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I Fixed My Land Rover Defender With a Key Ring

I was recently driving my 1997 Land Rover Defender down the street when it broke down. This is not an especially uncommon occurrence when you have a 1997 Land Rover Defender. In fact, one could argue that it’s a rather common occurrence, considering I have operated my Defender for all of two weeks this summer, and it broke down during both weeks.

This particular breakdown, however, I figured I might be able to address myself. That’s because as I was driving, the accelerator pedal stopped functioning, but everything else was working just fine. The truck idled forward when in “Drive.” The engine turned on and off without a problem. I didn’t really see any cause for concern, except, you know, for the fact that I couldn’t go anywhere.

So, I opened up the hood, and what I discovered is that the throttle cable had come off some bracket that actually connected it to the engine, thereby telling the truck to send power to the wheels. There was apparently a pin in this cable, but the pin had come out. So the engine would run and the pedal would push, but there was a disconnect between them.

Fortunately, a rather nice older man stopped by as I had my hood up and offered to help, suggesting that if I only had some metal object I could stick where the pin used to be, the accelerator would probably work. A friend I was traveling with had just the item: a metal key ring from a keychain, which could be stuck through the bracket and connected to the throttle cable, thereby providing the same function that the pin had provided before.

We attempted this repair, and indeed, it worked great. The key ring went into the holes and was secured to the throttle cable, and my Defender’s accelerator suddenly worked again. I thanked the man and off we went, with the accelerator pedal linked to the engine through a key ring from a keychain. This was an unbelievable, yet ingenious, fix. The key ring didn’t seem like it would pop out — as we looped it around itself — and it even appeared to be a better solution than the original Land Rover design, which seemed unusually prone to coming off the bracket.

My only concern was heat: I didn’t know if a key ring, even a metal one, would really be up for the kind of hot temperatures you’ll get under the hood of a car.

And so, about an hour after installing the key ring, I wanted to check it out — just to make sure it wasn’t frying, melting, or about to pop off the bracket and disconnect the throttle again (or worse, somehow stick the throttle in the “on” position). To satisfy my anxiety, I reached for the hood release, pulled on it, and … nothing. The hood release had broken, and I could no longer access my engine, or my key ring modification.

And, indeed, it was just another day with a Land Rover.

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  1. I have an 85 110 and I believe that is just their way of saying that they love you and want you to spend more time with them. I thought that was the joy of owning them…the intimate familiarity that is constantly reinforced. I love my old girl!

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Doug Demuro
Doug DeMuro writes articles and makes videos, mainly about cars. Doug was born in Denver, Colorado, and received an economics degree from Emory University in Atlanta. After graduation, Doug spent three years working for Porsche Cars North America. Eventually, he quit his job to become a writer, largely because it meant that he no longer had to wear pants. Doug’s work has been featured in a... Read More about Doug Demuro

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