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MG MGF Technical - Help! Beloved MGF won't start

I've had my second hand MGF 9 months (it's 5 years old, 23K, 1.8 VVC)and since purchase (from Rover dealer) have had trouble starting the car. Car went back to dealer who diagnosed (?)the need for new HT leads. However, 4 months later MGF decides for no apparent reason to not start (a clicking noise can be heard from rear of car) - and starter motor doesn't even turn. After several jump starts (and the AA out to rescue me) to get car back to dealer, they have now 'diagnosed' a dead battery due to mirror lights being left on which caused battery to drain. I don't think so.

Please help, cos the bill for this work is extortionate, and i really don't think this is the cause of the problem (i would notice lights on). The AA suggested the stepper motor was faulty.
Emma Phillips

Are you sure the clicking is coming from the rear of the car and not behind the dash? Relay behind the dash feeds the starter motor when you turn the key. Therefore if relay is working, it may be the starter motor itself, the starter motor solenoid or the connections to it. Check out the starter motor which is seen by taking out the grille above the engine (where you check the oil and water). The motor is on the LH side down at the bottom as you look through the gap. Check the thinner wire going to the motor is not loose. They do tend to work loose and if you can pull the connection off easily it is too loose. If need be squeeze up the connector when it's disconnected with a pair of pliers and then push it back on. Don't get the pliers near the large terminals or you may find yourself holding onto something rather hot! There should be a plastic tie wrap around the solenoid holding this wire from flapping about too much. Obviously added to reduce the likelihood of this problem. Check also the large wire connections to the motor. These are bolted on. If loose then disconnect the battery first before attempting to tighten them with a spanner.

If the battery is not being charged properly then it will go flat giving same symptoms. Check the voltage if you can. If your lights are dim then this is a good indication of a flat batt. Enough power will be left in the battery to make the solenoid on the starter click but not enough to pull it into engagement. This has happened on mine and I traced mine to a broken connection on the alternator. It made small intermittent connections with the vibration as I drove along but eventually burnt itself apart. This is an engine cover removal job 'cos the alternators in front of the engine. Remember to disconnect the battery first before checking connections on the alternator. Good luck. HTH
Bruce Caldwell

I've had this happen to me a couple of times. Once when I left the interior light on overnight, and the other when I left the car outside the house for a week during massive rainstorms. On both occasions it was a flat battery. Mot enough power and the starter motor just clicks and doesn't engage. Charge up for a hour or so - then it will start - will recharge easily in use. Should only happen after battery drainage, so unlikely to happen whilst out shopping or on business unless the battery is defective.

Anyway, definitely low power output from the battery.

Thank you for your reply.

The clicking noise is definitely from the starter motor, probably due to low battery power.The car is fine once running, but car won't start again once engine is switched off (same clicking noise). Do you happen to know whether the mirror lights stay on if the car is locked using key fob? Rover think that this is the problem. The battery was fully recharged for 24hrs and still failed to start the car! The lights, radio etc all function as normal even when not enough power to start car (and before battery was recharged).

The stepper motor is on the same fuse as the interior lights, and this circuit had a power draw when everything was switched off. I thought it could be a short circuit in the stepper motor as this could also explain the intermittent starting problems that I have had since purchase (those problems were with the car failing to fire rather than not turning the starter motor). Coincidence?????

Until the car refused to start one morning, there were no other electrical problems.

I just don't trust Rover's diagnosis!
Emma Phillips

I'd take it to a local auto electrician to see if the alternator is giving out sufficent power. You could try one of those battery monitor things. The just plug it in when you get home.

Good luck


It's either one of two things, the battery has had it (most likely IMO) or the alternator is no longer charging the battery. If there is something draining the battery then you should still be able to re-start the car within a few minutes of having stopped and turning off the engine.
Paul Lathwell

Emma - the clicking noise is certainly battery related. Once batteries start to go (car batteries don't like being completely discharged and re-charged, unlike, for instance, phone batteries) they don't hold charge for so long and will become flat more quickly. Thus you may find difficulties after leaving the car standing for a couple of days or more. If it's still becoming drained after a trip then it's either got to be alternator or REALLY knackered battery. A complete alternator failure would leave all the cars electrics trying to run off the battery whilst driving, and you'd be stalling at every opportunity, and effectively bump-starting it all the time. Unpleasant.

There's also a power-drain problem connected with the MEMS/relay circuits that more than one of us has suffered.

The HT leads was a good diagnosis though - would have been even better if they'd chnged the plugs at the same time.


I guess a starter solenoid problem is also possible - but the first thing I'd try is a new battery.
Ed Clarke

I'd agree with Ed- sounds very much like a dead battery. 5.5 years is a good life for a lead acid battery, and this winter saw the first ever time my car failed to start- couple of degrees below zero, frost, been left idle for probably over a month parked on the street- all I got was a slow sounding fuel pump sound and a lame click from the starter... I suspect that I'll need to replace my car's battery by next winter.
Rob Bell

Welcome to the world of famous MGF-niggles.

I had this dreaded "CLICK!" and nothing else aswell. Diagnosis: STARTER ENGINE BLOCKED and/or DIRTY HT LEAD CONNECTORS

if it doesn't click it's a blown fuse, if it still tries to start could be tons of reasons, including ECU.

try to use an umbrella to start your F (by knocking on the (small dark cylindric shaped) starter motor) Magically made my car start afterwards!

I agree - battery dead. Once the battery has been discharged to below 50%, it'll never be the same again. The battery is only for providing high current for a short period (starting), so a long continuous drain will kill it.

I had this happen twice to me (once I left the lights on, once a defective replacement battery with a dud cell).

THe alternative is that the MEMs isn't switching off properly - there's some stuff in the archive about this but basically there's a fault which causes it to remain active instead of switching off after 30 secs (or so). You should be able to detect this by measuring the current drain when the car is switched off and locked.

N837 OGF

So what are we saying Dirk - Batteries don't go flat on BMWs?

Ted Newman

Doesn't that depend on how long it takes the indicator to switch off after the car stops?

"Do you happen to know whether the mirror lights stay on if the car is locked using key fob? "

They go off after a minute or so providing the switches on the bottom of the mirror are in the correct position,otherwise they stay on.
Jon Baker

Thanks to everyone for their helpful advice.

Eventually (after Rover had the car for a week, and several phone calls)they concluded that the battery was indeed dead. They also replaced the HT leads and spark plugs (2nd set of HT leads in 6 months!!). Hopefully now this should cure the problem......

we'll see!!
Emma Phillips


May be worth trying a different dealer in future, it should not take that long to determine whether or not it was the battery at fault. Try the MG Dealer Guide for an alternative dealer in your area......
Paul Lathwell

This thread was discussed between 09/07/2001 and 11/07/2001

MG MGF Technical index

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