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Rover 800 825 KV6 Sterling Head Gasket Failure!

Vehicle : 1999 Rover 800 V6 Coupe

(A later model of the KV6 engines was also fitted to some, Rover 45, 75, MG-Rover ZS, ZT, ZT-T, Land Rover Freelander, & Kia Sedona. So hopefully this info might prove of some use to those owners too!)

Well folks, it had to happen at some point I suppose!

I smoked out all the traffic on a local dual carriage way, luckily managing to cross three lanes onto an exit slip road, thankfully everyone backed off! (it was rush hour at the time)!

My car was not happy that I had just tried go-carting, and must of thought I was having an affair with another vehicle or was gonna sell it or something! Anyway it did what HERBIE would do! and it showed me its total disapproval.

Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

The nice man in the RAC van, arrived to explain what I already knew! Head Gasket Failure! (i just didn't know yet to what extent the problem was). He also recognized the car (and told me routes I take), it gets recognized everywhere!

I almost thought the engine in the car would last forever, but knew at some point I would be proved wrong!

Anyway after recently sorting out all the other minor problems on the car, I thought I would give fixing the Head Gaskets a go. Especially after watching the following video on Youtube (split into 3 parts due to file size).

So, Where should I start? it usually the front or rear that go first? I was hoping it would be the gasket and not any other problem these engines might have, as the water did go to the oil, and not the other way around. Or should I just go ahead and strip both front and rear down?

The engine had never missed a beat before, and no prior warning was given from recent fluid checks. It just went slightly off beat just a few minutes prior to going, so the heads were probably ok and I was hoping I would be able to get away without skimming the heads or replacing the bolts with new ones. That way it would only cost me the price of any new gaskets. (I might change the cambelts too, as they will have too come off, but I will probably just reuse them)(seems straight forward enough on these models for me, and I will do it without the need for the special tools, if possible!?).

Also I have heard that maybe there are some improved gaskets which you can fit instead of the standard ones!

Hopefully I can start on it some time soon!

All of the engine coolant got into the oil mix. The smoke was caused by the water and oil combined. All the oil in the car has now gone to mayonnaise!

Before hand fluid levels were just under maximum levels and no prior signs of any mixing. First warning of anything was only the noises for the few hundred yards before it went, as though maybe one cylinder/plug was funny, before all the water blew through.

When the liners go, as far as I know the oil blows out of the engine into the water and this normally gives oil blowing into the radiator and bubbling into the water bottle reservoir. Breakdown man and a couple of others are telling me it will be just the gasket (not sure they know about KV6 probs though!), but obviously I won't know for sure until I dismantle the thing. If I get the chance I hope to at least take the spark plugs out later to see if any one is worse than the others (not much free time this week), but the way the oil/water has mixed, I think they will all be messy.

Car will start up but just blowing out smoke from the oil/water mix. No water was left in the over flow bottle it all seemed to get pumped/sucked through to the engine. I have backed the car up my drive & parked it up, like this, as I didn't add any more water, as this would just have gone through to engine too.

I have done head gaskets on a car before with my dad, and we have always managed to keep all cams etc, correct. Although not done a Rover before, or a car with problems, previous ones were just replacing leaking/seeping gaskets.

My dad seems to think this may be a bigger task too! and he thinks I offer it to someone to do, but I don't want to pay out any more monies than I have too, if engine will be a problem again, as that money would go better towards some sort of replacement. But I still like the idea of fixing it myself as this option is free! I have to decide though before I start taking it apart I guess!

I do want to keep the car if possible. Just done all the bits of rust on the arches recently. Car is 1999 model (so should definitely be the later less problematic engine!). I just got outbid on the Brand new set of alloys for it on ebay! (The wheels are now the only thing letting the car down (apart from the obvious running problems that is!) (the wheels on the car were from a higher mileage car, original sterling alloys were A1 condition, but a very ordinary design!))

Car has only 42k miles (must be programmed to do this!) as lot of the ones that go seem to be at low miles. I like putting all my miles on any other car but this one! hee hee!

Just got it up on to the ramps, and dropped all the oil out. It was all well mixed with the coolant/antifreeze. Took out all the plugs expecting one to have some mayo, but all have come out with just clean oil on, so maybe problem is not so bad, (maybe things are worse). Seems all the coolant has gone straight through to the sump and some out through the exhaust.

Need to drop some engine flush in it next just to get rid of what water I can from the engine before anything else is done, or before I leave it standing (don't want rust inside the engine).

I was thinking of maybe borrowing/hiring the cam tools as I know they used to cost hundreds to actually buy some (300+)!

