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1992 Rover 214 SLi - Good* vibrations

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This was the ve-hick-all I picked up on Wednesday night from that there Barnsley.


I had no reason to buy this at all as it mirrors precisely the same role as the Streetwise, except its 12 years older. It was one of those 'that'll never win' eBay bids with 6 seconds left which somehow won (for goodness sake...). Gotta love a blind sale....


[Adenoids]First purchased by a Mr H Burke from Milton Keynes in 1992 this.....etc etc[/adenoids]


It comes with the original book pack and service history up August 2001, then another lone service in 2008, then picks up again in 2018. 


Previous but one owner spent out on cam belt/water pump/tensioner, a new battery and new plugs in January this year, then a middle and back section for the exhaust for the June 2018 MoT.


It's done 61K but it does have some issues....








Original dealer plates (backed up by the initial service history)






Some blebbage, this is probably the worst




The three concessions to modernity are PAS, central locking and electric windows/mirrors




Driver's mirror broken - new repro on the way from eBay for £14



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It got me back from Barnsley (about 50 miles) down the M1 and ran fine at 70/80.


However, at standstill and in motion between 1000 and 2000 rpm this is a truly horrible bone-shaking experience. The resonance is awful, the throttle response is poor, the smell of petrol fumes immense


(ropy video follows)



I initially suspected exhaust or mounts but I suspect it's more likely to be a misfire. I'll kick off by replacing the dizzy/rotor and leads. It may also be one of many sensors, so I suspect this will be a process of elimination.


Of course, there is The Spectre lurking at the back of my mind, but I don't think OMGHGF (coolant/oil okay, no mayo) is an issue as it ran perfect over 2000 rpm down the M1 for an hour - heck, even overtook a fair few cars, quite content sat at 70 (and possibly a smidge over).


Some white smoke from exhaust and smell of petrol - I'm hoping something simple.


Any suggestions ?

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Is it single point injection or Multi point injection ?


I had problems with a throttle position sensor on an MPi 414, caused proper kangaroo juice as the position sensor got to the 'bad bit'. Once through the bad part, car ran sweet as a nut.

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Bagged some off eBay for £18 with a dizzy cap thrown in - new old stock




Hopefully arrive later this week and I can get afettlin' at the weekend. Itching to use this as my commutawagon, if I'm honest.


I really hope it's as simple as HT leads, but I doubt I'll be that lucky somehow.

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Wouldn't be surprised if you've got a cross-threaded spark plug, had the same on mine and it got worse over time until it spat a plug out.  It's fairly easy to get the plugs in slightly off and bugger up the threads, especially if you're a bit on the hamfisted side.

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Yippee, that's something to look forward to then !


I ran out of light last night to take out the plugs and inspect them (a neighbour decided to engage in conversation with me just at the wrong time - interesting chat about old Rovers but the timing wasn't immaculate), but I'll start off with that before faffing around with the leads.

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Finally had to some time to do some afettlin'


Broken mirror was a doozie - remove interior cover panel, undo three screws, unplug from loom; refitting is a reversal etc.... Works perfectly now. Bit of a pain as the screws from the original were too big, but found some smaller ones in one of those £2 random screw tubs from Wilkinsons.


Typically my magical K-series spark plug spanner has gone AWOL somewhere, so wasn't able to inspect them - however, I replaced all the HT leads, the distributor cap and the rotor arm. Made no fucking difference whatsoever, and we still have good* vibrations.


There seems to be a real flat spot between 1000-2000rpm. Once I've ruled out the spark plugs, I'll need to start looking at breather pipes and sensors. I will also have the cambelt cover off, because maybe it's a tooth out - who knows ?


Going to replace the fuel filter (even though this appears to have been done recently), and do an oil/filter change, but at the moment no further forward. 

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Rough running and a flat spot were things I was getting with mine with that dodgy plug too, though not that rough until it spat the plug out.  Tired backbox on the exhaust can cause some unwanted resonance too though that tends to be more at higher rpm so it's probably not that and it sounds like it might be overfuelling a bit which again points at a spark plug potentially not doing its job or, as you surmise, a sensor not doing it's job.


I bet when you find the problem it's something really inconsequential.

