MG Enthusiasts' BBS Archive Thread

Tale tale signs of impending Head Gasket Failure

From: Jason, Munich on 11 June 1999 at 9:54

Can anyone describe symptoms of a Head Gasket Failure??

I took the F for a "clear out the cobwebs" long fast drive last night, and after noticed an oily kind of smell. There is no contamination of the coolant (it is a nice flouresent colour from the antifreeze) and no visable leaks (that could be seen without taking the access panel off).

Seems to be pulling OK, and crusies nicely at 120mph (btw, a splitter is a must at this kind of speed)....

Or am I just paranoid?


From: Hazel, Munich on 11 June 1999 at 17:17

Jason - you mean I havn't already bored you stupid with my stories of HG woes! How did I miss you?

Come along to the meet on Sunday!


From: Tony, Utrecht on 12 June 1999 at 0:05

Jason, I think the head gasket tends to go without much warning and I think you will know about it when it does go.

In my case the temp went up, the heater went cold and it's floresent green blood ran down in little eddies towards the hard, cold, unforgiving side of the road.

Look in the archive for Dirk, and, oh! it's, er, Dirk again,
who shold know what a blown head gasket is like by now.

From: Hazel, Munich on 12 June 1999 at 6:43

When my HG went (both times) the only indication that something was wrong was a VERY SMALL but persistant oil leak (I'm talking about maybe a small drop left on the floor when the car was parked overnight).

The car somehow also didn't sound right (very vague I know, but it sounded slightly noisier).

It does make me wonder how many people out there are driving around with dodgy gaskets, but don't find out about it until real meltdown time.

So really the HG failure was completely unexciting for me - no big explosions. A week after the second HG repair my car broke down with a coolant failure - now that was exciting!


From: Paul, Droitwich on 13 June 1999 at 12:05

My dads F became the latest to 'suffer' HG failure.

His car went in for a service a few weeks ago and they reported a small oil leak. Went in last Thurday and the HG was replaced under the extended warranty.


From: Tony, Utrecht on 13 June 1999 at 12:20

I think I must have been lucky then, that my failure was so obvious. No previous signs in my case, no water or oil leaks, no strange noise, nothing, it just went.

The only oil leak I had was when the oil temp sensor got hit with a stone and started to leak (anyone making stone guards for these little vunerable areas). Only suffered three head gasket failures in my whole life and two of them were in cars that were knackered in the first place.

From: Jon Baker, Cumbria on 13 June 1999 at 21:01

I noticed this on my car before its MOT. Turned out to be the cam cover gasket. Not an unheard of item to need replacing on the K Series.

From: Dirk, Luxembourg on 14 June 1999 at 11:54

The oily smell is okay, I even had once light grey (hot!) smoke coming out of the engine, but that was just oil smell, nothing more. That's very normal after wild rides.

Diff to describe how a HGF smells, but I compare that smell vs the oily smell a bit like champagne vs wine ;-)

After 3 blowups (2 of mine & 1 of my bro) I do know how it smells!

From: Steve, farnborough on 14 June 1999 at 12:41

There are several different types of Head gasket failure - some may have a distinctive smell - others a particular sound.

The gasket isolates the gas pressure within each cylinder - both between each cylinder, and each cylinder and the oustide of the engine. In a water cooled engine (such as the MGF) it also ensures that the coolant does not leak into the cylinders, or outside the engine.
It also has to ensure that the oil circulating around the engine does not leak into the cylinders, or into the coolant.

So the Head gasket can leak gas, water or oil, and can mix them, putting water in the sump, oil and gas bubbles in the coolant. And just where did the 'mayonnaise' come from ?? :-)

I'm just amazed that head gaskets ever work !


From: Neil, Stokenchurch on 14 June 1999 at 17:13

Mine too is exhiting the 'cam cover' oil leak.

I did nip the bolts up slightly last night so I'm hoping
that'll fix it. Failing that, it's 'helloo dealer' time
again under the extended warrantee.


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MG Enthusiasts' BBS Archive Thread

MGF HGFs (& other problems)

From: Hazel, Munich on 16 September 1999 at 11:13

Luc> PS: for certain manufacturing defects, Rover provided "guidelines" to MG-dealers; an example of this is the guideline for the
"cross-member welding trouble" (welding of the cross-member bar under the dashboard loosens a little bit, causing cracking
sounds)(I got this info confirmed by a very reliable source at Rover), but that's another story of course. What about tyre
tracking trouble, rain-infiltration, head gaskets, etc.: are these
reported; do guidelines related to these isues exist ?

I am sure that there are guidelines for all of the Fs problems!
With regard to the 'dashboard creak' (otherwise known as 'cracking longitudinal members structural to the chassis'):

I have a friend (no it really isn't me this time!, but he is an occasional contributor to this board) who has had this rewelding business done three times already. Each time the problem has come back.

The garage are about to give up on the problem & the owner is in negotiation with Rover at the moment. I'll try & let you know what happens.

Yes I have this problem too - I've had it rewelded once - but the problem is back.

To me at the moment it is only a minor irritation (a crackle that drives me crazy sometimes, and an occasional loud CRACK!), but this does not bode well for the longer term health of the car (IMO).

Just another problem :o(


From: Luc, Brussels on 16 September 1999 at 14:52

I pointed out the welding trouble, because I noticed it on my 1.8 Mpi, unlike Dirk's VVC... until very recently: small crack-sounds equally can be heard on Dirk's MGF.

So, although Dirk's VVC beats my 1.8 Mpi in producing the loudest external noise (SP-exhaust + K&N + cat-bypass + broken manifold), my 1.8 Mpi beats his VVC in producing the loudest internal (cockpit) noise (cracks) ;-)

I discussed the issue with the Luxemburg dealership. They know the problem and informed me that it requires the removal of the complete dashboard and takes several hours to cure it. Well, when reading that the welding trouble risks to re-occur after some time, then I'm hesitating whether it's worth having the job done to fix it. Spoilt money ?

What do you think. Should I go for it and have it repaired, or just live with this roadster-niggle ("hey, the body of a cabrio or roadster lives, so the cracking sound is part of it; it's like the knee-crack sounds when stretching legs at fitness").


From: Ted Newman, London on 16 September 1999 at 15:45


I can not say if the problem you have MUST be repaired but I can say that unless the job is done properly, and I hear that Dirks garage do things properly, the trouble will re-occur.

The basic trouble is that it is very difficult to get to the point where it needs welding and welding is not something that can be done half heartedly. So I would say that if you are going to have it done either make sure you can trust the garage or insist on seeing the welded parts before it is covered up again, and if you don't feel confident in inspecting it then get someone who knows what he/she is looking at.

Good Luck


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MG Enthusiasts' BBS Archive Thread

Water Wetter

From: Kes, Kidderminster on 05 July 1999 at 23:12


There's been a lot of stuff posted about head gaskets, especially those that fail, and I read all of it avidly. HGFs are rather like accidents, I have a morbid fascination for them but God forbid I should ever be involved in one.

I don’t know what causes HGFs, but I have my opinions on what could contribute. One of these is that the normal characteristics of engine cooling, local hotspots, coolant frothing, air-bubble formation, etc. which are not a problem in a robust front-engine installation are exacerbated by the complex cooling system used in the F. There’s more than 10 litres of coolant to be circulated, a lot of relatively small bore piping, a constant flow from the breather pipe (not seen in front-engine installations) which encourages frothing, and most chillingly(!) when the engine is stopped there’s no thermo-syphonic circulation to the radiator to relieve any build-up of excess heat.

Whilst it would be difficult to change the design it would be worth while doing what one can to make things as easy as possible for the engine. Personally I’d only use Rover’s antifreeze and distilled water to top up or refresh the system. The extra cost is only a few pounds and it’s hardly worth considering a cheaper alternative.

And then there are water wetters. Has anyone any experience of this stuff? It isn’t very complicated, being primarily a surfactant that reduces the surface tension of the coolant so that air-bubble size is reduced and heat transfer is increased: it also has anti-frothing agents and anti-corrosives. There’s enough technical info on the stuff for those who are interested at Anything that promises to improve heat transfer and thus reduce cylinder head temperature is worth a look at least. I’d try some in my 214 tomorrow if I could find somewhere to buy it.

Regards, Kes.

From: Gaz, Stockley Park on 06 July 1999 at 10:21

Get it from Moss.


From: Roger Parker Tamworth on 07 July 1999 at 1:26

Or try closer to home from RadTech, Moor Lane, Witton, Birmingam, just up from the Villa ground and actually under the M6.

Now I have mentioned this type of product before and have used it with some interesting results in Maestro and Montego Turbo's, whose cooling systems are considerably weaker than the F with many documented head gasket failures over many more years than the F has been around. I have also mentioned the probably connection of hot spots and gasket failures.

The principles are well proven, especially on the track. RadTech have supported Rover 220 Tomcat Turbo's in the Rover series over several years and have noted that engine temps run approx 10 degrees C cooler with their water wetter. (Called COOLBOOST incidentally)

Now when I originally fitted the T16 turbo unit to the Maestro I found that during very hot weather, such as the last few days the temp guage was operating a couple of notches higher than normal. Worrying when that is before any real heat generation from full boost! In traffic the temps rose to a level that operated the cooling fan and it took quite some time to come down, even when moving again. As a result I instigated the contruction of a new high capacity radiator, but in the meantime I added a bottle of the Coolboost.

The difference was quite immediate and noticeable. Temp guage sat firmly in the place it occupied on cold days, any rise was slightly slower, and as soon as the fan activated there was a marked reduction in the time it took to lower temps and allow the fan to stop. Once the radiator was changed for the high capacity one, with 2.5 times the potential heat exchange rate, I found no need to add another bottle of the Coolboost. However this bottle has recently been added to the F.

In the F I have covered only a couple of hundred miles since adding, but since we have some hot weather before and after the addition, I have been able to notice a change in the recorded coolant temp of the engine, which is now running quite clearly slightly lower than before.

Perhaps more pertinent is the fact that before adding, the same run to work generated enough heat to operate the engine cooling fan on a regular basis in certain places. Since adding, the ambient temps have been hotter and some days have been slower, yet the fan has only cut in once and for a very short period. Hardly scientific, but perhaps a guide as to what may be reproduced with other cars.


From: Kes, Kidderminster on 07 July 1999 at 13:24


Thanks for your comments, Roger. It’s interesting to see that you have already used water wetter in your F, which is certainly an endorsement. (I haven’t seen your previous comments by the way, presumably not on the F board?) When you say the cooling fan is now on less frequently I assume you mean the radiator fan (the engine bay fan can’t indicate engine internal temperature very accurately, can it?). My radiator fan comes on only on odd occasions (at least I only hear it on odd occasions) but the good old engine bay fan is on and off like er.. well, quite a lot.

So, is this stuff suitable to use as a matter of course in the F, and are there any disadvantages to using it in cars with as-new cooling systems? The coolant temperature in my system, at 5500 miles, always remains just below the half-way mark and I wouldn’t expect, or want, it to fall any further (off hand I can’t remember where the temp gauge sensor is: as it rises very quickly it isn’t in the radiator!). Does water wetter form any residues or water ‘oiling’? One day I’ll have to make a decision on this!

Regards, Kes

From: Kes, Kidderminster on 15 July 1999 at 12:41


I don't know what brand Moss supply, but for info Red Line Water Wetter is available from

Eldon House Automotive Ltd.,
8, Warsop Trading Estate,
Hever Road,
01732 866885

at £19.98 for a 355ml bottle which treats 12 to 20 litres of coolant (from memory un-airconditioned Fs use 10.5) P&P included.

Regards, Kes.

From: Dirk, Luxembourg on 15 July 1999 at 14:11

any address for the mainland perhaps?

and regards to Roland of Luxembourg (DR029!) for saying hello to me in his F, in front of the traffic lights.


From: Tony, Utrecht (FAO Dirk) on 15 July 1999 at 22:00


Badhuisstraat 11-13
6827 AD
The Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)26-4429937
Fax: +31 (0)26-4460835

Part No: MM220-115 Water Wetter fl 53.50.

Basically it's what's in the MOSS catalog, with , lets say, an interesting markup.

