Rover's Vikingship SD1 Maintenance Rover's Vikingship

No car can run without maintenance and the SD1 is no exception. Now to describe the standard maintenance routine would not be really necessary here. So let us mention a few points which we think are of particular importance to the SD1.


In the manual it is stated for the older models that oil changes should take place every 5000 miles. For later models it was set at every 12,000 miles, but this figure tends to be somewhat optimistic for the V8. As a rule of thumb an interval of 5000 miles or every year can be used for cars which run short distances. And 7,000 miles or every year for cars which run for longer distances or run on liquid gas. The six cylinders are somewhat less problematic in this respect, but still change every 7,000 to 10,000 miles or every year.

There is a lot more to tell about oil and your engine and that is why we have a separate page for it!

The oily page


The plugs are not very critical, just make sure the colour is light grey and the plugs are of the right heat grade. Some good results have been achieved with splitfire plugs, so you can give them a try. They are more expensive but have longer life. Do they save fuel as the maker claims?...... well just forget it, if there are any fuel savings they are hardly noticeable. When changing plugs, give the threads a light smear of copper paste, it makes the plug change easier the next time, remember aluminium threads are very vulnerable.

Sparkplug  (7,0kB)

The spark plugs can tell you a lot about the condition of your engine



plugs (52,8kB)

1. Normal:
Grey-brown deposits, lightly coated core nose. Plugs ideally suited to engine, and engine in good condition.
2. Oil Fouling:
Wet, oily deposits.
Worn bores/piston rings or valve guides; sometimes occurs (temporarily) during running-in period.
3. Heavy Deposits:
A build up of crusty deposits. Light grey sandy color in appearance.
Often caused by worn valve guides, excessive use of upper cylinder lubricant or idling for long periods.
4. Overheating:
Electrodes have glazed appearance; core nose very white - few deposits.
Plug overheating.
Plug value, ignition timing, fuel octane (too low) and mixture (too lean).
5. Lead Glazing:
Plug insulator firing tip appears yellow or green/yellow and shiny in appearance.
Often caused by incorrect carburation, excessive idling followed by sharp acceleration. Also check ignition timing.
6. Electrode Damage:
Electrodes burned away. Core nose has burned glazed appearance.
Correct heat range and as for "overheating", above.
7. Carbon Fouling
Dry, black, sooty deposits.
Over-rich fuel mixture.
Carburettor mixture settings, float level, choke operation, air filter.
8. Split Core Nose:
(may appear initially as a crack).
Detonation or wrong gap setting.
Ignition timing, cooling system, fuel mixture (too lean).
9. Worn plugs
Rounded electrodes with small amounts of deposits on the firing end. Normal color. Causes hard starting in damp or cold weather and poor fuel economy.
Plugs left to long in the engine. Replace with new plugs of the same heat range.
10. Splashed deposits:
Forms after long periods of misfiring.
Deposits can loosen when normal temperatures are restored after a tune-up. At high speed the deposits flake off the piston and are thrown against the hot insulator, causing misfiring.
Replace or clean the plugs.
11. Gap bridging
Deposits lodge between the electrodes.The plug cease to fire resulting in a dead cylinder
Locate the plug and remove the deposits, check out point 3.
12. Mechanical damage:
Can be caused by foreign object in the cylinder or the piston striking an incorrect reach (The plug is too long).
If other cylinders with same plugs are affected then it is an incorrect reach. Change the plugs for the proper type. Otherwise check with endoscope if the foreign object is still there and if there is damage to valves, cylinder liner....etc. Replace the plug.

When changing the V-8's HT leads, you can use the HT leads of the Range Rover giving superior protection against the weather and also giving less resistance and thus a stronger spark. They are not cheap, but far superior to the HT leads you got now! Another possibility is to use plug connectors from a Japanese motorcycle. These connectors can be obtained in various lenght and angles and, considering their quality, are not expensive at all. And just in case you forgot the firing order, see the diagram on the right.

The cooling system

For heaven's sake don't use ordinary water, especially not on the V-8's, at first you won't notice but the aluminium starts to corrode and heat transfer will slowly decrease resulting in overheating in the end (with leaking head gaskets etc). As a bonus the heads will also be very difficult to lift. So use proper coolant with corrosion inhibitors!. Change the fluid every two/three years and the cooling system will run without trouble. Also consider to add some anti-leaking additives, Not to prevent leaks but it provides some extra lubrication for the waterpump thus giving it a longer life. The negative effects on heat transfer of these additives are neglegible.

The gearbox

Make sure to check the oil level regularly especially on the manual versions, there is only 1,1 litre in the system. If the oil level drops too low there is a fair chance of transmission seizure with dramatic results. Oil can be sweating out very slowly so don't count on drips on the ground as an early warning system. Remember that the manual boxes also need automatic transmission fluid.

If your automatic gearbox doesn't give smooth gearchanges don't always expect the box. It can also be the engine!, at least if you have a GM-transmission (from 1982 onwards). The gearchange is controlled by means of a circuit which relies on engine vacuum. Thus if your carburettors are not properly synchronised you can have a problem with the timing of the gearchange.

While changing the transmission fluid, why don't do it thoroughly and also change the braking fluid of the hydraulic clutch. Changing this fluid is often overlooked until the system is giving trouble. As braking fluid attracts moisture, changing it prevents corrosion on the clutch cylinder.

The differential

The differential is filled for life. It even doesn't have a drain plug fitted! It certainly won't hurt to suck the oil out through the filling plug and replace it with first grade new hypoid oil, as Rover didn't design the axles to last for decades. It would be wise to repeat this every three years.

Braking System

Change the braking fluid regularly, about every three years would be best. You can upgrade to silicone brake fluid but remember to change all the rubbers!! the results are hardly noticable in normal use consider the change carefully.....because it is a lot of work and expensive too! Don't rely on the front brake lights to go on if the front brake parts are worn. Check them yourself.


Before the winter begins, smear the door rubbers with vaseline or silicon spray to prevent them from sticking. This increases rubber life. And they are not cheap!!


To restore worn leather in a SD-1 can be a very costly operation, so it is better to prevent it. It is best to treat the leather once a year with a conditioner and a sealer. Remember that cleaning the leather is the most important operation. Although it is hard work it will pay off in the end. So take your time and clean it thoroughly especially the seams.

The sunroof

Make sure the draining holes are open, take the top lid off and inspect the underside as a lot of rust can be found here sometimes.


Regular use of the rear wiper, the electric windows, locking system and the electric mirrors prevents the motors/solenoids from seizing. So occasionally operate them. This is especially important if you store your car for a longer period.

Also apply some lubrication on graphite basis to the mechanical parts of the solenoids. This especially goes for the locking solenoid in the rear hatch. Better not use oil as this attracts a lot of dust after some time, preventing the mechanism to work properly.

Thanks to: Adriaan Briene.

Firing order V8  6,1 kB
HT leads diagram

NGK HT Plug connectors 7,4 kB
HT Plug connectors

Range Rover plug connectors although very good can be rather pricey. As an alternative you can use the plug connectors from a motorcycle. These are at least as good and much cheaper. They come with various angles. Also see the picture above. Some NGK types are:

Price (Euro)

Many more types are available, just ask a motorcycle dealer.

Thanx to Paul Alting van Geusau for the information

The oily page
© rwp Jan. 2003