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Painting your own car can be a difficult task, but by following these steps, you will be able to strip, primer and paint your car in your own garage. Just be sure to take the necessary precautions and remember to always put safety first.

Clean the work area making sure that it is dust free and has excellent ventilation.

Cover the work area in plastic sheeting to retain the fumes inside the work area. This will allow the stripper to work efficiently. Carefully mask off any areas that are not to be stripped of paint or need to be screened from the paint stripper, e.g. rubber, brightwork, plastics, etc.

Strip all the paint from the car using a chemical paint stripper. Read and follow all precautionary steps and directions on the stripper container. Use gloves and goggles, and rinse off any areas of skin that come into contact with the stripper. Make sure that there is adequate ventilation.

Remove the plastic sheeting from the work area after the allotted time.

Carefully scrape the paint from the vehicle with a putty knife or paint scraper.

Rinse the paint stripper residue and any loose paint remaining off the car to neutralize the stripper.

Sand the vehicle with 80-grit sandpaper to create a key for the first primer coat to bond to. Aluminium panels require an etch primer to be used for at least the first coat. Clean the car of sandpaper particles etc. before applying any primer.

Check and re-apply where necessary masking tape to windows, tyres and other locations you do not want paint to touch.

Tip: Create a static storage to help keep dust off the car. Simply take several balloons you've rubbed to gather a charge and hang them above the vehicle.

Spray your primer of choice over the car in gentle, horizontal sweeps, passing the ends of the panel on each sweep. Apply four to five coats of primer, allowing each coat to dry and sanding out any imperfections with 120-grit sandpaper on a sanding block before beginning the next. This is a great time to get comfortable using your paint sprayer, as primer is inexpensive compared to paint.

Apply a thin red primer coat. Sand the vehicle lightly. This will help you find any dents or imperfections in the car. Dents will still have red primer on, high spots will be back to bare metal. Repair these parts where required, and re-coat with primer as necessary until the primer coat is complete with no dings or dents visible.

Apply each paint layer evenly and with a thin coat. This will prevent droplets and uneven blotches (orange peel). Begin at the top and work your way down, spraying horizontally with each sweep. Apply at least seven coats, lightly sanding and cleaning each time between coats when dry. Sand in the direction you sprayed the paint on.

Once you've done the paint layers and are happy with the results, you may need to spray on several layers of clear laquer (clearcoat) to seal the paint. This is especially true for metallic style finishes. Your paint supplier will advise you on this.

Remove masking tape and polish the vehicle.


If you have any hints or tips for painting vehicles, please contact This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. to pass them on!

Just bought an  old Land Rover and want to find out more about it? There are a couple of avenues you can explore, we'll look at some of those here.

Heritage Motor Centre - Gaydon

The archives at the British Motor Industry Heritage Trust preserve the surviving records of some of the most famous names in British motoring history. The Archive department offers a Heritage Certificate which is a certified copy of the entry against the chassis number in the authentic factory ledgers. Discover the original numbers and colour scheme, dates of build and despatch, and where available, the details of factory fitted equipment. These certificates are accepted as proof of build date by many licencing authorities, e.g. the DVLA in the UK. You can visit their site online at:

or contact them by telephone on 01926 645076.

Alternatively, you can get in touch by letter at:

Heritage Motor Centre
Banbury Road
CV35 0BJ

Ex- British Army Vehicles 1940-1989

If your Land Rover is an ex-army type, and entered service before 1989, there's a chance that the RLC Museum have the Army's record card for your vehicle. The museum don't have records for every vehicle, so try not to be too disappointed if they don't have a record card for your Landy, because the search fee is non-refundable.

B vehicle records,
The Royal Logistic Corps Museum,
The Princess Royal Barracks,
Camberley, Surrey,
GU16 6RW

If you have a specialist type of Land Rover then there's probably a club that can help you. Check the internet for Land Rover club websites, which may be able to help.

