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MG MGF Technical - Please help! My MGF wouldn't start..... Dieter, Roger, Rob, or Ted anyone?

Hi, T_T

My MGF wouldn't start for no reason at all! It was fine yesterday all day!

I had no starting problem before.. even in wet / cold whatsoever.

The battery seems fine, I tried both my horn / lights / cd player everything seems to work.

When I turn the ignition to stage 2, it is supposed to make that start up noise. You know that zzzzz noise. Mine one sounds like it's dying! Like it's a really weak slow zzzz. [no it's not ECG = electro cardio gram]

And when I turn it to stage 3, to start it up, it just goes, tick tick tick tick tick really fast.

And I don't hear the fuel pump pumping either!

What should I do..? I am so sad, my last exam just finished and I wanted to go for a good ride...

Please anyone help me?
If someone wants me to record the noises and tick tick sound I can do it and send it to you by email.

Just give me some indications.

Thank you
Hanah Kim

Oh additional information.

The click click noise is without any motions... like starting motor is not responding at all..

How much does a new starter motor cost? I think mine just died..

Let me know.. anyone?
Hanah Kim

Hi there, sorry for bothering others.

I just did some testing. (loading lots of crap on the battery without engine turned on)

I checked the achieve for last hour, and yeah I think it was the battery.

I turned up the heater to the full -> yes slower than usual fan speed

I turned the lights on -> yes dimmer, and slows down the heater fan speed by heaps

I turned the high beam on -> fan slower, dimmer

I tried turning on the stereo -> no response [at this point turned everything off, and i could effect the cd out, but still couldn't turn the cd player or radio on]

I tried turning the engine on -> no click noise at all. Nothing.

The instrument lights were a lot darker when I turned on the high beam.

I am guessing this is a bad battery now.

First car, learning new things.


Lucky it's not a faulty starter / alternater / cabling.


Thanks though.
Hanah Kim

Sure sounds like a flat battery, how old is it?

Ted Newman

Sounds as though you cracked it before anyone else was able to answer Hanah!

Good work :o)

But why was the battery flat in the first place?

Rob Bell

Mine did this recently too. Same symptoms. Replaced the batt and it's been fine since.

- Andy
Andrew Gilhooley

Thanks guys.

My car was first bought in 1997, and since windows and and windscreen says those windows were produced in late 1996 with VIN017000ish.

I got it second hand with only 9700km. It's been good with no problems except an oil drop from the cam seal. This has been fixed by just tightening the nuts around the box. No leak at all ever since. (that's 6 months ago)

The battery and the tyre were original. So I had to believe the car was genuine 9700km.

It did the right amount of thread with original NCT tyres which could not be bought in late 1999. [this is a second hand Jap] And original Unipart battery. So i guess that battery was in the car for around 3.5 years.
I am just glad that it didn't happen at the uni the night before. Other wise I could have been stuck in the staff parking lot.

I am getting a new battery today. Any recommendations? Or anything to look out for?

I should have read all the articles in the archieve first, but I got worried so badly. The tick tick tick noise was just so horrible! Since everyone was going 'arrg, another starter motor', I was really worried being on a tight budget at the moment. -> arg stupidly expensive fees for medical school

Just to be on a safe side, I want to check my alternator (status) after swapping the battery. Can I do it myself? Or Do I need to take it to a technician?

If I can do it myself, how / where should I be looking at? and how do i know it's burnt?

Let me know. Thank you all. Andrew / Rob / Ted..
Hanah Kim

If the new battery does not work for long, it is likely the battery is not charging properly or you have some drain on the battery while the ignition is off.

My only advice is to get a good battery. If everything else works fine but you still get tick tick tick, then you may be looking at a new starter motor, should not cost too much to get it fixed or replaced.

Although the cars get more reliable as time goes by, some of the components don't.
Tony Smith


a little late but may be it helps.
- the battery should have 12.7 V or more. If its below 12.4 V then its in bad condition. (not enough charged or simply wrong)
- Check under load: the Voltage should not break down below 10V while the starter runs. This value is valid for a battery in good condition only.
- measuring the specific weight (g/ml) of the acid is another term. Together with the actual values of voltage its a good indicator for the battery condition. But the temperature has also influence on this values. Garages know about this.

Checking the charge voltage of the alternator is IMO a good idea. I haven't got the right value but it's IMO 14.7 V. If this voltage varies up and down or is far below 14.7 V then the Voltage Controller of the alternator is damadged. In such case the charge control light should be on IMO.

Another one are the cables to the starter and alternator. I recall there where already some cases with loose cables.

Hope you get it fixed asap and that you can celebrate the finished exam as you need. :)) Congratulations at last.