At the moment repairing this one still seems like the cheapest (although not guaranteed option). We have other cars so I can take my time, even my dad is warming to the idea, he says if he has a week with fine weather he would give it a go! (He knows I want to try). I suggested a transplant from another V6, but he says this particular one is worth trying to fix. So I guess we will be going to give it a go.

Just photo'd the spark plug leads, because I am never sure whether the order is right when I put them back! (the plug side is numbered though).

Not had a quote back yet and too busy this week to do any more myself, so we will just wait and see at the moment, what my next move is.

Still searching for some Multi Layer or 'Klinger' gaskets for a KV6? I hear these are the best if they do them, and have found lots of good reviews for them in the 820's.

Just refilled the engine with some oil, just to flush it out and keep it lubricated (used some old (stock of)(not used!) ATF and mineral oil, it's stuff that wont get used elsewhere and has saved me buying any flush).

With the oil refilled and plugs still out I have just tested the compression on each cylinder and all are between 10.5bar -12.5 bar meaning all of them seem good and none of them is considerably lower than the others.

Looking under the car, I found some fluid mix below air intake box. Opening up the box, the gunge was just apparent in the rear of the two tubes, so it appears it blew back from the rear head.

Just watched the excellent Rover video on the KV6 timing belts, (see videos above!) and I think it will be worth getting hold of the tools.

Also I will get the replacements from MG Rover supplier, with any bolts & belts etc I might need.

I'm still considering all options, I might go to the auctions next week just to see how much any later KV6 powered cars are going for (i would rather buy a full car if cheap enough, as I can drive it first, and also, I could break it to realised most of the monies back, as I really don't like paying out!) I could also repair my engine then maybe swap them over, then sell the MG on!!! Easier than selling a KV6 powered 800! hee hee! If I go for the MG option (a 190 would be nice!) the brains and maybe some wiring would also be needed, so a full car would give me all the parts, I might also look into buying a damaged car. I would also consider a manual gearbox, as this would solve all future problems from the Jatco Auto unit installed.

Although really I should wait until I get around to stripping this one first, as problem might only be a gasket, but if it seems worst then I might scrap this engine.

The best thing about sticking with the present engine seems to be it doesn't effect my insurance, (200) but anything else might. So considering all costs too!

Having watched and watched and watched the videos (above) we are now confident enough to have made a start!

My brother has even told me that we should be able to remove the belts without the main cambelt tools. (and he's right as well!!!! (technical expert))

If we lock off the rear timing belts then they will hold the front cogs! as the cam cogs and the timing cogs are attached at either end of the cam (at either side of the heads) and the bottom cog can be locked in place at the flywheel.

We can make the tools to hold the rear timing cogs together (a piece of metal and 4 bolts for each!). We can also insert a bolt in, in place of the tool that stops the engine turning at the flywheel. (so we can now complete the job with what we have!). (although if you have the correct tools its obviously easier! and saves time!)

WARNING: It is necessary to use the tools if you are removing the cogs, as shown in the video (otherwise undoing/retightening the cam pulley bolts will weaken the cams)! Although we will just clean the cogs, whilst they are still in place.

We will not be undoing the front or rear cam pulley wheel bolts now we know it will damage the cams. We are confident we can remove the belts and keep the cogs still and maintain the correct timing! (never lost timing on any four pots before, V6 is more difficult, but looks easier as we go along).

Having now looked at the belts, they all look like new with no apparent wear or oil damage, and we feel that all are okay for continued use. Don't worry we'll mark them up so well that they will go back on exactly how they come off!

The whole job now seems much easier then when we first looked/though about it!

So far, the alternator/power steering/air con belt has been removed, but we gave up, when we thought we could not remove the tensioner for the outer belt (so we can remove the plate that covers the cam belt) without removing the engine form the car! but having just read through some destructions (try ebay for a workshop manual!) it appears it is possible, and having just looked again we can now see the bolts, so, we will attempt it again tomorrow.

My brother has made me a rear cam sprocket setting tool for the back cogs (shown in pics below, tested in left and right rear cams, but he will make me a second one!). He also says he can make the front camshaft tools with the correct size camshaft locking adaptors and pegs! Although I don't need them to complete the task now!

He has also watched the video several more times! He can confidently tell me what I need going on when and where! He is a mechanical genius!

Anyway, here's what's been done so far;

Disconnected Battery, removed the spark plugs, alternator belt, and loosened a few bolts, etc!
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Removed power steering pump and alternator, and upper cam covers.
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Removed power steering pump and alternator carrier.
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

The tricky bit, removed engine mounts, jacked up engine, and with great difficulty removed front engine plate.
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Plate removed, timing cog set to TDC, and (home made) locking pin inserted in flywheel!
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

My brother's (home made) rear cam sprocket setting tool, it fits!
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Home made rear cam sprocket setting tool fits the other as well, so another will be made!
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

At this stage it appears that it is the LH Gasket that has blown. (but taking the engine apart this much, we may as well do both gaskets).

