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MG RV8 Owners Tips

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MG RV8 Owners Tips

As the kilometres of our RV8's increase and the cars start to age (the youngest now being at least 25 years old) it is very important to share any information we have about our vehicles. Set out below are a few problems which have started to appear in the UK and no doubt will effect some Australian owners in the future.

As an RV8 owner I am continually searching for and gathering MG RV8 information, which I would now like to share with all fellow RV8 owners.


From the launch of the MG RV8, the V8 Register of the MG Car Club has actively supported the RV8 and has produced a series of helpful service & maintenance notes with spares tips. The series has become very popular with RV8 Enthusiasts in the UK and overseas.

Complete sets of the RV8 Workshop Note Series are available on CD in Word & PDF Formats.

Details of how to obtain copies of the Workshop Volumes, each with a comprehensive index and how to join the V8 Register can be obtained from the V8 Registrar, Victor Smith, at [email protected] or by Fax on +44 208 392 9673

The V8 Register was formed in 1978 by a group of MGBGTV8 Enthusiasts and has become the leading group for MGV8 Enthusiasts. The group includes MGBGTV8's, MGBV8 Conversions, Costello MGBV8's and MG RV8's with over 2800 members in the UK, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Africa, and across mainland Europe.

It is a group any MGV8 Enthusiast Should Join !


The following information was kindly supplied by Colin Shea ( RV8 Buyer and Exporter based in Japan ).
Economic and Social costs are the major influence as to why Japanese RV8 Owners send their aging vehicle to auction.
In Japan there is a serious culture attached to using or acquiring anything USED (this is an ancient belief and is still prevenient today ).
For this reason new items such as luxury sports cars, depreciate as much as 40% to 50% of the original value in the first 3 years.
The other major financial concerns Japanese car owners face are:
ANNUAL ROAD TAX: from 40.000 YEN for ordinary cars up to 70.000 YEN for luxury cars.
SHAKEN RENEWAL : is also major expense which costs around 120.000 YEN and does not include essential repairs or replacement parts. The Shaken Test is every 2 years after the initial 3 years from the purchase date.
PARKING : Is also expensive and a typical monthly fee is between 10.000 YEN and 50.000 YEN.
INSURANCE PREMIUMS : Are around 10.000 YEN a month.
Thus when all these costs are taken into account along with the Japanese culture and the rapid depreciation of motor vehicle it is not surprising Japan currently exports 35,000 vehicles per month through their auction houses.




As we all know the steering on the RV8 is rather heavy particularly when parking or manoeuvring in car parks etc.
Therefore a power steering option has become a popular option.
One of the best options is the EZ Power Steering unit and once installed it blends in beautifully with the interior of the RV8 and almost invisible to the eye and unfamiliar observer.

For familiarisation and fitting instructions attached is the Installation Manual for the MGRV8.

Distributor Clamp Wrench Downloadable Manual
Click Below

The EZ Electric Power Steering unit, for the RV8 is available through Clive Whealey in the UK.
The price £1794 (British Pounds).…less VAT for overseas customers.

Authors Comment: My power steering unit has greatly improved the driving pleasure of my RV8 and well worth the investment.
Some may consider the cost excessive but the benefits far outweigh the cost.



It has been found all Ex-Japanese vehicles have their distributor vacuum advance pipes coming from the side of the plenim chamber.  
This is seriously wrong as it causes constant vacuum to the distributor which inturn causes the timing to be fully advanced all the time.
To correct this the distributor vacuum tube is moved upstream to the nipple on top of the throttle butterfly chamber and the tee piece on the side of the
plenim chamber is then  blocked off with the rubber cap from the butterfly chamber nipple or the Tee piece can be removed completely and the vacuum hose connected directly to the side of the plenim chamber. 
After this conversion (which takes less than 5 minutes) the timing will now only advance when the throttle is opened. 

Note: In some cases the inside of the nipple on top of the pelham chamber maybe blocked. The blockage needs to be cleaned out or drilled out if it is completely blocked.
           Before any drilling probe with a fine piece of wire or a darning needle to clear any blockage. Sometimes the hole may already be there but blocked. Otherwise why would the manufacture place the rubber stopper over the nipple.

Note:  The first time the car is started after this procedure a brief automatic readjustment of the ECU will be noticed but this will then settle down quickly.
           However if the ECU can not readjust to new vacuum advanced setup the timing will need to be reset, usually a few degrees before BTDC.

Click on image to enlarge.

U.K. Specification Setup Yellow circles indicate the correct U.K. setup. The lower circle shows the rubber cap used to block off the t-piece once the advance and retard pipe has been moved up stream to the butterfly chamber. The second circle shows the correct connection for the advance and retard setup.

