XPart : ‘Ultimate fix’ for MG Rover K-Series HGF now available

MG Rover’s K-Series engine

MG Rover parts specialist XPart now offers the best known aftermarket solution for head gasket repairs on K-Series engines

Technicians tasked with replacing head gaskets on MG Rover K-Series engines now have access to the new Multi-Layer Steel (MLS) Gasket Kit from XPart, designed to be the most efficient and durable solution to date for MG Rover K-Series engine repair. XPart has developed the kit utilising the engineering expertise at Shanghai Automotive Industry Corporation (SAIC), which employs many former MG Rover engineers at Longbridge. The company will distribute the kit via its nationwide network of wholesalers and AutoService centres.

‘After a period of thorough testing we are convinced that the latest MLS Gasket Kit offers technicians the best known fix for head gasket replacement,” comments Don Lindsay, Service Marketing Manager, XPart. ‘It should prove popular among MG Rover, Caterham and Lotus owners using K-Series engines, and offers a sophisticated, reliable option for the replacement of head gaskets.”

After a period of thorough testing we are convinced that the latest MLS Gasket Kit offers technicians the best known fix for head gasket replacement. It should prove popular among MG Rover, Caterham and Lotus owners using K-Series engines, and offers a sophisticated, reliable option for the replacement of head gaskets.” Don Lindsay, Service Marketing Manager, XPart

In designing the new kit, XPart and SAIC have used a combination of the revised lower oil rail designed by MG Rover engineers, higher tensile 10.9 grade long stretch bolts and a new single piece multi-layer steel gasket engineered by SAIC for its new N-Series engine. The gasket should not be fitted in isolation and it is the kit together with revised torque settings that provides the best known repair. The XPart parts warranty only applies when the full kit has been used.

‘The Rover 25 we used to trial the latest MLS gasket has now covered many miles as a heavy use courtesy car and I have complete confidence that in line with all of our other MLS gasket-equipped cars, it will continue to give reliable service for the remainder of its life”, explains Patrick Warner, Managing Director, Sterling Automotive Limited. ‘We have been using MLS head gaskets for over two years with a 100 percent success rate. The latest kit from XPart helps make this even more affordable for customers. We would recommend fitting the MLS gasket set which comes with a strengthened lower oil rail and new head bolts, as well as a water pump.”

XPart will continue to offer the original K-Series components as part of its MG Rover Original Parts range and envisages this kit as being particularly popular amongst enthusiasts and car restorers.

Clive Goldthorp


  1. … Good news, although would the PRT still need to be used? Another point, does the N-Series have a second knock sensor in the head and what effect would this have on the engine?

  2. The current MLS Head Gasket isn’t 100% reliable despite what is claimed. If it was, then why revise it again, eh? In my book, this will be the 5th ‘definitive’ head gasket to eliminate HGF failure for the K-Series. It won’t as the whole unit is fundamentally flawed. However, it will be interesting to see what revisions have been made to this latest version of the MLS Head Gasket.

  3. Hmm… Fundamentally a good idea but badly executed :(. From what I gather, there were quite a few problems that got incorporated, particularly in the 1.6/1.8 units:

    *weakening of the top deck with the installation of floating liners
    *increased noise vibration at the bottom end due to the longer stroke
    *original headgasket not strong enough (materials/design?)
    *improper tolerancing between liner and block top .
    *unconventional cooling circulation.

    Then, of course, there were the repairs…. Lol

    How on earth the ‘K2000’ engine worked without coming apart after sneezing at it I don’t know? Maybe it didn’t…

  4. What a joke! The K-Series engine first appeared over 20 years ago and the head gasket problem has only been sorted out now. The head gasket is still an extremely expensive and time consuming item to replace.

    I reckon that the K-Series unit was deeply flawed from the start and had a big part to play in the demise of MG Rover – the Chinese should ditch it for something more reliable.

  5. @Gary H
    The K-Series issue didn’t appear until about 1998 – the early units were not affected in any way.

    The trouble arose from the re-design of the block in 1995 to incorporate the larger capacities. Unfortunately, they could only use the one design for the whole range so, when they made the modifications (which reduced the stiffness of the block), the block was no longer stiff enough. Couple that with higher outputs, the over small cooling system, overstressed engines (Freelander), sub-optimal layouts for airflow (MGF/TF and Elise) and short journeys which caused the stress and heat cycle to become less than optimal, and the redesigned block pushed the gasket beyond its design limits.