Ex-RAF Vehicles

If you have an Ex-RAF vehicle, The RAF hold records for these at:

RAF Museum London
Grahame Park Way
London, NW9 5LL

If anyone can pass on a Royal Navy vehicle archive address, that would be much appreciated.

Anybody with a petrol - powered car will surely have thought about running on Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG). But do you know what it is and what's involved?

What is LPG?

Liquefied petroleum gas is a clean and safe fuel that has a range of properties closest to those of petrol. Under slight pressure, LPG turns into liquid form and can then be stored in tanks. In an automotive LPG system, the LPG is converted back to gas before being burned in the engine. LPG is a convenient energy source used for many purposes including heating and cooking, as well as for vehicle fuel. Forty per cent of LPG comes from refining crude oil and 60% comes from field production.

The number of vehicles using LPG (also referred to as ‘autogas’) as an alternative to petroleum is growing rapidly. Recent estimates suggest there are more than eleven million vehicles using LPG worldwide, with four million of those located in Europe.

Of course you can’t simply use LPG in a vehicle that is accustomed to taking petroleum. Consequently, LPG conversion is seen as a straightforward and cost effective way of altering a petrol vehicle to run on LPG.

How do you get your car converted?

If you are interested in an LPG conversion you must be willing to find the cash for the conversion before you can start saving money. However, many LPG enthusiasts claim this money can be recouped within one to two years with the money you save at the pump. Larger or more heavily used vehicles will make savings much more quickly.

The process is relatively straightforward but ideally should be carried out by an LPGA approved installer. For those interested in installing their own systems, LPG installer Tinley Tech also run training courses to allow you to do this safely.

You will need to have significant space for the LPG tank – which is often fitted into the boot or underneath the vehicle, or sometimes in the spare wheel well. Some dashboards will be fitted with a device allowing you to switch between LPG and petroleum, while the refuelling point will be placed near to the existing petroleum refuelling point.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of LPG conversion?

LPG has significant environmental and financial benefits as outlined below:

  • Reduces carbon emissions – By converting to LPG you can automatically reduce your environmental impact as the amount of carbon dioxide your vehicle produces decreases. Compared to most petroleum vehicles, LPG vehicles produce 20% less CO2. since LPG reaches the engine in a pure gas form, resulting in improved combustion and eliminating the problem of engine oil dilution by unburned petrol. The oil stays cleaner for longer. Engines also run more smoothly and quietly than on petrol.
  • Other environmental benefits – Even though LPG vehicles have similar CO2 output to diesel vehicles, they do have other advantages. They are much quieter than diesel engines, LPG quickly evaporates if a spillage occurs and LPG produces fewer particulates and nitrogen oxides.
  • Reduces reliance on petrol and diesel – Currently the UK produces around six million tonnes of LPG every year of which around three million tonnes are exported. There is vast room for growth and there are already around 1,300 refuelling stations across the UK.
  • Price at the pump – The Government has shown significant support for LPG with low duty by comparison to petrol and diesel. As a result LPG is substantially cheaper at the pumps than petrol and diesel. It is estimated that a high mileage driver can save as much as 40% of their fuel costs with LPG compared to petrol, and 20% compared to diesel.
  • Congestion charges/road tax – Cars that run on LPG qualify for reduced taxation as they fit into lower tax bands. Many LPG vehicles are also exempt from congestion charges such as those in the city of London, Richmond and Westminster.

There are some disadvantages to consider too, before you decide if LPG conversion is right for you:

  • Initial installation cost.
  • Servicing/insurance costs – The LPG fuel system will need servicing at approximately 12,000 miles or typically once a year. Overall, these costs should be less than a typical diesel engine. You should also consider your insurance costs, as some insurance companies may charge an excess for an LPG approved conversion (others will not).
  • Mileage range/petrol stations – Not all petrol stations sell LPG, though the number is increasing. Typically you will not be able to travel as far on a full tank of LPG as you would on a full tank of petrol. However, with the petrol tank usually left in place during a conversion you can always switch to petrol as a back-up.
  • Warranties – Bear in mind that your manufacturer’s warranty (if you have one) could be affected by an LPG conversion.

