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MG MGF Technical - Difficulties in getting the engine started. Keeps me puzzled.

The (second) head gasket was replaced on my MGF Mpi 1.8i lately. Back on track again (with the third head gasket) since Wednesday. Finally !
However, the last three days, I faced 5 times difficulties in starting up the engine. Each time the same phenomenon.

Thursday morning: switched the car-key to standby position and, as I always do, waited till I heard the "bzzz"-startup sound stopping and noticed the red engine-indication light switching off; I switched the car-key to the ignition position. Well, in the past the engine always ignited at that point, but this time I heard no engine sound at all: a rather highly pitched "bzzz"-sound (too quiet for an engine-sound, but too loud for the "bzzz"-startup sound) goes up in pitch and subsequently down and then stops with a rather unhealthy sounding 'clack'-sound. Tried again and the same trouble. Third start was a good one.
So it is rather no "misfire" (engine attempting to start up, sputtering for a second, but finally 'collapsing'), but rather the startup engine that fails to ignite the K-engine.

This morning: went to a gas station; got some fuel. Got back inside my car to resume my journey. Exactly the same happens (two times on the wrong again: no engine startup, third time was the right time).

Just a couple of minutes ago: one time on the wrong. Second start-up was the right one.

These startup-troubles puzzle me. This is not normal.

Now, in the recent past, my "alternator"-cable (don't know the word in English) seemed to loosen up somehow (short screech-sound at the ignition). I reported this to the dealership and apparently they cured it earlier this week when they replaced the head gasket and clutch, because the screech-sound is gone since Wednesday when I got my car back, but unfortunately I now have engine startup troubles.

Can anyone of you inform me on the likely cause of this strange phenomenon. It starts to worry me. May I assume that something is wrong with the startup-engine (badly connected cable or alike ?). I never had this before. Okay, a couple of weeks ago I reported on this BBS that that particular day, after ignition, the engine couldn't keep up idling the revs at standby position (dropped to zero and engine cut out, rather than idling at 900rpm). But the engine started up anyway and the car could drive. I assumed that some filth in the fuel was to blame, so I gave the car a blast to 6,800rpm and this seemed to cure the trouble ever since.

Does the ECU report these ignition-troubles ? Can the Testbook reveal more info ?

Thanks in advance for the info.

My car goes back to the dealership next Monday for review of the issue.


from your description of the sound I would suggest investigating the starter motor first....
David Smith

Check, clean and tighten your battery connections, the ground strap and the power lead to the starter solenoid. It would be quite a coincidence for the starter to fail immediately after engine work. Best to look at what was disturbed during the work.
HTH, George B.
George B.

The coincidence to recent work usually points towards the area which has been worked upon, or where accidentaly interference has occurred.

This means that i would certainly start with the two areas above as both are likely to have been disturbed. The other very common cause of such symptoms is a relay failure. In this case the starter switch provides power to a starter relay which then feeds power to the starter solenoid. Check this in the engine management relay moule behind the main ECM in the engine compartment. Check all the wiring plugs there too for secure connections.

Roger Parker

Back from the dealership. Quite embarrassing for them when they stepped inside my car, and yes, car didn't start again.

Even without looking into the problem, they adviced me bluntly to "replace the whole starter-motor, because it seems to be worn out". But "as this is an expensive part", they fatherly advised me, "we will replace it with a second hand one at a sensible lower price of approx. 85 UKP". According to the dealership, they know "someone" who collects broken starter motors, fixes these, and subsequently sells them on in exchange for new broken starter motors. "You're not the first". So my broken one goes in, and I receive (another) fixed one, regardless what's wrong with mine.

Raises some questions, if you ask me. I don't like this wheelin' & dealin' stuff. Profitable business ? Could be only a minor niggle and still I'll have to fork out approx. 85 UKP for a fixed second hand one. But on the other hand I appreciate their honesty, because I can imagine that some dealerships wouldn't refrain from making you paying for a new one, while only a fixed second hand one was being installed ! Equally I want them to have a look at it.

Thanks for the input. Any more advice I can tell them next Thursday when my MGF goes in for starter motor "replacement" ?


Did you check the cables on the starter motor?

I recently had what looked like a failure of the alternator, but turned out to
be a corroded cable on the alternator.
Same happened to another guy here in Germany, but with the starter motor.

Andreas H

A friend had a similar problem a while ago on his
Nova Gsi, and after checking lots of things it turned out to be a Dodgy fuel pump Relay.
When we took the Relay to pieces it had Two Inner Coils
and One of these was breaking down.
This was Happening Intermittantly so was hard to find.

They removed the starter-motor, fixed it, and reinstalled it. Total price (incl. works): approx. 125 UKP.

Damn, that's a new head gasket, a new clutch (together approx. 1,000 UKP) and a fixed starter motor in only a couple of days. My MGF already did 105K kms. Starts to show more its financial teeth as the months/years go by ! Anyway, would not be a good idea IMO to get rid of it right now, because otherwise I would behave like a someone selling its shares in panic at the stock exchange because rates suddenly have dropped. No, now that my car is fixed with new stuff and thus ready to rumble again as ever before, I'd rather enjoy it then to sell it on !


This thread was discussed between 01/07/2000 and 05/07/2000

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