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04 MG TF Sunstorm 135
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I know this has probably been asked countless times but many older threads don't seem to have the original images and links don't seem to work. So, I have a 53 plate TF 135 with 86k miles, the HG and the "other" things (belts, pumps etc) have been done according to the documentation I have from the previous owner at 38k miles and I haven't noticed any of the common HGF signs. I did notice some oil on the spark plug for cylinder 3 when I went to change and after a quick OBD scanner check, it confirmed that cylinder 3 was misfiring (although I don't notice any of the symptoms of a misfiring engine).

Sadly the garage that originally changed the HG is no longer around and the invoice gave no information about what HG they used and if it was skimmed etc. So rather than waiting for it to potentially "go" I think I'll have it replaced with one of the kits from dmgrs.co.uk and intern try and find out what's up with cylinder 3.

I am by no means a mechanic but like to think I'm quite technically minded, I service it myself and regularly help a close friend with his MX5 (competes in track competitions and is pretty much a self-proclaimed mechanic). Anyway, I would much rather replace the HG myself to save money and know exactly what is in the engine and know its been done properly. I plan to keep it on the drive over winter so perhaps this would be a good time to get it done

READ THIS IF YOU DON'T WANT TO LISTEN TO ME RAMBLE:

Are there any recent guides/how-tos on replacing the HG, is there any specific tool that I will need and I'm completely overlooking other than:
. Jack/axle stands
. Decent socket set and general tools
. Engine camshaft locking tool
. The HG set with head bolts, gaskets for everything else
. Engine oil, coolant and other consumables
. Time and dry weather

Any advice would be incredibly helpful :)
 

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If the only tell tale sign you are using is oil down the plug bore - STOP!

That is not an indicator of HGF - that is most probably only a failed rocker cover gasket. I had exactly what you are describing a few months back. You will find countless threads on this forum describing the common indicators i.e. oil and coolant mixing, losing coolant, external oil leaks etc etc etc

A simple misfire is much more likely to be ignition related - start here i.e. plugs (this solved mine), plug leads, dizzy cap, coil pack(s). Remember we are now in the time of year of cold, damp mornings when ignition parts are most likely to show their shortcomings, by losing their efficiency through 'tracking' etc

I have done two HG's (dont ask!) at home on my own in my garage, its a straightforward, but somewhat frustrating job (mainly due to space constraints).

My advice is get a proper diagnosis first - from wherever.

Good luck
 

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Starlight Silver MG TF 135
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I entirely agree with IanMc: If it ain't broke, don't fix it!!!

Yes you have some problem which has caused a miss-fire (slight, by sound of things), so get that individual problem diagnosed, rather than assuming potential HGF. I have not done a K series head gasket, but have done complete rebuilds on BMC B Series, Ford Crossflow a Vauxhall slant-4 2.3 engine, also replaced Head Gasket on a Toyota Starlet.

Speaking on the basis of that experience, plus what I have read about the K, I would say that:
1. I would not attempt a K Series head-Gasket change unless I was SURE it was ESSENTIAL
2. I would read everything I could find on this site and and excellent book I have no access to at present (at Father-in-law's who has broken his second hip in 1 year!!) before starting.
3 I would only start if I had a warm garage and no time pressure .
4. I would then probably bottle it and take my car to the MGF Centre in Wolverhampton, who would probably charge a lot of money, but I would be pretty confident they would do a good job.

P,S you could do worse than talk to them and get an estimate


Good luck whatever you decide to do, and you have started correctly by asking the right questions on this site.
 

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mg_tf
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I certainly share the above views.
In my book, leave well alone until you have a proven head gasket issue - do not treat this job as a ‘I wouldn’t mind having a go at this, and it would be a good insurance to do it’. As has been said so many times - if it ain‘t broke, don’t fix it! Just solve your current problem and enjoy the car - as with all of these, paying due respect to any alerts with the coolant system.
Kind regards,
Austin.
 

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MG TF
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I also can’t understand why you want to take the head off at this stage, the head gasket isn’t a service item.

On the spark plug, is the oil on the electrod side or the HT side, if it is former I would do a compression test and if it is the later the oil will be coming from higher in the engine.

The misfire could be from an injector or coil pack, I would swop them around to another cylinder and see if the error moves.

It does sound like the cam belt and water pump could be due a change, at this age I would inspect the cam shaft seals for leaks and if there has been no record of them being changed I would consider doing so. On my 02 car I found one leaking and when I removed it I found it to be very hard and wished that I had changed the others before putting a new cam belt.
 

