Land Rover recalls 72,000 Freelanders

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The Independent Online

Land Rover recalled almost its entire range of 72,000 Freelander vehicles, amid safety concerns surrounding Europe's best-selling four-wheel drive.

Engineers at the company's Solihull factory acted after several customers complained of a faulty handbrake affecting all models built between 1997 and March this year.

In some vehicles, the handbrake may disengage if the vehicle's door is slammed, the company warned.

Further checks have revealed that there are also potential problems in three-door models with the seat lever mechanism and the engine harness – the latter may result in failure of the headlights.

The Freelander, which costs between £17,200 and £24,595, was launched to critical acclaim in 1997 but the series of safety concerns will dent the prestige of Land Rover, which was bought by Ford from BMW in June last year.

The company has issued a worldwide alert but stresses that the vast majority of vehicles affected have been sold in the UK. Owners have been urged by the company to take the vehicle to their nearest Land Rover dealership for free "routine safety checks".

The company plans to test the handbrakes of 68,838 Freelander models built until March this year, amid concerns that the handbrake may fail to engage fully. In extreme circumstances this could cause the handbrake to disengage if it receives a vigorous jolt. All models within the affected range will have the handbrake assembly replaced.

In three-door models, a fault has been identified with the seat lever mechanism, which may lead to the back of either front seat failing to lock into its rest position. The seat lever recall affects 4,391 vehicles, which were built at the end of 2000. The seat frame assembly may need to be replaced.

On about 12,000 models built towards the end of 2000, there is the danger that the engine harness, which passes underneath the fuse box, may be susceptible to chafing. This could lead to a number of electrical functions, such as the headlamps, not operating.