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MG MGF Technical - dodgy wheel nuts

Hi has anyone else had trouble with the sheathed wheel nuts rounding-off due to the softness of the sheathing material and the poor quality of the "mickey mouse" wheel brace supplied, and as a result being impossible to remove without professional help? I think this is aggravated by the design of the wheel brace as, although it is clearly designed so as to fit in the bag, its geometry makes it very difficult for me to maintain inward pressure on the wheelnut while turning. My F is a '97 1.8i - What is the solution? can the wheel nuts be replaced with some non-cosmetic plain "honest" nuts or what is the suggested best type of substitute wheel brace? Any ideas would be appreciated.
DG Welsh

Completely 100% with you there. If the alloy cover rounds off, the solution is to sacrifice it completely, expose the solid conventional wheel nut underneath and undo that. It's 18mm IIRC.

The OEM wheel brace is appalling. Guaranteed damaged wheel nut - especially if a tyre fitting outfit has been anywhere near your car with an airtool... I keep a torque wrench and socket in the car!

Replacement wheel nuts? Andrew recommended Ford Focus wheel nuts - apparently has a correct chamfer and thread pitch. Not tried them myself, but worth investigating?

John Reed is also looking into having solid light weight wheel nut manufactured. Not sure that this is available yet though...
Rob Bell

Does Mike Satur still sell the stainless steel nuts? I've had mine nearly 5 years and they are immaculate. Also I recommend McGard locking nuts, but make sure you get part no. 24137, as the ones I originally got from Halfords were too short and got damaged when fully torqued.
Mike Cunningham

Thank you Rob and Mike. According to his website Mike Satur does indeed still offer the stainless steel nuts. According to my garage a socket spanner to do the job will need a half-inch drive -I shall get one and ditch the OEM wrench.
Rob how do you remove the nut cover on the car, will it pull off with a pair of pliers? - sounds as as if you have personal experience!
Regards David
DG Welsh

Hi all,
Yes the original wheel nuts are a bit rubbish,
and unfortunately the wheel brace is made from the same stuff!
The soft cover can be removed with a sharp cold chisel, or bang on a smaller sized (who said theirs no use for a whitworth!)old socket to remove the damaged nut
Mike's are great, and good value.
The OE brace was useless an opened up during the first weekend developing the discs!(yet it is the perfect size and shape to be thrown miles!)
an aftermarket cross style brace is definately a worthwhile investment.
the locking nuts are also abit naff, this time the nuts fine but the lugs in the key can brake off!
I'm waiting for about 10 firm orders before getting the lightweight nuts made up, they'll be about 90 a set.
J E Reed

You can also buy a telescopic wheelbrace for cars in Maplin/Halfords/Circle 7 shops which does a very good job. Draper make the original (15) which has a double ended socket fitting both wheelnut sizes - plastic covers on or off.
The same tool is 6 in Circle 7/Poundshop!

David, make sure you get a 19mm hex socket - 6 sides - and not the often cheaper multipoint type socket, as that would be likely to round off the soft cover just like the OE wheelbrace.

If Focus nuts are the same shape & fit, there's myriad of solid/shiny/alloy/etc options out there already - perhaps worth checking out before commissioning a run of bespoke items.

Keep hold of your OE wheelbrace, and when you have tyres fitted wait until the fitter has finished then hand it to him and ask him to demonstrate that he has torqued the nuts to exactly the factory spec, by undoing them with the factory supplied wheelbrace that is dimensioned to deliver the correct torque. I have found it to ease the pain of handing over the payment considerably ;o)

>> Rob how do you remove the nut cover on the car, will it pull off with a pair of pliers? - sounds as as if you have personal experience! <<

Ooooohhhh yes! The alloy covering, as says, is pretty soft. Take it out by what ever method most satisfies your increasing frustration and rage! LOL Just be careful not to damage the alloy wheel itself - which goes without saying really. I used an old screw driver to pearce the alloy cover, and then a pair of plyers to rip the alloy cover off.

Bandit makes a very good point which is worth repeating regarding the socket - I have a very nice 6-point socket set purchased fairly cheaply at one of the MGCC Silverstone shows a couple of years ago - and this is absolutely a worthwhile investment. The torque wrench for the car stays with a 19mm 6-point socket in the boot of the car.

Not tried the pound store solution, but for the money, and assuming it does a better job than the standard wheel brace, could be a worth-while investment :o)
Rob Bell

There is nothing wrong with the OEM nuts if they are maintained properly viz. cleaned, greased and torque loaded at each annual service, but then how many are still doing an annual service. Mine have an additional inspection before any longer distance trip. Easier in the garage than at the side of the Autobahn with a flat tyre and seized nut.
The other commonly ignored maintainance is the wheel centre spigot location where corrosion causes it to seize preventing wheel removal.
Geoff F.
Geoff Farthing

Nothing to beat a wee spot of copper grease!
Sam Murray

Completely agree. Never had a problem removing wheels from my MGF.