From: Hazel, Munich on 15 July 1999 at 22:16

What's wrong with the Moss stuff?
Won't they deliver to Europe?


From: Roger Parker Tamworth on 16 July 1999 at 0:58


Yes I did mean the coolant system fan. However I have noticed that the engine bay fan has operated just once in the recent warm weather when previously it was much more frequent.


From: Tony, Utrecht on 16 July 1999 at 13:01

Hazel, I think it's some kind of franchise system with Moss, these folk are agents for Moss, so if you ask Moss to send you something in Europe they will put you in contact with your nearest Moss supplier.

As far as I know nothing is wrong with Moss stuff, only the prices are a little questionable.

From: Andrew, Barnt Green on 17 July 1999 at 21:17


Maesto & Montego 2 litres are all the same basic block, sowhat you say?

When I say all I'm including the diesel as well, this is a fact Ihave known for may years, but a couple of years ago in Cars & Car Conversions magazine there was a yellow montego turbo with a diesel haed fitted boosted compression ratio and no failiures!

The 2 litre block has been in use for years, I first knew of it in Princesses and Ambasadors (know for head warping, cast iron block alloy head) and the same basic design of block is used in the Tomcat and current 2 litre Rover petrols, 600Ti, 820.

Sorry off at a tangent thought you might be interested though!

Do Kenlowe do an F fan kit yet?


From: Roger Parker Tamworth on 18 July 1999 at 0:18


Yes thanks I do have something of a very intimate knowledge and contact with the various Rover engines going back to BMC days. I also have quite a lot more information to the background of many of the FWD cars that appear in magazines and the editorial text is often misleading, but does what it is intended - to impress!


From: Roger Parker Tamworth on 18 July 1999 at 0:20

Forgot to add that the Coolboost product was about £13 for I think 750ml, or enough to do a cooling system of up to about 8 litres.


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MGF HGFs start to get very embarrassing for Rover

From: Dirk, Luxembourg on 15 September 1999 at 10:03

This week I got mail from 2 more MGF owners (Andreas & Iain) whose MG enthousiasm was drastically reduced by this Rover engineering blunder. (in fact Andreas has, like me, blown his 2nd gasket - hey Rover, NO ICON CHIPS INVOLVED!).
I'll update the Hall Of Shame (once again, sigh)...

Now with also the dubious manifold quality discussion, I really think somebody should inform those newspapers & magazines, who give positive reviews on the MGF, what hazards are hidden within this nicely designed car.
If anyone asks me how the car is, I hide no longer the truth, I just tell the person it's a very nice car to drive IF IT WORKS, but since that is most of the time not the case, I strongly discourage that person to even consider buying an MGF, Rover tricked me enough I guess.
And in the mean time, Rover should not spend so much dosh on Rover75 invitations (I got another flashy and cute invitation note for R75 presentation yesterday), but spend it to make their cars reliable. Once that more than half of the MGF owners have encountered this type of failure (one day they all will!), the media will certainly tell everybody what we know already for some time, and then you can basically bury the MG logo foregood.

Goddammit, we're almost Y2K and we still get confronted with such basic issues which are mostly quality related. This way the Brits will never get rid of their "Typical British Car Quality" image. Come BMW, give Rover some decent engineers, and get rid of these conservative wankers who are reluctant to review certain engine-critical parts which basically are not suited for centrally-mounted K-engines.

Dirk, feeling sorry for the new 'victims', and angry too

From: Ted Newman, London on 15 September 1999 at 10:11


Can you publish your list of 25000+ MGFs that have had head gasket failure - at least I assume you have a list this size by your remarks! or is the *wanker* (as you put it) in Luxembourg and not Longbridge.


From: Gaz, Worcester Prk on 15 September 1999 at 10:41

Seems some people are forgetting that only a *small* percentage of *F* owners actually use this BBS ...


From: Dieter, Dormagen FAO Dirk on 15 September 1999 at 10:57

we had several general discussions on Rover/MG etc. in the last weeks (some with alot of flames), while you where absent.

see for example
in the general section.

We both should think about an interchange of Email adresses of the Hall of shame participants and my VIN data. (Survey was a month ago)
I think there will be a nice concentration ;-) ... whatever that means.
Interchange means that I could write a mail to the Hall-friends and ask them for their VIN.

PS. I´ll take the for me common names of your hallsite this evening and put to their for me known VINs (about 80 VINs) a HG-sign.

From: Daniel, NL, on 15 September 1999 at 11:08

Sorry, but I'm missing the point since this is a new 'thread'... Can anybody referr to the source of this?
Is it the cooling fan history?

By the way; my car never failed me; am I one of the happy-few?
So far I had some problems, but never faced problems serious enough to disable the car.
I tried to sell it just because it is not fully used (2 rug-rats & working wife).
Although in as-new condition and honestly priced nobody really was seriously interested.
I'm not sorry about not selling the car. Summer in Holland continous to be exceptionally good
and I'm driving it for weeks top-down every day!


From: Dirk, Luxembourg on 15 September 1999 at 11:22

**I know this should be on the general BBS, but I'd like to react to this following the thread**


this BBS has about 250 visitors and these probably know another 500 F'ers not on the BBS, so 750 out of 25.000, +/- 3% of all MGFs sold
69 F'ers here HAD a HGF. Now I just practice some extrapolation.
I know other guys with an F, like my brother, and most of them have had the GODDAMN SAME issues, whether it's tracking, HG, leaks, electronics etc. Dealer also tells me from time to time about issues I had, that they now notice them on other Fs who reach certain mileage.

The HG problem is not normal, if you think it is normal, you're wrong, sorry, I know like over 50 others here what I'm talking about, you don't. I had multiple contacts with Rover tech or customer service, and have many 'witness reports' of others, and if you call that CUSTOMER-ORIENTED, well, I might be the Pope.
Of course, I have no idea what it means to be customer-friendly, because I only know people with Rovers, there are only Rovers in Luxembourg, so I can certainly not compare with brands like Volvo, Honda, Renault, Opel, Mazda, BMW, Porsche or whatever. Well sorry, but I do know these brands, and I do know what they do if there's a problem.
So let me allow from my own experience to say Rover (Belgium) is not really upto today's standard regarding Client Satisfaction. I'd like to see you once for a week without a car because they 'can't find the right piece anymore' or 'we await instructions from the HQ'. You want a replacement car? You must be joking!
"Tirez votre plan!"
The day your gasket blows (I hope for you not, even if you call me a wanker) you might start to think differently.
So save me the slantering, if your British pride should be hurt (?), I say Brits can be proud of many things they have accomplished, but that includes certainly not 'Rover'.

nuff said

From: FAO DIETER, Dirk, Luxembourg on 15 September 1999 at 11:30

Hey Dieter, sorry, but I don't keep the email address of the unlucky hall of shame members, but I'm sure many can be tracked if you put a little msg on the general BBS. i'll forward the address I still have in my Notes DB.

ps: the best flaming war was still the 'Saddam-inspired thread' when the US bombed Iraq for the second time. A lot of new English vocabulary learnt, I think that even Nazi's were mentioned in it!

From: Ted Newman, London on 15 September 1999 at 12:14

Dear Dirk

(Seeing we are being formal)

I see from another thread that you reckon you have learnt a lot of new English words - it is a pity you do not seem to be able to recognise those words which we find offensive - however as you are an alien we make allowances for your misuse of our language.

This brings me to your use of the extremely offensive word *wanker* it was you that used it, I simply asked if you had not got the location of the said person mixed up. I did not call you such a name.

The other point is 25000+ is my guess at half the numbers of MGFs produced - I think you will find it is probably in excess of 60,000 units now.

The number of HG failures that you have managed to find is I believe a lot less than 25,000, I do of course recognise that it would by almost impossible to find out the true number and therefore it is difficult to come to a true percentage figure so I would ask you to give us the facts as they are and not as you see them and do remember that *polls* of any sort are always biased.

Finally if my HG fails I can assure you the only person that will be called offensive names is me for not recognising the symptoms leading up to it.


From: Dieter, Dormagen on 15 September 1999 at 12:19

Back to the header!!

you may add another HGF to the hall:

While "collecting" VINs I found the following F at a dealer in Germany.

Just not registered car on a dealers car park. A compliant report of an MG Service guy layed on the co-drivers seat:
worn tyres, etc and the HG statement:

VIN number leads to: first registered in 11/1996

location: German dealer
milage when HG occured: 35 Tkm
Type: MPI
no mods

No comment on the reason why the former owner sold the F !!!

PS. keep VIN terms in low priority. We had a thread in collecting them here (went to the archive) Unfotunatly only a lot of readers where in vacation that time. I´ll repeat it when all events etc. are over, i.e. next month

From: Hazel on 15 September 1999 at 12:27

>Finally if my HG fails I can assure you the only person
that will be called offensive names is me for not
recognising the symptoms leading up to it.

Well the ONLY sympton for me was a small oil leak.
Possibly the engine was noisier than usual too.
But no coolant loss, or anything else.

Dirks Hall Of Shame may give a worse than real view of the
picture simply 'cos most people that mail him will only do
say to say that they have HAD the problem.

I have done my best to redress that issue & have submitted
the details of the people I know who have NOT had this

Unfortunately, IM(not so humble)O it is still TOO common
a problem to be ignored.


From: Ted newman, London on 15 September 1999 at 12:49


I agree with what you say - too many problems.

As to recognising HG failure symptoms - I said what I said because I am (or was) trained as an Auto Mechanic and should therefore be able to read the cars messages.

As I have said before the MGF is a brilliant concept and is great fun and could be a great car if the designers and engineers could get their way but in all probabilities the accountants ruled that exisiting bin parts had to be used and some of these bin parts were not designed for this type of car.

Let us hope that lessons have been learnt and when the next MG comes along it will fulfill all our expectations. Meanwhile Rover must pay more than lip service and correct all the faults and above all see that it's dealers know what they are doing.


From: Jason, Munich on 15 September 1999 at 13:53

Well, take a look at the letter I have sent to MG Customer Services in the UK.

13 September, 1999
MG Customer Services
Dear Sir or Madam:
I purchased my March 97 MGF 1.8 (first registered 5th March 1997) in February this year, and looked forward to the coming summer months motoring. In the process of buying the car, I was informed by the owner (of whom I have known very well for some time) that the car needed a new exhaust system, due to a MEMS failure the previous year (the car had been garaged for the winter). The MEMS had been replaced under warranty by Rover Deutschland, but the parts for the exhaust were not available, and another appointment had been made to have this completed.
The appointment was for the 10th February, but due to adverse weather (heavy snow), I rearranged this for the next available date, 19th February. I took the car to the Garage in question (Rover Zentrum, Niederlassung Munchen, Germany), and left it with them for the work to be carried out.
Upon my return on the agreed date (Wednesday 23rd) the car had not been worked on at all (apparently awaiting some parts!!!) – I had not been contacted about this, even though I had made it clear I needed the car back, as I was taking it to the UK to have some work done and to register it (import).
I took the car, and told the dealer that I will contact them as soon as I was back in Germany to have the work completed.
The next date was set for 4th May, 1999 – as my partner and I were to be on holiday until the 14th May. We returned on the Saturday 15th to collect the car – as arranged. To our amazement, the work had not been completed – awaiting parts. The car was finally finished for the 19th May. The work undertaken was as follows:
 Tracking, as front wheels have· scuffed badly on the inside to the point of being almost illegal (I am in the process of getting new ones at my expense) and handling was awful. I later find out this is a common problem with the F, and no compensation was offered – I paid the full price of EUR 181 (inc. TAX @ 16%).
 Both sets of seals· replaced for the roof (even though they had been replaced the previous year) – a cost of EUR 181 (inc TAX) – and still the seals leak!!! (I have the old style 4-panel roof).
 Complete exhaust system (kat, sensor, box inc all necessary· parts) – cost to me EUR 320 (inc. TAX) after Rover agreed to pay some of this part of the bill.
The story does not end there.
At the end of June, I noticed that the Water Temp gauge started to rise rapidly whilst idling in traffic, but when the car was moving the problem was not there. I promptly took the car to have it checked out at a different dealer in Munich (Auto Konig, Anzing, Germany) – where the car had originally been purchased from. The diagnosis was that of a failed water pump. In the process of investigation, it was also noted that some of the lower gaskets were failing, and these had to be replaced too. Total cost to me, EUR 826!!!
A week later, I returned to my car one evening to find a green stream of water coming from under the rear of the car. I swiftly took the car back to Auto Konig, where a failed Head Gasket was to blame. Due to the RAC cover I have, the balance of the labour was paid for by them as part of my policy – but I still had to pay for all parts (including top ups etc of the system). I have not had the invoice for this as it went to the RAC, but this amounted to £200 on my credit card. The total cost for this repair – EUR 1,200!
How many miles are on this car…I had the speedo replaced in March 99 to comply with the UK import laws – that, after this last event, showed 3500 miles. The old one showed 22,000 km (approx. 13,000 miles) when it was taken out. Total – 16,500 miles. I find this totally unacceptable for a modern car.
Having spent over EUR 1750 (£1200) on a car with below average miles (now 17.5k) and just over 2 years old and garaged in the winter, I am somewhat at a loss to justify having anything else done to the car, for fear of having to pay even more money.
What, you may ask could be wrong now…
Replacement front tyres
Hole wearing in the Roof, due to roof cross member (old style roof) – discovered this weekend (10/9/99)
3. Multiple bubbling in paint on BOTH wing mirrors
4. Leaking window seals and cheaters
5. Burning smell (clutch like) coming from engine bay (clutch has plenty of “bite”, and is not slipping under load).
6. Discolouration of chrome pipes on exhaust (new back in May – 3,000 miles) – not apparent on other cars.
7. Rattling coming from engine bay when idling and Air Conditioning is on (can still hear it faintly when off)
8. Dashboard distortion in front of windscreen air vent – has popped clear of the moulding.
9. Water leaks in passenger footwell (no, not from the AirCon unit)
10. Recently (March 99) installed Rover (Momo) gear knob revolving around the base(not revolving on the stick, but on the mounting)
11. Cross Member bar (internal,

