My head gasket blew last week, and has caused engine failure in a four year old car.
Having read this website it does seem to be a common problem, although I appear to have come off worse than most.
Hello, regarding the head gasket problem and the K series engine, it is still happening! My Dad (75 in March) took his Rover to the dealership with head-gasket problems three months ago, they ended up replacing the engine. The total bill was for over £2,000. I contacted Watchdog and Rover on his behalf, and Rover offered 33.3% off the price, which we refused based on our belief that a design fault should be fixed no questions asked not argued over with the customer. Anyway argue they do, they say there is not a problem even thought Land Rover admit liability and change their customers K series engines without hesitation. So here we are, £2,000 down, 5 year old car, no help and now the alternator light is flashing, Oh Hum... Merry Christmas everyone!
ROVER 216 SI What can I say, just had the AA to take me to a garage of their choice, had a problem with the heating. Just found out its costing me £1000 to have head gasket changed, radiator and thermostat changed too. Wish I knew of these potential problems when I bought it. Oh forgot to say, had the gear box changed 4 months ago...
I agree in full with the comments about it being a fun and stylish car, I had one until last week and it was pretty much ideal for me in terms of size, poser and comfort. and yes, the stereo is great isn't it?
However, last week the head gasket went with no real warning, taking half the engine with it, overall bill at least £600. I had kept it topped up with water/antifreeze since I got it, had it serviced very recently which returned no major faults, and generally driven it sensibly. but it still went, and the cost has outweighed the desire to keep it so it had to go as spares or repair. I'm very annoyed as I loved that car, its just a pity the engine has a major design fault.
New buyers beware, take it to the garage for a head gasket check as soon as you get it, and have it changed if possible and include in the service a set of metal dowel bolts, as (rather than the stock plastic ones) as I have heard they can help the issue. also, there is apparently (though I have not seen it) a mod-kit you can buy which moves the thermostat nearer to the engine in the chain of components. apparently the position of the thermostat is a main factor in the head gasket problems, in that it is in a slightly odd position and as such does not cool down the engine as efficiently as it could. I also have a friend who had exactly the same problem a year or so ago.
So, buyers beware, its very fun car which is a lot nicer to drive in many ways that my new mondeo (boring, but reliable, which is what I needed!), but - the rumors are not without evidence to back them up, you NEED to take good and in some cases expensive care of this engine if you want it to last!!
Aren't we meant to be talking about the L series diesel (220SDi), not the K series petrol? Head gasket failure is common in the petrols, but the diesel is a derivative of the old perkins engine and hence quite sturdy.