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MG MGB Technical - 1973 MGB Roadster Starter Question

This morning I drove about 1 1/2 miles from home and stopped for an errand. When I came back out to the car it would not start. No starter turnover.....just like a dead battery. However, full lites and other accessories. I seriously doubt it was a battery issue.

I immediately went to the starter relay. I pulled the BROWN power lead off as well as the WHITE/BROWN lead that goes to the starter solenoid. When setting the points if I jump this pair the engine will turn over....key on or off. However, jumping them did not do the trick. I had power at that point (slight spark as the jumper wire made contact) but still no starter turnover. So I have to assume I had power from the fuse box to the starter relay.

I then jiggled the WHITE/BROWN wire on the starter solenoid end. No effect. Still would not start.

So, since I bypassed the starter relay and that did not solve the problem, it's not likely it's a bad relay.

It could be the connection of the WHITE/BROWN wire to the starter solenoid, so I'll clean that up and put on a new female spade connector.

I ended up push starting the car and drove it 1 1/2 miles home. OF COURSE it started right up after pulling it into the garage !!!!!

So now I have to try and figure out what was wrong, before it goes wrong again, while it isn't going wrong !!! What a pain.

Other then cleaning up the BROWN/WHITE spade connector to the starter solenoid what else should I look at?

Thanks everyone!
BH Davis


i once had this too and took the starter out. No faults could be detected and i re-soildered the points of the solenoid coil, just to be sure to have done everything that seems to be responsible for this problem and it worked fine since then.

Hope this helps


BH, I had that problem several years ago. Car wouldn't start, after moving things around it would start. Maybe the next time it wouldn't start. One day the problem remained long enough to trace the problem to the starter solenoid. I found the solder joint at the start terminal on the solenoid was cracked and would intermittently vary from closed to open or vs. A few minutes with a soldering iron fixed it and I'm still using the same solenoid. I have never heard of that happening to anyone else. It probably isn't your problem but it only takes a minute to check.

Clifton Gordon


Actually, I already had that problem. My "former" MG mechanic pulled off the vinyl starter cover and let me know the solenoid was "loose".

Well, it was more then loose. By the time I got home it had fallen off and was hanging by the wires.

I had to take a piecc of copper and solder it to the remaining terminal stub. Solved the problem nicely. I took a look at that repair yesterday and it was fine.

The guy who owns the local NAPA store used to have an MGB (seems like who hasn't !!??!!)and he and I got to talking about the problem yesterday. He felt the battery terminal connections were a likely candidate for the problem.......especially given the length of the run from there to the starter......voltage drop and all.

I took them off and found one really funky connection which I cleaned up yesterday afternoon. That along with a new female spade connector on the solenoid brown/white wire from the relay will hopefully do the trick. Time will tell.

I also found the battery water/acid low (down to the top of the plates) so topped that up as well.

BH Davis


I'm always happy to talk to someone who owned MGs. They are surprised that my MG is not rusted out and still on the road!

I have been keeping up with Your thread and You seem to have problems left and right. Its a good thing You have fixed most of them. Most would have gave up on the old girl by now. As You already know it takes a love-nut to put up with these cars.

James D.
James D

If you got a small spark when jumpering the brown to the white/brown at the starter relay that indicates you have connectivity through the solenoid - to some extent at least. Could have been high-resistance and so not enough to pull the solenoid in, or possibly it was mechanically siezed. If your lights stayed bright when turning the key to crank then your battery and its connections are fine, and slso the battery cable stud at the solenoid. Could just be the engine/gearbox ground strap though.
Paul Hunt 2


A friend here also suggested the possibility of a locked up starter. If this happens again I will look at the lights while cranking.....which I did not do yesterday. I will also keep in mind to check the engine ground strap....good suggestion.

Hopefully the corroded battery cable was the culprit.

BH Davis


I had a 66 or 67 B roadster after I got out of college back in 1971. Always loved the car.

Once I got to this baby boomer retro age I realized I wanted one know....act 21/feel 21 !!!!

I looked for 2 or 3 years until a white B turned up at a small used auto dealer less then 1/2 mile from my house. My new B had to be white because my old one was white (the only other color I really liked was the British racing green).

The car body was done over in 95 (faily good job but some screw ups) and then kept in a climate controlled garage (I'm lucky in that I was able to track down the previous owner and he sent me a copy of his video tape of the body shop restoration).

He had the car for about 10 years and did some sort of good/sort of funky work on the interior, wiring and mechanicals. Since I bought it I've been dealing with straightening out all that stuff. Last summer was the interior and a lot of wiring and this year has turned more to the mechanical end of things. None of these issues are very serious, but all need(ed) attention.

Problem is I've got very limited mechanical experiance. I did rebuild my MG engine back in 71 or 72,but I had a lot of looking over the shoulder help. Since then I've been limited to oil changes, occasional shocks, tune ups etc. on vehicles I've owned. So, while I'm not too afraid to dig into this car, I certainly need some guidance. Hence, so many posts !!

Thanks for the encouragement !
BH Davis

A locked up starter will result in significant dimming of any lights that are on, much like if the battery is flat or the connections are bad. It will also *usually* cause the engine to give a little lurch as the starter tries to turn the engine, which it can't from a 'standing start'. But lockups like that occur with the older inertia (remote solenoid) starters, I don't think I have ever heard of one happening with a pre-engaged.
Paul Hunt 2

This thread was discussed between 11/08/2007 and 13/08/2007

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