This article is (still) under construction, but has been restored from its past version.
Before I start I would like to thank the forum members for all their help, support and advice based on real experience.
In particular, I would like to thank 3 people, without whomb this head gasket repair 'project' would probably be suffering from disaster;
For taking a day off work and assisting in the collection of the car, for sharing his mechanical know-how and for spending many hours of his time helping with all the physical repair work done to the car, lending many of his own tools to do it!
For his time and patience and ability to push 1.2tons of paperweight when most required! Also for giving up his weekends to get his hands dirty!
For his endless hours of input, and sharing of his vast knowledge about the K-Series engine and his experiances with the repair work.
All of these gentleman have put up with my ranting and silly questions and kept the course straight and true - thank you!
For those interested in reading the forum discussions about the subject.
Head Gasket Failure and Repair Through The Eyes of a Leyman
Where does one begin? At the beginning I suppose!
How do I know the car has had a Head Gasket Failure (HGF)? A substance frequently described as 'mayonnaise' in the oil filler cap is a very good sign, as is the loss of oil and/or coolant (water) from the engine.
The rising of engine temperatures is a good indication of something going wrong, if you notice this happening, its worth checking the filler cap and coolant levels!
Whilst 'mayonnaise' is a commonly accepted term to use when describing the substance found in the filler cap, it is actually a mix of oil and water, personally I think it looks more like toffee flavoured yoghurt, but I wouldn't like to eat it
"It's a Rover, Of Course it’s Got Head Gasket Failure"
OK, let’s straighten a few things out from the start... not all Rover's have Head Gasket Failure (HGF). I have owned, driven and known an awful lot of people with Rovers and HGF is not quite as common (in my experience) as some people make out. However, HGF is an issue, whether the Rover Group of the time will admit to it or not, and it is mostly apparant in the late 90's cars (the bubble 200's and 400s).
Good maintenance, regular checks and good servicing will help reduce the risk of any such failures, or even help detect them early enough to keep repair costs down, but it is not a guarantee to prevent it from occurring. A number of changes have been made over the last 16 years to the 'K-Series' and it has been used successfully in a number of applications including the Lotus Elise and the Caterham 7.
Don't let people scare you off because of this 'issue' but do be mindful of it. From within the MG-Rover range of products, HGF is most common in the higher stressed engines, that means the 1.8's and VVC's, The Rover 218, 200 Vi & BRM are the most likely to get it, as are the MG F, TF, ZR120, ZR160, ZS120 and ZT160 with the 1.8Turbo.
The Rover 200Vi will be the 5th K-series powered product I have owned and the second that has had a Head Gasket Failure. To put that into perspective, the Vi has got 165,000 miles on the clock and is 9 years old. My other car to receive it was a 1994 Rover 214SEi, which had a known coolant leak during my budget stricken University days, for a good 9 months before it finally turned into HGF. At the time, that car was also 9 years old and had 125,000 miles on the clock. Not a bad set of mileage for 2 so-called problematic cars.
To those, unlike me, who are fluent in how the K-series works, I've probably got all sorts of naming conventions and technicalities wrong - to you all, I apologise and welcome any corrections and feedback you have to offer so that I can keep us all in the picture. In the mean time, please bear with me
What is a Head Gasket and Why has it Failed?
The head gasket itself is actually a very simple item... in simplistic terms (because that’s the only way I understand them!) it is a very thin piece of metal, that sits between the head and the main engine block, and stops the oil and water mixing together.
This thin sheet, comes with a rubbery plastic beading around the edges, which are a seal to help keep all the fluids where they should be. Just as you would seal the edges of your bath, to stop the water leaking through.
A failure, then, should seem fairly self explanatory, the seal has failed, the oil and water have mixed. A lack of oil and water in the right places of the engine causes it to overheat and potentially go BANG.Surprised
What causes the seal to break?
Well, to be honest I don’t really know. A loss of coolant seems to be a common cause. Checking the seal on the expansion tank cap, and replacing if necessary can help prevent such a loss. Checking all hoses and connections is another way. Once the engine has lost some coolant, is naturally finds it harder to keep itself cool, the pressure can build up with the temperatures and it can cause the seal to break... or at least, this is how I understand it.
The use of 'plastic' dowels to locate the head and engine block in the right place are also attributed to the failure, as these apparantly can warp under the extreme temperatures and cause the 2 layers to move, which in turn splits the gasket seal. The use of the plastic dowels was to meet critism of the steel ones used in earlier engines rusting and making it impossible to remove the head. The choice of plastic was supposedly a 'state-of-the-art' heat resistant one that would not warp... time has proven otherwise, it seems. After the year 2000 an 'update' kit was released by Rover to use new steel dowels on any cars that required a repair from the failue.
