2023 Land Rover Defender Stop/Start Problem

Updated on Author: Brian Jones

Updated on Author: Brian Jones


Lemberg Law is investigating complaints regarding the 2023 Land Rover slipping into neutral when drivers use auto stop/start. Vehicle owners are reporting that they have been told to switch off auto stop/start every time they drive the SUV because there is no permanent fix.   

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Is there a Problem with Auto Stop/Start in the Land Rover Defender?

There is a widespread stop/start problem with the 2023 Land Rover Defender, which the manufacturer is aware of. And it’s not just the Defender that is affected. Several 2022 model vehicles are too: the Jaguar F-Pace, XE, and XF, as well as the Range Rover Velar. Jaguar Range Rover issued a technical service bulletin in May 2022 that states these five vehicles are the “affected products.” But it doesn’t give numbers.

The bulletin warns dealerships that there will be “customer concern” after “an auto stop/start event” when “the gear selector displays ‘N’ (Neutral) upon restart.”

It states that there is a “software calibration issue” within the transmission control module (TCM). The system doesn’t log transmission diagnostic codes and initiates a “fail-safe mode in error.”

Dealers are advised not to replace any hardware or software to try and resolve the problem until existing special service messages (SSM 75717/ 75718) are removed or updated. Ironically, the manufacturer communication containing the TSB, filed with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on May 17, 2022, states that revised TSM software will be released in mid-May 2022. In the meantime, as a temporary measure, customers should be advised to turn auto stop/start off to avoid the issue repeating.

SSM 75717, which is for 2022 Defender L663, Discovery L462, and Range Rover L560 vehicles, was updated on June 10, 2022. This provides a little more information about the issue:

“Following an auto stop/start event the gear selector displays ‘N’ (Neutral) without any transmission selector operation. “D” (Drive) selectable only after ‘P’ (Park) or ‘R’ (Reverse) is selected.

“No transmission diagnostic trouble codes are logged. Transmission has initiated fail-safe mode in error.”

It confirms that it is a software calibration issue within the TCM and advises dealers to update the TCM using TOPix Cloud Diagnostics.

What are Owners Experiencing with Stop/Start in the Land Rover Defender?

The Jaguar Land Rover TSB says it all. The gear selector displays Neutral when restarting after what they call “an auto stop/start event.”

But to get a clear idea of what owners are experiencing, let’s look at complaints to the NHTSA and comments in the Land Rover Forum. All the complaints to the NHTSA are dated after the May 17 TSB was released, the most recent being July 31, 2022. Most of the comments about the stop/start problem in the Land Rover Forum were added in July and August 2022.

Complaints to the NHTSA

An Owner from Illinois States:

“When stopped at a stop light 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 (for) less than 2 weeks. Reported to (the) dealer who tells me 2 other customers have reported this as well. No one is sure why it happens.”

An Owner from Texas States:

“Stopped on an uphill grade, start stop on vehicle activated, (the) engine stopped.”

When the driver released the brake, the engine started and the vehicle made an uncommanded shift from Drive to Neutral. It rolled backward several feet before he could reapply the brake.

“Land Rover has been aware of the uncommanded shift to neutral issue for some time. Local dealer has a bulletin on this issue, but Land Rover has no fix, instead advising to manually disengage auto start stop every time (the) vehicle is driven. Unfortunately, sometimes I forget to do this. It’s a problem.”

“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.”

What Forum Users Are Saying

Many forum members report experiencing stop/start problems shortly after they have taken delivery of their new 2023 Land Rover Defenders.

An Owner from Pennsylvania States:

A Defender owner from Pennsylvania says he found a TOPix article, which is the update to SSM 75717 about updating the transmission, and took his SUV to the dealer who didn’t know about the update.

“I got the car back. They did the Topix software update, and everything is working fine right now. But it was very intermittent for me. I think it will be a couple of weeks before I know it’s completely fixed.” His suggestion is to bring the TOPix article to the dealer’s attention because “they don’t seem to do a lot of research on their own.”

An Owner from Florida States:

Another owner of two 2023 Defenders reports that his dealer had never heard about the issue – and they said nor had Land Rover! So, he took his SUV to a dealer in another state.

“I have two 2023 Defenders (one 90, one 110) and it’s occurred in both. It’s happened 3 times in the 90 and once in the 110. Both are the 4-cylinder engine, both have air  suspension. It was odd how my wife and I got talking about it… It occurred with me all three times in traffic on i95 (stop and go). The nice drivers behind me in NY were not very understanding and it took several tries to get it into D. My wife had it happen at a traffic light and (the) same thing – several tries.

“We called our dealer in Florida and they said they’ve not heard anything about it and called Land Rover who said they have never heard of this. We then took to a dealer in Connecticut who said they couldn’t find any faults and there was nothing going on. I thought I was crazy and (it) must have been user error until I found this thread. They updated my software and are returning tomorrow so I’ll see what happens.”

That was on August 2. No update yet.

What Should You Do if Your Defender Has Stop/Start Problems?

Lemberg Law is currently investigating complaints about the 2023 Land Rover Defender stop/start problems. If you have recurring stop/start problems that affect the use and value of your vehicle, there’s a good chance you have a lemon.

All you need to do is complete our case evaluation form or call us. If we proceed, Jaguar Land Rover will, by law, have to pay your legal bills.

Brian Jones

About the Author:

Brian Jones spent more than 30 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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