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MG MGB Technical - Starter

I have a 1980 mgb and I'm having problems with my starter. It starts fine but after l drive it for 15 minutes or so and the car is warm the starter engages . After that happens when I turn key to the start position the starter will disengage as long as I hold it there, as soon as I let it go the starter will engage again. Can someone help me?

Gary J Callea

Where are you located?


Sounds like ignition switch or starter relay.
Allan Reeling

I concur with Allan. My first ignition switch literally came apart inside the cylinder. You could turn the key 360 degrees. We had to remove all the wires to the switch and "hot wire" the car to get it home.


79 MGB
gary hansen

steering wheel the ignition switch, not the relay. . It is prudent to remove the Negative (-) battery cable from its post terminal before you get near the wires that are underneath the cowl. In order to provide sufficient clearance to permit the removal of the cowl, lower the steering column a quarter-inch by loosening (preferably not removing) the three 9/16" hex bolts that hold the column to the cross-beam that is underneath the dashboard.
Next, you need to remove the cowl by means of the use of a screwdriver that has a PZ2 bit in order to remove the PosidDrive screws from the side. The cowl is held together by two obvious PoziDriv 10-32 screws that are designated by red dots on the left side of the steering column which are easy to remove, but there are also two shorter PoziDriv 10-24 screws that secure to cowl to the steering column. These are designated by blue dots on opposite sides of the steering column that hold the end that is furthest from the driver. These are commonly rusted to their captive nuts, so soak them overnight by means of the use of a good penetrating lubricant such as Liquid Wrench or, better yet, a home-brew 50/50 mixture of acetone and automatic transmission fluid prior to attempting to remove them. Afterwards, replace them with stainless steel PoziDriv screws, and apply a thin coating of Loctite
Stephen Strange

Wow excellent write up Mr Strange!


We get that from Steve, Steve
When He says something , you get the lot and usually it's spot on.
Magic isn't it---!

William Revit

"It is prudent to remove the Negative (-) battery cable from its post terminal ..."

Take extreme care when removing a battery cable.

With the MGB you really need to remove the earth/ground cable first - regardless of whether the car is positive earth or negative earth, twin 6v or single 12v, and replace it last. Being accessed through a hole in the rear shelf it's very easy for a spanner to touch the body when working on a battery post, particularly with the later clamp-type connectors.

If you are working on the 12v post when this happens and haven't already removed the earth cable then you will short out the battery with predictable results.

If when removing the earth cable first if your spanner should happen to touch the body then nothing will happen as that battery post is already connected to the body.

Once the earth/ground connection has been removed you can then remove the 12v connection safely. For if your spanner should touch the body now there is no path for current to flow as the earth/ground connection has already been removed.

Gary lives in upstate New York
Mike Plumstead

Yes magical!

I've had the same experience with one of my past cars.

I do not think I could have written up the help that Stephan Strange wrote here.

I was impressed at what a great job he did with his descriptions!

The above was merely a Copy & Paste from the text of my book on the MGB. If you'll post your Email address, I'll send you a copy of it as a .PDF file attachment.
Stephen Strange

When Mr Stephen Strange says-
"The above was merely a Copy & Paste from the text of my book on the MGB.",
what he doesn't say is that his book on the MGB B-Series is the most comprehensive that I have ever seen.

If you send Steve an up-to-date copy would you mind sending me one too Stephen as my copy is now a few years old and I am looking forward to reading the latest updates.

Colyn Firth

Hey Steven!

Would love a copy! My email is

This thread was discussed between 18/03/2019 and 24/03/2019

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