Workshop Manual:

Workshop manual is a must for all RV8 owners and invaluable when working on your RV8. Clive Wheatley has reproduced the original workshop manual (hard copy) price £45.95 (GBP).
(NB. Clive Wheatley has invested an enormous amount of time and money into providing RV8 spare parts and we should all support him)


Check the adjustment of your blades to ensure that the bottom corners do not interfere with the lower edge of the glazing rubber, the later being softer will end up with unsightly groves worn in it where the blade catches. (Bryan Ditchman's Tip). 


Removal of the clutch master cylinder cap can sometimes be very difficult, resulting in skinned knuckles or having to resort to the use of grips which will inturn deform the soft aluminium cap.  For easy removal, invest in a "Zyliss Strongboy Jar & Bottle Opener" (definitely a recommended RV8 tool kit addition). (Bryan Ditchman's Tip).


For all those who have adjusted the timing on your RV8, you will have noted how difficult it is to reach (undo & tighten) the distributor clamp nut.
This operation requires a special Rover service tool, but there are other substitutes at a fraction of the price. This wrench with its special shaped long neck makes the job so much easier.
Below is a picture of the wrench I picked up for $35 Australian Dollars. The wrench is made by MECO and available in Australia through the Repco automotive stores.

Distributor Clamp Wrench


There has been a recent warning from the U.K. V8 Register to be aware the coolant filler plugs are corroding and causing coolant leaks. The plug in question is the black hexagonal plastic plug at the end of the high rise pipe used to fill the coolant system. The RV8 workshop notes 150 and 158 both cover this item and recommend replacement. The plug is the same as that used on the range rover. Original part number ARA240 but some suppliers supersede to KTP9401. ( UK V8 register workshop notes tip. )



Almost all RV8's have the dreaded alloy wheel corrosion.  The only answer to this problem is a total wheel refurbishment.  This requires the removal of tyres, valves and all studs.   Refurbishment costs around 50 Pounds Sterling or $120 Australian ( or slightly less if the hub covers are not included) (Bryan Ditchman's Tip). 


It has been found there is a small hole drilled at the lowest point in each exhaust pipe, between the silencer boxes.  These holes become blocked up and require regular cleaning with a 1/8" drill bit. (Bryan Ditchman's tip). 


A regular check of the exhaust manifold nuts should be carried out as they have a habit of working loose. (Be careful not to damage Studs/Nuts through over tightening)


A windscreen rust problem has surfaced on some RV8's ( mostly those continually exposed to the elements )  ROVER UK  have replaced these surrounds under warranty, if the problem occurred within the Warranty Period.   The rust seems to mostly appear along the bottom rail. To help prevent this it is suggested applying a rust inhibitor (ie, fish oil) (odourless of course) between the windscreen glass and the rubber seal.  The windscreen rubber can easily be lifted away from the windscreen glass with a screwdriver blade (however ensure the edges of the blade are nicely rounded and not sharp) the fish oil can then be sprayed into the crevice with the aid of a spray nozzle extension. Hopefully this will prevent moisture trapped between the windscreen rubber and surround from causing corrosion.


 The following areas have been found to be susceptible to rust and corrosion. In identifying these areas we must remember all Ex-Japanese RV8's have endured lengthy sea trips to and from Japan. Thus many RV8's shipped to and from Japan have covered more miles / kilometres on a boat than they have travelled on land. The significant exposure to salt air is one sure way to find corrosion weaknesses. The areas identified below are mostly small items and not major body panels ( ie wings sills etc ) as the body panels are all zinc coated.  If corrosion is found or suspected it is recommended the effected areas be immediately treated and followed by a full rust prevention service.

* Front cross member
* Front header rail retaining strip on the hood
* Exhaust mounting hooks and brackets
* Expansion tank mounting bracket
* Top of petrol tank and sender unit
* Sill mounting brackets
* Rear hood surround under the rear screen
* Windscreen frame in general
* Inlet manifold gasket
* Headlamp retaining clips
* Starter motor terminals
* Alternator main terminals
* Bottom of heater box
* Hood frame pivot points

(Bryan Ditchman & Roger Parker tip)

NB. United Kingdom & European weather conditions are far more severe on motor vehicles than Australia's hotter and drier climatic conditions and tend to accelerate these corrosive problems. (ie. there is no salt laid on Australian roads)


 Needs watching, as there is no central locking system deactivated with a key, so if the transmitter is lost or stops working the system can only be deactivated with another correctly programmed remote.
So remember to renew batteries in the transmitter annually and keep spare batteries in the glove box. (Ron Armstrong tip)


 All RV8's fitted with air conditioning should have the system run once a week for a few minutes to ensure the refrigerant fully circulates through the system. Failure to carry out this simple operation can and often leads to a failed air conditioning system. (Roger Parker tip)



Shell V-Power is a new generation High Density High Octane petrol that will optimise the performance of your vehicle, making it more responsive by providing power more smoothly, more quickly. With an octane rating of 98 it has the highest octane level of any petrol available in Australia.


