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MG MGF Technical - HGF - help - could it be a coincidence?

I would really appreciate your advice, sorry itís bit of a long story.

Someone drove into my car, the insurance arranged for a garage to collect and repair. The garage was unable to source one of the parts required for the repair, so the car sat outside the garage for 2 months until I found the part(!)
Once repaired the MOT had expired so the garage kindly took it to my usual MOT garage for me (only hundreds of yards away) but it failed the emissions test. The car was taken for ďa runĒ as the garage thought it was ďblocked upĒ after being unused for so long. Then I was told that the problem was head gasket failure. (I know, K engine Ö..)

I have two issues
1) the car was running fine when I left it, so it is not being returned to me in pre-accident condition which I thought was the point of insurance
2) I am concerned that the HGF was brought on either by the fact that it was left unused for so long, or has been revved too high after such a long period of not being used, or that it has being driven without coolant, or any combination of these.

The car has clocked up 28 miles since the accident which I consider is excessive as the car was not driveable after the accident. Most of this mileage must have been incurred prior to the recent MOT test as they had to put petrol into it to take it for a spin to try to clear the emissions (even though there had been sufficient in it after the accident). I know that the car has been at both of their 2 sites but if it was driven this would have had to have happened several times to equate to the mileage.

Iíve complained to the insurance company who have inspected but donít want to know, saying that it is down to wear and tear, common fault etc. They say that I have to get an independent report to say that the garage caused the HGF! I would think this is a difficult thing to prove.

Do you think that the HGF could have been triggered by being out of use for so long and /or misuse?

Any other advice or suggestions?

Also do you consider that it is necessary for it to be repaired by the garage I normally use for servicing etc, who are experienced Rover mechanics or would it be OK to have it repaired by the MOT place which would be more convenient?

The car has done about 62k miles, only about 4k a year for the last few years, is used every day and itís a P reg 1996.

Many thanks

before the car went in for the repair had you checked the oil and water?..... not just the levels, but the condition of the fluids, ie cross contamination oil/water etc!!...

There are several types of HG failure, the most common being the above, but in the early stages the engine will still run ok with no obvious problems even though the HG has failed!!..

Over reving the engine from cold is known to cause HGF, however this is something that happens over a longer time period, not just over a few miles!..

Dont blame you for trying to make a claim, but unless you definate proof the HG was ok before the car went in for repair, then I dont think you have much hope!!.

did the accident involve the radiator - if so then you have a chance, otherwise it's probebly coincidence
Will Munns

Thanks for both replys.
I check the coolant VERY regularly as the car uses quite a bit of the stuff. I had topped it up not long before the accident and it was clear. Hadn't checked the oil recently though (and now it looks like coffee coloured mayonnaise).

Is the radiator at the back? (sorry!!). I don't believe it would have been damaged as the accident was an impact to the front wing/offside wheel which crushed in the wheel arch a bit and also the nearside front wheel was scraped as the car was pushed aginst the kerb and up onto the pavement.

I've read previous messages on here recommending a particular type of gasket is fitted when I get the repair done - but I'm unable to find when I search - do you know what I'm talking about?



>>I check the coolant VERY regularly as the car uses quite a bit of the stuff.

That may very well be your answer. There should be no coolant loss, as the systems is closed. If there was water loss before the accident it was leaking somewhere and you had HGF potential.

BTW - the rad is at the front and so is still a possibility for damage given your explanation of the impact.
Dave Livingstone

I'm not a solicitor, but I'm told you should be ok. In that because it was an insurance fix, Ie the crash resulted in your Insurance being involved they had to document what was wrong with the car and what needed fixed, so you have a clear statement on inspection (doesn't matter if they didn;t turn up, but its a legal document the garage accepted) by insturance that the garage accepted as what was wrong with the car. Now it might turn out that it was the gardage that actually said This is whats wrong with the car this is what needs to be done to fix and this how much, either way you have a document saying this is the state of the car.

So effectively the garage broke your car, and in fact the car was leagally owned by the garade whilst in its care. So if whilst fixing the car say they drove it into a wall they would have to fix it.

