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MG MGF Technical - Buying my first MGF...Help!!!!

I'm being offered a 1996 'P' MGF. It's quite unusual. It's one owner from new, only 24,000 miles and a FSH. It's spent the last year gathering dust, but the widow is now wanting to sell it. It has always been garaged and done dry miles only. I have an MGB which is for fun, but the F will be my everyday car. The garage selling it have done all the servicing, and say it is fine. What things should I check for. The head gasket has never been changed, but I guess the mileage isn't high enough? Bodywork and hood etc is fine, needing a good polish and love but fine. It's the other bits I don't know what I'm looking for! Any guidance would be gratefully received
C Williams

The mileage and age make it ripe for HGF once its put into regular use. Thats not to say it will but be prepared for it, dont let it put you off though.

How much are they asking?

They're asking 3500, but I would offer around the 3k mark, maybe even 2800 if I feel confident enough in what I'm talking about. Treat me as a complete novice as far as this goes......what's HGF? (Give me an MGB anyday!!!!)
C Williams

Yep, my first F had an HGF at 24,000 miles. I would actually advise buying one that's had the head gasket fixed properly, eg Mike Satur competition gasket and steel dowels as this seems to dramatically reduce the chance of it happening again. If you do buy the car then make sure you have a spare 500 just in case the worst happens!
As for price what's it up for? As you probably know prices for older F's have gone through the floor, my 99T reg VVC with a hard top cost just 2750....sickening when I think that my first F bought back in 2000 cost 13,000 when it was 3 years old!
James King

HGF = Head Gasket Failure, a very common 'feature' on the K series engine :-(
Is it a VVC?
James King

OK I'm there!! Bit slow on the uptake tonight as far as HGF goes!! It's probably the only concern I have, and I guess it will just boil down to price at the end of the day!
C Williams

As far as the VVC is concerned, I haven't asked yet. I was in a rush this morn and just had time to glance at the car. Tomorrow morning I shall have a better look and now a better idea of what to ask. Am I right in thinking that a non VVC model is better?
C Williams

One thing i would check is to see if the cam belt has been done at the 60,000 (or 5 year service). If not this service is 450.00 plus, so worth checking. What i would do is to make the sellar a offer of 2800.00 pending a rac or aa inspection coming back clean ( approx 200.00). This way if you are not an expert like me you will get peace of mind you are getting the right car. I did this and was pleased with the service i got from the rac.
good luck .. mel..
m e johnson

VVC is faster model, with with a higer cost for the belt change. Perhaps a higher insurance group. Other than that no difference. Interior on early vvc half leather seats and leather steering wheel and different alloys...
m e johnson

Some early non-vvc's also didn't have power steering or ABS, both of which are must have's for a daily driver.
To be honest even with that millage I think that 2500 would be about the right price to offer for a VVC, with 2800 being a top price. A non-VVC should be a little less.
James King

Thanks guys, I'll go and see a man about a car in the morning and update the thread in the evening.
C Williams

There are some areas that even a low mileage dry use car may suffer from, particularly one that has been unused for a year -

1. Corrosion of the underbody coolant pipes - these corrode on the inner surface as well as the outer, regardless of how well the coolant has been serviced.

2. Radiator - see above

3. Hydragas - the pressure drops over time, causing low ride height and poor ride quality. Not a big problem, a quick top-up solves that, but check the car sits level.

4. headlamp reflectors - these corrode, diffusing the beam and will fail an MOT.

5. Oil - without regular use the waxy deposits along the oilways will have chance to harden, restricting flow. K series heads are never particularly quiet, but listen for evidence of dry hydraulic tappets. An oil flush and good fresh oil cures this in many cases.

6. Coolant leaks - many's the HGF that was caused by overheating after the coolant leaked out from somewhere, so careful inspection recommended on all hoses and the aluminium bodies they connect to.

Don't be too quick to assume it will suffer HGF - if it's been owned by someone who respected the engine (particularly the heat cycles) then there's no reason you couldn't do another hundred thousand miles without a hitch.

If it all looks good then buy it, and book yourself onto the Brands Hatch evening on 23rd May, where you'll learn why MG decided to put the engine in the other end ;o)
Mike Hankin

C Williams,

I was an MGB owner who bought a 1995 MGF. I have just sold the MGB. The F is magic, and an entirely different car to the old B. It's quicker, handles better, stops better and has a simple-to-use hood. You can drive it on cool mornings with the top down and not freeze. It's brilliant. Love it.

Mine had only done 44,000 miles in the hands of 2 careful owners, and has twin air bags, ABS and PAS, fairly unusual in an early car. I had to have the hydrogas pumped up (10) and the heater matrix was holed (600, ouch). The tappets rattle for about a minute after start up but go away after that. The window stops were both broken and I replaced them with the new design, and I had a rain water leak through the windscreen frame, which I have now traced and fixed with a smear of silicon. At the moment I can forgive it most things.

I'm seriously thinking of altering the thermostat arrangement to try and prevent HGF, although mine has had one gasket change in about 2003 (not for a failure, but because the owner wanted to prevent one), so should be OK for now.

Check the lower sills, which on my car need some attention to prevent paint damage turning into corrosion.

Mike Howlett

This link has probably been covered already, but general advice can be found here:

Good luck
Rob Bell

do you have a dog ? mgf is a real time saver no more tmme consuming walks to the other door, just over the back and hes in. at about 50 k slobbering starts ,tailgaiters disappear buy it.
bob wadsworth

This thread was discussed between 27/04/2006 and 29/04/2006

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