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MG MGB Technical - BGT ignition switch problem

My '74 BGT's ignition switch (locking part of it) has been binding up when I try to turn the steering wheel. I'm pretty sure that the problem is in the lock. It's really rough and binds up when the wheel is moved in either direction. I was wondering if I could take apart the lock mechanism and clean it to make it work correctly.

Thanks in advance.
David Plantz

Yes, I've done it on my '78.


There are two bolts that attach the ignition assembly to the steering column. You'll have to drill a hole in them and use an easy-out to get them out as the bolt head is designed to twist off during assembly (for security). You can then get to the whole works, which includes the lock. Have you received any of my recent email?

I used a Dremel tool and cut slots for a screwdriver bit to remove the break away bolts. If you do that you can reuse them.

FWIW, Clifton
Clifton Gordon

Dave. Clifton is correct, cutting a slot with a Dremel type tool and a cutoff wheel is the best way to go. The thread is a standard size and the special bolts can be replaced with standard machine bolts or with socket headed cap screws. I have used both with success.

I am not sure of your exact problem. There is a piece on the switch which is designed to lock the steering wheel in place when the key is not in the switch and turned to the run or start positions. This was an insurance company proposal that they got the federal government to make into a law. I was never fond of it because, when you had a stuck throttle, or a broken carb spring which caused one carb to go fully open, turning off the ignition switch locked the steering wheel. Have seen this happen to people while driving on the road. Interesting responses.

Something like electrical contact cleaner should help to clean out the switch and locking mechanism. Graphite has been the traditional lubricant for such switches, but one of the teflon based oils might also work quite well. I have tested them down to -20 deg F and they did not harden up the way petroleum based oils do.

Les Bengtson

FWIW, when I was at the Land Rover dealership, we saw lots of Range Rovers and Land Rovers with dodgy ignition locks. LR put out a TSB that said that ONLY powdered graphite should be used in the ignition lock. The early Range Rover lock is interchangeable with late MGB locks, btw, and only about twice as expensive.... ;-)

I would imagine the concern was with oils gumming up. Perhaps the teflon lubes that Les mentions would be better in this regard.
Rob Edwards

Hi all.

It has long been the standard advice to use powdered graphite as a lubricant on delicate locks as it never goes sticky. Rubbing a key with a soft pencil sometimes helps (hard pencil "leads" have a higher clay content).

Any 'wet' lubricant might go sticky and / or attract dirt / dust which could gum up the tumblers.
(unless the 'wet' component is designed as a carrier / solvent that evaporates off).

If a 'wet' lubricant has been used in the past a rinse with solvent (eg isopropyl alcohol (IPA)) from a spray can might help free things up, though I am wary of applying solvents to plastics, especially 'pattern' part plastics.

I have been using graphite on my ignition lock (1980) with good results.


When my V8 was a daily driver and lived outside the drivers door got the prevailing weather. About once per year the key would start to get stiff inserting and turning it. I shaved some pencil graphite onto a piece of paper, folded it in half, and tapped the powdered graphite down the fold and into the lock. Always 'like a bit of egg on a shovel' after that.
Paul Hunt 2

I have found LPS 1 works well in all locks. First tried it over 20 years ago and it has never failed to work without subsequent problems. Spray can which dries and is a greaseless lubricant. Check it out at


Larry Hallanger

This thread was discussed between 12/03/2006 and 13/03/2006

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