With a Research Octane Number of 98, Shell V-Power exceeds the requirements of Australian Standard AS1876 -1990 and Amendment 1 of 11 July 1994 for premium unleaded petrol. This high octane together with high density and a new formulation enables optimum engine efficiency, improved engine responsiveness and better fuel economy. This makes Shell V-Power the preferred fuel for use in modern high compression and knock-sensor vehicles. 


The unique cleansing properties of Shell V-Power premium unleaded petrol care for your car's engine - regardless of age. Built up carbon deposits on inlet valves are removed and fuel injector, or carburettor systems are also kept in clean and in peak condition allowing the car's engine work the way it was meant to. This improves performance by keeping clean fuel injectors, carburettors and inlet valves and leads to consistently good gasoline/air mixture preparation, better combustion and better driveability. The result is better fuel economy and reduced maintenance. 


Shell V-Power can be used in all petrol applications. Where engines that require the use of Leaded Petrol to protect valve seats, Shell V-Power should either be used for two fills in three or a valve seat recession additive should be used with every fill of Shell V-Power. Shell V-Power is dispensed through a blue marked hose which has a small diameter nozzle.


Shell V-Power petrol is a highly flammable liquid, classified as a Dangerous Goods Class 3 Packaging Group I for transportation purposes. Avoid contact with the skin and eyes, and breathing vapours or mists.For further guidance on product health and safety refer to the appropriate Shell Material Safety Data Sheet.


Description Units Method Typical


Visual  Yellow
Octane Number


ASTM D2699  98.4


ASTM D4052 760.0
Distillation   ASTM D86  
10% evaporated @  oC


50% evaporated @  oC -  105
90% evaporated @  oC -  155
Final Boiling Point  oC -  196
Copper Corrosion
3hr @ 100 c
  ASTM D130  1a

% vol

 ASTM D3606 3.3

% mass

 ASTM D1266 .015

Since changing to Shell V-Power my RV8 has never ran so well, almost immediately I noticed smoother idling and improved acceleration. 
My economy figures have also improved about 5%.



1. PRE CLEANING PREPARATION: Gently brush all crevices with a soft brush 
to dislodge any dirt, then gently tap the filter.

2. SPRAY ON CLEANER: Spray K&N air filter cleaner into entire element and let 
soak for at least 10 minutes.

3. RINSE OFF: Rinse off element with low pressure water (tap water ok). Always
flush from inside to outside.

4. DRYING: Always dry filter naturally, after rinsing shake off excess water & let
element dry out naturally. 
                                            * Do not use compressed air
                                            * Do not use open flame
                                            * Do not use heat dryers
NB. Excess heat will shrink the cotton fibre & compressed air will tear or blow holes in the element fibre.

5. CLEANING HINTS: Because elements are so expensive to replace ($120).
                                            * No petrol to be used for cleaning
                                            * No steam cleaning
                                            * No caustic cleaning solutions
                                            * No strong detergents
                                            * No high pressure cleaning
                                            * No cleaning solvents
Any of these products will cause damage to the cotton fibre filler plus hardening and shrinking the rubber end caps.

6. RE - OILING: When filter has thoroughly dried out naturally always use K&N 
Air Filter Oil. The oil is sprayed down into each pleat, with one press per pleat.
On completion, wait 10 minutes and re-oil any spots you have missed. 
A proper oiled filter will appear uniformally red in colour. Never use a K&N Air 
Filter without oiling.

NB. K&N Filters are among the most expensive and when correctly cleaned will last for years and years. Skimping on the correct cleaning products can have serious consequences if the filter is ruined and requires replacement.


Some of the information contained in this section was gathered from the United Kingdom M.G. Car Club V8 Register publications. The articles were compiled and unselfishly shared by Bryan Ditchman, Roger Parker, Victor Smith and others for the benefit of all RV8 owners. Thank You.

NB. It is strongly recommended all RV8 owners should consider joining a MG
Car Club. Joining will entitle members to access the vast amount of
information available through the V8 Register. (ie. RV8 Workshop Notes
Series which are invaluable to any RV8 owner).

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