This is all great fun so far!

YouTube Video is superb. My brother has worked out exactly how to get the tools right and has almost completed a set of front cam tools for me! (a few pieces of metal and a dozen bolts is all it takes to make a full set!) & unlike the ones you buy for 300ish, where they fit the three different KV6's, he has made this set specifically for the Rover 825 engine. (I keep telling him I don't need them, but says he enjoys the challenge! & that I can keep them for the future!!!!!).

He's even made me a fuel pipe release tool so I can release the fuel pipes next and so remove the next section very easily! (he did have a tool for it, but can't find it so he has made me one!).

Both my brother and my Dad are pushing me to get on with it! A week ago they were asking everyone to see who could fix it locally! Now they are really getting into it. I want to go at my normal pace though, and would prefer to spend a week cleaning all the bits that are coming off! Nothing got done today but hopefully might get some more done soon.

Yes it was just the rear gasket, heads and pots are all fine!

I will have to go and buy a new gasket set now from MG Rover supplier.

We will still remove the front section though, as it only requires the bolts removing, and it will only go the same way in the next year or so if it doesn't get done now. (just one worn bolt we can't undue on the front exhaust, but borrowing a tool later, so should manage it.)

Some more pics;

Released the fuel pipes, using my brothers homemade tool, dead easy.

Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Removed inlet manifolds together.
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Marked the cam belt in a way I will understand later! (i marked all the cogs as well NOT SHOWN)
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Marked other cog. My Dad thinks I am mad!
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Marked around crankshaft cog! I know what I'm doing!
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Released the tensioner and removed the belt! Past the point of no return now!
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Removed the cam covers.
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Removed the rear head to find blown gasket as expected! (small amount of water in pots from when lifting off)
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Gasket seal blew where sealant glues had worn out (no longer blue in colour!).
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Head removed to drain and cleaned it with engine cleaner spray.
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Cleaned cylinder block up a little as well.
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

COST SO FAR, engine cleaner x 3 (1 each from Pound shop). (used 1 so far!) Socket to remove HeadBolts 4.49. (saves borrowing one) (...later realised we already had my Brother's full set!).

Just a set of gaskets to buy now, belts all in tiptop condition. So quite a saving on having the job done, if only I can remember how it all goes back together!!!!!

THIS KV6 WILL LIVE ON!!!! WOO HOO!!!! (and so it should)

Removed the RH / front head now too. The gasket was also cooked and was about to blow. Just as well I decided to do them both then!

hard not to mix some fluid during removal!
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe
Removed top section of exhaust with the head.
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Well that's everything removed, so I've just been out and ordered a Genuine MG Rover gasket set, a few new nuts and bolts and a couple of oil filters, (cost 130). Didn't want to order gaskets any sooner, in case the problem was any bigger.

Got to wait for the gaskets to arrive in stock now, but at least this will mean I can clean some bits while I am waiting for it. & it will also give the heads a better chance to drain, making them drier, when I refit them.

My brother has almost completed the front set of tools he has been making for me, and now I understand the engine and cams a bit more, I think I may find them handy for the refit, although I will finally find out if it can be done without them.

Amazing how well these engines were designed when you look at them closely, no way to bore them out and make them any larger capacity though because of this! (hee, hee, always thing of more power!). My brothers Jeep Wrangler can be bored out from 4.0 litre to 4.5 (no mods) or 4.6 (with a little modifications)! I can only dream!

This whole project should cost less than my new monitor (the old one died a few weeks ago)! then my engine blew, and yesterday the 6 month old lawnmower went up in smoke.

That makes the Rover still the most reliable purchase! and there was me thinking of selling it for scrap! (was worth more as scrap than as a whole a week ago!)

I am no expert on Rover engines! This is the first one out of all the Rovers we have ever owned that we have had to do any engine work on! (apart from cam cover gaskets (needed at some point on most of them!!)). We have had had no problems from any Rover engines before. We have found all Rover engines to be superb reliable well engineered engines. Had lots of K-series and T-series 4-pots.

In the past all the engines (4 pots) we have done have been Fords, VW's etc., all have been older cars and were all thicker blockier engines. + My brother's Jeep although a modern vehicle uses a 4.0 litre straight 6 engine, that was designed about 40 years ago, (but as he says it is bulletproof). This just seemed so different compared to them, especially the way so much water/coolant is directly outside those narrow piston walls. Maybe all engines look similar these days, I just don't know as I am no expert.