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You'd possibly be able to tell if the cambelt had skipped a tooth - my GTi had, and the engine sounded very 'tappy'. RobT had no idea and I think it'd been that way for 5 years/15k plus.

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Shot over to Halfords to bag another long reach spark plug spanner this afternoon due to misplacing the original. They're only a fiver a pop, and I wanted to crack on with adiagnosin'.


Got home, opened the hatch - there was another long reach spark plug spanner in there. WTAF. I checked that boot at least 6 times yesterday.....


Anyroad, the plugs weren't too badly fouled, gaps a little off on a couple, but nothing immediately obvious. No cross-threading thank goodness. The plugs essentially looked about 9 months old. Popped my new ones in anyway.


Some slight improvement, but that resonance is still there, and still the flat spot - foot down between 1000-2000 rpm, very slow to respond then roars away. Will now have to start a process of elimination and rule out iffy sensors.


Decided to do an oil change and filter swap while I was at it. Fired up the Pela, all sucked out within 15 mins. Could I get the old filter off ? Nope. Welded on, tried with a magical filter tool. Failed. Fuck that, I'll just fill her up with oil again for now.


All topped up, ignition on, get the oil circulating. Went round to check the engine - a veritable geyser of high pressure oil liberally dousing the nearside of the engine bay. Looked under the car, full on Exxon in motion. Fucksticks.


Ran inside, cat litter, fairy liquid, brush, and got a cleaning (this is a public road, end of cul-de-sac). Daylight disappearing rapidly. Did my best to clean up, made neighbour aware of my environmental disaster (as the mess had dribbled under her car), stuck some cardboard down, and came in to sulk.


Didn't get a chance to have a proper look, but I guess I must have mashed/punctured the old filter and it spurted out once pressurised.


Next weekend - brake cleaner all over the engine to commence the clean-up - alternator, starter motor, battery and some other bits and bobs got a liberal coating of fresh oil. Least they won't rust (always a positive side).


More pissed off about the £16 I gubbed on Wilko's finest 10w40, most of which came straight back out again.


Ah well.....

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Spent an hour or surveying the oil spill today - not as bad as I imagined, as luckily most of the fresh oil has dribbled onto the cardboard I stuck under the car on Sunday night. Cleaned out the worst affected bits with brake cleaner but will give it a better going over when I feel more like meself as I'm man-flu'd up at present.


The oil filter was indeed mangled, but still refuses to budge, so I have one of these bad boys coming from Amazon tomorrow (always buy a 'Like New' or 'Very Good' ones from Warehouse if they have any, cost me £7) where I can stick a ratchet on and give it some heave ho:




I wasn't really minded to do much tinkering as didn't feel up to it, but did pull off the breather pipe which goes from the manifold to the ECU as these are notorious for blocking with crud. Quick squizz with some compressed air and some evil looking brown shit came out the end, so all nice and clean now. Will likely contribute the square root of fuck all in terms of diagnosing the fault, but at least it's one thing crossed off the list.


Also had a quick look at the throttle cable and there is some slack which is probably responsible for the sluggish revving at idle, so when me body's up to it, I'll sort that out.


Had a look at the engine mounts and they seem okay, so the poor running will likely be one, some or all of the following:


  • fucked fuel filter (new one ready to fit)
  • faulty coolant temperature sensor (new one ready to fit, OE part)
  • faulty crank position sensor (new one on the way, OE part)
  • timing belt slipped
  • fucked exhaust that is not immediately obvious to my untrained eye

The plan is to rule out what I can myself, take it to KwikFit for a free exhaust check (and laugh like a loon at their crazy quote), and then, if no fix, call in the heavy mob from MG Rover Mobile Mechanics in Derby.

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The wonder tool failed, so off to Halfrauds to get ripped off to the tune of £15 for their much lauded 'removal band' (£8 on Amazon but no delivery until Monday)




As soon as I got home the heavens opened so play abandoned. Sun came out a little later. Filter off in about 10 seconds with the tool - wd recommend 14.5/10.


There was still some oil in the sump miraculously, so bunged another couple of litres in it, went to fire her up... clackclackclackclack.


