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MG MGF Technical - Headlights again !!!

Hi guys

Sorry to bring the subject up again ! but I've got to do something about my low beam headlights, they are pretty useless as they stand...

Before I pull one of the headlights apart does anyone know if its possible to remove the lense over the low beam bulb to try and get rid of the 'milkyness"

I assume the lense is glass so in theory you should be able to clean them,,,wether it will improve the light output is another story ?

I've got the so called extra brilliant bulbs from halfords but they are not really any better...

With winter looming it would be lovely to see where I am going down the dark country lanes around my area

Be nice to see the flooded road before the wave comes over the bonnet !!!

Help !!




I don't think we reached a definitive answer on trhis last time round, so no need to apologise for mentioning it again.

Glass is basically a very thick liquid, so milkyness is caused by insoluble compounds floating round in the stuff. Sometimes this is done deliberately - for instance in Lalique.

My guess is something has diffused from the hot bulb and is now working its way into the body of the lense. If this is the case, cleaning the surface will do no good, but by all means try it to see if my theory holds.

Not sure why the lenses and light bulbs used in Fs should be different to those in any other car, it could be explained if the lense is made from recycled glass and contains impurities that are reacting with trace of components from the light bulb.


Yes you can remove the lenses - I do not believe that cleaning is the answer

The lenses are a replacement part - somewhere in the archive you will find the part number.
Problem same thing will happen again.


Actually Dennis (in NZ) has come up with a reason for such poor headlights in MGFs. I also agree on his opinion. I can post photos if you want as my spare head lights are sitting in the garage.

The milkyness on the lense *would* make the situation worse. If you disassemble the headlights and see the reflective part, you will notice that the silver reflective layer is peeling off. Turning white not silver. Maybe due to bad paint, or bad design. So if you get the item repainted by a specialist with heat proof paint, the lights should be a lot better than before. Also changing the lense would help as well. Do not put higher wattage lamps as this will just melt the paint away quicker, and you will end up with crap head lights again.

I haven't had this done on my lights yet, but all 3 cars had the same problem.

So the verdict is to:-

1) Repaint the reflective layer (not you, but someone else with heat proof / reflective paint)

2) Change to a better bulb

3) If possible, get the lense replacement.

You will see why the reflective part is the problem, if you disassemble the lights. (Unlike high beam, low beam does not shoot directly outwards, but uses reflection off the surrounds)

Hanah Kim

Hi Hanah, How was the holiday? I'll give you an update once I've had a crack at my lamps - think I've got a solution and will attack it when the clear indicator lens arrive from Mike, that way I have an excuse to rip the bumper off.

All - What ever you do DON'T put 100 watt bulbs in there - it's likely to melt the plastic reflector.

Cheers D

....and when painting the reflector - why not paint it black (like the Trophy) or body-colour instead of silver. This gives the MGF a far more menacing look at the front, and is a very, very easy job.
PK51VDY - Yellow Trophy

My dipped headlamps are quite poor as well; I have just adjusted them upwards 1/2 turn with a disproportionate improvement but still not good enough.

I am now getting confused -

Hannah says "Repaint the reflective layer with reflective paint"

Paul says "when painting the reflector - why not paint it black"

Are they talking about the same reflector?

One thinks that reflective paint will improve the light output while the other thinks that black paint will have the same effect.

I know that Will is becoming the expert on
painting headlamps, perhaps he could add his comments to this thread?


Hi Dennis, how is it going? :-) Hope you had a good trip back to Wellington. It was *really* nice to meet a such kind fellow F'er. Very good experience indeed. I will let you know about Wellington trip once my exam results come out.

I got 2 MG catalogues for you incase if you want one, I will post it down.


There are 2 parts to headlights surround.

1) Paul is mentioning is 'outside' that's not related to bulbs much.

2) The part I am talking about is 'inside' where the 2 domes are. One with covered up lense (that tends to go milky), and one without a cover and 2 bulbs showing (high beam). The reflective parts in the domes are causing the problems. Usually the dome on high beam is less problematic. The dome on low beam is.

Dennis, when I got mine together, I had too many fingerprints (from a plastic welder) and while trying to remove it, peeled some chrome off, so had to just use some silver paint to temporarily remedy the thing. So at some stage, I really need your solution to be applied. That would honestly make things heaps better. So I am waiting for that.


Dennis, hope you didn't mind me posting the first msg above.
Hanah Kim

Thanks Hanah - I was almost ready to source some heat resistant matt black paint for my reflectors :-)

:-D i am glad you didn't!

I hope others can agree with Dennis' idea.
Hanah Kim

>>The lenses are a replacement part - somewhere in the archive you will find the part number. <<

David, I've searched and searched for that part number - and can find no mention of the dipped-beam lens being available as a separate part.

If you can find it, could you let us know?

Rob Bell

I'm not too sure if David is following my recent comment of 'a part number for replacement lens's' but I'm sure they're out there somewhere.

