopped to help. There wasn't much chance of him shifting two tons of 4 x 4, but my wife managed to persuade him that gyrating on the bull bars would do the trick. It did.

All this led to a another new engine in December '96, and a gearbox that was increasingly difficult to use. That's the abridged version; the problems have persisted and last week I was told another replacement engine is required. We are now on gearbox number four.

Ironically, as a solicitor I have managed to get two clients with major Discovery problems, both brand new vehicles from Land Rover. But as mine was supplied under a contract hire agreement, negotiations have been more complicated. Even more ironically, this hasn't put us off the Discovery; we think it's the best looking and most capable off-roader. We've just been very unlucky. We may even buy another one.

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