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MG MGF Technical - Not starting

After yesterday's downpour my '98F is refusing to start. My concern is that it doesn't even seem to be close to firing, like you usually get with wet leads so I'm concerned that it could be electrical.
Anyone experienced this before or have any ideas on what the possible causes could be? I drove it 20 miles last night and it started and drove without a hiccup.
The battery's fine judging by the speed at which it was turning the starter motor.



V common problem. I often put plastic over the rear vent when parked up in wet weather for some time.
Worth upgrading the leads when they get 3 years old or so. Usual suppliers.

So the chances are it'll start this evening following a relatively sunny day? If not, what can I do to attempt to remedy the situation to get it to a garage?



Put something over the bootlid vents tonight!

Some people have talked about using magnetetic sign material in the past, but almost anything (like a plastic bag or even a sheet of card, weighted down suitably) should do quite well.


Must be worth giving the leads a good spray with damp start / wd 40 etc

If it doesnt start - check your fuses!

isnt there a grille cover available (something like u see on older VW bEETLES - WOULD LOOK SMART !

I mentioned this type of grill sometime ago
It must be simple for someone to produce
Like the VW/Porsche with a simple slider to open and close it.
With a bit thought as you say it could look smart.

I had this problem for months and got used to covering the vents with thick plastic (it was just a A4 size which went over the grill and then the boot was closed) whenever I parked. Eventually I replaced the leads and plugs - all fine now. Don't put too much faith in WD40 the number of times I did this and then had to plug a hair dryer down the back of the engine, it was a nitemare. By the way 15 mins with the hair dryer ALWAYS worked.

You should have no problems if u cover the vents up.


I had this problem constantly. Resorted to using the lid from a tupperware box to cover the vents. This worked great for a while. Then the real foods came and she wouldn't start at all.

I changed my leads and plugs and have had no trouble since. Suprisingly easy to do. I produced some scripts which I sent to Paul Lathwell for the FAQ showing how to do it. If they are not on there yet (I know he has been busy) I can email them to yout if you are interested.

The leads really do deteriorate badly afer a few years. Replaced them with magnecor leads and OEM plugs. If you can be bothered to replace the plugs regularly, there is a school of thought that says use copper core as they are cheap, and will always be at peak peformance if replced often.

Really worth the effort.

David Mills

On the regular replacement of plugs issue - there havebeen one or two cases of engines throwing plugs over the summer: so beg, borrow or buy a torque wrench. I have a recollection that it's 23Nm for the plugs: can someone confirm this? I have no idea where I got that information from...

Ed Clarke

I had this problem in February this year and as many of you have done first attempted to cover the vents in bad weather. It did work for a while, but gradually got worse. After consulting with Brown and Gammons I had the leads replaced by them and have had no problems since!!

As a point of interest, have you checked that on the underneath of your boot lid, the four "black rubber bungs" are fitted / fitted correctly. The was the answer to have wet patches in my boot in heavy rain!!

Andy Beard

Spark plugs torques & gaps are as follows:

VVC up to 2001MY and MPI up to 2000MY is 25Nm and gap is 0.9 +-0.1mm

VVC from 2001MY on and MPI from 2000MY on is 27Nm and gap is 1.00 +-0.05mm

Spyros Papageorghiou

>I changed my leads and plugs and have had no trouble since. Suprisingly easy >to do. I produced some scripts which I sent to Paul Lathwell for the FAQ >showing how to do it. If they are not on there yet (I know he has been busy) >I can email them to yout if you are interested.

I hold my hands up and admit to have been very slack on this! Don't worry though I've not forgotten about the various articles you sent me David - it will get done eventually!. :)

Home of the F'ers Gallery, MG Dealer Guide and new MGF FAQ (slowly but surely!). :)
Paul Lathwell

Plugs are favourite with me. 1996 VVC totally refused to start on a wet morning. Tried blocking the vent completely to no avail. Not even a cough even though the engine was churning over like mad! Took out the plugs and set them to bottom limit 0.9mm in my case and it has never ever failed to start in the wet since. Still on the original plug leads.
Toque them in correctly though 'cos it's not a steel head!
Bruce Caldwell

Sorry that should read 'torque'
Bruce Caldwell

I've also had the "not starting on a damp morning" problem. However, have you noticed in the troubleshooting guide of the owners manual the bit about depressing the clutch half-way and then if it still won't start also depressing the accelerator half-way while turning the engine over?

I know nothing about the technical reasons for why this should work, but it seems to. In my case, after much frustration, it was a classic example of RTFM!


Could anyone tell me how difficult a job it is to change the leads. I know the plugs are difficult to access to presumed this would be a long job too.




Not difficult at all. You could do it about an hour (including plug changing if you feel adventurous). 15 mins max to get to the leads and the same to put the engine access back afterwards. The rest of the time to put the leads on. It is a bit fiddly as (with the VVC) you can't really see the connections properly. so it can be worth doing them one at a time to make 100% certain no mistakes are made.

As I posted earlier in this thread, I have a set of scripts with some pictures which I can email you if you are interested.

David Mills

This thread was discussed between 25/09/2001 and 01/10/2001

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