From: Ted Newman, London on 15 September 1999 at 14:05

With regard to HG failure I do not know why they fail first time but when they fail a second time I wonder if the correct head replacement procedure has been followed?

I as a mechanic know how to replace a cylinder head as all mechanics should and no doubt would follow my initial training. However I have just studied the workshop manual and there is a procedure that I have not come across before! OK this may be due to the fact that I have not praticed my skills for some years and perhaps all heads are now refitted this way but if this not the case and the Rover procedure for the MGF Cylinder head is not followed I can see this being the cause of a repeated failure.

For those who like to DIY :-

The replaced head has all the bolts hand tightened first then following a strict sequenece they are all tightened to 20Nm, then the radial mark on the bolt head is marked on the cylinder head using a felt tip pen and the bolts are tightened 180 degrees following the set sequence and then a further 180 degrees, again in strict sequence, so that the radial mark on the bolt lines up with the felt tip pen mark.

And this has to be exactly followed!


From: HALL OF SHAME UPDATED, Dirk, Luxembourg on 15 September 1999 at 16:30

to Hazel: I was inputting your data actually today and just uploaded the new Hall of Shame. Now with colours and a little bit revamped (thanks to my Excel HTML wizard). Needs 1024x768 full screen to have decent overview though

to Jason: if it can comfort you, I paid around 3.500 EUR in 2 years for multiple repairs, not mentioning many things were fixed under guarantee. Good luck dude, otherwise sell the car, seems you got a lemon too

to Ted: my preferred technician in Luxembourg is, as said before, the "Roger Parker of Luxembourg". Incredibly skilled, loves MGF and is fascinated by tuning, always helpful, makes always time for me, and honest when it comes to reasons why things broke down that shouldn't (unlike Rover). When I suggested once very carefully a 2nd HG blow might be caused by bad replacing, he got quite irritated (since he did mine), saying such failures then occur within a few 100 miles, not after 6 months. And he is right... So no wankers to be found at Rover Luxembourg.
And when my 2nd and my bro's 1st HG blew, there was absolutely nothing strange perceptible, just all of a sudden a BOOM! (visible boom, huge smoketail, not audible!) and that's it. On my 2nd HGF my coolant temp gauge didn't even move while the car was leaving a huge white smoketail behind. I do know many noises already of my F (I hear diff between VVC & MPi from inside, I know just by hearing when clutch slips, when gearbox is about to die, when cambelt suffers from bad rollers, cross member is kaputt, supports are cracked, K&N ;-), flexible part of frontpipe sucks, etc, but i cannot hear a HGF, I only refer to it as "the smell of death", because it has this typical bizarre smell of something burning, once smelled, you never forget!


From: Ted Newman, London on 15 September 1999 at 17:51

Dirk says>

>So no wankers to be found at Rover Luxembourg.

Ok but it is the use of such obscene words as the third word above that upsets me, I think you will find if you refrain from the use of this sort of word people will take you more seriously!

Keep up the good work


From: Tony, Utrecht on 15 September 1999 at 19:23

Ted, Very interesting, (Ref. Mr. MG Dealer? :-)

All, Yes it is true that a HG should not go in a new car or even a four year old car for that matter. A lot of F owners have had this problem when compared with other makes (and Rover models with K series).

This suggests to me that the main problem seems to be because of the MGF mid engine configuration the engine is too hot. The engine temperature has been a problem right from the early design prototypes of the MGF and I think they could have done more to prevent this problem even at the very early design stage.

I think I asked before, if anyone knows how much more the F would if it was built properly.

Dirk, Sorry again, but I also have a problem with you slagging of British things and people because you have had a problem with one British product out of thousands (or even millions). You have contact with many very nice British people through this BBS so why do you feel you have to keep having a go.

You can say what you like about Rover, I think I would agree with most of it, but leave your friends out of it please.

Thank you for your cooperation.

From: Daniel, NL, on 15 September 1999 at 22:39

If there are 69 documented cases of HGF and somebody has all
the names of the owners, it could be possible to figure out
why it fails (1 st. time). As I said before this could be linked to the fan blowing the wrong way, or to ICON-CHIPS
(chip-tuning??). Maybe it is the weather (summer/winter),
or driving long&hard&fast&switching off the engine. The fan
will not keep on running for an hour and HEY, how much can one fan do if there isn t an electric waterpump to help it.
What about driving hard right from a cold start : all these are possible sources which (normally) should not lead at the present day&age to HGF, but combined with a small fluke somewhere else who knows. And okay: suppose we (someone) finds a trend: it might be nice to know where to look out for...

From: Luc, Brussels on 16 September 1999 at 0:12

Ooh, the temperature of this thread is comparable to the one of the engine bay of an MGF on the move: far too hot. Let's all calm down a little; if words do not say more than silence, than it's better to keep quiet.

We have to face some facts. The MGF is a recently developed concept. The mid-engine rear wheel drive option was finally chosen after some (extensive?) experimenting/testing by the MGF-engineers and - correct me if I'm wrong - the concept was new to Rover. It was probably considered in those days, that the future would reveal some 'early stage diseases' - as with all new concepts - which certainly could be cured at a later stage in an MkII MGF.

It's 1999, so the MGF is on the road for 4 years now. Some MGFs have already covered quite some distances in many types of circumstances (driving behaviour, climate, tuning, etc). This allows many of us to evaluate the car. Now, only a small group of people participate to this BBS, and what's supposed to be a rather rare engine problem to any car whatsoever(namely a head gasket failure), seems not to be that rare amongst MGFs, at first sight. Do you know other types of cars which appear to be sensible to a HG failure when the 50k miles have not been covered yet. Okay no brand of car is fully safe from HG-harm; there will always be one which suffers a HG-failure, but doesn't the MGF seem to be quite another - untold - story ?

Dirk has apparently been quite fired up by the news that some - not all - BBS-people confirmed HG-failures. Although, Dirk is supposed to know well how to deal with statistics (as it was one of his lectures at university), things are far too complicated for full extrapolation to all MGFs. Remember the statistics saying: "A man wandered through a river which had an average depth of 1 meter; he drowned".

As long as it regards facts (Mr. X faced a HG-failure at Y miles, however Ms. Z never did), I don't have a problem with it. These are just bare facts. Therefore, IMHO it's *not* right to criticize someone who collects the info, because that person is just the messenger providing the info. So let's not shoot the pianist.

Of course, if it comes to interpretation of the collected figures, we need to be quite cautious: you can prove almost anything with figures. Main question is to know whether this BBS can be considered as a reliable representation for all MGFs. I think it reflects the full MGF fleet only to a certain extent. (A certain number of MGFs does not even exist anymore due to fatal crashes...).

If you take a look at the Hall of Shame, it reports several HG-failures. Now, did fate decide to play a trick on us by exaggerating the number of HG failures amongst the BBS-people, or is there very much indeed a problem. I leave it upto you to make a choice. Approach the figures as you like, but please, if there occurs to be a problem, let's not cover it up or minimize it. A car is supposed to be a vehicle which transports you whenever the driver wants to be transported by it. A vehicle is not supposed to break down, or at least not to break down at random, or the driver's trust is gone.

Let's move over to other collectable facts: what about Rover's approach ? Does the Rover approach enlighten us somehow in our search for an answer whether HG-failures on MGFs can be considered to be "abnormal". I would like to point out two peculiar - but contradicting - "Rover-facts":

- 'peculiar fact 1' is that almost all MGF HG-failures are paid up by Rover, regardless whether the warranty already expired. This could indicate that Rover is aware of an engineering problem. This equally implies that Rover must know the precise figure of HG-failures;
- however, 'peculiar fact 2' is that the MkII MGF has *exactly* the same HG-configuration. This could indicate that Rover does not consider that there is any substantial problem with the MkI MGF HG.

Some word about symptoms to all of you MGF owners who were lucky never to have faced a HG-failure (according to certain BBS-people this is very likely the very vast majority of the MGF-fleet, isn't it?): if you're lucky, then your MGF will be so kind to leave some substance underneath, in order to warn you that trouble could be on its way, or that the car even could be on the brink of the feared HG-failure. However, if you're not thàt lucky, you will be standing before the traffic lights in the middle of a town, for example Brussels as I did, and suddenly *BANG* you reveal a nice white puff of smoke leaving the engine bay (motion without sound); no, you're not somewhere in the clouds, and no, this is not supposed to happen on any normal car except maybe the one you're driving; you just witnessed an MGF HG-failure... welcome to the real world. Forget your plans of continuing your journey, because this can cause severe engine damage
to your well-loved MGF. But, hey, be comforted with the thought that it's higly likely that Rover will pay up for the repairs.

Okay, the idea that

From: Luc, Brussels on 16 September 1999 at 0:33

For those curious to know how thin the head gasket actually is, surprise yourself by taking a look at the picture at:

For those interested to take a look at the "Hall Of Shame", check:


PS: for certain manufacturing defects, Rover provided "guidelines" to MG-dealers; an example of this is the guideline for the "cross-member welding trouble" (welding of the cross-member bar under the dashboard loosens a little bit, causing cracking sounds)(I got this info confirmed by a very reliable source at Rover), but that's another story of course. What about tyre tracking trouble, rain-infiltration, head gaskets, etc.: are these
reported; do guidelines related to these isues exist ?

From: Ted Newman, London on 16 September 1999 at 9:06

A very well balanced report from Luc.

Very readable and it does not raise the hackles - I wonder if the lack of obscene words helps?


From: Dieter, Dormagen on 16 September 1999 at 11:28

FAO Luc´s PS:
>What about tyre tracking trouble, rain-infiltration, head gaskets, etc.: are these
reported; do guidelines related to these isues exist ?

For my knowledge exist two kinds of ´guide lines´
The one I know of ;-) are called in germany
`Bulletin Technik´ No.xxxx Issue: xxxx ´dated xxxx

I stated some in the last month.
See the technical archive: 'dieter bulletin' or # mark the tech'

All that seam to be papers based on technical instructions of the constructur. Enhenced by complain codes etc. of the MG service organisation (whatever that is) (account No.) and changed part No´s.

PS. directly one for HGF´s does not exist for my knowledge, but for leaks in general, for high engine temperatur etc. So, more for causes of physical terms that could lead to problems.