Flat battery....FFS.


Only down to 10v but enough to FTP. Quick charge up for an hour, now reading over 12v. 


Back on to it tomorrow.


In the meantime, received a USB stick with the Rover workshop manual on it from eBay, and from Vitesse a replacement spark plug cover.

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The wonder tool failed, so off to Halfrauds to get ripped off to the tune of £15 for their much lauded 'removal band' 


I have one of the Lidl versions of this and it is the one that has always got the job done.

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Achieved full 'fannying around' status today without actually achieving anything worthwhile.


Fuel filter - welded on. Plusgassed to death. Still welded on. Will join a gym and try again some other time.


Coolant temp sensor - pulled off connector, very gummed up, went to unscrew sensor, welded in. Impossible to get a good swing at it (it hangs off the underside of the inlet manifold and there's about a mm each side to get a spanner in) without taking everything to bits - CBA today. Squirted in some contact cleaner instead, put back together.


Popped battery back on, started car - no oil leak, so that's one issue sorted.


Oh, and put my lovely new spark plug cover on.


Then moved the vehicle to finish off mopping up last week's Exxon incident. The parking bay now looks cleaner than the rest of the street.


Does it still vibrate you ask ? But of course.... 

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My dad's G-reg 214 has loads of vibrations and buzzing bits of trim at all sorts of speed/load combinations. I think early-ish 214's had needlessly hard engine mounts that were softened up on later models.

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Another day, another blank drawn, but it is running better, hardly surprising given it's had a full mini-service now.


Am now convinced the vibration is exhaust related, so will book it into Kwikfit next weekend for a free check. There's only so much you can see from 5 inches below the pipework after all.


Swapped out the coolant temp sensor, so another thing eliminated.


Battery was flat again - it seems the modern JVC stereo I salvaged from the 45 was the parasite as there was some light or other flashing on it. Ripped it out for now. I am actually after a period radio/cassette in any case, preferably one of the ones which can be linked to a CD changer - [adenoids]model R860/950/960[/adenoids}.


The last of the oil spill has burned off the exhaust manifold now, so I treated it to a drive out, a mix of A roads and urban roads. Still some running issues and occasional misfire (and of course the vibration) but it definitely isn't as bogged down as it was before and pulls pretty well from second gear upwards - first is still a bit of a lottery, so lots of iffy slipping the clutch to keep it going.


The cabin heater is glorious - just as toasty as the Streetwise's.

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I've got precisely nowhere in resolving this. Actually, that's a lie - I've gone backwards.


The engine now cranks but fails to fire. Remembering the golden triangle, I've got fuel getting through, all the air pipes are now sorted (I found a tiny wee vacuum pipe with a hole in it, replaced that, no difference) but need two heads and a long body to check for spark. Have bought a tester off the Bay for a fiver and will set off some night time Blackpool illuminations as befits a solo operation for spark testing.


One thing I did realise (and this was something I spotted right at the start but forgot about) was this  between the air inlet and the exhaust manifold, the idea being a valve opens up when the engine is cold and uses the manifold to warm up the air shooting up to the air filter assembly, thus reducing idle speed:




I was convinced something should go in there. Nothing on Rimmers for 200s up to 1995.


Then I had a look at the Metro page (they have the same SPi engine). Ooh look:




Yup, a little connector hose. £7 later and what looks like half a bog roll tube with some foil on the inside arrives. Fitted this into the hole yesterday and also replaced the missing screw.


Difference made = square root of fuck all


However, had a chat with a neighbour's visitor today - he used to work at Ford and he was bemoaning how shit single point injection engines were back when they first came out. Anyroad, he mentioned the crankshaft position sensor. I'd kind of ruled it out (although I did order one) for various reasons, mainly because the symptoms of them failing relates to cutting out when warm, rather than a full on FTP.


Researching some more this afteroon not just on Rover forums/groups but also any other K-series engined forums (eg Land Rover Freelanders, Caterhams, Lotus) and I'm now more than convinced this is the cause of all the maladies experienced thus far, even the lack of starting.


Of course, by the time I'd read up on everything it was too dark to do anything constructive, so that's next weekend sorted. 


Little steps, little steps

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