Project Shed and the donor car were a different kettle of fish - clearly no one had copper grease the spiggot, and some of the wheels were a real challenge to remove. Luckily, I wasn't at the side of a motorway. In the dark. In the rain. But rather on the drive with access to my full tool kit!
Rob Bell

Well, thanks to everyone who contributed to this thread. I have the new tool but won't be using it for a while as we now have mayo all over the dipstick (even after getting oil up to temp), plus raised sump level indicating migration of coolant, presumably this can only be via hgf (the prospect of which has been hanging over my head for while like the sword of Damocles so it's a relief in a way if it has eventually happened) or maybe crack(s) in the block (least likely?).
Have had 11 years of motoring joy with my car so far (a '97 1.8i) so I am not complaining and I trust this will give her a new lease of life. I believe the belt, tensioner and possibly water pump should also be changed while doing the head?
regards David
DG Welsh

If there hasn't been any overheating, i.e. you've spotted the symptoms before they endangered normal operation, it's very likely that a new gasket will return the engine to full health. Loose liners & cracked blocks rarely happen without heat being a major factor IMHO.

The water pump is not expensive, and it does make a lot of sense to renew it while the belts are off. Only if it was renewed in the past couple of years would I leave it untouched, as 'stealth' coolant loss from a worn bearing seal is one of the hardest to diagnose and replacing the pump is the only remedy.

But what is your coolant level ?? You would have to have a very low level before seeing an increase in sump level. At this time of year it takes a good run to evaporate off the water/mayo after leaving the car unused.
If it is a definite HGF, then the package may include pump, tensioner, cam belt, alternator belt and steel head dowels (replacing plastic). Others will suggest a Land Rover gasket and strengthened oil rail but I could not justify this on an older car.
But then when was the cambelt last changed ?? If it is due (5 & 10 years) then a HGF rebuild is not a big additional cost.
An additional suggestion is that any coolant hose that is disturbed at 10+ years old is replaced as the rubber has deteriorated as the cam belt.
Geoff F.
Geoff Farthing

mg specialiste has now had the head gasket seen-to. Cost
DG Welsh

I presume the note changes with the engine speed? A new tensioner can make a little noise as it 'settles in', but if it is particularly noticeable and continues beyond the next hundred miles or so then it may be worth letting the garage know - I'm sure they haven't over-tightened the tensioner (and it may be an auto-tensioner) but if they had, that's the noise you could expect. Belt tensions are notoriously inexact, even factory procedures are along the lines of "until the belt requires moderate effort to turn through 90 degrees". One man's moderate effort might be quite different from another's...

Hi bandit, yes indeed the noise does change with engine revs, but I can only hear it within the idling speed range, it doesn't seem to get any louder with revs or is masked out by exhaust note etc. I had wondered about belt tension myself, the car is going back to them next month for what is left of the annual service schedule, MoT etc so I will raise the matter with them if it persists. Strangely, not always there, may be related to engine compartment temperature or something.
Thanks for your response
Dave Welsh

I was thinking timing belt tension too - and if it had been over tensioned, the noise is always present. I'm not sure that this is anything to worry about :o)

Fair price with the gasket replacement given the amount of work done! Which gasket did they use in the end?
Rob Bell

Thanks Rob - I don't know exactly which gasket, it is what I understand to be "the latest (improved) one" ie I believe introduced on K-series engines in another vehicle (Land Rover?) some time ago, plus I think a "metsl spigot". Obviously the inlet manifold gasket is new too. You say over-tensioning is nothing to worry about, does this mean there is no significant danger of excess load on bearings etc?
Dave Welsh

I think Rob meant that if the tensioner is whirring due to an over-tightened belt, the noise wouldn't come and go. Perhaps worth monitoring to see if there's a consistent pattern related to temperature, as that might point in other directions.

Thanks bandit I will keep an eye (ear) on it, car will get very little use now before it goes back in for annual service so I will ask them to have a listen.
Dave Welsh

Exactly Bandit - if overtensioning had occurred, the whirring would be there the whole time - although the pitch changes with engine speed.

Dave, if the belt were over tensioned, then it is something to worry about, as it would place excessive load on bearing and the belt. But I don't think that this is the case, for all the reasons mentioned above.

I personally think that trying to diagnose noises when our medium here is the written word is the most difficult thing. Are you planning to go to Silverstone for MG Live! ? If so, there would be plenty of learned ears around to bend and see whether there is something that needs further investigation?
Rob Bell

Rob - not Silverstone but MGFest 2010 - if I am still puzzled I will ask around - maybe you'll be there?
Apropos the head gasket type I see I paid 117.14+VAT for a "modified head gasket set and bolt" - maybe this gives you some indication of what gasket this is?
Dave Welsh

Should be there for MGF15! If we're lucky, I may even get the Shed to make an appearance this year after a no-show last! LOL
Rob Bell

This thread was discussed between 17/03/2010 and 20/05/2010

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