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MG ZR ZS ZT Technical - ZT-T 190 - 4 engines in 2 years!

Hi fellow MG owners,

Today i received a phone call form the MG workshop. They will have to replace the engine again. This is the fourth engine since i took delivery of the car in may 2002.

The first went dead after 3000 miles, the second went at 35000 miles, no 3 was delivered with a few installation errors, causing it to die after only 2000 miles and now no. 4 is on order!!

Am i the only one having these problems or are there any other ZT-T owners with similar problems?

Thx for your responses

Sympathy Koen,
This is terrible and will really frighten off those few potential customers who still exist!
Don R

I've a ZS180 with very similar engine - now done 37000 miles in 18 months and never misses a beat. Oil consumption has always been negligible, only needing a top-up after some fast motorway runs in mainland Europe....
David S

I think you've just been incredibly unlucky Koen. We've got the 2.0-litre version in our 75, and it's been a gem. No oil use. No problems. 5 years of reliable service.
Sorry to hear about your problems though. Let's hope that the next engine will last!!!
Rob Bell

Thx for the nice words. I really love the car, specially it's handling, but 4 engines is just a lil too much. I lost all confidence in the MG Rover organisation in the Netherlands, do i hope to come up with a better solution. Ill keep you posted


There was an issue with 190 engines in 01/02 where even a test car belonging to a magazine on long term test threw a bearing. I know of about 4 or 5 through various forums. It was apparently a bearing related fault, and since those early days of the few reported 190 failures, there seems to have been little mention.
It is worrying that the engine died after 35k miles but as you say, the problems with no3 appear to be dealer lead, not engine design. I had a similar situation in 98/99 on a 420 that had a new engine after 8k miles (oil consumption too high) and it then went back twice because they forgot to refill the aircon and a bit later a radiator hose came loose and caused over-heating. I was never very happy about that car although it subsequently did 70k milese very reliably.

I did hear of someone recently that suffered engine failure through overspeed (bent valves etc) and it cost him a lot of money to get it sorted, but, a true gentleman, he owned up to his wrong gear change at redline!

Just to add, my 02 160 v6 has been the very model of reliability and no oil consumption either at 50k miles since I bought it new.

Martin ZT

Look on the bright side - when you get an engine that works it will have lower mileage than all the people who have only had one engine!
Matthew Semple

Very strange - are the engines at fault or is there some other reason for this? I have in mind your comment:

>>no 3 was delivered with a few installation errors,<<

John McFeely


No. 3's problem was a hose fixation which wasn't attached properly. Cames loose on the motorway. Stopped as soon as I saw the temperature rise, stopped car on the hard shoulder. Got out and saw the oil flowing from underneath the car. Car went back to dealer, who assured it was fixed properly. I reminded him the engine had been running hot, but he insisted it was ok now. Took delivery of the car on wednesday and stranded after 50 kilometers with a head gasket failure!! Other two were bearing problems.


Well Koen I think that the car you have is normal for the post BMW ownership days, it seems that MG-Rover have lost the art of building a car and have to turn to Tata (don't they make Oxford Cambridges and con the indians into thinking its new?) and Proton (Who?).

The pre-BMW and during their ownership saw far better cars come out of the stable than now.

I bought a Rover 75, CDT, on a 51 plate, did 80,000 miles in 20 months and had minor problems with it. I changed it for an MG ZT, CDTi +, bought new (53)valued at 27,000 with loads of extras I paid 18,500 for it. In 3 months and 7,000 miles it had 3 clutches and 2 gearboxes.In trade in against a new one i was offered 12,000.

MG Rover eventually switched it for a new one (04)to a similar spec at no cost to me. I have had it 6 months, done 12,000 miles and it has so far had a complete new exhaust having blown a hole in the original, a new management system and now the clutch is going again! Guess what, this is now worth 11,000.

Needless to say I have cut my losses and got shot. I now have a very Nice Saab 9-5 Aero and will NEVER return to MG-Rover!

Don't buy a ZT, in fact as rumours suggest they are about to close shop and sell to the chinese, just forget they ever existed!!

I loved the car and was often glad of the TV on the dashboard on both the ZT's, it came in very useful whilst again awaiting the AA to tow me off the motorway yet again. But doing 40,000 miles a year reliability is more important than toys that break every 5 minutes.
Jon Tippett

Sad to see two unhappy ZT owners on the forum, but i suspect you are very much in the minority. This years JD Power survey gave the 75/ZT a very good customer satisfaction rating and it beat such 'superior' cars as the S-Type, E-Class, 9-3 and A6. If i remember correctly, the Auto Express report also gave it a favourable marking a couple of months back.

I prefer to listen to reports based on hundreds of cars rather than on one or two isolated 'lemons.' I hope you have more luck with your Saab Jon than you did with your MG.
A R Jordan

Have to say my experience of a Cowley built 75 and a Longbridge ZT was the other way round; the superior car, in all respects, coming from Longbridge! In addition, I wouldn't say things were any better under BMW given the 2 other new Rovers I had during their tenure, or the time it took to source door locks in 1999. But each to their own regarding experiences. I continue to support MG R based on a life long passion for the marques, and a slighlty smug feeling of patriotism.