    The MLS gasket in any form is a huge improvement over the elastomer gaskets and reduces gasket failure to levels consistent with other marques so the N-Series (renamed K) is a reliable enough engine now

    Incidentally, this MLS gasket is not a new revison. It is the same gasket and oil rail as used in the Land Rover kit issued over 2 years ago. The only change is revised bolts and torque settings.

    The K-Series engine was certainly a big factor in the failure of MGR or even RG under BMW but that was mainly because of management reluctance to admit to a problem and fix it. Powertrain HAD a solution (this MLS gasket and rail) but were just never allowed to implement it…

  6. Most of the K-Series’ problems were probably down to constant cost cutbacks and the general lack of investment in the power unit development. Had a suitable power unit been created as a direct replacement for the O-Series engine, then it is likely that we would have seen a much more reliable unit.

    Indeed, much of this should have been done many years before – power unit rationalisation… Here’s an example:

    Small I4 for 1.0 to 1.4
    Large I4 for 1.6 to 2.0 (2.2?)
    V6 for 2.5 to 3.2 litre
    V8 for 3.5 to 5.0 litre

    The large I4 heads could have been used for the V8 and chopped down I4 heads used for the V6. Design and parts rationalisation would have been achieved. The smaller I4s should have been a collaboration with FIAT or a Japanese company.

    These family lines should have been continued and perhaps partnerships with other OEMs in engine design/construction should have been pursued – it’s common practice these days.

  7. @Gary H
    Flawed in what way? I’ve seen motorcycle engines built with this same construction and they do not seem to have any problems. Indeed, the original smaller capacity K’s had far fewer problems than the 1.6/1.8 versions – the 1.6/1.8 construction was modified and the top of the structure weakened.

    We should also bare in mind that BMW dithered so much about producing the 1.8 Common Engine that K-Series development work was pretty much halted for 5 years and the unit had to soldier on right until the end.

  8. @Chris Mills
    That’s a nonsense. The head gasket problem affected the whole K-Series range – particularly early 1.4l units as well.

    I couldn’t believe how flimsy the head gasket was until the mechanic showed it to me after replacing it – it was basically just a ribbon of silicone holding all that pressure in.

    The K-Series also had other flaws such as premature timing belt failure. I had to get that replaced at only 25k miles as it was cracked, the whole exhaust system had to be replaced at low mileage and the battery failed at less than 1 year old!

    Reliability is what matters in this day and age and there are great engines out there that don’t need the “Bank of England” to maintain them. I think that I speak for a lot of former Rover owners who all experienced these same problems across the board.

    If you own a K-Series-powered motor be prepared for expensive and unreliable motoring. I reckon the Mini’s A-Series unit was more reliable than the K-Series and that was developed around the same time the dinosaur population vanished.

  9. I have changed more head gaskets on TU series peugeot engines than any other engine, yet reputation says they are one of the best engines ever made. In the last twelve months I have rebuilt more `reliable` BMW engines than any other 4 to 1 !!! Today I have stripped my first ever `K` in a freelander and found it an easy job. I owned a `96 MGF VVC for three years which had a hard life in daily use, tolerating my big boots on the throttle, proving an economical yet quick car to drive. The public has always had a negative issue with anything British supported by the mis-informed press and after 36 years in the garage business, may I assure you the truth is far from this. It is now to late to do anything about this so people deserve their fate of the modern rubbish, built in developing countries with misleading badges stuck on to hide their true origin, with short life expectancies as a result of unreliable, unnecessary electronic systems, rendering a vehicle scrap before its time.

  10. I owned a 1998 Rover 200′ which I bought new for 16 years , I have to say it was the most reliable car I have owned the much published head gasket issue never reared its head, that’s right 16 years use no head gasket failure I always maintained my Rover 200 myself servicing it twice a year and changing the coolant every year regardless of weather it needed it.
    When I sold the Rover I replaced it with a MG ZR this car was second hand and again I didn suffer head gasket failure while I owned it I had the MG for 3 years which I have recently replaced it with a MG 6, I will be carrying out my service regime on this car as it has paid off on all my cars with the k series engine cars so will carry on with the twice a year service on the N series.
    Good maintenance of these engines is essential so is not thrashing the nuts of the engine

  11. ” I owned a 1998 Rover 200′ which I bought new for 16 years , I have to say it was the most reliable car I have owned the much published head gasket issue never reared its head, that’s right 16 years use no head gasket failure ”

    Ian, I have before now thought my ZR is the most reliable car I have owned. Bought at 9 years old, I’ve added 33,000 miles. Only issues a windscreen wiper linkage and electric window mechanism. Big deal!! No signs of HGF at a total of 62,000 miles and no other problems either. A fab little car! I’m so pleased to see it as this month’s COTM.

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