From: Dieter, Dormagen FAO Dirk on 16 September 1999 at 14:31

Hi Dirk,

just got a message from Andreas (5th line of the Hall of fame sheet)

We talked about charges for HG repair versus new engine and Rover warranty:
IMHO ist es das zuviel, wenn die wieder nach 60000 in die Luft geht...

Egal, die Kiste wird repariert und verkauft!
Schade drum, aber was zuviel ist ist zuviel.

Viel Spass noch in der MG-Welt, vielleicht komm ich ja mit nem RV8 wieder ;-)

Vielen Dank,


The second HGF was his last one @ an MGF.
So put 3 crosses (+++) behind his name :-(

From: Dirk, Luxembourg on 16 September 1999 at 18:37

Well, to all reading this disappointing German memo: doesn't it make you sad aswell? Real pity, but I agree with Andreas...

From: Ted Newman, London on 16 September 1999 at 18:49

Well Head Gasket and MG permitting I shall be away from here in a few minutes, shall catch up with a few BBSers in Dormagen and read all the news when I get back in a weeks time.


From: on 17 September 1999 at 16:28

Does anybody know what HG's are used when building the Cup cars? These higher powered engines must use a better gasket and if so why are they not available? Can any one shed any light? Holding my breath! Mike.

From: Roger Parker Tamworth on 17 September 1999 at 22:51

Dirk, thanks for the indirect compliment.

Talking with a power train engineer (ie engine, gearbox and remaining transmission) he indicated that in the latter part of last year a modified gasket was introduced into production, which if nothing else would be a recognition of a problem and an attempt to solve it. Recently I have been trying to confirm this information, without success.

I have checked my Nov 1997 MGF and Apr 1999 parts fiche's and noted that just one head gasket is listed for both 1.8i and VVC. (GUG 702576HG) Also the same head set is also listed (GUG 701125HS for the 1.8i, and GUG 701154HS for the VVC)for the whole period too. Basiaclly if the production spec engien was treated to a new gasket this should now have shown up in a new part number and a definitive change point.

I have passed on my thoughts relating to why I suspect the gasket is subject to weakness, and would add that on the FWD K engined cars gasket failures occur but not to an exceptional degree. Garages are familiar with the job of changing them as they have done many in the past, but conversely they have done far more cars from other manufacturers, and not just because there may be more of that manufacturers cars on the road.

This points to the problem being one which will tend to affect the engine before other problems, such as blocked hydraulic tappets leading to a rather noisy engine, rather than a major problem.

In the F I firmly believe that it is the temperature peaks that occur and the fluctuations that are engendered by the very small volume of coolant inside the engine block. (less than 2 litres) This is actually a positive design feature to drastically cut the time needed during warm up that reduces fuel consumption and the conditions where excessive engine wear occurs. In the F I believe that this feature has been unbalanced due to the enclosed engine bay.

Question. Does anyone know whether the Elise or Caterhams suffer in the same way. I don't have any definitive information, but from what little I have picked up it doesn't seem to be a problem. IF this is so then we have not simply got an engine problem but a car problem. This is unlikely to be solved by way of a minor redesign as the idela opportunity has just passed. Bolstering other areas is obviously the only way to increase resistance to the problem and hopefully not create a domino principle with another part in the line then 'falling over'.

I have e-mailed a chap who is directly involved in the development of both HPD and VHPD K series and asked him various specific questions relating to the K series and head gaskets. Of interest whilst examining the Elise 135 kit I noted that a standard Rover Head set was supplied as part of the package.

It was interesting to note that none of the three MGF's subject to repeated full power runs on the rolling road during exhaust tests showed any signs of problems although the observed inlet air temps were high for some runs.

When/if I get any reply I will post the information.


From: Luc, Brussels on 18 September 1999 at 0:53

Earlier on in this thread I wrote:

"Is the HG-trouble an example of the sh*t hitting the fan ? Well, if such proves to be the case, then I hope Rover will definitely do something about that particular fan, especially the one in the engine-bay, or the engine bay is just Pandora's box risking to be opened one day by a white puff of smoke of a HG-failure."

After reading Rog's comment, it seems that Rover must not only work on "the fan", but equally on "the sh*t" to cure some bizarre HG-phenomenon...

But there's more interesting info made available by Rog; he just provided some additional info regarding the HG-issue in another thread ("errors & creaks"-thread). More particularly, as a reply to...

From: Dirk, Luxembourg on 15/9/1999 11:34

Dealer mentioned to me coolant cap changed already 3 times from design, and he called it's reliability still "Euhm..."

I have already my 3rd coolant cap installed. But I ask dealer everytime to check and replace if suspicious. Cap is still cheaper than HG replacement!

...Rog noted:

From: Roger Parker Tamworth on 17/9/1999 23:11


Your last comment could really be important to the whole head gasket failure issue as well.

If you read my last posting I mention that insider information says that productions spec head gaskets were changed in the latter part of '98, yet I find no mention of any changes when cross referencing both a Nov'97 and Apr'99 Parts fiche's.

You mention that there have apparently been 3 changes of coolant header tank caps, and clearly colour coding on new cars indicates something. Once again I have just cross referenced the parts fiche's and low and behold I see GRC 184 listed as the only expansion tank cap on both slides.

If there have been changes, and I don't doubt there have been, then upgraded and altered spec parts gain a new number and there is a change point listed in the parts slides to identify which part was subject to which period and in most cases if there is a supersession of part then this will be stated also.

Firstly can you confirm (and anyone else for that matter) any quoted part number and the date and VIN change point. Any other information would be useful too.

IF, as I suspect, there are uprated parts out there fitted, and referred too, prior to the dating of the later slide I have, (April '99) then clearly this creates a serious issue. This being that dealers and other will be ordering parts under the old and superceded part numbers and may be getting parts more likely to fail or lead to other failures. If that is so then, 1, this may add more understanding why some owners suffered repeated failures, and 2, Rover will have some serious questions to answer as to why their parts supply system is so faulted.


Seems like we're closing in on the diagnosis of the cause of the HG-trouble. The search goes on...


From: Sarah, Bristol.............................FAO Roger on 18 September 1999 at 8:21

Hi roger,

Your comment :

> Talking with a power train engineer (ie engine, gearbox and remaining transmission) he indicated that in the latter part of last year a modified gasket was introduced into production, which if nothing else would be a recognition of a problem and an attempt to solve it.

I have come across parts which have been modified. The contractor has not changed the part number, but changed the issue (i.e. F347495-1 to F347495-2). When the part was called up you always were issued with the latest issue or version of that part.

Could that the case with a modified Rover gasket?.

From: FAO MG Dealer.........................................Roger Parker Tamworth on 18 September 1999 at 21:04


In theory yes, but what about the parts already in circulation from stock orders by dealersm, and sitting on shelves. To make your observed system effective would require a complete recall, otherwise the same part number would result in a lottery where one gasket may be old spec and another new spec.

The obvious system is the one used for many years where a part is changed and may be visually identical to the superceded part. It carries a new number and the parts slides show the change point in terms of a VIN or engine number. If the new part completely replaces the old, the old part is shown as NLA with a cross reference to the new part number.

I think that that 'MG Dealer' may be in a much better position to throw more light on this as he will have received all manner of bulletins etc.


From: Sarah, Bristol on 19 September 1999 at 7:56

Hi Roger, parts and their change control system may be dependant on the seriousnous and the contractors reluctance to 'waste' material. I have seen systems at contractors where, dependant on the seriousnous, have recalled older variants or issued new variants as old stocks diminish.
Unfortunately it can be a 'bean counter' problem again. Changing anything costs money, the less you can do then the cheaper it is. Change control tends to be a minimalist thing.

On an aside I noticed that the MEMS changed part number after a VIN number of 10xxx, for the VVC and 1.8i. Do you know why it changed out of interest.

From: Nick on 19 September 1999 at 19:46

Can i ask a question?

Many F'ers that i know have not had any problems with HGF, and from the data that is compiling on existing failures, could it not be assumed that the problem is not with the gasket but either a distortion in either the block or head, causing the gasket to fail? especially as some owners are reporting more than one failure. Or could it be the way in which the engine is driven?

Just a thought!

Nick (still on HG No.1)

From: Roger Parker Tamworth on 19 September 1999 at 21:35


Yes I follow your points and see logic with them, but I am basing my general thoughts around the base system that has been in place for a long time, and I have seen nor heard anything that indicates that the system has changed significantly. (Although under BMW dictate anything could and probably will.)


Very valid points too as the user will have a very significant influence on the performance of the engine and it's component parts. However design of the K series, and specifically in the MGFs case the engine mounting position clearly creates differences that lead to different stresses, or degrees of stress, when compared to any previous front engine position vehicle with the K. Add to this variation the user input and hey presto we have a slightly different pattern of results.

In the front engined cars with K series reliability is not a worry, but when the cars do display faults they do have some commonality. Head gasket failures is one, but this usually requires about 6 years use or 60 to 80 thousand miles to show up. Even then there is not a serious problem, just that enough engines suffer the problem to create an awareness of this area. One thing that this awareness does give is that the integrity of casting faces is not a problem and simple head gasket replacement is the usual complete cure.

General info.

An interesting point to add is that a recent Metro GTi (MPi) head gasket I assisted to change with a composite type replacement of accepted quality has failed within two weeks of the change. The second failure was seen by the clear view of antifreeze drips on the floor traced back to the head face. Here the whole length of the head to block face at the rear was showing clear signs of leakage and the front face was also in a couple of places. The leak was minor and enabled the time to obtain a Rover replacement gasket (sorry don't have the part number handy) and to plan an evening to fit it. The Rover gasket was a metal shim type.

The replacement followed the same route as the original, no face distortion was present and interestingly there was no real clue why this gasket has failed. The new Rover one was fitted and the engine reassembled in the same way. Apart from the expected resistance of the cooling system to bleed fully the job has beed successful and many weeks and miles have not shown any further problem.

From this experience the only possible problem area apart from the gasket itself is the one surrounding the long head through bolts. The tightening procedure for these is odd and may be influenced by resistance in the threads. I don't think that this was a problem here as the bolts were fully hand run to beyond the normal clamping position and all threads were clean and easy.

From: John Thomas, Bath on 20 September 1999 at 9:28

My 4 year old 1.8i, 35k miles, occasional light exercise on the track, has just started a small leak of coolant from rear lh side of head.

I am making plans to sort it out and check for head distortion.

I will pass Dirk details for 'Hall of Shame whose credibility would I feel be enhanced by deletion of 'hearsay' failures.

btw my dealer did 2 last week :-(


From: Mike Bees, Cambridge, Engand mikebe at sco dot com on 20 September 1999 at 10:36

Roger wrote:

>>Question. Does anyone know whether the Elise or Caterhams suffer in the same way. I don't have any definitive information, but from what little I have picked up it doesn't seem to be a problem.<<

There was a spate of failures on the Elise a while back, which was put down to a bad batch of gaskets, but otherwise they don't seem particularly prone. Interesting that the launch of the VVC-engine Elise was reputedly delayed due to cooling problems though.

It's not a general problem with Caterhams. Caterham run 2 very full race series with 138bhp 1.6K's and VHPD's, I've not seen one go up in steam. Contradictorally, a friend has just had the head gasket go on his 1.6K Caterham. However this car has done a *lot* of very hard-driven track mileage, including a recent visit to the Nurburgring where it ran short of coolant due to a leaky radiator. It was assumed that no damage was done, but a couple of track days later the gasket went (at #4 fire/compression ring).

>>I have e-mailed a chap who is directly involved in the development of both HPD and VHPD K series and asked him various specific questions relating to the K series and head gaskets.<<

AFAIK even the VHPD still uses the standard gasket.


From: Rob on 20 September 1999 at 10:58

>>Question. Does anyone know whether the Elise or Caterhams suffer in the same way. I don't have any definitive information, but from
what little I have picked up it doesn't seem to be a problem.<<

There was a spate of failures on the Elise a while back, which was put down to a bad batch of gaskets, but otherwise they don't seem
particularly prone. Interesting that the launch of the VVC-engine Elise was reputedly delayed due to cooling problems though.