LPG reaches the engine in a pure gas form, resulting in improved combustion and eliminating the problem of engine oil dilution by unburned petrol. The oil stays cleaner for longer. This helps to increase engine life and can extend service intervals. Engines also run more smoothly and quietly than on petrol.

Is it Safe?

The LPG is stored in the vehicle in liquid form and contained in a substantial cylinder. An automatic, safety valve prevents overfilling of the tank. A number of other safety features are built into the tanks including a pressure release valve and a solenoid valve to shut off the flow when the engine stops. Crash tests have shown that gas-powered vehicles are extremely safe, as LPG is more difficult to ignite than any other fuels. Due to these properties and safety features, gas-powered vehicles are safer than petrol-powered vehicles.

What are the savings?

LPG on the forecourt costs around half the price of petrol. A vehicle running on LPG will return slightly fewer miles per gallon than when running on petrol. This means the cost of running a vehicle on gas will be about 40% less than the cost of running it on petrol.

Where can I fill up?

The network of filling stations able to supply LPG is rapidly expanding. There are now over 1400 LPG filling sites in the UK with a government pledge to have at least one filling station in every town.

Can I still use petrol?

Equipment supplied allows the engine to run on petrol or LPG at the flick of a dashboard-mounted switch. This enables instant, on-the-move switching between fuels.

Will my vehicle loose performance?

With a properly installed LPG conversion and correct engine tuning there will be no noticeable loss of performance when running on gas.

Does the vehicle have to be new?

With a very small number of exceptions, any petrol engine in good condition can be converted successfully. The exceptions are direct injection engines and those with very soft valve seats.

Will it affect my insurance?

You should tell your insurance company that the car has been converted to enable it to use LPG. They may ask for details of the conversion.

For more information on LPG conversions, training courses and systems, visit the Tinley Tech website.

With fuel prices reaching new heights, everyone will have a desire to increase the fuel economy of their car. One simple way to get more miles to the gallon is to use eco-friendly maintenance and driving techniques to improve your fuel efficiency. These techniques are collectively known as 'Hypermiling'.

Hypermilers use a variety of techniques to improve fuel efficiency, usually helped in newer cars with the aid of real time mileage displays. Using hypermiling techniques can drastically improve your miles per gallon, no matter if your vehicle is modern or not.

The word 'Hypermiling' originated from the hybrid vehicle driving clubs where people began to compare fuel efficiency of their engines. These people became Hypermilers, and the term stuck.

The more sensible hypermiling techniques are perfectly safe and legal, others are more extreme and may compromise safety, whilst some hypermiling techniques are illegal and not recommended! Some of the safer ways to hypermile are included below.

Driving Tips

Drive a car with manual transmission: If you’re used to driving a car with an automatic transmission, switching over to a manual (if you can) when you buy your next car might take a little practice, but it’s definitely worth it. Once you have more control over the vehicle, you’ll be able to master more hypermiling tricks. Driven correctly, manual transmission cars are more economical than automatics.

Stop speeding: The harder you press the accelerator pedal, the more fuel you're using. Drive a little slower on those trunk roads and you'll be rewarded with better MPG.

Accelerate moderately: Unless you’re trying to merge onto a busy road, accelerating slowly preserves fuel.

Run all your errands during one trip: Instead of running your errands several different times a day or spread out during the week, try stopping at the grocery store, video store, dry cleaning and (heaven forbid) filling station during one single trip. If you’re driving an electric car, this cuts back on its start-up time.

Let the most efficient driver drive: More than one licenced driver in the vehicle? Let the most efficient driver drive! And take the opportunity to learn from his/her wisdom.

Remove unused roof racks: If your vehicle come with a roof rack and you don't use it, remove it. Same holds true for bike racks. Doing so will reduce aerodynamic drag, resulting in better fuel economy.