So I'd try Citizens advice (although some are novices), and may not help. Next is Solicitor, they all do a first free visit, so you could ask for advice for free, and see where you stand. Third is one of these solicitors who will agree to take the case for free. What happens is that a solicitor needs money to live, so says, OK this will take 6 days work, and I will get paid for this 6 days by taking garage to court and getting them to repair your car, you get the car repaired and he gets the 6 days (or whatever) work paid by garage. Usually 1st letter from solicitor which costs say half day, garage pay out fix the car and settle solicitors half day fee.


I have suffered one HGF in 56000 miles and it happened whilst it was on the MOT ramp at the garage who had just serviced it. I had suspicions the Garage either did not vent the system properly or over revved it when cold to get the engine to operating temperature prior to checking the emmissions. I could not prove anything although when the garage phoned me I rushed down to have a look and it was not a pretty sight. Unfortunately the reputation of garages is so poor and confidence is so low that I drive 300 miles to Yorkshire to get it serviced by Mike Satur if anything more than a minor service is required which I do myself.

Whilst I would agree not all garages do a first class job!....... heres a similar case to the above, only looking at it from the garages point of view!!.

My Brother-out-Law owns an MOT station, several years ago when the emmisions test was first introduced for Diesels (before this it was a visual check only!), he was MOT testing an old Escort Diesel van.

Whilst doing the emmisions test on said van (Engine warmed up, then reved to MOT guidlines), the cambelt snapped, causing many hundreds of pounds worth of damage, the owner of the van had no idea when the cam belt was last changed but still threatend court action etc, etc, as from his point of view.... "It was allright before it went in to your garage mate!!".....

So who is to blame?,.. and who pays??,... should the owner of the van be held responsible for not ensuring his van was correctly maintained??,... or should my Brother-out-law pay, because the fault happened while he was working on the van, in HIS garage??....

Tell you what Mark. That's made me think!!
Speaking as a lay-law-person....
Technically when the garage takes it it then BELONGS to them by implied rite. Therfore the old addage of "you break it - you fix it" comes into play. Is there such a thing a garage insurance to cover someone like your Brother-in-Law in such a case?
S J Knight


My Brother-out-Law has the usual insurances, however as he says, every time you make a claim, the premium goes up the following year!!....... also its fair to say in this case, why should his premiums suffer when he is not at fault!!.... after all what is he supposed to do in a situation like this?..... strip the cam-belt off the car, and check it BEFORE he MOTs it!!...

Off course no garage would do this as the MOT test would end up costing hundreds of pounds, AND if you apply this pre-test to the cam-belt, then why not the rest of the car?!!..... it would get to stage where garages would refuse to work on cars unless they came with a 100% certainty that every part was in good order, in case people made a claim!!!!...

I think many of these type situations can be put down to the American "Blame Culture" we seem to have at the moment, ie Somebody is Allways to blame!, As long as its not me!........

Trouble is!, sometimes S**T does happen, and somebody is NOT allways to blame!!!

Isn't there a warning sign on the wall of MOT test stations advising that diesels will be revved and that the owner is responsible for any damage due to cam belts it's the owner's risk?If the owner hadn't a clue when the belt was changed then surely the lack of maintenance is his problem.


This warning was introduced as a result of these type failures!!........ my BOL found out later that this had happened to several MOT stations, the early diesel testers required the engine to be held at quite high revs (for a diesel), making the risk of failure to an allready weak or aged belt even greater!!.

Seem to recall the BOL saying that they had reverted back to a Visual check only, on the advice of the ministry of transport, untill the problem over belts, and the testing machines was resolved!!...

I think the newer machines are now able to record without such high engine revs being used, but the above problem just shows that there are two sides to every story!!..

Isn't the point here that if it had a front impact they probably took the radiator out and didn't bleed the system properly afterwards.
Paul Hollingworth

Last time I had a diesel tested I had to sign a disclaimer with regard to the cam belt.
G Martin

Thanks for all your replys - very interesting....picking up on a few points:
My car has always used coolant despite having a couple of hose type leaks repaired, some sort of little gasket/seal replaced and water pump replaced over the years - by now I've accepted it's part of it's charm....