FWIW, the Lotus Elise has far better engine bay cooling than the MGF- a point made very clear by a certain manufacturer of aftermarket performance bits, who have access to necessary R&D tools to successfully determine this issue.

The assertions that it is a combintion of a long cooling run to the radiator and back (with high risk of vapour locks), raised engine bay temperatures, and poor post switch-off heat extraction must all be contributry to the excess in HGFs seen on MG's.

Therefore, ensuring that each part of the cooling system and engine bay cooling system are working efficiently are important steps to ensure HG longevity- IMHO.

The question is- how is it possible for an average owner to determine this?


From: Tony, Utrecht on 20 September 1999 at 12:29

So what steps can we take?

1. Colder air induction, K&N pipes must help, could maybe come up with a better solution, maybe a scoop or wing under the engine bay to force air up towards the engine (and give a little downforce maybe).
2. Water wetter to make the cooling system more efficient
3. Aditional fan placed in left hand air vent (if room).
4. Extend the slots in the boot lid right across the boot, will need a bit of cutting and welding unless we can talk a manufacturer into making one for us.

Apart from cutting slots in the body, replacing the air intakes with scoops or adding an airco unit to the engine bay I can't think of anything else without some major surgery to the bodywork. Any other suggestions ?

From: Dieter, Dormagen on 20 September 1999 at 12:53

had my physical studies a long time ago but I recall that air is one of the most ineffective transportation media for heat. (Lambda, alpha, K)
alpha (Waermeuebergangszahl) [W/sq meter per Kelvin]

May be someone here can account how much air in which speed must be blowen on the F´s metal engine block to cool it down from 100 Deg. C to 99 Degr.

So, IMO any air blowing or sucking is useles for decrease of engine temperature.

Having seen the cup racers with a large oil sump... could oil cooling be a solution ?


From: Steve, Farnborough on 20 September 1999 at 14:27

Additional suggestions?
Drive the water pump electrically so coolant can flow after the engine stops. Might also help when idle after a high speed run.
I suppose you could use a water pump in parallel to the standard pump.

Check your coolant levels/condition frequently !

K333 MGF

From: Gordon /Rugby on 20 September 1999 at 19:29

Our F same age & mileage as J.T./Bath/As above.
Owned from new and much cherished.
1st HGF @ 18k and now going in for it's second.
1st failure no warning just went.
2nd failure the same symptoms as John's, showing a small amount of coolant on garage floor rear lh side,after 4 or 5 vists to the dealer to find and cure leak, i.e. replace and/or tighten clips & hoses,replace header tank cap, presure testing (which failed to find any fault) the coolant eventuly started showing up dead centre of engine, at this point you could see the coolant stains on the block from the head gasket.
To me there is definitely a design defect somewhere along the line (but not being mechanically minded I`ll leave it to you guys).
I agree with Steve > Check your coolant levels/condition frequently< always have done, and it's not helped us any.
Gordon N4 DJW

From: Dieter, Dormagen again for engine experts and part number data on 20 September 1999 at 19:42

loads of experts seam to be back on board.
Time to repeat my not yet answered question regarding a product change from VIN 504633 upwards.

Induction Manifold Sealing
picture @

(hope this name is right now)
was changed in the beginning of this year.

I did ot find this cheap part for about 4 UKP on any german HGF repair bill.

Faults should result in overheated engine because water can leak to the manifold.

Any ideas on that ?


From: Kes, Kidderminster on 20 September 1999 at 23:06


I don’t know whether stats are right or whether stats are wrong, but I certainly keep an eye on my temperature gauge now. From what I’ve read and seen, and conclusions I’ve drawn, there are a number of characteristics of the F which might cause the engine to creep a little closer to the thin red line of head gasket failure: I apologise if some of these have been aired before (and this lot is, after all, just my opinion).

The F engine has, at 10.5 litres, twice the coolant capacity of the equivalent front-engine installation, and it’s pushed through some 4 metres of additional pipework, which (if my memory of Boyles Law is correct) offers resistance. More pipes, more resistance, more cavitation at the water pump. Cavitation is bad news.

The extended breather pipe, which is not found in front-engine installations, circulates coolant continuously into the header tank, which creates frothing. As coolant flows into the tank an equal amount, complete with air bubbles, is drawn into the engine. Frothing is bad news.

Due to the pipes to the radiator dropping under the car, and the radiator being so far away, there is no thermo-syphonic circulation to the radiator after the engine is switched off, as there is in a front-engine installation. No heat-sink is bad news.

Remedies? There’s not a lot to be done structurally, so what we have needs to be kept in top condition. Fit a free-er flowing air filter to cool the head a little, a K&N panel will do fine. Change the coolant every two years; use distilled water and Rover’s anti-freeze, it’s not worth the few pounds saved to use cheaper stuff. Use a quality water wetter: this will reduce frothing and cavitation, reduce bubble size at hot spots, and improve the heat transfer capability of the coolant (50/50 anti-freeze has half the capability of water). Use a quality synthetic oil, it has better heat dispersal characteristics. And if possible, slow down for the last mile before shutting off to stabilise the temperature.

I don’t think that the engine position, per se, has anything to so with possible overheating. The engine bay is no smaller than other front-engine installations, it has no heated air from the radiator flowing over it, and it has two side vents and one top vent. Engine cooling is almost totally the function of the cooling system (radiation from the er, radiator) and oil circulation (radiation from the sump). The cooling system is dispersing more energy than is converted to power: radiation from the engine is minimal. I totally agree with Dieter: the idea that a few minutes of the cooling bay fan can have any significant effect on engine temperature is not really feasible.

So why do Rover fit the vents, apart from fashion? The vents and the fan are not there to cool the engine at all, but to ventilate the engine bay itself, and the components in it. The engine bay fan is, after all, controlled by a sensor in the compartment, not in the engine, and the description in the w/shop manual uses the term ‘Engine Compartment Cooling’ when describing the fan and the vents. So the fan has nothing to do with cooling the engine, and nothing to do with head gasket failures.

Where this leaves Dirk I don’t know, but I hope I little happier! The best news is Roger’s info on a modified gasket - slow in coming maybe but possibly an answer. What’s the highest vin/latest production date of the known HG failures, and when was the new gasket introduced?

By the way, if anyone has many hours to spare then just type in "head gasket failure" on Altavista or similar. We are not alone in this!

Regards, Kes.

From: Fabrice, Belgium on 21 September 1999 at 9:29

Is the HG on the 1.8 K engine the same as on other K engines (1.4 , 1.6) ?
Because I don't know if we can compare FWD applications of the K with the mid engine layout of the F without taking into account that most of the FWD applications use the 1.4 or 1.6 K (apart from Freelander, some Caterham and maybe some other low volume productions ... well, maybe also the new 75)

Just a thought...


From: Stefan, Zuerich on 21 September 1999 at 10:17

I just did what Kes suggested and did a search on "head gasket failure". Well interesting. It seems that Honda, Toyota and Ford have had a spate of HG problems.

The other thing that I picked up was that even something as simple as a loose spark plug can cause a localised heat spot that can warp the head and / or kill the head gasket. I read time and time again that HG failure is not usually a fault of the engine (ie head surface condition), or the HG itself (although cheap HGs are more likely to go if there is an overheating problem in the engine).

Every time, the culprit was an over heating engine caused by ...

1) Ineffective cooling system not controlling the engine temperature (duff radiator, leaking water meaning coolant levels are low).
2) Localised hot spot (possibly caused by defective spark plug, weak mixture (which burns hotter than normal), localised air bubble in the cooling system trapped around one of the cylinders).

The raise in temperature doesn’t cause the HG to fail directly, it’s the expansion of the engine grinding the HG down (and so weakening the HG material) or the head warping (and so altering the torque being applied by the bolts) that’s the problem. Are the head and the block on the F made of the same metal (ie do they expand at the same rate)?? I read about one engine configuration where the block was iron and the head aluminium (or was it the other way around), and the different expansion properties of the engine components caused the HG to be ground away pretty quickly.

I drive my MGF pretty hard, but have never seen the water temp gauge go above normal, even on a long motorway drive (ie Switzerland to the UK). I do see the oil temp go up quite a bit on the motorway though.

Would an oil cooler help the situation??

Is there a link between the type of driving and the number of head gasket failures ie lots of motorway driving = hotter engine = engine expanding more = more chance of a failure?? Or lots of shorter trips = engine heating up and then cooling down more often = HG being ground away quicker??

How can the efficiency of the cooling system be increased?? Water wetter has got to help, but is there anything else that could be done - re-routing the water pipes to the front of the car or adding an air bleed style valve that you get in gas central heating (the sort that looks like an upside down T and traps air before it gets into the radiators)??

It’s interesting the HG failures seem to occur after 30K miles - I guess this makes it sound like the HG is getting ground away over time, rather than trapped air pockets in the cooling system??

Plenty food for thought.


From: Mike Bees, Cambridge, Engand mikebe at sco dot com on 22 September 1999 at 10:31

>>Is the HG on the 1.8 K engine the same as on other K engines (1.4 , 1.6) ?<<

Yes, exactly the same.


From: Mike Bees, Cambridge, Engand mikebe at sco dot com on 22 September 1999 at 10:33

>>Induction Manifold Sealing

Is this picture supposed to be a VVC plenum/manifold? At one time the non-VVC manifold used a rubber gasket which fitted into a moulding in the plastic manifold, whilst the VVC manifold (alloy) used a traditional paper-style gasket. Maybe this picture is telling us that the VVC has changed to the rubber gasket? Either way it's got nothing to do with head gaskets.


From: Luc, Brussels on 22 September 1999 at 16:28

Regarding HG failures, I doubt whether general statements can be made for all MGFs.

Admitted, the HG of any engine which is redlined on a cold engine on an everyday basis, will certainly not live long... Just common sense. A less extreme example: a Volkswagen dealer informed me "off the record" that he noticed quite a lot of TDI's (Golf, Passat, etc.) sustaining HG failures at approx. 100K kms. Cause: people just push those TDI's over the limit far too regular. Especially people living nearby a highway and using their TDI to get to work, seem to be rather "HGF-sensitive": driving rather calm for a couple of minutes, but once getting on the highway they immediately push the pedal to cope with the traffic, despite the fact that the engine is not yet fully on temperature. They risk to face one day "The Revenge of The Head Gasket", a movie with not really a happy end...

To examine the real cause(s) of any HG failure on any car we have to take into account far too much different parameters, such as inter alia:
- position of the engine (front - mid - rear)
- type of engine (for example 1.8i Mpi or 1.8i VVC)
- type of head gasket (too thin - thin)
- mileage covered (low - medium - high);
- care for the engine during the running-in period (high revving [test-car] or not);
- care for the engine when still running cold (high revving when cold or not);
- accident history (no accidents - accidents possibly shaking up the engine structure - other accidents)
- use of the car (seldom - occassional - regular - everyday);
- driving behaviour (calm - normal - sporty - extreme);
- road behaviour (long distances - "city-car" use - mixed);
- exposure to the natural elements (garaged / non-garaged at night during wintertime)
- care for extra cooling by air (extra airintake - optimized airfilter);
- heat reduction through free flow (cat or cat-bypass);
- type of water used for coolant;
- servicing behaviour (not as indicated by the manufacturer - as indicated by the manufacturer - extra checkups).

And I am pretty sure that you can still think of other relevant parameters.

And yes, some final question:

Fabrice asked
>>Is the HG on the 1.8 K engine the same as on other K engines (1.4 , 1.6) ?<<

And Mike replied
>>Yes, exactly the same.<<

So, how are the experiences as regards 1.4 & 1.6 K-engines HG failures. Those engines are all placed in the front. As we all know, the MGF is mid-engined (as the Lotus Elise).
If we would consider that the relevant parameters could be compared somehow, can any relevant difference be noted regarding HG failure behaviour (1.8 versus 1.4 and/or 1.6) ?


From: Julian, Stamford on 22 September 1999 at 19:58

I've been watching this thread with some interest - looks like its going to run and run - makes me nervous!

Has anything been mentioned regarding the bolts used to retain the head? I understand Rover spent a lot of development time on creating these and they rely on the elasticity of the metal. they stretch into place and must be replaced if ever undone.
Is this right and if so could it play a part in repeated failures if not replaced?

