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Rover Vitesse, Sump Gasket Replacement

I couldn’t handle it anymore, the amount of oil that was leaking from the sump was getting out of hand. I needed to replace the gasket.

In the constant battle against bodges that have been done in the past, the sump gasket was one of the few left.

I had been ignoring it since I got the car. A nice coating of oil on the whole underside of the car, and the need for a drip tray under where ever it parks. I did check where it was leaking from a while ago, and narrowed it down to the sump gasket, which someone had made a complete and utter mess of by over tightening the sump during refitting.

When a cork gasket is over tightened it doesn’t just compress like a rubber gasket, but it actually flattens and squashes out. Obviously this is no good for sealing 🙁

So when I had the car up on the QuickJacks the other day doing the hand brake, I also decided to remove the sump and deal to it. I got a replacement gasket from Rimmers ages ago, but just needed time to do it.

I started by draining the sump, and then cracking off and loosening all the sump bolts (some of which weren’t more than finger tight anyway). Most of them are straight forward, other than the two right in the back near the bell housing, which are hidden by the sump reinforcement plate, and the one on each side of the sump above the steering rack.

With this done, it was time to lift the engine. The manual calls for lifting it with a jack on the crank pulley, and undoing one engine mount. This is what I did, but in hindsight I would use an engine support bar from above the engine, and undo both engine mounts.

The reason for this, is that in my case, with my jack I needed a good stack of blocks on the jack to even touch the crank pulley, which made for some hairy moments. I used some blocks of wood and two of my spare low QuickJack rubber blocks. This was with my QuickJacks lowered to their first stop. At full height I had no hope.

And I disconnected the RH engine mount (the manual calls for the LH side but I’m not sure what difference it makes. I had more space to undo the mount on the RH side due to where the car is in the garage)

The other issues this caused for me, was that the engine could only be lifted so high, because the other engine mount was still connected, and the engine tilts over to that side. You couldn’t undo both with just the jack under the engine, it would likely slip off the jack and it would be game over. I also had issues with the jack getting in the way of me rolling around under the car. It’s not the end of the world, but I wouldn’t do it this way again.

So with the engine lifted, slide under the car and remove all the bolts. Don’t forget the two big bolts on the bell housing for the reinforcement plate. With all of them out, the sump should be able to be freed from the engine. Mine wasn’t really stuck with anything so almost freed its self. Now with some wiggling and jiggling, the sump can be slid out from the back of the crossmember and down.

The remains of the sealant and gasket. Thankfully the inside of the engine looks really nice, just a fine golden coating on everything.

I did notice this crud stuck to the pickup through. Not sure what it was; not bearing/metal, maybe old sealant. I cleaned the pickup anyway.

With the pan on the bench you start to see what a state its in. Covered in oil, sludge and gross.

It was hard to get a photo, but there was some sludge in the bottom of the sump too. This is what sits in the pan even after the oil is drained.

Remains of gasket/goo, and some pine needles that caught a ride from my old house

The sump its self is actually in decent shape over all, considering how low the car was and the damage its done to the rest of the underside, but there are only minimal dents and scrapes on the sump.

Looks nice and black doesn’t it? Well, guess what, that wasn’t paint. After a thorough de-grease and clean

It had almost no paint left on it! It did have a lot of surface rust though, so I gave it a quick scuff and coated it in rust converter

Whilst that cured I cleaned and degreased the bolts, and then threw them into the ultrasonic with some Simple Green

Of course I wasn’t just going to leave the sump purple with rust converter, but first I needed to address a serious issue I had

Because some muppet had went full ugga dugga on the sump bolts, it had massacred the poor little flange. There were serious gaps between the bolt holes, where it should be flat

Not only that, but the flange was twisted downwards, away from the sump. It’s hard to get a photo of, with my technical straight edge, but you can see it slopes away from the RH side of the wood. It should be flat against it.

It was like this the whole way around. No wonder it pissed oil out 🙁

I first used a hammer and block to flatten down the bolt holes, so they were no longer raised above the rest of the flange. Normally you would use a large socket or the likes to fit around the hole, and bash it flat onto the socket so you don’t flatten out the indents in the middle of the flange, but mine were almost flat anyway, so I proceeded with plank. You can see bashed bolt hole on the left of plank, and raised on the right.

