2023 Land Rover Defender Problems and Top Complaints – Is Your Car A Lemon?

Engine and powertrain problems that lead to stop/start issues are the top complaints received by the NHTSA from vehicle owners

By Brian Jones | Updated on

By Brian Jones | Updated on

The Land Rover Defender was launched in 1990, although the first Defender appeared as the Land Rover 110 in 1983. Either way, it hasn’t been produced every year. It exited the U.S. market in 1997 due to changing regulations. Then in 2016 it was taken off the market globally. Four years later, an all-new 2020 model was released. Consumers have complaints about all of them, with 2 issues recurring often: stop/start issues and windshields that crack spontaneously. Stop/start complaints are top of the list for 2023 owners.

Click on other model year to view more problems: 2020   2021   2022

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NHTSA Complaints for the 2023 Land Rover Defender

Complaint CategoryNumber of Complaints
Power Train
2
Engine
1

We are currently representing owners of defective 2020-2022 Land Rover Defenders who have had issues with windscreens cracking. This may also be an issue with 2023 models even though no owners have alerted the NHTSA about this problem yet.

Most Common Problems with the 2023 Land Rover Defender

Complaints to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) as well as negative feedback via forums indicate the most common problems about vehicles. We can see from NHTSA complaints about the Land Rover Defender for the past 4 models, that they start slowly and then intensify.

NHTSA records show that by mid-October 2022 the 2020 model has 23 complaints, the 2021 model has 12, and the 2022 model has 19. There are currently only 3 complaints to the NHTSA about the 2023 model. All of these relate to the stop/start issue, and they are filed as either engine or powertrain problems.

There are also a huge number of comments and complaints that are aired on forums. As recently as October 2, 2022, owners were complaining that new vehicles have this problem despite ongoing complaints in the public arena.

Complaints about windshields cracking are also ongoing. This has been a topic in the Facebook groups for new Defender owners for years.

Problems with the Stop/Start Feature

It’s not the volume of complaints that tell the story here but rather the severity of the problem. It is also evident that Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) is aware of the problem.

On March 15, 2022, the company issued a notice to owners of Land Rover Defender, Discovery, Range Rover, and Ranger Rover Sport vehicles from 2013-2023 (depending on the model). This stated that there was an “intermittent engine non-start after an eco stop-start event.” A Special Service Message (SSM) to dealerships said that JLR was aware of the problem. But the cause was “currently under analysis.” Nevertheless, dealerships were instructed to do a software update. A similar SSM was issued on April 27, 2022.

The complaints to the NHTSA are dated between May 24 and July 23, 2022.

An owner from Texas states that the Defender makes “uncommanded shifts from drive into neutral when the engine restarts after stopping during an auto start-stop cycle.” The driver has to manually re-engage Drive after this happens.

An Illinois owner reports a similar issue stating that when stopped at a stoplight the “engine gear slips to neutral without warning. When applying gas it becomes apparent it’s no longer in Drive.” This has happened more than 8 times in less than 2 weeks… in a brand new Defender. According to the complaint, the dealer admits 2 other  customers have reported the same problem but isn’t sure why it happens.

Another Texas owner describes the issue as an “uncommanded shift to neutral issue.” He says his dealership admits that “Land Rover has no fix” even though the manufacturer has been aware of the problem for some time. The advice he has been given is “to manually disengage auto start stop every time (the) vehicle is driven.”

But that isn’t a viable solution.

Windshield Cracking

While there aren’t any complaints to the NHTSA, the volume of complaints on Facebook keep growing. There are numerous comments during September and October 2022 although they don’t state which year model their Defender is.

On October 1, 2022, Cagri Ergen said: “I joined the cracked windshield club after 8 months of ownership. It is frustrating. I have the attenuating windshield which I assume will be more expensive to replace.”

A comment by Drew Lybrook on October 9, 2022 says: “Got my first windshield crack today. Was surprised to learn that the dealership doesn’t service its own vehicles’ windshields. I called the company they use and was told 4 – 6 weeks for a replacement and to continue driving with no worries about safety. They assured me the windshield will not shatter or cause any further problems in the meantime. Does anyone have firsthand experience with this issue?”

What to do if your 2023 Land Rover Defender is a Lemon? Your Lemon Law Rights

If you think your 2023 Land Rover Defender might be a lemon what are you going to do? You can appeal to your dealership or to JLR for help. But when that doesn’t work you’ll probably need to find a law firm that specializes in lemon law.

Lemberg Law is a specialist law firm that has helped many clients with problem vehicles. If you’ve got a lemon, we will negotiate a settlement deal on your behalf. All you have to do is fill in our contact form or call our Helpline, and we will do a free assessment.

Ultimately, the law says that the manufacturer, in this case JLR, must pay your legal fees.

Complaint Data

CategoryPower Train
DateJul 31, 2022
StateTX
Description
Stopped on an uphill grade, start stop on vehicle activated, engine stopped. Upon brake release, engine started, vehicle made uncommanded shift from drive to neutral, rolled backward several feet before brake could be reapplied. Land rover has been aware of the uncommanded shift to neutral issue for sometime. Local dealer has a bulletin on this issue, but land rover has no fix, instead advising to manually disengage auto start stop every time vehicle is driven. Unfortunately, sometimes I forget to do this. It's a problem.
CategoryEngine
DateJul 14, 2022
StateIL
Description
When stopped at stoplight engine gear slips to neutral without warning. When applying gas it becomes apparent it's no longer in drive. Has happened 8 plus times and I've had this new car less than 2weeks. Reported to dealer who tells me 2 other customers have reported this as well. No one is sure why it happens.
CategoryPower Train
DateMay 23, 2022
StateTX
Description
Vehicle makes uncommanded shifts from drive into neutral when the engine restarts after stopping during an auto start-stop cycle. Driver has to manually re-engage drive after this happens.

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Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 20 years working as an ASE Certified Master Tech and Parts Specialist at multiple dealerships. Brian has become an authority in the industry, traveling across the country to consult for car dealerships and contributing his expertise as a writer for several major automotive publications. In his spare time, Brian enjoys working on pickup trucks, muscle cars, Jeeps and anything related to motorsports.

See more posts from Brian Jones
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