Julian (aka A.Novice)
Tahiti VVC

From: Paul, Droitwich - FAO Kes on 22 September 1999 at 23:06


You said
Engine cooling is almost totally the function of the cooling system (radiation from the er, radiator) and oil circulation (radiation from the sump).
If this is correct - why does the water temp soar if I am in traffic and my engine bay fan fails to cut in?


From: Kes, Kidderminster on 22 September 1999 at 23:37

Hi Paul,

I honestly don't know. I just can't believe that a small fan blowing somewhere in the region of the front of the engine for a few minutes could possibly cool it down by more than a gnat's whisker. There's just too much metal, coolant and oil for that. Also the temperature gauge sensor measures the temperature of the coolant which is constantly circulating, and there's a lot of it to cool.

One cause of rapid temp rise whist stationary in traffic is, I believe, the radiator fan not working. The bible says that when the coolant temp reaches 102 deg C the radiator fan switches on, and off again when it cools to 96 deg C. Are you sure that this fan is coming on? (I hardly ever hear mine with traffic noise, etc.)

One flaw in my thesis is that if the rear engine bay is not significantly different from a front engine bay then why are the vents and the fan necessary? I'm still thinking about that.

Regards, Kes.

From: Mike Bees, Cambridge, Engand mikebe at sco dot com on 23 September 1999 at 9:18

>>Has anything been mentioned regarding the bolts used to retain the head? I understand Rover spent a lot of development time on creating these and they rely on the elasticity of the metal. they stretch into place and must be replaced if ever undone.
Is this right and if so could it play a part in repeated failures if not replaced?<<

No, they're reusable as long as they're still in spec (length). I have been recommended to replace them every rebuild on a competition engine (although I think this is over the top), and every 10 (or something like that) rebuilds on a road engine.


From: Andy Manchester UK on 23 September 1999 at 10:29

An MGB owning friend of mine has a Rover 214 which is now on its fourth head gasket, all replaced under warranty and less than 12 months old.

A colleages company 414 has also suffered HGF at 13,000 miles. Fortunately, someone gas oblidgingly written that car off for him so we don't know if it was going to reoccur.

From: Rob on 23 September 1999 at 18:25

It's been a while since I last visited this thread- it has really evolved into very interesting discussion.

TBQH I don't think that we are very much closer to really answering this difficult question [what causes HGF?], because we simply do not have access to the right information.

We need a collated database of the varied driving conditions that Luc has suggested, and of the engineers reports from the engine rebuilds. This is not realistically going to come our way.

Question: Is there one particular area of the HG that is most commonly breaking down? This being the case, there may be a specific design related fault. However to date, I understand that there appears to be no particular pattern of failure emerging (this may simply be a representation of many of us not actually seeing the failed HG ofcourse).

All we can do are identify the differences in front engine and mid engine installations. What we can't really say is whether any one of those is responsible for failures.

In terms of advice that we can disseminate to our friends, then I think that only common sense suggestions can be made- as many have already done so. Maybe when this thread draws to a lose, we could produce a summary?



Stephan, you mentioned that you often see the engine oil temperatures rise above 100C. I read in this month’s “MG World” that cars that regularly achieve engine temperatures in excess of 90C should have an oil cooler fitted. Maybe this should be considered by any of us who regularly give our cars hard use. Thermally controlled oil coolers are available to avoid oil over-cooling (equally deleterious!).

From: Tony, Utrecht on 23 September 1999 at 18:52

Sorry, all this talk of fans must have befuddled me brain, of course, an oil cooler, show me a turbo without one, these days, duuurrrrr. Well maybe a bit of English air (or beer) will sort out my head this weekend.

Point me to the supplier.......

From: Dirk, Luxembourg on 24 September 1999 at 9:56

from what I kept once off a thread about this:

If you are worried, Roversport will sell you an oil cooler, lot of plumbing involved I believe.

ROVER SPORT PARTS - PO Box 72, Cowley, Oxford, OX4 2PG Tel 01865 383328 (

I have no idea how much it costs, but if it's reasonable, I might give it a shot...
Any ideas about the price?

From: Luc, Brussels on 24 September 1999 at 20:30

Further to Rob's comment: yes, let's diagnose exactly what happens, more particulary, start with taking a look at the blown head gasket to initiate the search for cause(s).

I recall that the head gaskets on Dirk's and my MGF were blown on the left hand downside corner (as seen when the part is removed). For a picture to show exactly to what I'm referring to, check:

Another reported HG failure which was documented by pictures, is shown at Dieter's website (click on "Checkliste" and subsequently on "Head gasket failure", to see the pictures of the blown head gasket): yep, equally a "corner" HGF:

I recall that someone commented in a thread (quite some months ago) on the differences (regarding possible cause) between head gasket failures occurring on a "corner" compared to head gasket failures at "non-corners". A "corner"-blowup indicated something. I don't know anymore the explanation, so can someone provide some info regarding that aspect ? Maybe some learned comments from tech-wizzards such as Rog, Dieter, Carl et alia could get us some technical clues to get a little bit more insight in a possible faulty-pattern ?


From: Carl , Sweden on 25 September 1999 at 10:56

Hi all,

Sorry if I turn up to be some "pain in the ..." but read carefully I will type this only once...

IMO head gasket problem on our "F"´s is pressure-related and is as follows: Block and head is in alu so no big thermal diff. Headgasket is stainless steel with fairly soft rubbertype borderlines around waterchannels.
Sealing around cylinders seems to be OK, this is standard steel ring pattern found on most cars. At some places this flimsy rubberseal has very limited space before it is actually forced outside mating surface between block and head. This is mainly due to enlarged capacity of engine , ie .maximum of useful area is taken to the limit to get 1800 cc.

Anyone that have looked into the coolerbottle will notice action of "jiggle-valve" that gives a steady flow into bottle.
When water heats up it expands. This expansion rises pressure within system. It is the filler cap , AND THE CAP ONLY, with it´s inbuilt valve that regulates pressure.

So if the cap doesn´t do it´s job and open up something else will take the beating!! Be sure it will not be hoses or any other part in the system but the weakest spot there is on headgasket waterchannels. This happen´s to be just after (pressurerising) coolant pump and waterchannel just behind where area is such as pressure / area is at maximum. A few such (or maybee only one if really unlucky) pressureshocks to that point will at last make the soft thin rubber "leave" and force outside mating surfaces between block and head. And there we have the cloud of smoke!

Another thing that can accelerate this is so called "farthing cylinder seals" but doesn´t think that is a problem on the "F". (This means that cylinderseal acts as a one-way valve and during high internal combustion pressure, pinking, gives high pressure gas into cooling system - but no water ingress into cylinder due to "one-way-valve action of cylinder seal.)

Regards , Carl.

From: Roger Parker Tamworth on 26 September 1999 at 13:14

Tony asked for examples of Turbo engines runing without oil coolers. I point straight to the Rover 620Ti which hasn't got one. The same engine in the 200/400ranges does have one that is bolted to the back of the blockj above the driveshafts and used the air circulating in that area to provide the cooling.

Of note the 620Ti doesn't have an oil cooler but has an alloy sump to offset this. The MGF mirrors this with it's sump.

In respect of other FWD K series applications sufferring head gasket failures I have already commented on this earlier in this thread, but to save searching I said,

"In the front engined cars with K series reliability is not a worry, but when the cars do display faults they do have some commonality. Head gasket failures is one, but this usually requires about 6 years use or 60 to 80 thousand miles to show up. Even then there is not a serious problem, just that enough engines suffer the problem to create an awareness of this area. One thing that this awareness does give is that the integrity of casting faces is not a problem and simple head gasket replacement is the usual complete cure."

I would add that any car that suffers from a repeated failure, such as indicated by Andy, has a more specific fault that is not being addressed. I have seen examples of casting porosity, which has also been seen on earlier alloy headed M series engines. In these instances repairs varied from adding a 'stop leak' compound to the cooling system, to replacing the engine. Guess which ones kept having problems! I think that 4 gasket failures in 12 months is following the same path!

I follow what Carl says and would agree to a point. However I would add that the same scenario is not possible with alternative gaskets that are composite based and which do not have the same synthetic rubber seals. I have only seen one example of this gasket failure following fitting in place of the original steel shim gasket, and that was recently and didn't really show a conclusive reason for failure.

This is a complicated issue and I, along with others can offer any number of thoughts, all of which will probably have some bearing on the subject. In the end I suspect that a combination of factors will be found to offer the 'common' causation of failure and lead to a 'common' cure route.


From: Ted Newman, London on 26 September 1999 at 19:06

I have a new theory to add to the list of reasons:-

Air turbulence created by the backwards wearing of a baseball cap whilst driving with the hood down cause a vaccum that deprives the engine of cooling air flows.

This does of course happen mostly in the area of Luxemburg but has bee occasionly known to happen in Italy and other places.

N11KRT - The Green Squirrel (with tongue in cheek)

From: John Thomas, Bath on 27 September 1999 at 17:45

Hey, guess what, having given my 1.8i a bit more vigorous exercise which included 500 motorway miles and 'events' at at wiscombe and loton my head gasket has now ceased dribbling !

So I'll postpone my head gasket replacement for a little longer :-)

I bet that having posted this information there will be a pool of coolant under the car in the morning.


ps - Re faulty expansion bottle caps don't dealers have a device to test them?

MG Enthusiasts' BBS Archive Thread

Headgaskets encore...

From: Matthew Barratt, Portsmouth, on 19 September 1999 at 17:12

Gasket number 2 blown. Still got some warranty left, fortunately.
I am distinctly unconfident about gasket number 3 lasting
the rest of the car's natural life. Does anyone know if
new MGs are having headgasket problems, or are they
a lot sounder? As it is, I am seriously considering replacing
my MG with something that doesn't blow gaskets, maybe even,
gulp, an MX5 (anyone heard bad things about those?).

P293MOW 1.8i

From: Andy, Rotherham on 19 September 1999 at 17:55

I think this list is far from complete (can't find the Cam bolt recall), but will give you some idea generally about manufacturers recalls.

- Andy

From: hey MATTHEW!, Dirk, Luxembourg on 20 September 1999 at 11:31

Matthew, can you give some more info about your 2 HGFs?
They are listed in the Hall of Shame, but without further specs of when it happened and what mods you might have on your F.

Pls send to

From: Matthew Barratt, Portsmouth, matthew@skat, on 23 September 1999 at 7:12

Hello all,
Got it back now, seems alright, don't know what to do :-(
I've emailed Dirk the details for another entry in the Hall
of shame. Rover tell me that it will be alright now, but I
have yet to be convinced. Thanks for the pointer to that
web site Andy.

Here's all the grisly news about my head gaskets.

Number 1: failed at corner of block near water channel, front right of
the engine. The rubber seal on the gasket simply got pushed out by the
water pressure in the channel. I was told that that has happened to
quite a lot of MGfs, and that it would be alright now.

Number 2. Failed at various points along the front edge of the engine.
The garage skimmed 6 thousandths of and inch (0.05mm I think) off the
head as a precaution, and refitted it using all new through bolts.
The gasket failed whilst the engine was stone cold, just after I pulled
out of the gate at work (forgot to tell you that bit Dirk!). I'd had
no warning of impending failure, no whisps of steam, no drips, no
unusual temperatures on the dials. The AA were quite good.


Matthew Barratt
P293MOW 1.8i

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MG Enthusiasts' BBS Archive Thread

'MG-Enthousiasm reducing events' - my list!

From: Dirk, Luxembourg on 20 September 1999 at 16:01

After some pondering, got behind my PC and tapped some events I recall having experienced with my 6/97 MGF VVC.
Once I recall everything, I'll post the final version on my website. Remember, this all truely happened!