2006, The MLS (Multi Layer Steel) Gasket
Originally Posted by http://www.cometic.com/catalogs/AutoCat04.pdf
The Cometic MLS gasket is comprised of three layers of stainless Steel. Cometic uses Stainless steel for increased strength, it’s ability to rebound and corrosion resistance. The outer layers of the gasket are embossed and coated on both sides with a flouroelastomer rubber based material (Viton) designed to meet the demands of a variety of harsh sealing environments, load conditions and surface finishes. The Viton coating is heat resistant to 2500C or 4820F. The center or shim layer of the gasket is comprised of anuncoated Stainless Steel layer, which can be varied to accommodate multiple thickness requirements. The MLS gasket is ideal for both aluminum heads to cast iron blocks and aluminum heads to aluminum blocks.
The composition of MLS will also withstand the shearing forces created by aluminum heads on cast iron blocks. No re-torque is necessary. By design the MLS gasket promotes an even torque load across the sealing surface allowing for easurable reduced bore distortion.
Did everyone get that? Good... Because it only makes vague sense to me, I am hoping someone can translate it into something useful
In short, this new design, backed by Land Rover for the use of the K-series engine in their Freelander model, is supposed to put an end to the problem once and for all, by creating a better seal.
Personally I cant argue with the design, as this does away with the rubber beading, which seems to be the failure point on my example and others which I have seen.
How I Did Mine
**IMPORTANT : Please Note**
The following information is not a 'how-to' guide or to be considered as a set of instructions for your own DIY job.
What is written here is not open for 'tutting', negative 'you shouldn't have done that' comments or any form of abuse what so ever.
This 'documentary' is simply to show others what problems I had, and my chosen solutions. I do not recommend taking on this job yourself unless you are experienced in working with engines, and certainly not to choose a 'VVC' as your first experiment.
Any actions you take as a result of what you have read here are entirely your own actions and at your own liability - If I told you to jump under a bus, I'm sure you wouldn't Wink (please don't do that, either!)
The parts I required :
- Land Rover / Powertrain, Multi-Layered Steel (MLS) head gasket.
- Cam Cover gasket
- Coolant elbow gasket
- Exhaust manifold gasket
- Oil filter
- Spark plugs
- Air filter
- Water Pump
- Land Rover, uprated oil ladder / rail
The tools I required :
Work undertaken (in no particular order)
- A rachet socket set with numerous adaptors
- 8mm-22mm sockets
- 14mm and 15mm 'long' sockets
- Spark plug socket
- 8mm hex-key adaptor
- 3/4 to 1/2 adaptor
- 1/2 to 3/4 adaptor
- E-Drive socket set (for head bolts)
- Standard set of swan-neck spanners
- Torque wrenches for use between 8Nm and 160Nm
- 1/2 size breaker bar
- 3/4 size breaker bar
- Wire brush
- Axel stands (x2)
- Trolley jack
- Battery charger
- Oil filter removal tool
- Cam locking tool
- Spring balance
- WD40 (for rusted bolts)
- Coolant System Flush
- Cheap Tesco's Oil (6L)
- Cleaning Utensils
- Methelated spirits
- Pack of scouring pads
- Kitchen tissue paper (6 rolls)
- Good soap (for me!)
What you see here is still under construction, pictures alone do not tell the whole story. At all times, be mindful that bolts must be tightened and loosened in a specific order to prevent damage to gaskets and other vital parts. Bolts must also be tightened to a specific torque rating, failure to observe such details will cause irreparable or expensive damage.
If nothing else, a sheered bolt is a pain in the arse!
Removing the Cambelt
I have taken this section away from the main article here. The information shown may be of relevence to someone who is interested in changing a cambelt, without the fuss and hassle of the rest of the head gasket repair. ie) Home servicing.
There is more to follow, but here are some pics of the cambelt cogs and the belt, once the cover(s) have been removed. This is not intended as a how-to article, but to show how I did mine, please seek professional advice before changing a cambelt, or have a qualified mechanic do the work for you.
The cam belts are among the most important parts of the engine, incorrect fitting or lack of servicing these items can cause major engine failure.
I was fortunate that the previous cambelt change had meant that all the parts been nicely colour coded, to ensure alignment and correct identification. If removing any parts, I thoroughly recommend doing the same. I also recommend the use of a digital camera, which allowed me to go back in time and see how it looked before I took everything apart!
On with the show...
Firstly, I removed the cambelt covers. There were 5 or 6 bolts holding the upper-outer cover in place. The inner cover remained connected to the engine. I had to be careful when removing the cover, not to tear the plastic case at the lower points as this was close to snapping off, loosing protection and the ability to replace one of the bolts. I would say that whoever did the last change was not being so careful.
Cambelt Cover has Hidden Bolt, Located Near Dipstick
Camshaft Cogs Exposed with cover removed.