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04 MG TF Sunstorm 135
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
I also can’t understand why you want to take the head off at this stage, the head gasket isn’t a service item.

On the spark plug, is the oil on the electrod side or the HT side, if it is former I would do a compression test and if it is the later the oil will be coming from higher in the engine.

The misfire could be from an injector or coil pack, I would swop them around to another cylinder and see if the error moves.

It does sound like the cam belt and water pump could be due a change, at this age I would inspect the cam shaft seals for leaks and if there has been no record of them being changed I would consider doing so. On my 02 car I found one leaking and when I removed it I found it to be very hard and wished that I had changed the others before putting a new cam belt.
I never said it was a service item. What I was trying to explain was that I know it had been done but have no idea what HG they used and how "well" the garage did it so it would put my mind to rest if I replaced the HG and the other parts that often go with a HG change like cam belt, water pump etc.

And the oil is on the HT side which makes me think it's not related to the HG but maybe a cam cover gasket or even piston ring but if I'm going to replace either of those I may as well strip it further and do the HG as MG never made it easy getting to the engine haha.

The service documents say: " Head gasket, replaced radiator, water pump, cam belt kit, head bolts, thermostat, alternator belt" at 37k miles and then later at 44k the timing belt and water pump were done. But since then I can't see any major things being replaced. :)
 

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04 MG TF Sunstorm 135
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
I entirely agree with IanMc: If it ain't broke, don't fix it!!!

Yes you have some problem which has caused a miss-fire (slight, by sound of things), so get that individual problem diagnosed, rather than assuming potential HGF. I have not done a K series head gasket, but have done complete rebuilds on BMC B Series, Ford Crossflow a Vauxhall slant-4 2.3 engine, also replaced Head Gasket on a Toyota Starlet.

Speaking on the basis of that experience, plus what I have read about the K, I would say that:
1. I would not attempt a K Series head-Gasket change unless I was SURE it was ESSENTIAL
2. I would read everything I could find on this site and and excellent book I have no access to at present (at Father-in-law's who has broken his second hip in 1 year!!) before starting.
3 I would only start if I had a warm garage and no time pressure .
4. I would then probably bottle it and take my car to the MGF Centre in Wolverhampton, who would probably charge a lot of money, but I would be pretty confident they would do a good job.

P,S you could do worse than talk to them and get an estimate


Good luck whatever you decide to do, and you have started correctly by asking the right questions on this site.
I understand that it seems daft to replace the HG when I have no symptoms at all of a HGF but it's more for peace of mind, knowing exactly what I've put into the engine and knowing it will last. If I had no issue with misfiring I probably wouldn't have posted this, but seeing as its most likely a cam cover gasket or maybe piston ring I thought why not strip it down further and do the HG if that makes any sense
 

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mg_tf
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The clear message which is coming through to me is that you want to change the head gasket - come what may! This being based on the fact that you don’t know ‘how well it’s been done’. The converse of course is you simply don’t have any reason to believe that it hasn’t been done as it should have been, and it has had plenty of miles under its belt for problems to manifest themselves.
To me, I’m always suspicious of ‘head gasket just been done’ since the car will not have been proved since - which certainly isn’t the situation with your car - but will be once you have pulled it apart!
As is usual with advice sought, the person asking for the advice usually wants conformation that what they think is right, is indeed right.
It could be me, but I’m seeing sufficient opinion so far to interpret that your way of thinking on this, is out of accord with the responses received, and I think I can only revert to my opening sentence on this post, and wish you good luck with pulling it apart.
Kind regards,
Austin.
 

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04 MG TF Sunstorm 135
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
The clear message which is coming through to me is that you want to change the head gasket - come what may! This being based on the fact that you don’t know ‘how well it’s been done’. The converse of course is you simply don’t have any reason to believe that it hasn’t been done as it should have been, and it has had plenty of miles under its belt for problems to manifest themselves.
To me, I’m always suspicious of ‘head gasket just been done’ since the car will not have been proved since - which certainly isn’t the situation with your car - but will be once you have pulled it apart!
As is usual with advice sought, the person asking for the advice usually wants conformation that what they think is right, is indeed right.
It could be me, but I’m seeing sufficient opinion so far to interpret that your way of thinking on this, is out of accord with the responses received, and I think I can only revert to my opening sentence on this post, and wish you good luck with pulling it apart.
Kind regards,
Austin.
Thank you for your opinion on this whole question. I get where you are coming from and I don't exclusively think I'm right but I was more asking for specific guides that are up to date with images etc. After reading these replies I do agree that it may not be the best option to strip the engine down yet but rather try and sort what's causing the misfire. I have a feeling the HG that was used must have been of good quality as the bill was about £800 back in 2014 on the old invoice but it's just been sitting there in the back of my mind...Is it going to suddenly blow while driving to work.