My brother has now made me a set of these cam tools to set the front cogs with though in case I need them! (now I have a full set of tools, saving me 300 on buying some!)

From watching the videos (again) on these engines, I may need to undo the cog bolts so that you get the play while fitting the belt.
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

The replacement gaskets I am expecting for the engine are (i think) of a later updated design, which I believe maybe multi layer ones.

I thought about a transplant (from a Rover 75 / MG ZT) rather than a replacement from another 825, but the job is massive, when it comes to the rewire from what I gather, and the whole project might of been too complicated for me and too costly (not to receive any extra power gains)(although you can get a supercharger for the later engines). I have gone for the cheapest option, as this suits me for now! (About a quarter of the cost of replacing the engine with a second hand one). & The real challenge is trying to keep one of these cars with its original engine! (as many of them had their engines replace under warrantee by Rover in the first few years of their lives!)

If it wasn't for the Credit Crunch then it might have been a full on V8 rear wheel drive conversion! Maybe next time! (hee hee!)

I've got the gaskets now (you seem to get them all in the set)(if you buy just the head gaskets then they are 40each!) (The supplier was amazed that the two gaskets came inside the set! for less than 100 (+vat))(He says the Ford gasket sets they supply never have the two Head Gaskets with the set!)(glad I took the chance on just ordering the set, as it was the only item that didn't have a picture with it, and they like you to pay for all the parts you order!)

Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

They are the same as the ones I removed, so I guess the originals were the later/modified/improved ones as they should have been.

This would (i think) suggest that the only reason they went, was not because of the design, but because of the low mileage and the effect low mileage can have on head gaskets with them accumulating more crap on them as they do not get as warm each time to dry out the gaskets as well or something like that.

Anyway, we managed to put the rear head back on, but just could not get one bolt back in on the exhaust, after struggling for an hour, I got my Mum to fit it! (with me swinging on a rope, and my Dad holding the torch) (seems we needed those exhaust gaskets too!)

Well its all going together quite well so far.

As for the answer as to whether the cam belts can be done without the front tools and without losing the timing! THE ANSWER IS YES!

My Dad was helping me put a few bits back on, but then I said I wanted to make double sure all the cogs were clean before putting the Cambelt back on. So he went off for an hour.

I set about cleaning the cogs, then really went for it with the Cambelt while he was away (believe me its easier that way!). I used a socket to turn the front right cam pulley clockwise, whilst I put the locking tool on the rear. Then the left is harder as you have to turn it anticlockwise, so I cheated a little and used a front tool in the small holes to turn it whilst I put the locking tool on the rear. I could of easily managed it with any number of tools though, just to lever the cog around enough to fit the rear tool (with two people it would be easy). Then I fitted the belt as per instructions, with little difficulty getting the belt back in the correct same place as before. I even managed to fit the tensioner back on my own, and all with the difficulty of the engine still being in the car.

So if you are working with rear tools the Cambelts can be changed WITHOUT losing the timing. (Provided you mark the cogs and cambelt well, (you would have to transfer any markings over to a new belt)(but as the teeth are the same number, belt can be changed). You only need the front tools if you are removing the Bolts and Cogs. (If you are not going to disturb the cogs then YES IT IS POSSIBLE).

CamBelt refitted and the car doesn't even know it's been off! Those markings all helped.
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Not much left to replace now!
Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Only a few more parts to re-fit now! The Plug Leads, the top part of inlet manifold, the coolant bottle, the air filter box, and a few other bits, and the wiring to clip back in place, but all the hard work is done. Car and engine are a fair bit cleaner now too! (glad I had to wait a day for the gaskets, otherwise my dad would not of slowed down to my pace while I clean stuff). He is amazed how clean I get stuff though, always using the dirtiest rag!

Also added some cheap oil 10.99 for 5L of GM semi-synthetic 10w/40 from local car shop (Very good for the price though)(but I would normally use fully synthetic, but the oil will be flushed out again at some point)(i did buy two filters).

Got some coolant handy so I will add that last. I did think about changing the thermostat, but I don't like to disturb any plumbing unless its necessary, and car has never overheated so I'm not going to change it at this stage, but always worth considering. (+ no oil in coolant so plumbing should still be ok, but it would be an easy fix now if I have to get to it again).

Anyway, we got it all back together, with no bolts remaining! (so we thought that's can't be right! as that doesn't normally happen!).

So we decided to try and start it, but I had the clever idea of moving it away from the houses, and down the drive to the road first. So we pushed it off the ramps then rolled it down the drive.

