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MG MGF Technical - Another never ending story: starting trouble :-(

Got some recurring trouble in starting my car over the past few months. Things got bad, no, got worse actually...

Dealership recently already replaced:
- sparking plugs;
- high tension leads (HT leads);
- some other kind of cable (called "mass-cable" (?))
- battery;
- some kind of starter cell;
- starter motor (replaced with a "revised" one).

Jumpstarting (i.e. pushing the car to force it to fire up) usually managed to fire up the engine, until last Tuesday: now even a jumpstart cannot help to induce a "vrooom"-sound: it just keeps sticking at a "ru-ru-ru-ru"-sound, whatever you do. Only putting car into reverse with the rear uphillwards helped me after half an hour of attempts.

Seriously, a car that fails to start is truly a VERY frustrating experience. It gives you quite a bad nervous feeling.

The car is back at the dealership and my-oh-my... whatever they try, they cannot find at all the cause of the starter trouble. They explain the trouble as follows: "The battery is located in the front - the engine is located in the middle of the car. Power generated by the battery must get to the engine (power supply). Now the trouble is that somewhere between battery and engine, but we do not know where, a false contact causes a loss of power: the power flows away - and is lost - on the chassis and hence doesn't reach its final destination: the engine".

Makes me wonder whether it is really thàt difficult to replace the cabling connecting battery to engine. Do you really need to be an Einstein for that ?

I queried whether the blame could be put on the ECU (a malfunctioning of the ECU-unit), but to date the dealership is stubborn: they do not want to even look into that as they seriously doubt that the ECU could be of any nature to cause the starting trouble...

No need to emhasize that this starting trouble does start something else: irritation >:-(

Help, a desperate call to all you out there to suggest me what to do (except saying that I need to sell my MGF...) ?

-- Luc --

Just snooping around. Seems alot of people have problems starting their F. If the problem is a very brief intermitant problem, then diagnosis might involve throwing parts because of known common causes, but if the car fails to start for the length of time that you say, any competent garage can find the problem. If power fails to reach a destination, it is a simple matter of tracing down the break.The way you put it, it sounds as though the garage gave a general answer, not the specific reason why your car fails to start. Any problems with ignition are easily seen on an oscilloscope. I do not have specific knowledge for the F, but could you hear the fuel pump and did the interior instrumentation light up when the ignition was put in the 'ON' position? If not, this could indicate ignition switch problems. My advice is to find another garage if the problem is major-that is refusal to start for a lengthy amount of time. Good luck.


I admire the style of your request for help particularly the bit where you state ..... (except saying that I need to sell my MGF...) Good for you!

You dont mention the distributor cap - has that been replaced with a new one? In that hot mid-engine compartment heat and dirt build up over a period of time could mean strong sparks are not getting as far as the sparking plugs when cold and in a humid winter atmosphere when everything really needs to be in top condition. Have you tried starting the car at night ( in the dark ) and watching for any signs of electrical activity OUTSIDE the distributor cap and surrounding area? Worth checking. I've seen this phenomenom on cars with apparently clean looking engines but it only takes an almost unseen thin film of dirt, oil, damp, corrosion, poor connection or even a small crack to divert those essential sparks!

I remember reading some years back in CAR Mechanics their "Electronic Diagnostics!" article devoted to the then relatively new MGF. Useful reading for any MGF owner methinks! I've learnt a lot from their articles particularly on modern car electronics. Real lessons to be learnt from them particularly ALL makes and models of cars can and do suffer from poor starting and other problems from time to time. Still got that copy somewhere - just checked - it's the Oct 97 issue !

Your problem is probably something relatively simple - I hope so - Good luck!
John McFeely


I had starting trouble and had new coil, plugs and leads fitted to no avail.
Eventually it went back to the factory where it had a new engine wiring harness and ECU fitted.

Incidently re the HT leads thread I was told they had fitted new improved leads which required a modified spark plug cover and MG were deciding whether or not to introduce this to the production line. This would be circa 97.
Jon Baker

Thanks for the input.
Phoned the dealership. They do not manage to achieve any "vrooom"-sound anymore. Just "ru-ru-ru-ru". So, close but no cigar.
Cause? Nothing found yet! A mystery... bewitched ?
I am asked to call back next week.