As to Indians being conned, the Hindustan Ambassador is based on a Morris Oxford, at least get the details right, and has been built there since the 1950s. Their choice to continue buying it even today when they have a fairly broad choice of manufacturers and models. Currently many of the parts supplied to the major manufacturers inc. SAAB are sourced from India.

This derision of these newer industrial countries is so typical of the arrogant English, which, given the UK industry being what it is today, I find quite amusing. The Japanese dominate the market, the Koreans and Malaysians are fast catching them, meantime, India and China are taking over the industrial roles once dominated by this country, but still all these supercillious snobs waffle on about the Ambassador as the symbol of Indian motoring.

Martin ZT

<<Have to say my experience of a Cowley built 75 and a Longbridge ZT was the other way round; the superior car, in all respects, coming from Longbridge!>>

This is correct. Rover improved the build quality of Rover 75 when production was transfered to Longbridge. The standards set surpass those set by B*W at Cowley.
Matthew Semple

When I read their appraisal of the R75 in a recent edition of Car Mechanics Magazine, they included a line or two on the fact that since the move to Longbridge, reliability and build quality has improved. Very interesting, considering that these issues were reasonable before switching production lines to Longbridge.

Koen's experience has to be exceptional. The full and true facts might never be revealed. Failure to fasten a coolant hose on a new MG happened to me twenty years ago. The car was NOT at fault. It was dealership incompetence!

The fact that Koen's head gasket was DAMAGED and subsequently 'failed' by the resultant overheating following coolant loss from incorrectly fastened coolant hose is not the sign of an unreliable car or poor build quality, it's a sign of dealership servicing incompetence. I would bet a hefty sum that this sort of thing plays a much larger part in the "They all do that mate" scenarios we so frequently hear about. They DON'T all do that!

My fairly new MG Zed is running flawlessly. Has been since we got it back in May 2003. .... Better than expected in fact and is now due for it's first service. I'm dreading entrusting the car to the dealership - apart from the expense (230 quid! and they use Duckhams which is NOT my favourite!), the last three new cars I've had (all MGs and Rovers) have been returned to me after their first service running less well than before the service!! Apart from the loosened coolant hose already mentioned, poor starting and erratic idle where prior to service car started immediately and soon settled to a perfect idle ALWAYS! Poor Radio and disc playing performance - perfect before! Loosened sparking plugs allowing gasses into engine compartment and car! Poor/difficult reverse selection where previously it was perfect (faulty/damaged clutch slave cylinder - how does that happen?). Poor brake performance - don't know how they did that! There were other first service niggles too! In each case, the car was NOT to blame! I identified and rectified the problems myself and when advising those concerned of these facts, was confronted with blank stares. Someone with less under bonnet 'nouse' may not have spotted these 'faults' in time leading to more serious 'failures'.

Yes, I'm NOT looking forward to my first service at all. Tempted to do it myself!

Finally, the oil brand/grade the factory use for the new cars up at Longbridge. Anyone know what they use for certain? From my observations with this latest MG, it IS good stuff! The level has not moved from the day we got it to the present day plus it is still fairly clear after 10,000 miles (16,000 kms)! Car runs like a turbine....

John McFeely

(230 quid! and they use Duckhams which is NOT my favourite!)

Supply your own oil, I always do, my service dealer is happy to accomodate my wish. They use Total Oils, I supply my own Mobil 1.

I believe MG R use ChevronTexaco at the factory but dealers will have their own source, mine uses Shell, but like Kelvin, I supply my own Mobil 1. I usually get a discount of 27 on the service bill for this. There's no guarantee the Mobil 1 goes in, but I usually mutter something about sending samples away for analysis for research work I am doing (they know my background is lubrication!)
Martin ZT

I reckon that Mobil 1 ends up in the bottom of a large toolbox and you get the bog-standard mineral 15W/40 pumped in from the bulk tank......

I reckon eric is a to55er...
David S

You really should get your keyboard fixed mate..

Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't the KV6 take over 5 litres of oil? So, if you are supplying your own 4 litre can of oil, the garage will have had to top the car up with some additional oil, or the oil level will be below the minimum.

I've now completed 75k miles in the 23 months that I've owned my ZS180. Not had any major problems, other than a failed clutch slave cylinder. The engine does use a fair bit of oil (Magnatec), though.


I supply two 4L cans of Mobil 1 as the KV6 takes 6L. At 50k (2yrs old now) miles, oil consumption on my KV6 160 is nil - or rather as close to nil as it gets with a very slight drop of the level (1-2mm on the dipstick) over a 12k service interval. The only hassle so far was an overnight dealer visit (approx 40k miles) for the replacement of the butterfly valves.
It's also been run 99% of its miles on Shell Optimax. I intend to keep this one for some time, hence the investment!
Martin ZT

Martin, my engine uses about two litres of oil between each 15k service interval. However, 90% of my driving is on motorways at fairly high speeds (when possible!). Is this consumption excessive?