With the holes flattened, I now had to bring the flange back up again. This was done with a rag and vice grips. Using many small little upwards tweaks along the flange, working in sections, I eventually managed to pull it back up and almost flat again

It’s a lot better than it was

With the flange kind of usable again, the whole pan got a couple of coats of black Zinc paint

Now I must say, this work had happened over the course of a few days. I removed the sump on Monday with plans to refit it Tuesday morning. Unfortunately health issues have left me barely able to leave the couch the past few days, so it wasn’t until Wednesday that I could even get around to painting the pan, and that took all available energy to do.

Anyone familiar with Rover V8 engines will now be experiencing the same concern I did, how long can the engine sit without a sump on until the oil pump drains and oil pressure is lost? I left the oil filter on, and didn’t touch it, because it’s not very old and removing it would be a 100% sure-fire way to drain the oil pump, but there are many stories of people draining the sump, leaving it an undefined period of time, and upon refilling finding they have no oil pressure and either damaging the engine, or having to prime the pump (which is a job in its self).

I couldn’t leave it much longer, so today, Friday, I HAD to get the sump back on and filled with oil. Even after 3-4 days I was concerned about the oil pump.

So I downed a big bowl of Weet-bix, smashed half a bottle of water, took some pain killers and down into the garage I went.

There aren’t many photos because it was hard enough to do the job its self, but I’ll give you what I can. First was to clean all the mating surfaces and get them nice and clean. I used a wire brush on the pan, and a scraper and rags on the engine block.

Then I laid a bead of sealant on the pan, smoothed it out with my finger and laid the gasket onto the pan, using bolts to keep the gasket in place. Sealant was smeared on the top of the gasket also

I then made sure the engine was as high as possible (remember, it had been sitting on my jack, raised, since Monday), and I slid under the car with the sump.

Refitting was a prick. Part of it was not being able to get enough clearance to the power steering hoses/crossmember, so lifting the engine from the top with no engine mounts connected would help this. It was a very mess job trying to get the gasket and pan into place without the gasket getting stuck and tearing, or falling into the pan.

Eventually I got it into place, and popped a couple of bolts in to hold it in place. The easiest I found to do were the two big ones for the reinforcement plate at the rear, and a couple of small ones at the front.

This is where I lowered the engine down and reinstalled the engine mount bolts, so I could get the jack out of the way and give me better access with the engine secure.

With some fiddling (and having to fish the back of the gasket out of the pan and back onto the flange), I got all the bolts back in. Make sure you can see the gasket all the way around the pan, so you don’t end up pinching it or missing a section.

The torque spec for this is 14NM, so I tightened the bolts up finger tight first, in a diagonal pattern, and then using a torque wrench I nipped them up to 14NM, still in a diagonal pattern. This feels like a lot of torque, and I’d hate to think how tight they had been to do the damage to the pan and gasket they had previously!

Finally the pan was on, sealed and tightened. The gasket had pushed out around the bolts a little, but nowhere near as bad as it had been.

I did need to remove the clutch slave cylinder to gain access to the bolts on the RH side rear of the sump. Unfortunately this indicated to me that mine is leaking brake fluid, and missing a bolt, so it’s stuffed. Will need to order a new one.

With the pan on, I dropped just over 4L of oil into the pan, checked the level, and we were good to test the oil pump. With everything crossed, I disconnected the coil, and injector resistor pack (so the engine wouldn’t start), reconnected the battery and turned the key. I cranked for about 20 seconds, and although the pressure light didn’t go out (I wouldn’t expect it to with my slow starter), I could see the pressure gauge raise slightly. Now for the moment of truth. I opened the garage door, reconnected the coil and injectors, and turned the key….

And the sweet sounds of my people filled my garage, oh and the oil pressure gauge shot up and the light went out. Thank fark, the oil pump is still primed!

So that’s where I am now. I still need to replace the transmission mounts which have turned to jello from oil contamination, and back the car out for a thorough water blasting and degreasing, but unfortunately that will have to wait. The good thing is though, worry, stress and concern is no good for recovery, but now that I know Tess is OK, i don’t have to worry about that and she can just chill down there with her bad self.

Oh, and it gives me time to source a new clutch slave cylinder, at considerable cost. Buying parts for the Mini has spoilt me, with ease of availability and low prices. Rover parts have neither of those.

Parts Used

AJM539 – Sump Gasket
213961A – Sump Washer

Please note these parts are specific to my car and may vary. Please check before ordering.

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5 years ago

Enjoying watching your work on the SD1 from here in Slovakia. I’d love to see a video of it running and driving.