But Rob, I've checked the archive too and can't find the reference either :o(
I think I might have to investigate other Rover cars to find a lens the same.

tim woolcott

Sadly Tim, I think we can be 100% confident that the MGF lens is unique to our favourite sporster. :o(

Only other alternative is to chat to Midland MGF. MGF centre etc to obtain second hand parts
Rob Bell

Rob what do you say about Dennis' finding. I think re-silvering the reflectors (not the colour coded bits, or the bits that we normally paint to make it look more aggresive) will be 100% more effective (meaning twice) than changing the milky lenses. Milkyness should only decrease the light discharge by little and also change the tone of the colour. Opacity of milkyness is not too bad, it just looks worse, because the silver bits turn white (milky) as well...
Hanah Kim

That is very interesting Hanah - nice one Dennis.

Frankly, my dipped beam lenses are so milky that it is difficult to judge the state of the reflective coating of the lamp bowl. I suspect that I'll find that mine is similarly effected; I may need to track down some new lamps and replace.

Unfortunately for me, my 95/96 car probably has slightly different lamps to later cars :o(

Oh well, only one way to find out.
Rob Bell

Rob, how about re-silvering the headlights rather than replacing the whole thing? It will be a lot cheaper wouldn't it? I heard that you can get heat-proof paint to paint on the reflective surfaces. The milkyness might be *just* the whiteness on the plastic not on the lense itself. Mines are not too bad, if you want them. Will be happy to post it to your house.

Hanah Kim

When I dismantled the headlight unit the reflective surface had deteriorated a little but it was obvious that the lens had become milky and was the cause of the bad illumination. Had I been more organised I would have replaced them.

Neil Stothert

Hanah, I might just take you up on that kind offer for lenses!

Regarding the merits of re-silvering versus replacement... hmm. Firstly there are plenty of second hand units around - one imagines there must be a glut of reflectors sans outer glass that are floating around following a frontal impact ;o) Not gone so far yet to actually perform costings.
Secondly I'd be anxious that I'd make a right old pig's ear of the re-silvering: how easy is it to do???
Rob Bell

Rob unsure of the cost as of yet..
Haven't done it yet myself. Expecting around 30 pounds. If there is such paint that i can get privately, I guess it will cost less.

I will check the lenses tonight and see if they are not *milky*. I will post you a photo. If it's cheap to get replacements, maybe a good idea too... (lense and new reflectors!)

I am at work right now.
Hanah Kim

If you notice the TF headlights, it has heat vents on the bottom side. Meaning the heat produced from teh bulbs are a lot, and F doesn't have any. Meaning faster deterioration in paint surface.
Hanah Kim

I have just spent an hour in the archives. no luck. I did get the part numbers from the archive last year for new inside lenses and checked them out with my local dealer. The inner lenses are available. Perhaps find a friendly dealer who will spend some time with you getting into the system

Sorry I cannot be any more help



I have just bought my F and must say I am concerned about the poor quality of dipped headlights (full beam is not great either) As this is clearly a problem that seems to be experienced by most F owners,and bearing in mind that it is a major safety question it would be intersting to get MG/Rover views re a safety recall!!

I share your concerns Gary, since I bought my F in April I have been disappointed with the dipped headlights although I have no problems with mainbeam as I can still drive medium B roads at upto 80 mph.

As the car had been in manufacture since 1996, and many have been through several hands, I would be surprised if a satey recall was likely. A reasonable factory response could be "drive within the distance that you can see".

However, I just wish that dipped lights cast a light patch onto the road where I want to drive rather than where the disigner thought I wanted to drive.

If anyone around the Hertfordshire area has some spare light units, there's a little experiment we could try involving some H1 fitting Gas discharge burners.
They should be a straight swap for the tungsten bulbs, but I'm not sure what the heat build up might be like (and whether it will melt the headlight unit!).
Alan B

What kind of heat are you worried about Alan?

If just trapped heat under the outer glass lens, why not run the car without the outer clear glass?

If you are worried about local heat warping the reflector itself... hmm... yeah, I'd want a spare handy too!
Rob Bell

Apparently the HID burners run quite a bit hotter than standard filament bulbs. Heat soak into a plastic headlamp housing might therefore be a bit of an issue.

Being serious though, the burners are supposed to be a direct swap and are on a plastic H1 base. I suspect that a little playing with how far into the headlamp unit they mount would be required to make sure the focus is right, which would be easier to do with a light unit off the car rather than fumbling around.

Alan B

>>> All - What ever you do DON'T put 100 watt bulbs in there - it's likely to melt the plastic reflector. <<<

Ooops, don't agree with that one.
Fitted 100W bulbs for the full beam (the ones not behind the 'extra' lens and use them from time to time (off course not for very long periods) and haven't got problems with melting reflectors.

Stu and all

Before you make any changes to your headlamps have a look at this site.

It's American but the advice is relevant to the UK (or worldwide). The guy certainly seems to know what he's talking about.

NJ Law

Given that most of what the site contains is correct, if not necessarily relevant to the F, I'm surprised it neglects to say anything about the compulsory headlamp cleaning systems (the idea is that dirt on the headlight causes glare to oncoming drivers) and auto-levelling systems for load compensation. All the extra clobber they fit is why 'conversion' sets as sold by car manufacturers and HID as an optional extra really cost so much.
Alan B

This thread was discussed between 21/11/2002 and 09/12/2002

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