1000 miles per litre is acceptable oil usage, taken from an MG Technical Bulletin.

So, I could use a litre of oil a week, or 15 litres between services, and not have to worry...


I never use MG Rover dealerships for servicing, not after servicing three different cars at Nationwide Autocentres. I was able to specify the oil I wanted - 0W-30 which came as Castrol SLX. I've never been talked down to, and without doubt the cars come back running much better - quieter, smoother, more willing.

A few years back that would have been normal, but with a number of the modern engines I've had, minimal amounts of oil are used. The only one that was close to your consumption was my 75 1.8 which I put down to the fact I bought it second hand so couldn't say if it was the first owner being careless with running in.
GM always said a little oil consumption was healthy, and I would not worry too much, just make sure it doesn't get excessive.
Motorway driving will burn off contaminants generally, and some loss will occur under those conditions.
Martin ZT

<<1000 miles per litre is acceptable oil usage, taken from an MG Technical Bulletin.

In an X-PAG engine maybe but not a K-Series!
Matthew Semple

Oh yes it is - the same consumption criteria is laid down for many Volkswagen/Audi engines too.

You said <<1000 miles per litre is acceptable oil usage>>

I disagree - I don't think that is acceptable for a K-Series or a VW engine. My dad had a Seat Toledo with a 1.8i VW engine and it never used any oil. His current car with a 1.8 K-Series also uses very little oil.
Matthew Semple

You obviously haven't owned a VAG TDi engine in its early life then.....

Just a question to the 'board'. Can changing oil not be done quite easily on your own front yard?
F'er on site...

MG ZT-T 190 ca 25,000 miles since new in April 2002 - never missed a beat (failed to start only once - due to an electric fuel tank fault - and the AA man said, totally unprompted from me 'these never go wrong') and still sounds terrific.
Ann MG Writer

<<You obviously haven't owned a VAG TDi engine in its early life then.....>>

No, thank goodness! Why would I want to spend my weekends on the hard shoulder? Audi TT recently came bottom in a survey as it had most breakdowns. I think the VW Passat was the worst in 2003.

And the best? A load of Japanese cars and the MG ZT which had no reported breakdowns in the survey. Mr Koen is definitely the exception rather than the rule.
Matthew Semple

>>>>><<You obviously haven't owned a VAG TDi engine in its early life then.....>>

No, thank goodness! Why would I want to spend my weekends on the hard shoulder? Audi TT recently came bottom in a survey as it had most breakdowns. I think the VW Passat was the worst in 2003.

And the best? A load of Japanese cars and the MG ZT which had no reported breakdowns in the survey. Mr Koen is definitely the exception rather than the rule.

Come on Matt, where is your first hand experience of these engines? 1000 miles per litre of oil is the borderline limit for most engines and it may get better with more miles, it's quite normal. My Monty TD uses half a litre of oil every 2000 miles (and its up to 147k!)

Hi Gareth, I quoted from surveys to give a wider picture. It seems that VW have a good reputation for reliability when you talk to a man in a pub. However when you actually survey owners, the VWs and Audis are actually amongst the worst for reliabilty.

<<German makes are slammed in a new survey of car reliability - and an MG saloon (ZT) is one of the most reliable cars in the UK. These somewhat bizarre findings see German giants like Audi languish in the 'poor' sector, with the company's TT actually earning the dubious honour of being the least 'breakdown free' car. One in five has broken down in the past year, according to Which?>>

Here's the link to the article:

As Ralph said, with the figure quoted by Eric, you'd effectively be replacing your oil 3 times between the 15,000 mile service intervals. In terms of first-hand experience, my father owned a 1994 Seat Toledo for seven years and I drove it quite frequently. His experience was that it used no oil at all and he never had to top it up when he regularly checked it between oil changes. It had a 1.8i 90bhp petrol engine used in many VAG products.

The diesels must use much, much more. It is all down to what you can live with. My concern would be that the average new VW owner is probably a company car driver. When he or she arrives home after a long day on the motorway, he or she does not check the oil. So if the VAG TDi uses a litre per 1000 miles, there are a lot of VWs and Audis out there travelling at high speed on motorways with very little oil in them. Can't be good!
Matthew Semple

Thanks you Matthew - the diesels indeed are much heavier on oil in their early life - and I share the same concersn with high mileage company car drivers! There must be a lot of slightly damaaged engines running around out there that will come to grief in later life due to low oil levels in early life.

The 1 litre per 1000 miles is the upper limit - it is rarely exceeded or even reached.

I remember the Perkins MDi engine in the Maestro back along - that had a thirst for it's engine oil in early life - come to 12-15,000 miles it stopped, just like that.

My 1999 VW Golf after 60000 miles is now 1 litre of oil every 1000 miles, is this excessive?
Colin B

A VW Dealer would deem this to be within limits laid down by Head Office.

This thread was discussed between 06/09/2004 and 17/10/2004

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