If I were my brother Dirk, I would shout: "I HATE THIS CRAP SITUATION". But I am not.

An MGF is only a small car and merely consists of mechanical and electronic things. No brains. So it can't be too complicated to locate the cause. The problem is limited to starting-trouble. So you can already leave out quite a number of possibilities (elimination). Is it really thàt difficult for a dealership to carry out some succesful troubleshooting?

What really pisses me off is the dealership's comment while laughing (truly!) in my face: "Look, you have a passion for a British car. So you got to consider «niggles» like this as normal. It's a British car after all, you know and knew when you purchased it. You got to live with it. And as soon as the trouble is sorted out, you will be happy again to drive it rooftop down in the sunshine". If someone at Porsche, BMW, Audi, VW, et alia would come up with such an unprofessional 'laugh-in-yer-face' crap-comment, (s)he risks to be blamed for it at once. If it is supposed to be a joke, than I can tell you that I cannot laugh with it. It's no fun to own a car which is immobilized somewhere due to "niggles". I don't want to be "happy again". I want to be "happy all the time".

Those «niggles» simply might not happen. My elder brother's Z3 might be a clown-shoe, okay, but boy, that clown-shoe NEVER suffered any «niggle» or «special out of pocket expenses» whatsoever (except for just 1 malfunctioning LED that was replaced free of charge and on the spot during service). So who's laughing who, you think ? I own an MGF and accept what apparently turns out to be of no merchantible quality; I seem to accept the unacceptable. Only one conclusion methinks: I am a fool for the rodeo of an MGF - I am fooling myself to consider that all this MGF-mess I have to go through is «just normal». I avoid facing the reality of my MGF letting me down AGAIN. I hear myself thinking: "No mercy Luc, you are stupid - you are an idiot".

Come on folks, if "No Start" becomes the rule and "Start" the exception, then we have a serious problem: tell it like it is, the car is unreliable: you cannot trust it anymore. If I have a court-hearing at 9am, and I step into my car at 8:30am talking to my car: "Please-please-please, don't let me down and fire up, I don't want the court to wait for me", then the situation is very unhealthy / wrong. A normal car MUST start. Period. And that no-one come to lecture me that I'd better step into my car at 8am to take into account an eventual "No Start". The unreliability of a car may not rule my behaviour.

Currently I have to take the tram to go home, my office, the courts and to go out with friends...
Damn, this brings me at the brink of losing my temper and kicking out the MGF. Although I am normally known to be a rather patient person, they do not have to push my patience to the limit or the days of Mr. Nice Guy are over for MG and everything related to it. I try to remain calm and lucid, but time is running out. The days of MGF-passion could be numbered soon if no solution is found pretty soon. My Porsche Boxster S plans scheduled for September 2002 (time of the awaited and expected facelift [MKII] of that car) could be reshuffled as regards timing...

-- Luc --


Kick it into touch mate - it's not worth getting upset over a car - life's too short, etc...........


hey brother, if I can't convince you to sell that crap, the car itself will ;-)


My starting problem developed over a shorter time, two days or so. The first day I had to try twice, the second day in the morning four times and at noon the car was dead. The garage diagnosed a faulty mems and since this has been replaced I had no more starting problems. For a change Rover accepted to pay the new electronics, they (and the garage) only made me wait a few months for the money.
If my memory serves me right there has been a thread in which somebody said that too many voltage spikes from jump starting could kill the electronics.

Good luck, peter
681 APZ 38


I actually agree with everything you say, so well done, mate, for getting it off your chest.

With regard to your latest problem with the car, it mirrors my problem and my car is currently in the garage getting sorted. I will let you know what they say but so far, they're blaming it on a dodgy ignition coil (and this is another common problem with the Fs). This explains why I have trouble starting the car every time and also whilst driving the car.

I also hate that feeling whenever I attempt to start the car, wondering if it is going to start or not. I've been late to meet people on a few occasions because of it.

However, remember that the majority of people who drive the F don't have this many problems. I think we're just a bit unlucky.

Good luck in getting the car sorted.


This thread was discussed between 22/03/2001 and 26/03/2001

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