Many Thanks for the reply Austin
 

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I think that there are more important preventative actions to undertake before the HG. Some would disagree but I would, by way of example, change the thermostat (mine failed after 14 years without warning), camshaft sensor, the clutch fluid (it has probably never been changed), cambelt and water pump if reached 5 years/60K miles, replace the existing fuel pressure regulator with an easily accessible external one (I have an adjustable one from Italy but is set at the norm - 3 bar), change spark plug leads for magnecor etc etc.
 

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And the oil is on the HT side which makes me think it's not related to the HG but maybe a cam cover gasket or even piston ring but if I'm going to replace either of those I may as well strip it further and do the HG as MG never made it easy getting to the engine haha.

The cam cover area, including plugs, coil packs and leads etc is a doddle - by comparison, the parts needed to be accessed as part of a HG change are a whole different prospect.

Put your order in now with the skin clinic... :)
 

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Starlight Silver MG TF 135
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Just in case you still decide you want to change the Head Gasket, I am now at home and have also remembered how to find my previous posts, so:
There is an excellent (very readable and amusing, as well as clearly well -informed) book entitled "ROVER K-SERIES ENGINE" by Ian Eyre and Rob Hawkins. Therein is a chapter purely about The Head Gasket. Well worth a read.
They reckon that by far the best HG repair is the Land Rover kit which includes a reinforced Oil Rail. This sits inside the sump and distributes oil from pump to main bearings etc. but more to the point, it provides the anchor point for the ten through bolts which hold the head onto the block. This thicker, better alloy Land Rover part increase the stiffness of the whole assembly which helps resist warping and HGF. I have an original thin rubbish-alloy oil rail on which you can see cracks around almost all the threaded holes where those 10 crucial bolts are anchored.
P.S. This Land Rover HG Kit is what the MGF Centre in Wolves say is the only one they trust and use. They gave me 12 months warranty against HGF despite the fact that they fitted it to my car 10 years ago!!

You sound like the kind of guy who enjoys finding jobs to do and then (usually) enjoys doing them and the sense of satisfaction of a job well done afterwards.. That was me until about 5 years ago when age decrepitude and got the better of me! Good luck and enjoy, whatever you decide to do.
 

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2002 MG TF VE51FTF
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I keep on reading posts about possible HGF and I think back to years ago (when mk2 Cortina's were about) and I played around with a lot of cars. An older gentleman said to me if you think it's HGF do a compression test (engine warmed up if poss) if compression is down or varies wildly chuck some oil in the bores and do it again. If the compressions go up after the oil then its likely to be rings if it makes no improvement then it's the top of the engine. This is possibly the HGF but could be bad valve seats, another possibility is a stuck or bent valve.
I rarely see this advice given (Chris T :)) and I wondered if this still holds good, if it does what is a good compression on the K series 150psi?
 

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04 MG TF Sunstorm 135
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Just in case you still decide you want to change the Head Gasket, I am now at home and have also remembered how to find my previous posts, so:

P.S. This Land Rover HG Kit is what the MGF Centre in Wolves say is the only one they trust and use. They gave me 12 months warranty against HGF despite the fact that they fitted it to my car 10 years ago!!

You sound like the kind of guy who enjoys finding jobs to do and then (usually) enjoys doing them and the sense of satisfaction of a job well done afterwards.. That was me until about 5 years ago when age decrepitude and got the better of me! Good luck and enjoy, whatever you decide to do.
You don't happen to have a link to where I can purchase a land rover kit? From a quick search, the N series gasket seems to be the new "go-to" one which I believe is used in the dmgrs kit? Ive heard of the mgf centre before and seems to have a great reputation. Out of interest, do you know roughly how much they charge for a hg replacement and all that comes with it? :)
 

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The so-called Land Rover gasket is the Multi Layered Shim (MLS) developed by Power Train the MGR engine division and was developed for K-Series production, however when MGR went to the wall in 2005 Land Rover adopted it as their standard repair kit. The N series gasket will be a development, but I don’t think that there is much difference. The MLS gasket was designed to be used with a stiffer lower oil rail, although often dismissed as unnecessary it has been said that the new rail is more important than the MLS gasket as it changes the harmonics in the engine so that the head and block resonate at the same frequency.

