MG-Rover.org Forums banner

1 - 11 of 11 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hey all
Not really looking for any advice, just sympathy and a cautionary tale!
I inherited a lovely TF from my dad recently, details here


Yesterday it went in for an MOT, passed fine except for an advisory of a slight coolant leak. Cautious about coolant issues I asked them to have a look, the news was not good - the leak was coming from between the head and the block. This garage is a brilliant local MG/rover specialist who had, back in 2011 done the head gasket while the car was in my dads ownership so they were baffled. There were other red flags like the exhaust manifold was held on with bolts not studs and nuts.

After digging through the files we found the place that did all of the powder coating, poly bushing, new exhaust etc in 2013 had replaced the head gasket too. They weren’t asked to, I guess they assumed it would be a good idea while the engine was out the car, given the reputation of these things.

I give him the go ahead to strip it down - he found that there were numerous bolts missing, in the wrong place or loose. 6 of 16 tappets were completely knackered. The VVC mechanism hadn’t been setup properly, the head gasket was a cheap Chinese brand and the valves were badly coked.

So now my quick MOT has turned into a complete top end rebuild, head needs to be skimmed and valves re-ground before being put back together properly this time, with new thermostat cambelt and water pump. Not looking forward to that bill! If there’s an upside, it should run and perform a lot better when I get it back!

The outfit who ruined it, from googling, went out of business some time ago. Posts on here about them suggest they have completely ruined other cars to the point of being written off in the past. It sounds like I got off lightly as the rest of it is really sound. Moral of the story though - if you’re going to trust someone to carry out major surgery on your pride and joy, make sure you do your research!

3 head gaskets in 27k miles, that must be a record, right?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
244 Posts
One of the mobile specialist's and not a 'garage' is always my choice, recon head and the all the gubbins can be supplied and fitted at a reasonable cost.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,855 Posts
Might be worth checking the engine number matches...you never know, if it was out due to other work they could have swapped it with a different one, maybe higher mileage but was running ok....I recall many moons ago a franchised bike shop which one of their mechanics had a bike which always looked showroom condition, it turned out he'd swap bits off customers bikes if they looked better than his...this included engine parts,.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,267 Posts
Get the garage to give you a budget quotation, before you give them the go ahead. Once you have their price you can get comparative ones. As said above, one of the recognised (by this forum) mobile guys will do as good a job, but massively cheaper!

Good luck.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
14 Posts
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. ROVER got it very wrong with that component and probably the original head gasket designs!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,192 Posts
I had the LR set up on my last head gasket change (no problems so far) but the N series gaskets could be an even better solution than LR.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,267 Posts
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. ROVER got it very wrong with that component and probably the original head gasket designs!
Personally i would take issue with a lot of that. In my opinion the vast majority of HG failures are related to individual owners or garages not understanding the importance of:
1) Warm up/rev limit periods.
2) The importance of correct coolant levels and/or solving leaks quickly.
3) Bleeding the system correctly from all THREE points.
4) The engine design and the importance of liner heights, changing the water pump at the same time etc etc

The reinforced LR part is just a plaster to cover other cracks in my opinion.

If the K series engine is looked after properly, it is no more likely to fail than the HG on any other vehicle...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,192 Posts
I had a Fiat X1/9 many years ago and with the Strada engine, I never had any cooling/service issues and never worried about losing coolant/HG EVER. Different from the MGF. All the points made above that you make are valid. It is about using the right components, changing and using the right quality components as and when and utilizing mechanics who know what they are doing.
 

·
Registered
'06 MG ZR +120 (HQM) '04 MG ZR 105 (IAB)
Joined
·
9,408 Posts
Might be worth checking the engine number matches...you never know, if it was out due to other work they could have swapped it with a different one, maybe higher mileage but was running ok...
I would second that - the name of the company concerned isn't mentioned, but it wouldn't be the first time a supposed 'specialist' has been caught swapping engines between cars in his care (and worse!). For those who were on MG and Rover forums back in the early to mid noughties, I need only mention 'RSM' !

The number of side issues with wrong or missing bolts sounds very suspicious, especially as your favoured garage did the HG replacement in 2011 and would have known that all was correct when it left them. Something smells here!

Sadly, 3 head gasket replacements in under 30k miles is probably not unique - there are an awful lot of places out there which do HG replacements on Rover K engines who don't really understand the engine, and blindly bang a two-layer MLS and shim on regardless, and consequently there have been a huge number of repeat HGF; sometimes after only a few thousand miles.

There is an excellent .... book entitled "ROVER K-SERIES ENGINE" by Ian Eyre and Rob Hawkins. Therein is a chapter purely about The Head Gasket. .......
They reckon that by far the best HG repair is the Land Rover kit which includes a reinforced Oil Rail. ..... 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. ROVER got it very wrong with that component and probably the original head gasket designs!
I am not familiar with that book, but if those are the conclusions it draws, then I would suggest it perhaps falls short of being "excellent" and "clearly well-informed"?. There are a large number of weaknesses/issues within the K series, and none of them can be singled out as 'THE' cause of premature HGF.

