In Summary
  • To avoid the headache of developing the powertrain of this vehicle, you might need to go the whole distance and change many other things.

Hi Baraza,

After plenty of disappointments and having pulled out most of my hair, I’ve decided to drop the failed KV6 engine of my 2001 Freelander 2.5 V6 and pop in a Toyota 4-cylinder 7A-T20C.

I have heard testimonies about a few Freelanders having had this swap and running fine, most having swapped the entire drive train to Toyota (front-wheel drive only). I prefer to retain the Tiptronic shift and the all-wheel drive, so I wish to retain the original JATCO JF506E gearbox. So I plan to swap only the engine, harness and ECU. However, I have a few concerns: Is it possible, and how complex is it to marry the two? Are the circuitry compatible? Is this likely to run efficiently and last? Given that the stock KV6 has about 177 hp at 6250 RPM while the 7A is rated 116 hp at 5800 rpm, how will the significant reduction in power affect performance?


Hi Frank,

I once narrated how the first generation Freelander was a lesson in how not to do car manufacturing, what with the raft of problems it left the factory with (136 known faults, according to classified internal documents), some of which might have included the gearbox.

Now, unlike you, I’m notoriously difficult to impress and as such, I too have heard of Toyota engine swaps being done into Freelander shells - up to and including but not limited to the 7A and 3S engines; just not with the roaring success you insinuate.

I’ve decided to drop the failed KV6 engine of my 2001 Freelander 2.5 V6 and pop in a Toyota 4-cylinder 7A-T20C. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

I’ve decided to drop the failed KV6 engine of my 2001 Freelander 2.5 V6 and pop in a Toyota 4-cylinder 7A-T20C. PHOTO| FILE| NATION MEDIA GROUP

I have also visited the Land Rover forum and seen that you posted this exact same question on March 28 this year. You didn’t think I’d be that thorough, did you? :-) You do have a legitimate concern about the engine and gearbox working well together, and this comes down to the harness and ECU that you plan to swap alongside the engine.

To complicate matters further is the fact that you are changing from a 177hp V6 Rover engine which makes peak power at 6250rpm to a 116hp 4-cylinder Toyota engine which has seen its best work before 6000rpm.

This is starting to sound like a tuning affair and you might  end up doing the R&D work that the Rover Group should have done before releasing this joke of a car, with its 136 known factory faults.

To avoid the headache of developing the powertrain of a vehicle that should perhaps never have seen the light of day, you might need to go the whole distance: change everything from the engine up to the point right before the diffs: engine, gearbox, clutch, ECU, harness, TCM and speedometer/odometer reading cables. You might even need to change the diffs to gear down a little and compensate for the substantial drop in power you will eventually have to endure with the smaller Toyota engine. Whether or not it runs efficiently and lasts will depend on how much money and effort is thrown into the project, and this brings us to our conclusion:

Get rid of the damn car. Yours does not sound like a passionate endeavour; it is more like you simply want a Freelander that works, and your current one clearly doesn’t.

Make it somebody else’s headache because going the swap route is worse than the kind of jackpot-seeking gambling that involves teams you’ve never heard of and in which you throw all your money hoping for the best.

The potential for disaster is ominously incipient.

Vibration, lack of power and overheating point to lack of oil

Dear Baraza,

Thank you for the good work you are doing.

However, I was pretty miffed the other day when you said that the Nissan Dualis is driven only by women. Well mine is often driven by my wife but I own it. I guess it is the same with most of those you see around. Anyway, I need your help here.

My car, a 2007 model, has been quite trouble-free since I fished it from the Japanese market in 2014. Two weeks ago, I took it for routine service - just a change of oil and filter, and cleaning air filter, etc.

Then that evening I started to feel the car getting heavy. It was vibrating when I pressed on the accelerator, and fairly noiseless when I got my foot off the pedal. It is also losing power, as well as overheating.

I thought they had put too much oil so I returned it to the guys who serviced it and they drained some oil, but still there was no change. The vehicle can barely climb a hill. 

What has happened to this car that I love some much? Kindly wipe the tears from my eyes. I would like to hear from you before I take it to my mechanic.

Anthony Nderitu



Hello Nderitu,

About the Dualis: I went further and said “check the statistacks” didn’t I? You have then gone even further by proving me more right: it’s your wife who drives the car, irrespective of who owns it. Skrrrah! Man’s international, fam!

Now, I have no idea what kind of service they did on your car but they clearly did you wrong. It actually sounds like they didn’t put in enough oil and your car is giving the last agonising cries as it thrashes about on the throes of death. Vibration, lack of power and overheating are all symptoms of lack of oil and I don’t want to imagine this is the case because it might be too late and you need a new engine.

However, before you go down this depressing path, consider the case of a wiring problem for the power loss and vibration. The overheating could be something else totally. Also consider clogged injectors. Methinks that someone fiddled with components that had nothing to do with the service protocols and my biggest suspicion is wiring, since it might affect the spark plug leads (power loss and vibration) and the water pump and/or electric fans.



Let's talk understeer, oversteer and ground clearance

Hi JM,

Thanks for your well elucidated and articulate poetry on cars – very informative and, indeed, very helpful. Much appreciated.

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