I would think that it is very likely if the gasket has been changed in the last 15 years the MLS gasket would have been used. However the MLS gasket isn’t suitable in all situations and is dependant on the hight of the cylinders to the block, if this is out of spec the older type of gasket will need to be used.
 

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At the end of the you can listen to all the brilliant advice on here and you decide. its your car, your time and your money. if you do it yourself it will cost something like below as i did mine 18 months ago as i was in similar position to you.

cam locking tool £10
mls gasket kit with cambelt , new oil rail, bolts ,water pump the lot - £199
anti freeze - £25
oil - £40
oil filter £10
optional head skim - £150

i also put new plugs, new leads, new fuel filter but this is all optional

Confidence from doing it yourself - £££ PRICELESS £££

i could have paid a garage to do it, i did it myself and now i know my car engine almost inside out. Now i will tackle any job myself.

what were the risks? apart from not setting the timing if you are careless and dont do what you are supposed to. My worst part was undoing the bottom engine mount bolts the 5 inch ones that go into subframe, oiled them a week before and slowly undid them. if they broke then i think that might have been the worst part of the job.

and if you get stuck you post a help on here and everyone will help. i am even sure if you were that stuck one of us on here would offer to come and help, i know i would if you lived local.
 

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KernowAudio
Before I bought my 2002 MGTF135 from the MGF Centre in May, I was very close to buying a nice looking Y reg F, (Private sale) which had "new" Hydragas spheres, but no record of HG replacement or cambelt replacement. Having read-up regarding the importance of cambelt changes and the K-Series HGF weakness, I contacted the MGF Centre with the intention of getting them to look at the underside of my proposed purchase (at the furthest point of a long test drive with the old owner). Before I could arrange this, someone less nervous beat me to the purchase. I did get a rough estimate of (I Think) £1,200 for the work and parts for them to replace HG, strengthened oil rail, new cambelt and tensioner, new waterpump and of course new stretch bolts. They would probably sell you the HG kit which includes the oil rail and (I think) stretch bolts, but the W/P, cambelt and tensioner are extra. They will tell you, and I agree, that to change a HG and NOT change W/P, cambelt and tensioner at the same time would be stupid, unless you are SURE that they are virtually brand-new.

As I wrote the above "Hackscooby" (sorry if I spelt that wrong) has given the answer you need, and I agree with everything he says. If I were younger and my wife was not complaining whenever I spend more than 30 minutes in the garage, I would still enjoy jobs like a head gasket change, and as he says, you have the confidence of a job well done. Having said that, the K series has foibles ("sophistication"??) like "damp" liners which have to protrude just the right amount, so read, research and IF IN DOUBT ASK! Guys like Chris T are a GOLDMINE of information, whereas, I just have an opinion! I' leave you and other readers to decide if it is an informed opinion!!

If you call the MGF CEntre 01902 453100, they will give a more up to date estimate and/or advise if they will sell the head gasket kit etc. Phone will probably be answered by Victoria. DO NOT ASSUME THAT SHE DOES NOT KNOW THE TECHNICAL STUFF. She certainly knew what an interference engine is, and it's significance if a cambelt breaks when the engine is revving (Pistons hit valves, expensive at best, scrap-metal ex-engine at worst). They will try to sell you stainless steel pipes - a good idea IMO, the original (mild steel?) pipes apparently rust mainly from the inside?? and lots of other goodies, but that's up to you.
 

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mg_tf
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It seems it’s off with its head then! - come what may, and indeed, there is already talk about which gasket will be most suitable to replace the not-broken one.

Can I be excused for thinking that until the head has been removed, and the liner height protrusions have been measured and checked for uniformity, then it isn’t possible to choose whether any variant of the multi layer technology will indeed be suitable, or whether the original elastomer type will have to be fitted?
Kind regards,
Austin.
 

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yes wait until the head is off, i made the mistake of changing a completely shot mls gasket which was put on by a garage thru the previous owner (i thought they must have known what they were doing being a garage) , did a quick glance at liner heights and thought they fine i put another mls gasket on and less that 300 miles later same issue so head came off, luckily as i had already replaced water pump and belts it was a quick job to take the head off as i didnt need to uninstall all the engine mounts / crankshaft bolt etc again.

bought payen gasket and its been fine since.
 
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