Hooked up the Car battery charger/starter, then pumped the pedal a dozen times to get some fuel to the pistons. Turned the key and CLICK, CLICK, nothing!!! Tried the key again, this time no clicks, just nothing!!!

Engine bay did look clean though!

Rover 800 825 V6 Sterling Coupe

Hoping it wasn't the engine and that it was something electrical, we went for the fuses first. One had gone but it was just a fan fuse, still nothing when trying to start the car!

We hoped it wasn't the pistons becoming jammed before the oil had reached them, maybe we should of turned the crankshaft manually first! Anyway we jacked it up and tried to turn the crankshaft manually now and it turned with ease.

We were thinking of the word 'SCRAP' again, and wondering how we would ever get the car back up the drive.

Then I tried disconnecting the battery and reconnecting it again after a few minutes.

Car Started First Time! with no delay and no hesitation, or misfiring. Then the smoke started!

Smoke started slowly coming from the exhaust, but from the exhaust manifold at the front as well as the rear exit. Then it really started to come out of the back. So we dropped it off the jack and drove it off!

WOW THE SMOKE, it just looked so cool! (It always looks better, when you know its just old stuff being cleared out, unlike the nasty smoke when you get the problem)!

The first 500 yards were pure smoke, that dispersed the onlookers! Then smoke calmed down a little, but on accelerating or at the lights, it did draw attention, so we went on the motorway to warm it up fully, by now the smoke had cleared up. (from the exhaust joint at the front as well). So I took it for a good run, and now its just as good, if not better than ever! (no timing problems here then!)

So for around 150, I'm more than pleased!

Car is now running as sweet as ever, just the tiniest wisp of smoke from the exhaust on startup (less than expected), heads were well cleaned/drained, so shouldn't get any much more smoke now onwards.

For the rear tools my brother made, the dimensions were just taken from the distance between holes in cogs. (50mm & 118mm center to center!). Bolts were some 8mm ones and the gaps at the end of the tools were cut big enough to fit a 19mm socket through.

(Originally I was just gonna use a block of wood! and four nails/screws/bolts!)

The front tools I think he sort of worked out from the video, and the plans/instruction leaflet for the proper ones (obtained .pdf copies(or something similar) from an internet search!). He just made them from sheet metal and welded them after checking the angles on engine and tightening a temporary bolt in place till they were welded.

Other than that he just drilled holes where he thought they were needed as the accuracy did not matter, until the bolts were tightened and welding done.

I told him I was going to put them on eBay! (shock, horror!)(only kidding!!!) (I'm always looking for something to sell on eBay!) and asked him to make me some more, but he said don't do that as he doesn't have any more of the metal left.

We had to finish the car on Sunday, as my Dad had already told my youngest brother we would sort out his MkII VW Golf out before it's MOT, when he brought it up, we just couldn't stop laughing at all the space around his engine! We said we should do his head gasket just for fun! (we didn't though, as there was far too much else wrong with it). Why does he buy them! I'm sticking with my KV6.

If anyone else is going to repair their Rover 800 KV6 Head gaskets you should go for the Multilayer Rover 75 type! I It seems the Multi Layer type is the best option, if you want it to last forever. Otherwise, it might happen again in another few years. I just ordered a replacement set for the Rover 800 KV6, which turned out to be the same type as the ones fitted (dealer had no info/spec/pics for the item on his computer, but did have pics for all the other MG-Rover parts, so I just ordered the gasket set via the part number shown and hoped for the best - but, they were the same as the previous ones).

I tried to search for info on Multilayer Gaskets for the KV6 before I ever started. I was told the ones supplied from MG-Rover Parts dealer would be the correct ones, but on visiting but on visiting


it seems that maybe the Rover 75 ones will fit! and you would need to order the head Gaskets for a Rover 75, but I have not been able to confirm this or find out the correct part number as of yet. My MG-Rover Parts Dealer, knew nothing about them, but they are really an old Ford Dealer, that's just started/taken up the MG Rover Parts, as all the other local MG Rover Dealers have gone. If your local MG-Rover parts Dealer, is an old MG-Rover Dealers, they may be able to help you more.

The Gasket set I ordered/fitted was LVQ701200EVA and was 97.49 + Vat = 114.55.and was the same as the ones fitted!

I would advise you to check first if you can, but the Rover 800 Gaskets will do the job anyway. Also the elastic seal did appear to be glued on far more evenly on the new set, than on the previous ones.

I guess in the next10 years, I might be doing this all again!

UPDATE: If you are not skimming the heads, then you should fit the replacement Gaskets like I did. The multilayer gaskets should only be used where the heads have been skimmed.

Good Luck.

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