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MG MGA - Fire!

I can't remember the last time I used my lights.

However, driving home this evening I put on the side lights. There was soon an electricalish? smell, and a few miles further on I was sure I saw wiffs of smoke coming from under the dash. I turned the lights off, pulled over as soon as possible, but fornunately could not see any smoke, or fire damage.

The wiring does look a bit of a mess, so rewiring will be a winter job for someone, but I am taking part in a Top Gear type road trip tomorrow.

So, to get to the point, do you think it will be safe to use, providing I don't use the lights?
Nigel Munford


Had the same thing happen to me one evening...made it home after turning off the side lights...but I fixed it the next day.

Why not turn the lights on and find out which wire is smoking. From there it's easy to isolate/fix the problem so you won't have to worry about it happening when you least expect it.

Gene Gillam

I would be very wary of using your car until you have replaced the damaged wiring.

I short circuited my sidelight circuit a few years ago when I was connecting up some new sidelight units. For some reason the DPO had reversed the colours on the right sidelights so that the black wire was live instead of earth. So when I connected it up it allowed the trapped Lucas smoke in the wiring to escape! :-(
It took me less than 10 seconds to switch off the battery isolator but the wires in the front loom had already melted the loom insulation all the way from the front side light to the light switch.
The engine still ran but I darent try the lights for fear of another short circuit.

I took it to my favourite local friendly MGA specialist to have a new complete front loom fitted and they were so worried about my car spontaneously combusting that they wouldnt allow it inside their building unless the battery was fully disconnected!

When they fitted a new front loom I had them fit a fuse into the lighting circuit so this could never happen again.

I also learned a lesson to check out any new wiring before connecting the battery and also I now test any new electrical wiring by connecting up a battery charger instaed of the battery just to be safe.


c firth


It might be the light switch that has given up the ghost!

P. Tilbury

Fuse protection on pre 1980s British cars was pathetic! On the MGA, the only things protected with a fuse are the horn (big deal, how often does a British gentleman use that, it's not polite!), the direction indicators and stop light. Everything else is free to go up in smoke! I have added six further fuses to my car so that all circuits are protected. This simple modification has already saved me a fire when the number plate wiring went faulty. Without a fuse in the circuit, the wiring would have fried all the way back to the lighting switch. I have completely eliminated the need to replace lost wiring loom smoke!
Lindsay Sampford

Hi lindsay
good to see you back on the forum again.
Your extra fuse block has been on my To-Do list for a while, I have fitted extra in-line fuses to my car to protect the lights, twin electric fans, wiper delay unit, 2-speed wipers and the dip/flash relay. They are scattered around the car though and it would make sense to bring them all together into one fuse box.

On the subject of overheating wires and switches etc, a few weeks ago on a long drive in really hot weather I had the heater fan running for a couple of hours to try get some cool(er) air into the footwell.
When I came to switch it off I touched the underside of the switch and I noticed that it was really hot.
Is this normal for that particular switch and so is it time for me to start looking for a replacement.

c firth

Hi Colyn, quite a small switch, that one, and probably carrying more than a couple of amps so it's going to get warm. More likely to pack up altogether than burst into flames! I'll try mine next time I'm in the car and see if it warms up.
Lindsay Sampford

This thread was discussed between 25/09/2014 and 09/10/2014

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