Dieter Koennecke

I will go with what Deiter has added except that I would expect the system voltage when running to be in the 13.7V to 14.2V range. With the fan on maximum and with headlamps and rear fog lamps on then expect perhaps a reading from about 13.4V up when the engine revs are held at about 3000rpm for 1 minute.

This is about the 4th battery situation I have heard of in the last 10 days. Our own Rover 218iS had a battery die suddenly over two days last week. Up to a the one day it was fine with no problem at all. The one morning it was very lazy in turning the engine over and the afternoon was worse. The following morning it had died. This was followed up the same day with a friends car that had the same and since I have had the other queries e-mailed to me.

The batteries today seem to have a sudden death characteristic whereby they give no tell take signs of impending failure, but pack up over a very short time scale, often overnight. I put this down to an internal failure within the battery that involves a heavy resistance building up that acts as a cut off swicth when any heavy loads are placed on the battery. By heavy I refer to the drain that starting has on the battery.

Often the usual light checks will show a battery that is giving a good output, but the problems only show up when the heavy loads are imposed. This is why a proper battery tester that actually puts a heavy load on the battery is needed rather than the simple voltage testing or measurement of specific gravity. The annoying thing is that often these batteries can take slow charging and also provide low amperage power supplies. For example our duff Rover battery is serving very well as a slave battery for a 12V portable lamp I use under cars!!

Roger Parker

Thank you all for comments!

As again, kudos to Roger and Dieter!

Thanks Tony as well.

Just picking up the new battery in an hour.

But doesn't the slow and weak bzzz (starting up noise)-> indicate flat battery from the start? Also can't even turn the radio on. Horn works though.

Stupid question -> where is the alternator?


Hanah Kim


>sudden death characteristic
Whats your opinion. Is it from a shortcut in any single cell ?
If so then the very old trick can help sometimes. These shortcuts are IMO produced by any loose lead particles which appear if the acid level gets to low (inner lead plates corosion).
Sometimes it helps to disassemble the battery and give it some 'shocks' by bumping it onto the ground, ist it ?

Anyway the shortcut of a single cell can be measured (see above Rogs right values) and they appear often at a poor served battery.

Dieter Koennecke

>Stupid question -> where is the alternator?

Right rear wheelhouse. behind the weak black cover plate.
One screw on the top and two (crap) plastic srews (more a kind of rivet) at the bottom.

More easy to get there if the car is lifted.

On your last sentence regarding the flat battery, Yes it sounds like a dead single sell.
Woould suggest to screw off the 6 cell caps for a last look for the acid level. If its to low and has been to loe for a long time then forget it and take the new one.

Midnight in Germany
Good night

Dieter Koennecke

As it happens I finally gave in tonight and got a new battery. As some of you may remeber I did say my battery appeared to be on the way out a week or two ago. Leaving work this afternoon the battery was only just about strong enough to get the engine running and I decided there and then it would not last until the weekend to be changed as I'd planned anyway. SO there I was this evening outside Halfords changing the battery.

My symtoms sound very similar to what other people have reported which sounds more like a slow death than an instant failure. Again I had the tick, tick tick noise a couple of weeks ago when the battery was too drained to start the engine. Tests with a suitable meature (one of those multi-fuinction Test-tune things designed for car use) proved it was the battery 'ageing' and not a problem with the charging ciruit or an abnormal drain on the battery elsewhere. All indications pointed at the battery begining to fail - if all goes well the engine should turn over as normal when I start the car in teh morning - ie. no more - is it going to start again! :)

Oh, and if anyone is interested I paid 65 which is more than I could and probably should have paid, but I decided to go for Halfords Heavy Duty Calcium offering rather than one of the other three alternatives they could also have offered. What real benefit the 'calcium' is I don't know other than it extends teh warranty from 3 to 4 years. Hopefully this battery will fail in about 3 yrs 11 mths. ;-)

Home of the F'ers Gallery and MG Dealer Guide.
Paul Lathwell

Hi all,

Got the new batter today. Worked like a charm.

Morning start -> no accelerator at all,
just flick of the key to stage 3 -> broom in 0.3 sec.

Usually took me 0.7~1 sec to start the car like 'bbbbbrooom'

Now it's just 'broom'. *grin*

New battery made a big difference and I am really happy.

Also re-positioning the alarm antenna (yellow wire) increased my range from the key fob by heaps!! I can even do it from upstairs in my room.

Thanks to all.

(Alternator seems to be in a difficult place for me to check.. :()
Hanah Kim

Batteries can play up in all sorts of ways and I was forced to buy a new one back in the summer (did we have a summer?).

Don't forget that the battery is called on to do a lot of work on the modern car and the *F* is no exception plus it has EPAS (Electric Power Assisted Steering) which takes one hell of a lot of 'juice' to operate.

Ted Newman

This thread was discussed between 01/11/2000 and 02/11/2000

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