The accident impact was on the drivers side and only really affected the wheel arch area, the front and bonnet weren't damaged. The garage have not touched the radiator or coolant.

I like the idea of checking the garage documentation concerning the state of the car when they accepted it, because the insurance have said that without any mechanical knowledge it is
unlikely that I would have been aware of HGF prior to the accident (are they trying it on 'cos I'm a girl)?

I have now suggested to the garage that it may be their fault, they've said that they would have no reason to check the coolant level before driving the car (I think this is a bit negligent but maybe most cars wouldn't require this to be checked?. They have acknowledged but not explained the high mileage and the boss man is being consulted as I've asked if they are going to help me out to resolve it before I take it further with the insurance company.

Having said that,unless the garage offer me anything I think I may have to give up with pursuing the insurance company, as the car also failed the MOT on rear tyres and someone has pointed out to me that they could have refused the whole claim saying that the car was illegally on the road - oops!

Anyway guess I'll be on the bus next week as they won't let me keep the hire car any longer. Great.


Sorry me again. It could be because a girl, but they don't have to check the water level first. It doesn't matter if they did or didn't.

They broke it in their care and so they should fix it.

I a garage I know (a BMW) I was chatting to on of the mechanics about your problem. he admitted that they had a bmw on the ramp, the handbrake cable failed and the car moved and fell off the ramp.

The garage paid.

You could try What car legal advice. They like
a) Good stories - and yours is one
b) stories with a difference - and yours is one
c) to print issues tackling garages

A simple letter to them may prove fruitful and any how what harm could it do.

In my opinion your car was fine, yes it failed the MOT and there is a wee warning saying run the car warm before emissions, so perhaps they thought OK we will warm the car see if that works, but were so irresponsible that they raked the F**k out of it and blew your gasket in the process, sheepishly returning and blaming you.

I would recon the water was fine, the cert sent to the insurance company said only damage was wing oe whatever, so they can't say water was low or it was leaking or it had gasket damage, so they don't have a let to stand on.

All the best and I hope you get somewhere, you have my sympathy - would have replied earlier but was at George Best Funeral

Having a good old rant....I know. BUT
isn't it all down to the blame culture.?
If as customers we didn't jump on the compensation claim wagon EVERY time something went SLIGHTLY wrong then gagages wouldn't need the stupidly high insurance to cover themselves. And if they didn't have to cover their A%^es all the time then they'd be happy to put their hand up when a genuine "cock-up" like Berni's happened. I bet someone there would admit that yep, they did rev the crap out of it and caused HGF, but then they'd get fired and have to sue the garage for wrongful dismisal etc,etc,
Madness. That's the one thing left going for sleepy vilage-type garages. Devon's full of 'em and i've finally found an MG one that wants to help. Yes prices are MG-high. But then when you go in with "a little niggly problem" they do it there and then, and for free (usually)
I paid 6500 for my 2000 1.8i ok, about 750 quid too much, but the warranty and service (customer) has meant i've not put my hand in my pocket for 2 EMS sensors, bleed and re-fill of coolant, passenger door window lift adjustment, drivers door alignment and i've got three lads in the workshop baying to let them fit the K&N induction kit and 52mm TB for me. In the MG workshops, so they can "set it up properly"

Good luck Bernie - show some "balls" and get some payback!

Rant complete - sleep mode initiated..................
S J Knight

I love Brian's idea of using the threat of the media! That'll see if their prepared to be honest or not.
Good luck girl, and see you around Bristol. I go througha few times a year!
S J Knight

Brian, "They broke it in their care and so they should fix it" my thoughts exactly (though I can really sympathise with the earlier cam belt story).
I've sent an e-mail to What Car asking their advice - thanks for that tip, wouldn't have ocurred to me.

Right, I'm off to find my balls and polish them up ready .....

Go Berni, Go Berni, Go Berni..

ermm... sorry. It just popped out!
S J Knight

This thread was discussed between 01/12/2005 and 03/12/2005

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