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MG Midget and Sprite Technical - Biggest battery for a 1500

Thanks to Gary my midget is back up and running for 2015.

The cold weather starting has never been great, and I think it is time to have a go remedying the situation.

The battery seems to be a good place to start. The car currently has a 038 purchased from Halfords in 2010 and it is beyond its best. Rather than replace it with another 038 I'm wondering if I can squeeze in a bigger battery (there is quite a lot of room).

What is the largest battery you've fitted into a 1500? The 063 size is mentioned in the searches I've done, but I'm not sure if it only fits on cars with a small heater box.

-- Josh

P.S. Look forward to seeing some of you at Ace next Tuesday, it's been too long!
Josh L

Well josh

I fear you may have stumbled into a catch 22 hole, heres your shovel if you wish to dig your deeper

My guess is your thinking size matters, and bigger is always better.....not so fast there Mr. Porn star Ron Jeremy

Its true you can install a battray with 1200 cca (cold cranking amps). And if your starter/engine requires 1300 cca, it will use every amp in that battry to turn the engine over with a 100 amp deficit

The problem is our little engines only need a few amps to turn over... I dont know the actual cca # but im sure its way less then the typical midget battry produces

The thing to remember is the ignition system will only take from the battry what the system needs to do the job and not an amp more

So id probably look to other issues for solving a cold start issue

If the battary is old, weak, and solidified..then yes id look at replacement...but installing a cummings tractor truck rig 18 wheeler battray with 2000 cca will not deliver one extra volt then the standard issue 038 factory midget battry
Prop and the Blackhole Midget

Hi Prop,

Thanks for your comment.

I'm pretty sure that a cold UK 1500 engine (~9:1 compression) running 20w-50 and a bendix starter is pulling more than my battery can deliver. Indeed, on the occasions I've started it with the battery from my "modern" it has turned over significantly more vigorously.

This may in part be due to the current battery being worse for wear, but if I'm replacing the battery anyway, fitting a larger battery seems to make sense, particularly as it is likely to be cheaper (not many cars still use the 038 sized battery).

This will have a greater peak current delivery, but also increased capacity, which is useful for the short city journeys I often make.

-- Josh
Josh L

Prop does talk sense. But as you say Josh, if it spins up OK on a new battery then the battery probably is toast.

There are quite a few internet places/eBay that will ship a battery to your door for less than it costs from Halfords.

As it is easy and free to do why not:

1. clean all electrical contacts on the solenoid.
2. clean the contacts on the starter.
3. clean the battery-body earth cable contacts.
4. clean the engine block-body earth contacts underneath (if you can reach!).

Then you know the starting circuit is in tip top condition.

M Le Chevalier

P.S. Just having a mooch on Halfs website. 038s are reasonably priced at 40. I am pretty sure I bought an 038 with more ooomph than that for less on mail order though.

P.P.S. Sorry none of that actually answered your actual question! :-)
M Le Chevalier

Hi Josh,

Looked into this a few years back.

I've got a 159 on my 1500, 380cca it says on it. Really spins mine over well. Do check your engine earth lead is nice and clean and the bolts are tight.

It's a bit taller than the standard battery, but fits fine.

Regards steve
SR Smith 1


Just replaced my Halfords 038 battery.

Your 038 from 2010 is probably 265 CCA, at that time they also sold a battery 015 which was physically of the same dimensions but of higher capacity.

Halfords don't sell the 015 anymore but perhaps surprisingly the 038 you would buy today has the higher capacity of 330 CCA.

My 1275 starts much better now in the cold weather!

Richard Saxton

Malcolm has banged the nail firmly on the head. Check and clean the contacts, especially the earth connections.

The cleaner and more direct the earth connections are (throughout the car) the better your electrical system will perform, due to minimising the voltage drops. This applies to the whole system. Want to make your lights brighter? Clean all the contacts end to end.

Also you can get your battery tested quite easily. People like ATS or KwikFit will have a tester in the workshop. It's essentially a pair of contacts to short the battery through a heavy resistance and measure the V drop. Usually they will do this for free and it's a good indication if your battery is a goner or not.

Prop also has a point - the starter will only draw the current it needs so a bigger battery is usually moot. The exception is environmental. A mate had a Lada which is designed to start in -30 degrees C and the battery is immense so it could still perform at extreme low temperatures (bigger may still be better with Soviet engineering:-). When the battery did finally die the best deal I could find to replace it was from Scot JCB!

Have the battery tested and make sure your connections are in good shape. This is the biggest electrical load on the whole car, even though it's momentary.
RS Hughes

This thread was discussed between 04/03/2015 and 07/03/2015

MG Midget and Sprite Technical index

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