Trials and tribulations for this Iveco Daily owner, five years in the making
Words and Images by Harry Temple
Spitting a gearbox and limping to Sydney might sound like a couple’s worst nightmare when touring around Australia. However, for Don and Val it was the catalyst that kicked off a chain of events that no one saw coming. While hauling their caravan behind a 110 Defender around the less travelled back roads on their lap of Australia, they decided an upgrade was in order. Reliability, safety, after sales service, heavy-duty durability and not having to order another gearbox from overseas were high on the list.
After hearing positive feedback about the Daily’s performance in Europe, they were eagerly awaiting the day it hit Australian shores. Reflecting on the experiences of Iveco ownership, Don admitted, “after owning it for five years, I wouldn’t buy another one … but I wouldn’t sell it either”. He describes the ownership as a love-hate relationship, with an overall love of the truck (despite the issues).
Luckily Don is no stranger to self-reliance. He built the outstanding electric Land Rover we featured recently and his attention to detail is clearly evident again. Without his firm grasp on both mechanical and electrical maintenance to assist them while on the road, they would have been out of pocket tens of thousands to fix issues that can be solved for a fraction of the cost. Don reports he isn’t the biggest fan of the Iveco after sales service he encountered, and he tells us that unfortunately it is a sentiment shared in the online forums he has visited.
Serving as both an expedition vehicle towing a caravan and a work vehicle for his ground scoping business, the canopy on the back needed to be large enough to carry both camping gear and work equipment. Weighing only 150kg empty, the homebuilt canopy made from cool-room walls was meant to be a temporary installation, but five years on it has handled everything thus far so has stayed put. The 3.0-litre twin turbo Fiat motor powering the 2013 (MY09) truck has plenty of power for Don’s requirements and has no issues turning the 37-inch Hankook Dynapros. Carrying 120 litres of water and 190 litres of fuel thanks to a 100-litre custom-made sub tank, the Iveco weighs in at 4.5-tonne fully loaded and a mere 3-tonne empty. That puts it well within GVM, an important fact to remember as we delve deeper into what occurred. The weight is easily carried by the parabolic suspension, albeit with some fresh KONI shocks to smooth the ride.
THE MODIFICATIONS (AND THE FIXES)
Don notes that Australian conditions vary greatly from the European climates and he feels as though many of the issues could have been amended through pre-launch testing. In fact, he was told “the owners are the testers”. And boy, did he test it. The first issue occurred while towing a caravan down the infamous Thunderbolts Way in NSW. The 7km descent proved a nightmare in the truck, even though they were well within GVM and GCM. 1km in and the brakes faded away faster than a long weekend, leading to a white-knuckled ride on only the caravan brakes until they could pull over safely to let them cool. The heat generated was so great that the front wheel nuts were finger tight, with one missing entirely. Limping to Iveco Brisbane to have the problem rectified, Don made sure to request the brakes be serviced since the fluid boiled and the pads were shot.
However, he tells us all he found was a cold shoulder and the requested service wasn’t even listed on the invoice. When he removed the front wheel to check, the pads were still melted and the fluid stank. It was at this point Don knew he had to take matters into his own hands. Fast-forward through three brake engineers and his Daily has had the rear converted to disc brakes with re-drilled F250 rotors; it now stops on a dime with the addition of Cadillac calipers, of all things. To top it off, he threw on some heat sensitive stickers that are yet to trigger!
When a transfer case goes pop, one would think the best way to avoid the problem would be to tackle the root cause, right? Don informs me that Iveco are happy to throw a new $15,000 case in and insist that you do not need a clamp to hold a pesky circlip in place. Don tells us he has since installed a custom-made clamp into countless cases to stop the clip falling, resulting in the planetary gears ending up at the bottom of the case. He reports the issue has disappeared as a result.
Don has uploaded a DIY PDF to his website that explains how other worried owners can ‘grenade-proof’ their case, at the expense of their warranty of course. Oh, the irony is delicious. The transfer also comes with a one-way breather, which is excellent at expelling excess oil and venting hot air, but equally as good at generating vacuum and blowing out seals, according to Don. Extending the line and installing an open breather has made the world of difference. Throw in some re-engineered transfer mounts and the case stops flopping around, allowing you to use 4WD with confidence.
Well, you would have confidence, if the diff lock computers worked properly. For whatever reason, Don mentions that when you press the switch to engage the CDL or either locker, the command is sometimes just forgotten. Gone. Super convenient when you are bogged towing a caravan in no man’s land north of the Nullarbor. After five minutes of back and forth got the centre diff lock engaged, Don was over the issue.
Collaborating with a fellow owner travelling through South America encountering thick volcanic ash, they decided to pool their knowledge and create a solution, in the form of a plug-and-play diff lock computer that replaces the factory one and outperforms it by a long shot. Just in case you thought that was all, Don has also had to deal with a totally unnecessary load proportioning valve and swapping out intercooler and radiator hoses thanks to what he describes as a “lack of design forethought”.
Not to mention installing an aftermarket exhaust brake because it lacked one from the factory, and dealing with a split fuel filter canister that leaked all through the engine bay. Apart from all that, it’s been good! I asked Don if, after everything, he was actually able to enjoy his Iveco. He said he does, and the rest of the vehicle has done everything he’s asked of it. He focuses on helping others through the same issues he has faced, which is admirable. He has even gone as far to author a book on the subject, Complete Idiot’s Guide to Iveco Daily 4×4 55S17W.
Don is modest when talking about the modifications, but in reality they are mods that require quite a firm grasp on both mechanical and electronic intricacies. It’s not something that the average bloke could fix without spending either hundreds of hours or thousands of dollars paying someone else to make the problem go away. Sadly, he says that most people just hand over the cash for problems that can be fixed for a fraction of the cost. “Iveco have spent the least amount of money in order to make the most”.