Coast instead of braking: When you see a junction up ahead or a traffic light turning yellow, immediately take your foot off the accelerator and let your vehicle slow down by itself. If you wait until the last possible minute to brake, then you’re wasting all the fuel you used when you could have been slowing down.

Cruise Control: One automatic setting that can actually help hypermiling is cruise control, which can keep you at a steady speed on those long motorway trips.

Lighten the load: The heavier your car is, the harder it has to work to propel itself forward. Empty out your boot and back seat of unnecessary items, they're only burning extra fuel.

Find a route that's easy on your vehicle: Instead of taking the scenic route to work, which could include more hills, twists, and dips, try finding a route that features level roads and less traffic lights or junctions. Generally, a slightly longer route with better driving conditions could use less fuel.

Don't use the aircon or wind down the windows: It is generally accepted that air-conditioning increases fuel consumption by about 10 percent, but winding down the windows increases drag, which is also an enemy of good fuel consumption.

Don’t leave the car running: It may seem like a good idea to let your car idle while you dash into the store to grab the milk or drop off a rented movie, but doing so wastes fuel. Take the extra few seconds to pull into a real parking space and turn the car off first.

Use a fuel consumption display: Feedback is absolutely critical to improving driving habits. Tank-to-tank monitoring of your consumption is not good enough. You need instrumentation that lets you reset the readout at will so you can track individual trips, or even portions of trips you regularly travel.

Options for vehicles without factory installed fuel economy computers include the commercial ScanGauge and PLX Kiwi. Open source choices include the MPGuino and SuperMID. Even the venerable vacuum gauge can help.

Use the road less traveled: Generally speaking, if you have the option of choosing lightly traveled roads over busier ones, you give yourself more flexibility to employ a wider range of fuel saving techniques than if you are surrounded by other vehicles. You may even find that a somewhat longer, lightly traveled route may result in lower overall amount of fuel used than the shorter, busier route.

Leave early and don't rush: The enemy of efficient driving is finding yourself in a rush. Leave for your destination a little early so you don't feel pressure to drive faster, brake later and otherwise fall back into bad habits. Driving efficiently can be much more relaxing than the typical person's driving style, but you need to allow a bit of extra time.

Time your re-fuelling trips: Plan to refuel your car during off-peak times to avoid lines and excessive idling. Also, if you fill your tank early in the day, you will make a small saving since fuel expands with rising temperature, meaning you'll get slightly more for your money on cold mornings where the storage tank has had all night to cool.

Avoid drive-thrus: Avoid drive thru windows. They lead to excessive idling.

Minimize idling when stopped: If you're going to be stopped for more than a few seconds, shift to neutral and shut off your engine. This is one of the main reasons hybrid vehicles get such good fuel economy in urban driving. (this of course assumes your vehicle is in good condition and will re-start immediately, every time).

Close the sunroof at higher speeds: Some sunroof styles are better than others. The worst offenders are the kind which tilt and slide to the outside, on top of the roof. When open, these "roof-top spoilers" can significantly increase aerodynamic drag.

Use the 'racing line': Knowing how to pick the "racing line" through a corner, when safe, can help to preserve momentum. Generally, the racing line is the path through a turn with the largest possible radius. It may permit a higher speed with more comfort (less body roll and g-forces), and less tyre scrub. Even at low speeds, choosing the "racing line" has benefits.

Winter: clean off snow & ice: Completely clear snow & ice off your vehicle before driving. It will minimize your use of energy hungry accessories (defrosters), remove an aerodynamic penalty (increased frontal area), and reduce weight (a layer of ice and snow over an entire vehicle can weigh a surprising amount).

Winter parking: clean out the garage: If you have one, clean out your garage so you can park your car inside during the cold months of the year. The faster warm up will return better fuel economy.

Avoid 'warm up' idling: Don't idle your engine to warm it on a cold day. An idling engine gets zero miles per gallon. Start to drive - under light loads - as soon as the engine is running smoothly (usually immediately). It's a more efficient way to warm the engine and entire drivetrain, including tyres.

