Broken half shaft (at least?)


Well-known member
I broke my 110 over the weekend.

I was doing a vehicle recovery course and got more than I bargained for. At the bottom of a steep hill, I forded a tiny stream and coming up the rocks on the other side, heard a clunk and got stuck. After three separate winch pulls, including using a rope retention pulley for a redirect, and then being towed by a (sigh) Jeep, I definitely learned a bit about recovery.

I had a lot of trouble seating the transfer case selector, and my guess is that linkage isn’t working correctly. At various times I had the truck in high unlocked, high locked, low unlocked, low locked and still had no forward or reverse movement with the clutch fully released (ie, foot, completely off the pedal) on flat, packed dirt. No motion at the wheels.

Ultimately, I was able to move with the transfer case selector in the high locked position. Despite the position of the shifter, it didn’t seem like I was locked, and so I drove home.

My 70-highway-mile drive home was normal except for a decided clunk when the driveline took up any slack. If I was overly gentle with the clutch, I could almost but not totally eliminate this.

The R380 and LT230 are new from when Doug installed the R2.8 about 10K miles ago. The shift tower was replaced with a used unit by Trevor at British 4x4 some 3k miles ago. To the best of my knowledge, the differentials, drive shafts and axles are original to my 155k mile 1989 truck.

My garage has it now and says one of the front half shafts is broken. They recommend replacing both but don’t seem yet to have explored the differential itself to see if there is damage in there.

I’m not a mechanic. I suppose it could be that both of my front half shafts or my front drive shaft is broken, and that the CDL really was locked, but if that were the case, I should have had motion in either low or high.

I asked them to check the transfer case selector linkage, the half shafts, and my U joints, plus a transmission mount for the clunk when shifting. Anything else I should be asking them to consider? They said they haven’t checked the rear dif yet and won’t until they address the front and have a chance to drive it.

My garage is not foreign to Rovers, but I wouldn’t call them enthusiasts. If I’m replacing any of these parts, are there OEM versus aftermarket considerations I should keep in mind? I’d really like to get this sorted before Greek Peak.



Well-known member
Yes, if the center diff lock was engaged, then you should have had drive from the rear. I'd agree that'd the linkage needs a thorough looking at.

Losing a front half-shaft would also have me suspicious of the diff and CVs. They aren't the strongest and there can be quite a shock load on them when a shaft lets go. There were revisions to these parts over the years, some being stronger than others, but none were impressive relative to other large 4x4s of the time. The ultimate solution is to upgrade the diff, axles, and CVs, but it isn't a cheap move.

It only takes moments to inspect the prop-shafts, so I'd have them looked at as well.


Well-known member
Thanks, erover
When you say upgrade, upgrade to what?

A 4-pin diff, ATB, Truetrac, or air locker, as well as HD shafts and CVs. It’s typically only needed if you’re doing vigorous 4-wheeling or just want that extra assurance. However, you’re in a heavier 110 with an R2.8, so there’s potentially more stress on those components depending on how you drive it.

Didn’t sound like you’re were wheeling it hard, so I’d guess it was just the straw that broke the camel’s back after decades of use. Seen guys flog a Landy hard on stock stuff without consequence and seen guys break a diff just cruising to Starbucks. The factors are a mix of luck, wear and tear, and throttle restraint (or lack of).

I’m not sure what axle configuration you have, but there could be other parts needed for compatibility too. You’d be looking at a few thousand $ to upgrade it all. GBR, Lucky 8, and Ashcroft all offer HD axle components. If I were going to stick to “as slow as possible, as fast as necessary” type 4-wheeling then I’d probably stick with standard parts unless budget was no concern or prices on standard parts were close enough to HD prices.


Well-known member
Thanks for taking the time for such a comprehensive answer. My shop is not going to think outside the box in terms of non-standard parts, but it sounds like for my use case, that’s probably just fine.

Again, much appreciated.


Technical Excellence Contributor
Also, axles break. It could just be that. One side, isolated. I’ve broken axles and unless I upgrade, I’ve never replaced in pairs unless worn. I replace what’s broken. Hell, the old stuff is almost always better made and if it’s in spec…


Well-known member
The stock set up is designed so that the axle will break to avoid the diffs breaking considering it’s less than a 200 part, why is the shop making a
Big deal of it.?
The cv axle is a driveway replacement. Call Zack, get a full replacement. Is it possible that your diff lock wasnt fully engaged? Does your diff light work?


Well-known member
I’m not sure they are making as big of a deal if it as I am, to be honest. It may be common or by design, but it’s the first time I’ve broken one and I only have about 85% confidence in my garage at any given time. And their communication style is best described as brief tending toward gruff.

I suppose it is possible that the lock wasn’t fully engaged; my diff lock light hasn’t worked during my ownership.