If you have an oil rail which is cracked, it is pretty clear that the long bolts have been either overtightened, or were forced out (they often require repeated partial turns in opposite directions to loosen and free off sludge which builds up in the threads when they haven't needed to be disturbed for many years/high miles. The oil rail was stiffened (by very slightly increasing the dimensions of the casting as well as using aircraft grade alloy) principally to resolve a 'beaming' issue in the Freelander caused by its extra weight and the mounting of the drivelines. Beaming in the car applications of the engine is minimal, and not really an issue. The new oil rail is only slightly thicker than the original, so your reference to it being 'thin' makes me wonder if you have actually seen the two side-by-side?

The new oil rail and three layer MLS gasket were developed by MG Rover/Powertrain engineers in conjunction with Goetze (a subsidiary of Federal-Mogul, who are also the parent company of Coopers/Payen who developed and manufacture the original SLS/elastomer gasket). When released in 2006, the gasket was manufactured by Goetze, and the oil rail by Hyundai. Whilst it became available through Land Rover dealers to begin with (I think Land Rover may have paid the administrators of MG Rover to get the development finished after MGR went bust in 2005), it was shortly afterwards available from XPart too. Rover did not "get it very wrong" with the oil rail, the original rails are perfectly adequate where the engines are fitted to the Rover cars, as is witnessed by the number that are still running perfectly well after 15 to 25 years and many thousands of miles with the original rail fitted.

I think it is now widely accepted that providing there is sufficient and even stand proud of the cylinder liners, the best replacement gasket is the Ricardo/SAIC designed six-layer head gasket which was used in the Chinese built N series and Kavachi/TCI-Tech revisions of the K series. Fitted in conjunction with the stronger rail and revised 10.9 tensile long bolts (tightened to a revised, lower angle setting), these gaskets seem to be pretty much a 100% solution - most of us who have fitted them to our K series engines have had no subsequent issues, and there appears to have been no unexpected premature HGF in the Chinese built cars that used the same gasket (MG3SW, MG7, MG6, Roewe 750, MG TF). By contrast, those who have had the first type MLS and shim fitted have found that they are very particular about liner heights and the way the head is reassembled to the block, and there have been numerous repeat failures due to using this gasket in situations where liner heights are unsuitable, or where careful attention to settling the gasket at the 20Nm tightening stage is not done with sufficient care and results in the gasket being insufficiently tightened.

I have mentioned before on this forum that I fitted the XPart 'Ultimate Fix' kit comprising the SAIC six-layer gasket, stronger rail and higher tensile bolts to the engine in my ZR 120 in 2013 - eight years and 66k miles later, it is still 100% sound, with no coolant topping up needed other than at the 5 year coolant change. It is such that I am no longer worried about loosing coolant, and only check very rarely (helped, I suppose by the fact that being a facelift ZR, it has a low coolant warning too).

If you want a really good read, I would recommend trying to get hold of a copy of 'The Rover K Series Engine' by Des Hamill. It is principally about the HGF issues and goes into the real (ie. engineering) reasons behind the problems. Although some of the assertions he makes and conclusions he draws are questionable, it is a well researched book, and goes into a good bit of detail about the design and development of the engine, and the head gaskets in particular (although doesn't cover the SAIC/N series gasket as the book was written prior to the appearance of that version).
 

·
Registered
cityrover
Joined
·
7 Posts
I went to look at an amaranth MPi recently, with definite headgasket failure.

Worryingly, the owner had been throwing money at it to cure a "strange loss of water" (it's all in the sump...) after the gasket was done not hellishly long ago.

Ignoring the "If it was done, then howcome..?", I'm absolutely mystified how the various mechanics who replaced rad, metal pipes running to the front, etc, didn't notice the light milkshake brown oil "overfill". Or the misfire...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
151 Posts
Personally i would take issue with a lot of that. In my opinion the vast majority of HG failures are related to individual owners or garages not understanding the importance of:
1) Warm up/rev limit periods.
2) The importance of correct coolant levels and/or solving leaks quickly.
3) Bleeding the system correctly from all THREE points.
4) The engine design and the importance of liner heights, changing the water pump at the same time etc etc

The reinforced LR part is just a plaster to cover other cracks in my opinion.

If the K series engine is looked after properly, it is no more likely to fail than the HG on any other vehicle...
I thought the same, right up until my head gasket went :)

I can't even blame a former user for thrashing it cold as it was owned from new by my dad who was very careful about 1 and 2, and servicing took care of 3. After he did a few thousand miles I took it on and was equally attentive. Then, somewhere around 30k miles, it went. Fortunately caught within 15 miles as I'd the oil was clear the day before and the coolant level was fine when I set out. I had B&G do the Land Rover kit, get the head skimmed, MLS gasket and so on. 15k miles later it seems to be holding.

It's not impossible that an errant mechanic thrashed it whilst it was in their hands, but unlikely plus a one-off shouldn't cause problems thousands of miles down the line. YMMV but despite treating it properly for its entire life my HG F'd.

I've never owned a car that doesn't have what I would regard as a latent defect; HGs just happens to be ours'. I've had another car with an emissions system made of cheese, another where a fancy brake-by-wire pump is treated as a consumable item (counts the pedal presses) and has to be replaced for £2-3k every 90k miles or so, and I've had several cars with coilpacks that are badly made so fail, but are expensive to replace.
 
1 - 11 of 11 Posts
Top