Be smooth: Smooth use of the accelerator, steering, transmission and brakes is not only more comfortable for you and your passengers, it's also a little more efficient (less scrubbing of tyres, energy lost through suspension movement). It's also better for the longevity of the vehicle and in general a sign of a skilled driver.

Look well ahead & anticipate: Your ability to drive efficiently depends on being able to anticipate changes in the driving environment. The way to do this is by constantly scanning well ahead in your intended path. In city driving you should know what's happening at least 10-15 seconds ahead. On the freeway, at least 30 seconds visual lead time is appropriate.


Maintenance Tips

Doing regular maintenance check ups on your car is another easy way to maximize mileage. Check out these helpful maintenance hacks that will keep your car running smoothly and efficiently.

Get an oil change: Keeping up with scheduled oil changes will help your engine run more easily. Adequate oil levels and fresh oil can also make a difference in how quickly your vehicle burns fuel

Check your tyre pressure: Soft tyres put more stress on your engine due to the rolling resistance of the tyre, which increases dramatically when under-inflated, making your engine work harder and burn more fuel. Keep a close eye in your tyre pressures and make sure they are always at the recommended pressure for your car.

Tyre Balance: If your tyres aren't balanced correctly, you could end up wearing out certain tyres faster than others. Get a check-up for your tyres if you think yours are out of whack.

Here we are going to look at some of the factors you should take into consideration concerning wheel choice if you should happen to stray from factory items.

Pitch Circle Diameter (PCD)

The wheel P.C.D. can be defined as the diameter of an imaginary circle drawn through the centre of the stud holes on the wheel and/or the vehicle wheel hub. PCD is measured in millimetres and also indicates the number of studs or bolts the wheel will have.

5 Stud PCD4 stud PCD

One of the most common car fitments has 4 studs and a PCD of 100mm, hence the fitment 4x100. Land Rovers (except 101 FCs) generally have a five stud PCD.

When new wheels are required, it is essential that they have the correct P.C.D. for the vehicle you are fitting them to. However, just because a wheel from one vehicle has the same PCD and offset as the wheel from another does not mean they are interchangeable - the centre bore of the wheel and hub must also be the same to ensure correct centralisation of the wheel, and the shape of the spokes must ensure clearance of the brake calipers. Many manufacturers use the same wheel fitments as others, but some are unique.


Wheel offset is the distance between the imaginary centreline of the wheel and the inside face that bolts up against the wheel hub on the car. Fitting wheels that alter the track of your car (the distance between the centre of the left and right wheels, either front or rear) by more than 20mm may void your insurance policy, so check before making this sort of change. Altering the track will also affect your car's handling.

Wheel offset

Negative Offset wheels have their mounting face toward the rear of the wheel - powerful rear-wheel drive cars often have wheels with negative offset.

Zero Offset wheels have their mounting face even with the centerline of the wheel.

Positive Offset wheels have their mounting face toward the front face of the wheel. Front wheel drive vehicles usually have positive offset wheels.

Spigot or Centre Bore Size

The center bore of a wheel is the size of the hole at the back of the wheel which the hub's spigot fits into. To help the wheels to seat properly this hole needs to be an exact match to the size of the spigot. The spigot is the bit in the centre of the hub that you rest the inside centre of the wheel on whilst aligning the studs and screwing back the wheel nuts. On generic after market wheels, the spigot hole inside the wheels (centre bore) is a lot bigger than the spigot on the car. So what you need to do in this case is fit spigot locating rings. Spigot rings are just rings of aluminium or hard plastic, that fit over the spigot on your car and then have a proper snug fit with the spigot hole on the wheel. If you don't have the spigot taking all the weight of the car, chances are you'll break one or more studs when you drive the car hard or have to brake hard. Usually the wheel nuts are simply there to hold the wheel on, NOT support the weight of the car. Also, as there is nothing to centre the wheel, you'll notice the wheels go in and out of balance because as you drive around, the wheels will move around on the hub.