Well-known member
It’s a bummer when shops won‘t take the time to really explain the issue and solutions. There is a driveway adjustment on the TC for the linkage that can allow better engagement with the lever. Given that Doug gave his blessing to your truck during engine swap, it’s likely a straight forward repair. Do you have other shop options……maybe the current one is not a good fit.
The other option is to remove the shaft and select high locked on TC. You can drive the truck for a few weeks ( rear wheel drive only) and get some shake out miles on it before spending $$ on it.


Well-known member
Thanks. To the shop’s credit, the manager happened to be there Sunday night at 645 when I showed up and he let me park in the gated lot. That’s handy because he’s in Harlem and my truck (like everyone’s here) sticks out. If anyone has a recommendation for a good shop in or easily accessible to Manhattan, shout! I haven’t found another.

I left town the next morning and have had pretty sporadic communication from them. I’ll head up there on Tuesday if I can and poke around. The mechanics are usually a bit more informative than the bloke who runs the office.

Thanks again to everyone for chiming in.


Well-known member
After driving home, what damage is done is done. Maybe just replace the side that snapped, drain the diff, and check for shrapnel with a magnet.


Well-known member
A gate in NYC is only going to stop a causal joy rider - LOL.

The other thing to consider that is lost on many is that this rig is at least 25 years old - right? And you don't really know how it was driven through out its life. So if you are not going to get into serious off roading (and since you are in the tri-state area you almost cant) then why would you upgrade the components when they are designed for over 20 years?

I get it - it broke and now I want to make it bullet proof. What is missed is that the "out of the box" Land Rover is designed to handle a good amount of abuse - in this case 25+ years of use.

By all means your rig, your ride and your money. But if you are not clear on the path of what to replace then defaulting to genuine and replacing "like for like" is a solid option for a whole host of reasons.

LR Max

Well-known member
A few notes:

-If its the front, its probably the CV axle that died. This happens.
-Replace both? I mean, probably. If it is the CV, then yeah I could see that. That said, I think its a "tear down and see" kinda a job. Is one side full of water? No grease? Some grease? Empty? That'll tell you more.
-Also have them replace the drive flanges. On that note, I'm almost willing to bet the actual problem is the drive flange. But yes, you are in there, go ahead and replace these.
-On that note, if they haven't tell them to pop off the dust cap from the drive flange and spin the tire. See if the axle shaft skips splines on the drive flange.
-Oh and if you really want to go down the rabbit hole, have them inspect the rear axle drive flanges. If the fronts are bad, I'm sure the rears are hurting as well.

As for brands, go on youtube and look up Britannica Restorations. He did the front CVs on a defender a year or so ago (side note, if you enjoy the judgement of other peoples' vehicles, this is THE RIGHT SHOP FOR YOU) and had a lot to say about it. I think that would be a great resource. In the past I've liked Allmakes and Bearmach but both of them are gone.

This is a bit of an impasse. If you are going to wheel the truck, now is a great time to install a front locker/limited slip and HD axles. Even if you don't have the money to do the rear axle, just install a front locker, like an ARB. That'll be a huge help off road. Then when you get the chance, install a rear locker.

Parts manual for the defenders are online, so that might be a good thing to download and have available.


Well-known member
Thanks again, all. I appreciate the input.
I'm willing to spend the money to make things better, but the fact is that I'm unlikely to wheel this truck hard if I'm honest with myself. I enjoy being out there, but I don't need to be OUT THERE. I probably could have used lockers about 4 times in my 8 years of ownership, so...probably not worth the investment.

Good tips all around. I'll try to head up to the garage today and see what I can learn. Again, thanks for chiming in.


Well-known member
FWIW, I jumped into the rabbit hole when I waited on my R2.8 to arrive....
I replaced both diffs with Ashcroft ATB's - which required new shafts (I have the old 10spline if you are interested).
I also upgrade to a HD R380 - also with Ashcroft ATB for when I am not in full lock center.
I dont rock crawl, but I like taking paths less taken when I go out. I also had 174K miles when I did my install - wanted to have greater assurance that all was in good shape. I kept the CV's but inspected and rebuilt swivels (did replace one stub axle).
As noted previously...if your diffs are in good shape, you can decide to keep, replace with same or upgrade. If you upgrade, you will need new axle shafts to match the new diffs. all in the life of LR ownership...


Technical Excellence Contributor
Callsign: AK6PM
I may not wheel all that much, but I have never, ever, seen the long half-shaft / CV break, front or rear. It is almost always the short-side, meaning on the right.
A broken half-shaft and/or CV on one side does not mean there's anything wrong with the other. You can use the opportunity to upgrade to heavy-duty components, but you don't have to.