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MG MGF Technical - Handbrake Efficiency

The handbrake on MGF has never been good since I bought it new in 2002.

I put it in for it's MOT and it failed on handbrake efficiency. The MOT garage could not look at the problem for at least 2 weeks, so I took it to a nearby garage which dismantled calipers and put everything back together again. In the mechanic's opinion the handbrake was more than adequate.

It certainly feels better than it ever has and the handbrake lever actually goes down properly whereas before, it used to sit up a little, causing the handbrake warning light to come on.

Anyhoo, I took it back to the MOT Station and the guy says the handbrake efficiency readings are even worse!!!!

Any ideas???
Sam Murray

Hi Sam,

I think this is a common problem - I have had my calipers replaced on two occasions in order to only narrowly pass the MOT test. A poor design I think.

Andrew Dear

You might try driving it around a bit and when not being followed too closely declutch and brake on the handbrake at speed to bed and deglaze the pads a bit - which should also take up any auto adjustment in them. I have two fifteen year old Fs with three out of the original four rear calipers. They have needed a little 'attention' but last MOT I finally had to replace one after only 140000 miles!

Hi sam,
I had this problem for years with the handbrake light coming on then when I pushed it with my hand it went off for a time then back on again.
This started happening I noticed after I got new discs, rotors and the brake lines re-done with new fluid.
What I did was disconnect the switch (has green dot on it see pic) off the side of the brake reservoir and put it back on.
The handbrake light has never came back on again!
Try it, you never know greater miracles have happened!

Sue Wilson

Thanks Sue.

I think the switch you are refering to is the brake fluid level switch. The handbrake switch is mounted at the base of the handbrake lever. My problem was that the lever was not going down fully. It's fine now...but the handbrake efficiency is not sufficient to get it through its MOT.

The mechanic who checked out the calipers roughened the pads to de-glaze them.

Look like I'll just have to bite the bullet and get new calpipers and hope that it cures the problem.
Sam Murray

Yes Sam thats the switch I am referring too - the brake fluid level switch. My handbrake dosn't go down fully either but it didn't need adjusting.
Apparently after filling with fluid the Brake Fluid Level Switch was not connected properly. Must have been loosened when they removed the reservoir cap to fill after bleeding the brakes. Apparently the handbrake light comes on when your brake fluid level is low. Also the handbrake switch and brake fluid level switch are linked parallel. So light comes on either with low fluid or engaged handbrake. As the switch was loose or not connected properly it was registering this on the dash but the brake fluid level was correct so I was lucky I had a simple fix.
Good luck with your MOT and fingers crossed!
Sue Wilson

Well, I took the car back to the guy who did the work on the calipers.

He took it to the MOT station he uses and the brake efficiency was reading well above the minimum requirement.

I decided to pay for this MOT station to carry out a complete MOT inspection, but intend to go back to the garage which failed it in the first place and wave my pass certificate in their faces.

I'm sure they won't give a damn, but it'll make me feel better.
Sam Murray

Handrake efficiency tests are bloddy stupid. My wifes MGF failed the test despite it being used every day to hold the car on a 30 degree slope drive
I simply dismantled the calipers , cleaned them up , topped up brake fluid and hey presto passed the MOT . Handbrake warning light has been on ever since we bought the car in 1999 . It goes out temporarily if handbrake lever is pushed fully down. I guess the light will only ever be permanently off when the bulb blows !
AP Jones

To A P Jones Just reading your thread you may want to look at the brake lever switch . This can be done by lifting the h/b gaiter and get a small piece of thin plastic about 1 mm thick and superglue that onto the switch this will solve the problem of the light being on. It's a bit tricky but with a pair of long nosed pliers one can place the piece of plastic.
Regards. Richard
Rick Hyde

Hi guys,

My handbrake warning light always remained on, unless you pushed the handbrake lever down firmly.

This has now been cured since the mechanic re-installed my calipers and adjusted the cables.

The handbrake lever is now pulled down tight when released.

By the way, I was correct....the garage which initially failed it couldn't give a damn.

Interestingly, they are a tyre fitting outfit gave gave an advisory on the two rear tyres. Guy who did the subsequent test said they they were nowhere near the minimum legal limit.
Sam Murray

The light on problem with the handbrake is a simple adjustment of the cable, if the lever springs up slightly when pushed down the cable is slack, this will also effect how well the handbreake works.
All you need is a 12mm spanner. Remove the cubby box liner under the armrest between the seats look insid and you will see two cables on a linkage, in the middle of the cable linkage is a single nut. Turn it clockwise with the 12mm open ended spanner checking the lever for spring up after a few turns, don't over tighten as it will cause break bind if taken too far. If in doubt jack up the rear wheels and check the breaks are not binding after the adjustment.

I hope this helps.
G Luxon

Good tip G!
Sam Murray

This thread was discussed between 15/03/2011 and 12/05/2011

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