1998 Rover - Austin 400 LX from UK and Ireland - Comments

5th Nov 2003, 15:25

Just thought I would add to the comments above...

I have a 1996 Rover 400, I have only had it since Jan this year and bought it with 62,000 miles on the clock.

About a month ago I was having problems with my car, eventually found out that the radiator was about to go, so I took it in to have the rad replaced at a cost of £100.

When the car returned it was having problems starting and seemed to stall at every given opportunity, eventually this Monday night my head gasket blew on my way up the M6!

I'm now v short of money due to the £500 bill to repair and the week and half without my car!!

I agree with the comment above, I will no longer recommend Rover to anyone and in January when I can afford it I will be buying a new car and removing the Rover from my life!!

I am v disappointed in Rover, it has been brought to their attention that there is a problem, but as they have said in a recent report on the problem on the BBC Watchdog programme, it is not a fault with the design!!! I fail to see that the cars will get any better until they accept there is a problem.

10th Feb 2004, 02:16

I'm looking at my second head gasket replacement at just over 6000 miles since the last one which also needed a complete new head fitted. I bought mine from a dealer, so I'm going after them with all guns blazing.

I think I'll start with a call to director of consumer affairs.

Dave, Ireland.

PS. Tim - if you want to keep in touch on this, I'm at davidmanser at eircom dot net (replace with appropriate symbols)

27th May 2004, 07:42

I have had my rover 400 for 18 months and it has now done over a hundred and thirty thousand miles!.It is a 2.0 k series engine and I have found with regular oil changes (every 4000 miles) that the infamous head gasket has not been a problem at all. The car incidentally is an absolute gem.

8th Jun 2004, 03:23

Have had a 1996 414i for about 5 years now, generally reliable until... the head gasket went on the day I was moving house (not good news logistically or financially!).

Got it replaced, but since then I have been troubled with hydraulic tapping - a very noisy engine either when running or idling. It still performs OK, but loses a bit of power when driving uphill. Can anyone recommend any decent additive to counteract the tapping?

Many thanks for this.

Dave, Wales.

21st Jul 2004, 01:28

Our 1996 Rover 414i was scrapped in year 2001, when the SECOND head gasket blew, the cylinder head cracked, and also pistons were damaged.

The car had only 85.000 Km (not miles), was fully serviced by Rover, bought new, and the final fault happened during a trip in Austria, on the highway.

Lucky me my insurance covered the transport of the 414 to Italy, but when it arrived I decided to scrap the car as it costed plenty of money to fix it.

For shure the first and last Rover in my life.

7th Aug 2004, 16:41

Readers may be interested in an engine failure, which occurred to my daughter's Rover 218vvc Coupe.

At about 27000 miles one of the camshaft pulleys failed, apparently due to manufacturing defect, causing a total engine failure. This obviously required a replacement unit to be fitted.

M G Rover was not in the least bit interested.

Since they took no interest, one assumes no investigation or corrective action has ever taken place and as a result it can also be assumed that the same thing could easily happen again.

As a warning the repair bill was about £3500 for a three-year-old car with 27000 miles recorded and a full MG Rover service history. Potential buyers be warned, since presumably could affect all K and KV6 engines throughout the production life.

24th Feb 2005, 10:08

Yes, head gasket failure on the K-series is not uncommon, but can be avoided. This is one of those engines that, given proper servicing and driven with a degree of respect, will happily rack up 150,000 miles + even in 1.4 litre guise. It's a light, tough and reliable little engine until it is neglected when it is known to fail spectacularly.

The head gasket problem is two fold. The tiny coolant capacity of the engine gives a really quick warm up, but if the level drops even slightly, it has a drastic effect on the cooling system. The alloy used in the head itself is also not tolerant of heat and will warp if the engine gets even slightly out of its normal operating temperature range. Most of these failures are caused by neglected servicing, or owners not checking coolant levels.

27th Jul 2005, 09:55

If you have a 400, the best way to minimise your chances of head gasket problems on this otherwise excellent car is to do the following:

Follow service schedules correctly.

Check coolant and oil levels every week and top up if necessary.

If the h-gasket is on its way out, you will save yourself money by rectifying it early, before everything actually goes up in a big cloud of steam. Check every week for oil mixing in the cooling system or residue inside the oil filler cap. This could be signs the h-gasket is about to go.

Unless there's significant engine damage, you should be able to get a head gasket fixed on one of these cars for around £400ish, so if you're quoted a lot more than that, shop around for a reliable garage.

Definitely best to buy a car with a full service history.

31st Jan 2006, 14:56

My father had a Rover 414 for many years and when he did finally sell it had covered 145,000 miles without any signs of head gasket failure. There is an inherent design fault with the k series; it was not designed to be idiot proof.

A lecturer of mine once said a computer would never go wrong until a person starts using it. In a way the same can be said of a car. A responsible owner will have their head under the bonnet at least once a week checking all the levels. Just because a car has a full service history doesn't mean as much as you may think. That car could have gone 12 months at a time without having anything topped up.

I purchased a 214 SEi as my first car, kept it for 18 months and it was a great car. It did suffer a few normal for the age problems that some people above have claimed causes head gasket failure; cracked rad, leaking water pump, but neither caused any other damage. I don't think it would do very well in a hot country though as in the summer the temperature gauge would go up in heavy traffic, but there is a way to stop this. HINT - just open the window and turn the heater on to full, the needle will soon drop down again.

And as for the Ford comment, it took them four years to get even close to the k series and even then their Mondeo 16v wasn't as advanced. Their 1.4 16v still isn't as powerful as my old 11-year-old 214 and they still produce the Anglia derived over-head valve 1.3!

16th May 2006, 03:40

My advice is sell your petrol rovers and buy a diesel one there cheaper to run and you don't get head gasket problems.

16th Jan 2007, 11:49

If you want a petrol 400 I recommend you go for the automatic which has the Honda 'D' Series engine (from the Civic). This is a strong engine and doesn't have the inherent problems associated with the Rover engine fitted in cars with a manual gearbox.

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