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MG MGF Technical - Front wheel play


I seem to be experiencing a lot of movement (play) from my front wheels lately. It's seems worse at low speeds. Cornering still seem OK. The front wheels seem to be more lively than usual. Perhaps I'm being paranoid!

The steering wheel column does not have any play in it.
I've just had my wheels balanced and front alignment set to toe-in 0 deg 5 min. This movement was there before I had this done so I'm discounting wheel balancing/alignment..
How do I check the wheel bearings and are there other components that may need tightening or checking such as shock absorbers, suspension components.

Any info appreciated as usual.



I thought it was toe-out for the front wheels ?

Hi Dave,

When I just bought my F new, I already complained about 'play' in the front wheel bearings.
This was 'inside' the tolarances of Rover though.
The thing is; the bearings are not adjustable. They used the lower arm of the front-wheel geometry of
the Metro/Rover 100. This is ofcourse a front-wheel drive with drive-shafts set-up.
They simply fitted axle-stubs with ball-bearings; no adjustments possible...

So you can check the 'play' and then decide to renew the bearings, or live with it!


Only one way to reduce this, get the Powerflex suspension bushes fitted all round.

Jerome, the standard Rover specifications are toe out at the front, all this does on my car is wear down my front tyres on the inside and make the handling crap.

Some of us have had it with buying new front tyres every five minutes and changed the front setting to Toe in. Many have found this to be a major improvement to the handling. As I have the Bushes all round I have now set my rears to toe out but this should only be done if the Polly bushes are fitted, otherwise the rear can be a little unstable.

Another thing to try would be 195x50s on the front which should tend more to oversteer without getting the Rut Following problems you can get from 205s or 215s on the front.

Personally I think this was a typo in the original specifications and Rover did not have the nerve to admit this error to it's customers. Also they get to sell twice as many front tyres this way.
Tony Smith


The feeling I get through the wheels is like one of the front wheels has become oval shaped or distorted. On very smooth roads the wheels move like they are on a bumpy surface. Apologies for my non-technical description. Could this me the shock absorbers or suspension component. I dont really know where to start looking.

Any thoughts anyone ?


may be you've the same problem as I at my 96 built MGF. It's now 73k km and a ball joint at the left hand front lower wishbone is worn. It's so much worn that I hear a slight knock when I start to drive.
I found the failure when I lifted the car at the front and moved the wheel up and down. The right side is tight but the left side moves about 2 or three mmm up and down. The left wheel is also worn a bit at the inner side.

BTW the ball joint costs about 50 GBP and needs to be drilled out at three rivets. A complete lower wishbone with ball joint is about only 15 GBP more expensive but hard to change.


It is worth checking tyre pressures, I have found some tyre places pump up the tyres too high. If the ride height is too high this can also have the same effect (368mm maximum). It could be damage to a suspension component, I would think the shocks should be ok as they don't get too much load can be checked though. Checking the wheel balance may help but this would show up as a vibration rather than the feeling described. Tracking is one other possibility. I found the feel of the car quite unpredictable if you got it OK it would slowly deteriorate.

The height thing is quite important in the summer because the Hydragas is higher in the summer by around 5 to 10mm than in the middle of winter :-)
Tony Smith

Wheel bearing check. Lift the car on a jack and securely support the side lifted. take hold of the wheel at the 12 Oclock and 6 O clock postitions and try and rock the wheel back and forth. Any play will be felt. If there is play then have an assistant apply the footbrake and repeat the test.

If the play was wheel bearing then now there should be no play, as the brake operation effectively locks the two parts together. If play is still reduced then there is some wheel bearing play, but also some other play.

Keeping the brakes applied repeat the wheel movement and see if the play seems to come from the bottom more than the top. If so a visual chack of the lower ball join whislt the wheel is being moved will show any play. If there is any visible play in any ball joint it must be replaced.

If the bottom ball joint appears sound then move your hands to the 3 and 9 Oclock positions and repeat the shake. If you get play here then there is a good chance that you have either track road end play,(visible when you look at the end) or inner steering rack wear.

small wheelbearing play is unlikley to influence the feel of the car. More severe play will. Small amounts of wear in the ball joints, especially the lower one and track rod ends, most definately will significantly influence the feel of the car.

Incidentally there are two specific types of wheel bearing available. The origins of the hub assembly is from the maestro and Montego and this specific version appeared in from February 1986 in answer to serious wheel bearing issues with earlier cars. These later hubs used a large single piece,double track ball bearing type unit. This significantly improved reliability on the two models but didn't fully eliminate the problem.

Enter the 1989 model year cars in October 1988 which used a new and much,much stronger taper roller bearing design of the same external dimensions, over twice as expensive to buy. This effectively eliminated wheel bearing failure on the M/M cars and was adopted as is for the Rover Metro and obviously the MGF as well.

The loos imposed by the larger FWD cars stressed the bearings but the taper type has stood up. In the lighter Metro there isn't a problem, and largely this is carried through to the MGF. However the side loadings created by the use of the 16" wheels and super sticky 215/40 profile tyres may yet start to show a weakness later on. If so remember that the bearings that can be bought and fitted from the High St motor shops that are listed for the MGF will quite probably be the earlier Maestro/Montego ball type. The taper types are very much more expensive but worth the extra if you do need to change.

Approx prices for ball type £35 each, Taper type £85 each.

Roger Parker

Thanks Dieter, Tony and Roger. I'll carry out the checks this evening.


This thread was discussed between 28/06/2000 and 03/07/2000

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