//when receiving the car//

cuts in leather of steering wheel -> replaced FOC

holes in rear plastic bulkhead finisher -> replaced FOC

wrong MG mats (UK spec)! -> replaced FOC

nasty scratch in paint, inner side of door opening -> touched up FOC

rear mirrors kept losing position when closing doors, dealer could not help it -> fixed itself after a while

//while having the car//

rear mirror handles fell off without intervention, replaced with Satur alu ones

After 6months, noticed inner side of left front tyre totally worn (upto iron thread!) although car was at 368mm.
Later on discovered left front camber is 5mm (!) out of sync, and impossible to adjust. Bought some Satur lowering knuckles... hope this helps (?). So problem was there from the beginning onwards. :-(

recall of potential accelerator cable jamming -> FOC

seatbelt guide eschutcheon broken on both sides -> thanks to recall FOC

water leaking into car -> windows re-set 2x FOC, 1x for £15

gearbox oil leak -> FOC

windstop fitted in reverse! -> FOC

5x suspension fluctuation (sometimes 2.5" difference!) -> rebalanced 3x FOC, 2x had to pay (about £20/each)
Rover says it's because of the chip (ha ha ha, that Rover guy who told me this on the phone must be moron of the year)

brakes lights go on when accelerating, ratchet replaced with newer model -> FOC

but few months later, brake lights ratchet malfunctions again after visit! (always ON) -> fixed FOC

gear linkage cable snapped (gearbox was jammed in 3rd, identified as product fault, but still had to pay £250! Took 1 week to fix, since Rover could not locate the right cable codes!!!! No replacement car nor reduction offered, not even an apology of Rover Belgium...)

radio front scratched during visit -> FOC

stepper engine got nuts, retuned by testbook... ok for 2 months

but both VVC solenoids replaced after continuous stepper engine problems (£150)

coolant cap again replaced at 100K maintenance, after engine overheat -> FOC

2x windscreen wiper motor replaced -> once FOC, once I only had to pay VAT (about £25) (immobilized me during blizzard!)

foglights switch button illuminator broken after visit -> FOC

plastic watchcover cracked -> replaced FOC

at 90K kms, sparkling plug #4 stops working -> replaced FOC

one week later same sparkling plug #4 again dead! -> all 4 replaced FOC

bad contact with handbrake (light comes on at slightest bump) -> fixed

walnut dash badly fitted -> after some fierce discussions FOC, but they left one piece there, which
was least badly done, resulting in colour diff aswell :-/

2x SP support cracked -> rewelded FOC

softtop sometimes jams due to bar not going back into position -> no solution yet, have to fiddle a bit

foglight wiring malfunctioning -> put some sort of sticky stuff onto it FOC

complete foglight wiring replaced after sustained contact problems -> replaced FOC

right after replacement during maintenance, cambelt got noisy when some 'lager' (iron ball?) got loose, risking cambelt to snap (phew!) -> FOC

car didn't start anymore -> requested many times to check, never found something (they proposed start-engine replacment, about £180 all in) but I refused. Urged them that HT leads contacts were cleaned... fixed problem!

clutch got very shaky -> fixed itself before it was due for replacement (phew!)

front pipe flexible disintegrating (rust?) noisy! -> will be replaced with Satur SS pipe

engine bay cooling fan never worked when engine is off, after 26 months recognized as failure, although I asked to check when 1st HG went, they said it worked OK (related?)

front member welding coming loose (crack crack!) -> too expensive to fix, not sure it will hold

'special' problem:
ICON superchip 'hickups' at 3750, but doesn't do it on any other VVC...(?)
replaced superchip 4x (3x blue, 1x grey), no change
ECU replaced FOC, still no change
Is MEMS faulty??? Or is SP not telling me everything
(-> I'm STILL waiting for my SP-promised refund (already 1 year now!))

and last but not least these 2 adventures, worth £1100:

Italy adventure, 53K kms:
coolant & oil overheating, white puff of smoke, but at Rover dealer nothing suspicious found!
after 3hrs of searching, diagnosis is: bad coolant cap -> replaced FOC
but this fixed problem for only 2 hours, then it started again (we noted air in coolant circuitry)
Drove on at slow pace, no overheating, but 2hrs later: manifold broke off! (weldings melted, heard always weird clonk noise when car was warming up, never heard this again after manifold was replaced (?)
Towed to dealer: diagnosis after searching but not able to reproduce overheating for 3 days (!): head gasket failure, plus something plastic (?) at front radiator gone (melted!)
coolant cap again replaced

Luxembourg adventure, 6 months lat

From: Paul, Farnborough on 20 September 1999 at 18:03

Am I odd?
I love the car to bits. I get very few problems. Any that do appear are fixed
promptly and usually totally first time.
...and as people may or may not know I believe in driving the car as a sports
car should be driven. :o)

I'm starting to think that all the problems we hear about on this BBS can't
be a fair representation of MGs in general.
Are they?


From: Stefan, Zuerich on 20 September 1999 at 18:27

Hi Paul

Well, I have to agree. The car was in the garage last week to have some work done, but the garage has been fair and got on and fixed the car. The other half always moans at me for driving too fast, so I must be giving the car some stick (your should see her drive !!). But very little seems to be wrong with mine, and I do love the car to bits.

There have however been some stories of cars that have gone wrong ALL the time. I don't know if they're "Friday afternoon cars" or what. It just seems very strange that some are good and some arne't.


From: Dieter, Dormagen on 20 September 1999 at 19:25

no question IMO.
Some of the terms that Dirk reports are fixed in the meantime. He owns a VIN 16xxx Serie car?
At that time lots of dealers over the continent still beleaved that a new car is a new car and not a case for rework, before delivering it to any customer.

The list of Tom S. (Germany) looks nearly similar... without a chip.

Knocking on wood, because I own a third hand VIN 5xxx and some experiances of Dirk where already repaired under the hand of bothered former owners.

FAO Dirkie:
mine goes to the area of 60 Tkm. Hold some space free for my first HGF.
Has John Thomas already a free row ??

PS. like my little fuel stinking F as it is.

From: Richard Eaton,Leeds, on 21 September 1999 at 8:21

Hi all

From what I have witnessed on this BBS over the last two years I'd say that there are far too many "lemons" coming out of the factory and delivered to customers in a poor state. Some problems are so obvious that these cars can't have been given any kind of PDI.

It also seems that the F is split into two groups, either all good or all bad. If someone has one of the common problems - leaky windows for example, they also seem to have all the other common faults. Could it be that one of the production cells (or teams) are just plain abysmal (sp?) and produce all the problem F's?

Having said all that about quality problems, I've only really had one problem with my F (front tyre wear). Yes, I agree that build quality could be improved but I've been really impressed with the car and it's introduced me to lots of new MG friends, got me into competitive motorsport which I've always wanted to do, and has just generally been bags of fun!!!

Anyway, the whole history of my car (and lots of other stuff of course!) is on my MGF web site at


A proud, happy owner of a BRG MGF 1.8i :-)))

From: Dirk, Luxembourg on 21 September 1999 at 8:52

Dieter mentions:
>mine goes to the area of 60 Tkm. Hold some space free for
>my first HGF.
>Has John Thomas already a free row ??

Don't know whether it really has to do with mileage. Some go real fast (10K), others take a while (90K), still some others still drive on their first HG (50K), with lotsa mileage... But most of the Hall who haven't encountered a HGF, haven't passed 30K yet, so...

It's true, I checked and John Thomas is the last one listed with an '95 MGF which has had no HGF, all the other 5 have had one (or since today even two!).

touch wood!

From: Fabrice FAO Dieter on 21 September 1999 at 9:11

Hi Dieter !

As Dirk's, my F is a VIN 16xxx , but has been relatively trouble free (but is a MPi vs VVC)


PS : the Dormagen MGF Treffen was great fun, thanks :)

From: Glenn - Sydney,Australia on 21 September 1999 at 11:27

I have to agree with Paul -
I have a 6/97 1.8i - the only problem I've had was the stepper motor loosing it.
As for service - 'Land Rover on Crown' in sydney are superb!!
They are more than helpfull and offer excellent advice on good (read benificial) mods.
I even got a free replacement soft top (Mark II) because the old one used to stick.

Ah if only ALL Rover garages were as helpful to us hard core MG owners.

Octagon Greetings

PS I wouldn't own any other car!!

From: John Thomas, Bath on 21 September 1999 at 17:58

> It's true, I checked and John Thomas is the last one listed with an '95 MGF which has had no HGF, all the other 5 have had one (or
since today even two!).

vin 483 sept 95 35k miles 1.8i SP exh. K&N

As 'dribble' is still very slight and the F survived one 'hillclimb' last week end and I have another on saturday I've arranged for new gasket to be fitted in 2 weeks time.

Enthusiasm still high but "finger gekreuzt" :-)


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MG Enthusiasts' BBS Archive Thread

What is going on?? Summer vs HGF?

From: DIrk, Luxembourg on 21 September 1999 at 8:34

this morning another one reported to me, like yesterday, last saturday, thursday, 2 on tuesday...

I don't understand it, but now almost everyday I get an email of somebody reporting his head gasket just went. The last 2 weeks it's already the 3rd reporting a 2nd HG failure on his MGF.

Come on, how long is Rover going to pretend there's no problem with this?

From: bob on 21 September 1999 at 8:51

click... click... click... click...

Valid point maybe but a bit of a stuck record.

From: Dirk, Luxembourg on 21 September 1999 at 8:54

don't get me wrong Bob, but it was rather silent for the last few months on HGF, and now all of a sudden it restarts.

So might the summer temps have to do something with it?

From: Glenn - Sydney,Australia on 21 September 1999 at 10:52

There are no known HG probs down under - where the temp is a tad warmer is our summer!
I've asked MG Sydney to look into it for you, they are interested as they arn't inundated with this prob.

Octogon Greetings

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MG Enthusiasts' BBS Archive Thread

The Revenge of The Head Gasket (on a Luxemburg VVC)...

From: Luc, Brussels on 26 September 1999 at 21:00

Ted wrote on 26/9/1999 19:06 in the "head gasket failure"-thread:

>>I have a new theory to add to the list of reasons:-
>>Air turbulence created by the backwards wearing of a baseball cap whilst driving with the hood down cause a vaccum that deprives the engine of cooling air flows.
>>This does of course happen mostly in the area of Luxemburg but has bee occasionly known to happen in Italy and other places.
>>N11KRT - The Green Squirrel (with tongue in cheek)

Well Ted, seems like the engine of Dirk's *F* doesn't appreciate jokes like that one. Yep, MGF-things turned sour again for Dirk, as doom struck again Dirk's VVC-engine this weekend. This time, the revenge of the head gasket seems to be more merciless than ever for Dirk's VVC-engine.

Only since Saturday evening (25/09/1999), during his return from Luxemburg to Belgium, huge puffs of blue-greyish smoke (stinking smell of burnt oil) started leaving both exhausts quite regularly (clear indication that the engine is burning far too much oil and water). When starting the engine, the exhaust pipe tails smoke like a gun which has just fired a bullet (white smoke - no, not the usual smoke of a cold engine warming up). The engine equally starts to produce a bizarre rattling sound from time to time; the sound of an ill VVC-engine... Dirk noted a higher fuel consumption and less torque, sometimes power seems to be lost a little bit for some moment when the engine starts to produce the uncommon rattling noise (indicating cylinder and/or sparking plug trouble).

Complete surprise when we checked the coolant and oil level upon arrival in Belgium:
- ALL coolant liquid is simply gone, the expansion reservoir is empty ?!
- the oil level indicated approx. 1 cm less than the minimum level (mayday-mayday!).

Significant detail: according to the oil gauge and the coolant gauge, there was nothing to worry about, all's rather normal (except maybe a slightly, but not worrying, increased oil temp); no alert signs popping up or whatsoever. And all this despite the fact that his engine is currently definitely sustaining a red alert situation.

Our first diagnosis:
- first we thought that someting was wrong (again) with the sparking plugs;
- subsequently we thought his engine suffered a third head gasket failure;
- now we fear that things are worse than a "mere" head gasket failure: it's likely that water got access to one (or more) cylinders, and that therefore at least one of the cylinders - or in the worst case scenario the complete VVC-engine - is on the brink of destruction.