Rear timing belt, exclusive to the VVC
I then made sure the two cam's at the top are aligned by rotating the engine. I did this using the crank pulley, and not the cam pulleys, to avoid loosening the cams.
Camshaft Cogs Aligned Properly at 90 degrees
The fact that the above markings are aligned, meant that this was already in alignment. This was important to note as this had to remain in alignment when the new belt was fitted. I removed the alloy wheel from the front of the car to get access.
Aligned Crankshaft Cog With Alignment Markings Highlighted
Although it took me quite some time to locate one, this cam locking tool was invaluable, as it holds the cams in place, fully timed, while I do what needs to be done. It cost me about £5 from a motor factor, but I had to ring around to find one in stock.
Locking The Cams In Place With the Correct Locking Tool
The tensioner pulley was loosened next. There are two parts to undo, the tensioner plat bolt, which requires a swan-neck spanner, to loosen and tighten by hand, and the off-center bolt through the middle of the pulley, which I loosened using my allen (hex) key fitment for my socket wrench.
Now the tensioner was loose, I could remove the belt itself. I found a second pair of hands for this stage, one of us edged the belt off from the cam pulleys, while the other was in the drivers wheel well removing it from the crank pulley. The belt comes off easiest it seems, when being removed 'straight'.
Cambelt Removed and View of Engine Mount Bolts
Now the belt was loose, I needed to remove the engine mount to enable me to remove the belt entirely, as this passes through the centre of the belt. I could have cut it off, but the new belt has to go on somehow!
I supported the engine weight using a trolley jack and some old planks of wood. These were placed strategically under the oil sump, using the wood to spread the load and protect the sump. The jack was raised high enough to support the engine weight while the engine remained in place when mount was removed.
The mount itself was removed by taking out the 2 bolts and lifting the arm up. This allows for the old belt be brought out and the new one fitted back.
Fitting is as they say the opposite of removal, the 2 bolts are replaced, and most importantly, torqued to the correct settings... if only to prevent the engine from falling off the mounts when under load.
I obtained the torque settings from a Haynes manual.
I found fitting the new belt to be a little fiddly. Again, it took two of us to re-fit the belt from above and below. It needed to go on as straight as it came off, but with the additional complication of ensuring the pulleys all stayed in place while we did so.
Re-tighten the tensioner pulley, but not fully.
Fit cambelt tensioning kit (The bolt and spring). The official X-Part cambelt should provide instructions for using this and fitting it. Below is a diagram to show you how it all lays out.
Cambelt tensioning diagram
Loosen tensioner plate bolt.
Rotate crank at least 2 full turns.
Check all pulleys are still correctly aligned, most of the time, they will be out by a single notch.
Tighten tensioner bolt and tensioner backing bolt to specified torque.
Replace cambelt covers.
Removing and Refitting The Airbox Assembley
I have taken this section away from the main article here. The information shown may be of relevence to someone who is interested in removing their airbox assembley, without the fuss and hassle of the rest of the head gasket repair. ie) Fitting an induction kit.
Removing the K-Series Camshaft-Cover
In this first image, you can see I have already removed the bolts, HT Leads, spark splugs and the plastic cover.
Removing the head
A Useful Tool - A Cam Cover Bolt Organiser!
Rover K-Series Cam Cover Still Fitted
Rover K-Series Cam Cover Removed, Exposing the Gasket
Cam Cover Gasket Removed
Rover K-Series Cam Cover Removed
The Cam Cover After a Quick Wipe
Inside a K-Series, the Cams Exposed on a VVC
View of Rusted Bolts on Exhaust Manifold
The Exhaust Manifold Removed
Plenty of Rust!
The Coolant Elbow, Still Fitted to The Head
The Bolts That Hold The Coolant Elbow in Place
The Cleaning Operation
The Coolant Elbow Removed
Two More Coolant Pipes to Remove
The Fuel Input Hose is Located Below the Throttle Body
Two Bolts Hold the Fuel Hose in Place
Support Beam, Located at The Rear of The Head, Holds it in Place
Access to The Head Support Beam Bolt
The Head Bolt Organiser
The Head Bolt Organiser
Initial Removal of The Head
Be Careful of Extruding Valves!
Rover K-Series, Head Removed With Gasket Exposed
Rover K-Series, Head Removed With Gasket Removed
Wiring Loom Connectors For VVC Head
An Empty Looking Engine Bay!
The Underside of The Head, Pre Cleaning
The Underside of The Head, After a Quick Clean
The Underside of The Head, After a Better Clean
Changing the oil ladder / rail
- Removing the water pump
- Removing and refitting the oil sump
Original Oil Rail Fitted
Old Verses New, The Different Designs
New Oil Rail Fitted
- Removing the exhaust manifold
- Removing and changing the Thermostat
- Changing the oil filter
- Changing the spark plugs