Wheel Size

Examples of typical wheel size designations are 5.5J16, 7J17 or 6.5J15. Other combinations of numbers and letters are available. In these cases the first number (before the letter) refers to to the width of the rim where the tyre fits measured in inches between the rim flanges. The second number (after the letter) refers to the diameter of the wheel and is again measured in inches. The letter J specifies the height of the rim edges above the bead seating area. J is the normal designation for many modern car wheels, but other letters are possible as shown below.

Rim width and diameter

Height of Wheel Rim Flanges
    Letter        Inches        mm    
J 0.68 17.3
JK 0.71 18.0
K 0.77 19.6
L 0.85 21.6

It is quite normal to alter the size of wheel when fitting alloys. Most cars are fitted with 14" to 16" steel wheels. When changing to alloys - you can replace with the same size of wheel, and keep the same size tyre, or move up to larger diameter wheels.

Upsizing the wheels means you would need smaller profile tyres to keep the overall tyre diameter (rolling radius) the same, which helps keep your odometer and speedo accurate. The larger the wheel and the smaller the tyre profile the more impact the wheel chosen will have on the overall look of the car. Upsizing also has an effect on the handling of your car. Each step will decrease the proportion of flexible tire sidewall to rigid wheel. On-road, this could improve response, help keep the tyre tread square to the road and would improve your car's 'feedback'. However - tyre inches are often lighter than wheel inches. upsizing can make your overall wheel/tyre package heavier. Reducing the profile of your tires will also decrease your car's damping deflection under compression, so the ride quality will get worse.

Changing your wheels

Before you do anything, make sure that you have the right sort of fixings for your new wheels - Bolts and studs have various diameters, threads and settings, your wheel supplier should be able to advise on this. Also double check to see that you get any spigot rings you need to match the wheel to the hub.

Next you need to jack your car up; do this in a secure way, and be sure to use axle stands, chock wheels still in contact with the ground and apply the parking brake. Offer a wheel up to the car and check that the bolt holes line up (correct PCD), that the wheel locates on the hub properly (correct centre bore) and that there is wheel arch, suspension strut and brake caliper clearance. If you have upgraded your brakes be sure to seek advice and measure everything thoroughly before you order.

The wheel bolts or nuts must be tightened to the manufacturer's precise torque recommendations. Be sure to re-torque after 50 miles or so as they will compress slightly. When fitting the bolts, tighten them increasingly till they're 3/4 tight then lower the car and complete the process.

Fitted new Alloys? Take care of them!

There are lots of specialist wheel cleaners on the market, all designed to help make the job of cleaning your new alloy rims that little bit easier, But here's some tips to make those alloys last.

Before you fit your wheels, give them several coats of good quality car polish back and front. This will help prevent the road salt, brake dust and dirt keying to the surface on first use. Be sure to treat the surface of your alloys as well, if not better, than you would your paintwork. Remember they're going to be subject to the harshest conditions of just about any part of the car!

Alloys prefer frequent washing with mildly soapy warm water; and remember to hose all the loose abrasive grit off first. This is the best way to keep these wheels clean. Do not use abrasive cleansers, electric buffers or wire wool pads on your wheels. Where it is possible let your wheels cool before cleaning them and keep away from car-wash wheel-cleaners at all times.

Land Rover PCDs, Offsets and centre bores

ModelYearPCDOffsetCentre Bore
Defender 90 1992 on 5×165 33  
Defender 110 1992 on 5×165 33  
Discovery 1 90-98 5×165 33 70.1
Discovery 2 1998 on 5×120 55 70.1
Freelander 1 97-05 5×114.3 35 to 38 64.1
Freelander 2 2006 on 5×108 35 to 50 63.4
Range Rover 1 86-95 5×165 33  
Range Rover 2 94-02 5×120 55 70.1
Range Rover 3 2002 on 5×120 55 72.6
Range Rover Sport 2005 on 5×120 55 72.6
This article is for guidance only, please double check with the wheel manufacturer before purchasing.


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