We filled up oil and water and Dirk *almost* managed to *sputter* back with his ill *F* to Luxemburg this evening. Almost, because once in Luxemburg things got worse: the whole engine suddenly completely cut out and several warning lights flashed on at the same time; very bizarre feeling of an MGF rolling further on a road with no engine sound whatsoever anymore and a christmas-tree of lights on the dashboard; the VVC-engine was apparently braindead. Must have been an intervention of the MEMS telling something like: "things are getting far too hot/dangerous now, so let's finish the show right now to protect the engine from (further?) harm". So there he stood at the side of some Luxemburg highway, without baseball cap and without a running VVC-engine. He opened the boot and woosh, the expected big and stinking puff of blue-greyish smoke. Checked the oil level and yes, all oil had been consumed during the approx. 300 km drive. Coolant leve
l seemed to be okay. So he refilled with oil, and the engine restarted. If he's lucky, he can get to his dealership on Monday or Tuesday at the latest.

We look forward to the assessment and comments by his dealership. We have quite some questions. The most puzzling one concerns the aspect "warning": why is the driver informed by the car on the red alert situation only at the moment when things are really too extreme (engine immediately cutting out) ? When does the oil-warning light start to flash ? Why didn't the coolant gauge and oil gauge indicate anything abnormal ?

Seems like some statistics risk a further update pretty soon with another sad reported case...


From: Dieter FAO Luc or Dirkie on 27 September 1999 at 7:17

Hi Luc,
I hope thet I understood all of the message

Sounds expensive for your brother.:(
(New engine 3700 EUR)

Instruction of 'data freak'. He shall look himself at the disassembled head if possible.

If any outlet valve looks burned ..... then go for a new goodwill action. I 'heard anywhere' that this could be a known problem at our version of K-Engine.
A burned valve could be IMO the reason for the following engine damages.

The reason should be : oil slam (Oelschlamm)... and this can IMO only appear on poorly served engines (cheap oil?, wrong engine timing?) ;-)


From: Casey, FAO Roger on 27 September 1999 at 10:45

Having seen the way Dirk drives his car, I'm not at all surprised that the HG has gone again. There is a concept of 'progressive' use of the accelerator - it isn't an on/off switch.

Commiserations anyway - but I think Dirk needs something a little more robust if he wants to keep up that driving style (like a Land Rover)


From: Mike Bees, Cambridge, Engand mikebe at sco dot com on 27 September 1999 at 11:33

Luc wrote:

>>Only since Saturday evening (25/09/1999), during his return from Luxemburg to Belgium, huge puffs of blue-greyish smoke (stinking smell of burnt oil) started leaving both exhausts quite regularly (clear indication that the engine is burning far too much oil and water). When starting the engine, the exhaust pipe tails smoke like a gun which has just fired a bullet (white smoke - no, not the usual smoke of a cold engine warming up). The engine equally starts to produce a bizarre rattling sound from time to time; the sound of an ill VVC-engine... Dirk noted a higher fuel consumption and less torque, sometimes power seems to be lost a little bit for some moment when the engine starts to produce the uncommon rattling noise <<

You mean he continued to drive it even though it was showing signs of serious problems (smoke etc)? I don't know what to say...


From: Andrew, Barnt Green on 27 September 1999 at 11:45

If I were Dirk i would have continued driving,

I would have realised something drastic was wrong but with the engine being such a lemon anyway driving it until it seized up through lack of oil would not be too detrimental to this rouge lump of metal, clearly a simple head gasket replacement is not satisfatory.

A new engine is called for and at least Dirk had the chance to reap revenge on his old one.

With regard to driving style, I don't know the guy so I can't comment but his mechanical empathy is evident from earlier comments on this thread.

Anyway enough Dirk bashing, I have some sypathy, the poor guy's just had his engine blow up and all we've done so far is slag him off, sorry Dirk, at the least you have my sypathy regarding your repair bill.


From: long story, Dirk, Luxembourg on 27 September 1999 at 12:12

Well, my F got towed AGAIN (4x this year already) to the dealer, since it was of no use driving a diesel-sounding, sputtering VVC.

happened like this: on Saturday eve I noticed when shifting into 5th gear the torque went away, and it felt exactly like the two previous times on of my sparkling plugs went dead. But this time there was some noise too coming from the rear. I think that was caused by engine vibration which reinforced the already rattling noise of the busted front pipe (that's at least how it sounded like). This torque-drop occured only once and for the rest of the day the car behave normally, swift as always. So this wasn't normal, unless there was a problem with sparkling plug power supply. But I did notice since then that the car *subtly* sounded different in idle mode, a bit more deeper sound, but no extra vibration. Keeping in mind Rog's words that HGF can be noticed sometimes by a change of engine noise, I already thought "Holy!...".
Fears become more serious when on Sunday morning we discovered there was almost no oil left, and absolutely no coolant whatsoever in the expansion reservoir! Still I couldn't understand why the indicators on the dash didn't warn me at all, nor there could be found something beneath the car, not a single drop of oil/coolant. So Sunday afternoon I decided to go back a bit earlier to Luxembourg for avoiding excessive speeds, since I had to get there in time for a live gig of Moby (which was cool btw ;-). Brother already noticed the "smoke of death" coming irregularly out of the exhausts, esp. when changing gears. First 100kms went ok, checked coolant level, was still OK, no drops below car, but then the 'torque-dropping' effect started to become more frequent and more noisy too. Still all temps indicated no probs. So I drove on at ease to Luxembourg, and just when I finished a call with my brother to tell him everything seemed to be ok besides the ra
ther abnormal oiltemp for that kinda speed (125° for driving at 3500rpm is not normal, should be more 105°), all of a sudden again a rattling noise, followed by a huge grey smoketail behind me, and the engine ceased completely. No more EPAS, but what was really horrifying was: I had NO MORE BRAKES when the engine dropped dead!???? MEMS seems to be a bit overprotective on the engine, forgetting the driver's safety it seems... >:( Luckily I was just taking a 90° exit from the highway, so my speed was only 30mph or what.

So stopped (well, kinda tried!), though I might have been MEMS cutting out for no reason since the oiltemp & coolant temp were 'normal', but the engine died in seconds after igniting. So checked coolant: OK. Checked oil: oops! Removing the oilcap was pretty wild, since all you saw was enormous amounts of grey smoke coming out of it... And of course no oil at all could be found on the stick, even after several rechecks. So I waited 20 minutes to cool things down (was only 5 minutes away from home), put in the oil I had in the car (1 L) and drove on, but the thing was smoking & sputtering like a Ford T. Parked the car, gave it a real good kick and called my girlfriend who picked me up and so I still saw the Moby.

My theory is: head gasket blew towards inside, oil (probably coolant too) got the plugs distorted from time to time, oil gasket crack went so big it finally flushed all oil through the cylinder(s?) and RIP engine. Now what with valves & pistons, that's another question.

What really pisses me off is that there was NO indication whatsoever of oil nor coolant, everything seemed to be happily ok.

Technician at dealer wasn't in today (he was still at Nuerenburg), but other one said it might be just a repair, or an 'exchange engine' (?) or a whole new one.

Wonder what's smartest: repair again and every 6 months again a blowup, or new engine, leave out the icon chip (that thing costed me already £2000 because of void warranty!), and INSIST on a serious engine warranty by Rover (if they can give 3 years now on new models I don't see why they wouldn't give me 3 years too on a new engine). As a sign of goodwill that would really be acceptable (salesman at dealership now told me for the 1st time two other MGFs had a HGF!!! Aha!).
Since even the dealer says that what's happening with my car is really not normal at all, and already advised me to sell it, I can't think of Rover telling me it's all my own fault and that the car is normally ok.
Oh well, we'll see, it'll take some time before diagnosis will be ready, since their agenda was booked till Oct 15th.


From: Julian, Stamford on 27 September 1999 at 13:52

"...and already advised me to sell it, "

thats fantastic. a real "sweep it under the carpet" job.

Pitty the poor sod who buys it!

I'll start the bidding at £500. Might come in handy for spares...

From: Tony, Utrecht on 27 September 1999 at 19:55

Dirk & Luc, saw a little (?) oil cooler kit at Brooklands from B&G, 200 and something GB Pounds. Bit late I know...:-(

I also think turning round the baseball cap may have helped a little, if you have a ten gallon hat on, it also forces cold air into the side air intakes (maybe another magazine test idea for Rob here) :-)

From: Tony, Utrecht on 27 September 1999 at 20:16

>(like a Land Rover)

Well you can pick up a 1980 something light weight 3.5 V8 SWB Landrover for a reasonable (?) price.

I think it is a combination of both, man and machine. I think that the F is meant to be a sports car and should be able to stand up to quite some punishment before it goes up in smoke (or green blood). The F should still not fail so often, the chip thing still bothers me but, but it should not go wrong on a 20,000 car.

Casey has the advantage of a much bigger (evolving for how long?) engine with far more power than an F which, in theory, should be a lot harder to bust than a 1.8, 16 valve twin cam, high reving, VVC engine.

And True, Dirk does drive like a looney, but then again many of us have done this also in our F's (Dirk, re Dodgy blind corner overtaking of many F's in Dormagen :-).

Other cars do have problems, and we see a very consentrated version on this BBS of all the things wrong with the F. I do think that the F could have been a little better than it is without too much more money being spent, but compared to any car of the seventies and eighties, the F is quite problem free in general (not in your case Dirk, I know :-(.

Just think how Dirk would feel if it was a Ferrari :-)

From: Luc, Brussels on 27 September 1999 at 21:33

>>Just think how Dirk would feel if it was a Ferrari :-)

Last year, near Ghent (Belgium), I witnessed the sad sight of a Ferrari 355 Berlinetta which had just caught fire; highly likely some short circuit in the Italian electronics on this lovely designed car had caused the engine to catch fire, destroying the car. When I passed by, the car was all covered by white liquid/foam of the firemen which had come along. Not a pretty sight at all. Embarrassing. I assume that the "error" was almost certainly covered under Ferrari-warranty, because these things simply may not happen on such a car (actually on no car whatsoever), but in the meantime it happened however: who expects this ? Needless to say that the poor state of that "burnt out" F355 attracted the attention of many/all people passing by. We can doubt whether the confidence in the prestiguous car by the once proud F355 driver will ever be the same again since that unfortunate event...

So better don't be too amused by other people's car trouble, even if the driver is not driving it as an angel would, because you can never exclude that some serious car-trouble will happen to you (too) one day !


From: Roger Parker Tamworth on 27 September 1999 at 23:51

Odd that reference to a Ferrari, since I was having a short experience of an F40 on Saturday. Interesting vehicle much better from a distance and when read about, not as interesting to me as the McLaren F1 XP5 experienced in similar circumstances a couple of years ago, anyway I digress.

Sorry to hear about the demise of the engine Dirk, but after your previous experiences I would have to say that I didn't expect the engine to last as long as it has done since it was last put back together. Oil temps seem too high for type of use and if the gauge is accurate I would be considering an oil cooler for the future. However some of this heat will be as a result of the general condition of the engine at the time.

With this engine any repairs are likely to be as long term effective as a sticking plaster covering an amputation. Clearly this engine and you don't mix so I suggest that a replacement engine is the most secure way forward. If a new engine can't be obtained through the dealer at acceptable terms, I would still suuggest the alternative engine route, but perhaps a second hand unit from someone like Brown and Gammons or one of the larger car breaker groups.


From: Alan, Buntingford on 28 September 1999 at 11:26

I have to echo Rog's comments about a replacement engine. This is the route I am taking after my 1.8i failed at 90,000.

Phoning around a few companies involved in Fs (eg Brown & Gammons, Mike Stur, Motobuild etc) I found that low mileage 1.8i and VVC engines are readily available (both from crashed cars & prototypes that can not be sold). Prices include fitting are around £1500 for a 1.8i and £2000 for a VVC. I have opted for a VVC engine from Mike Satur - paying £500 extra to upgrade from 1.8i to VVC seemed to good a deal to pass up.

Before going ahead with the engine swap (currently being done) I phoned up my insurance company to find out how much extra it would cost for the year. I was rather surprised to be told that they would not regard the car as a VVC, rather as a 1.8i with a minor engine modification. The extra premium ....
£10.50 per year!!


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Dirkie, June 1999

Diff to describe how a HGF smells, but I compare that smell vs the oily smell a bit like champagne vs wine ;-)

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