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MG MGF Technical - Is mine the most unreliable F ever

Can anyone advise me as to what has gone wrong with my car this time please???? Last night driving home from work (a journey of about 45 miles mainly on single carriageway A roads but also through some towns) the car did not seem to have as much power as usual and accelerating seemed slower - however it had been raining heavily and most people were driving very cautiously so I was unable to really put the acceleration to the test. This morning I got in the car, turned the key there was the most horendous grating sound - then nothing. It was not the pathetic whirr one gets with a flat battery (not that I have ever heard an F with a flat battery) but a really hideous noise and the next time I turned the key it ws just silence.....can anyone offer any suggestions please. It had a major service last month and HGF back in April........

It's going to be the battery or starter motor - so try putting headlamps on and see if they go dim when you turn the starter - this would suggest the battery.
With the possible exception of a certain car from Luxembourg I feel quite unlucky. In the last 12 months I have had to replace - gearbox/clutch/driveshaft/head gasket/repair both door handles/total suspension collapse at rear needing new bushes/suspension ball joint/track rod end/stereo/door catch/fuel pump and sender unit, 4 brake discs and pads, exhaust, bumpers (my fault) and boot lock. (from what I can remember.) I also need a new downpipe and catalyst. I would probably think twice before buying another rover, but I still like the car.
Nathan Carnie

Yorkshire is in the UK, before you ask.
Nathan Carnie

Sorry to hear of your problem/s,
I had a similar problem last week when my 'F' had been
standing for three weeks,
On trying to start it there was a similar noise to what you describe, but after charging the battery-up
for a few hours it started ok.
Check-out battery first before thinking the worst of
anything else.

Thanks for the comments so far. One thing puzzles me though - I know I've not left the lights on or anything that would run the battery down and I had done between 500 and 600 miles in the week previously -driving it every day. I'm not a technical person but I always understood that driving a car charges up the battery...what could have caused the battery to drain like that and would that also account for the lack of acceleration the previous evening. Sorry I know that makes me sound a real girl and completely thick...but I did the kick boxing evening class not car maintenance (and will be trying out those skills on the F if anything else goes wrong with it)

Start by checking for plenty of power in the battery by putting the headlights on. If dim then the charging system is suspect. If not then possibly the starter is suspect.
MGFs seem to suffer with starter problems. Sometimes the actual starter solenoid ceases to function, sometimes the motor itself. The solenoid is the bit which mechanically engages the starter motor to the engine and then switches the power through to make it turn. Check the connections to the starter motor are secure, sometimes the thinner brown lead works loose because it is only a push on connector. The brown lead should also be tie wrapped to the solenoid to minimise vibration, preventing it from working loose. If the brown lead pulls off easily it is too loose. Disconnect the -ve terminal of the battery first to prevent accidental short circuits and then squeeze the connector carefully with a pair of pliers to close up the contact faces and make it fit tighter.

If the charging circuit is suspect then check that the battery connections are tight to start with. Be carefull when checking the live connection on the battery. If your spanner shorts to the bodywork of the car you could find yourself holding a red hot spanner! Remove the engine cover and check the alternator connections are secure. I had my main alternator lead come adrift through vibration fatigue. The connection was only making every now and again so it gradually let my battery run out over a period of time. If your lead is insecure then disconnect the battery -ve again before working on the connection.

After eliminating these then you should move on to the alternator itself as components within it may be faulty. Competent electrician time!

If you are unsure as to how to do the above get a competent electrician to do the work. That would be my advice to anyone. A car battery can pack an awful punch! Good luck HTH
Bruce Caldwell

I always look for simple things first
have you lost your alternator drive belt
is it slack.
on most cars easy to check on the F looks a bit harder.

It's definitely not the battery - lights are really bright and jump starting it doesn't work. So maybe the starter motor - Bruce thanks for all the advice, but as you possibly percieved I wouldnt know where to start with all it looks like I'll have to get it towed in to the local dealer,I'm thinking of giving my car a name - I thought Pelican would be good because they know all about big bills too....!

Mavbe "Albatross" would be better than Pelican :o)

Stormy Petrol? [sic]

If the starter motor is making a horrible noise, it could just not be engaging correctly. Whack it with something. (Not easy to reach, but a while back someone came up with the trick of using a spring loaded umbrella to"fire" at it.)

Starter motor is fairly easy to access. Open the boot lid and remove the black mesh grille above the engine. Look down where the mesh came out on the left hand side. You will see the starter motor at the bottom. It is cylindrical, about 12cm in diameter. Attached is a smaller cylinder about 5cm in diameter, this is the solenoid with the connections on it. Good luck now!
Bruce Caldwell


If all the above fail - have someone check the earth strap between the engine and the frame. Either broken or a poor connection - corrosion maybe.
Dennis Montgomery

Sounds like a starter motor problem to me too Clare. The worst it could be is a shattered pinion barrel, but is more likely to be stuck and in need of a thump!


P.S. The most unreliable F ever was owned by a BBS user named Dirk, its a VERY long story and is in the archive under numerous postings.
Scarlet Fever

Clare has actually joined in on another thread. The problem was not the starter motor but was a broken rear exhaust cam gear bolt.

Please note this is NOT the bolt checked during the seat belt recall - they only checked those on the front of the engine.

Sophie Ross and myself have started to compile a list of anyone affected by this as we believe there is a fault out there - especially with 1997 VVC. We have 9 cases so far and the bills range between 300 and 4000 (4 new engines required out of the 9 cases).

If anyone has experienced this problem or knows of anyone who has can they contact me -


Andy Wyatt

This thread was discussed between 05/08/2001 and 14/08/2001

MG MGF Technical index

This thread is from the archive. The Live MG MGF Technical BBS is active now.