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MG MGF Technical - Signs of replacement ?


I'm in the process of buying an MG F 1.8i from 07/2000. I've done my homework and checked the car on all items mentioned on various bbs'es and the internet.

There where 2 things that still puzzle me:

1) The waterlevel was kindof low. Whatwould oil in the coolant tank look like ? There where some black shades in the green water but it could just be shadows inside the tank. What should I look for and how to test it ?

2) After looking at the engine I noticed the following orange/red stuff.

I've seen a couple of MG's allready but never the red sealant. And what's more the lower red looks 'older' (or dirtier) then the above. Any bad signs there ?

Thanks for looking,
D Fleurbaaij


I hesitate to make comments here incase your engine blows up the next day but ...

the water level should be lower than many owners seem to think. Inside the coolant tank are max and min marks that are not always easy to spot. With coolant cold the level should normally be just above the horizontal seam in the coolant tank - check from outside by rocking the car gently and observing the coolant slop about.

Oil contamination in coolant would normally show as similar to mayonaise and similar would probably show on the oil dip stick and the oil filler cap.

A small sign of mayo can also indicate a lightly used car that normally does short journeys and may not get to normal temperature often enough (a small build up water vapour in the system).

If you are really concerned you should be able to visit an MOT test center and get them to sniff for anything unusual in the coolant tank.

Hopefully somebody else can read more from the jpg but this looks like normal red gasket sealer althougfh I cannot see exactly where it is. Is it "valve cover" area or lower where the head gasket is or is it inlet manifold>


Thanks for the fast response. I checked the oil dip stick and it was okay, no signs of mayo there. There indeed was a bit of coolant in the tank.
(bad image, but level is lower than half)

I'm assuming that the 'mayonaise' everybody is talking about is WHITE. And not just signs of an emulsion between green and black (which should be BLACK/GREEN.) Am I correct ?!?

The images are taken from standing inside the trunk (don't ask), trough the roster which covers the engine. As showed in the next image:

D Fleurbaaij

I may be very wrong, but this looks like a car that has had the head off for some work. This may (or may not!) point to the car having had a head gasket failure. Not necessarily a bad thing as it is a 'simple' repair, but...

If I had a choice, then I'd choose another car.
If there is no choice, and this car is a good price, then go for it ... but with your eyes wide open.

Paul Nothard

The top strip of sealant looks like someone's being to solve a leaking cam cover. This is not really a problem to be too concerned about.

The lower bead of sealant seems to be between the head and block.

This does not fill me with confidence. The head has certainly been removed at some time - most likely to replace the head gasket.

Using a jointing compound is not usual practice when replacing head gaskets - so one wonders why someone decided this was necessary.

May be they simply thought that it would be a 'good idea'

But equally, they may have been taking short cuts.

Personally, I'd leave this particular MGF well alone.

Rob Bell


That is why I asked. But as there really is no way of being sure, I can't make a descision on that.

I've driven it for about 25km including highway and noticed nothing like fluctuating temps. The car drives okay and has no wierd engine dips or rev problems.

Well the car has 6 months of BOVAG ( it's a national secondhand car safety standard ) guarantee, expandable to 2 years. So i'm guessing the garage has some faith in it.

Tanks for the warning,

D Fleurbaaij

Rob, Paul, John,

Thanks for the good information!

I've just mailed the garage company and they're calling up the garages that did the service of the car to check out what they've done to it.

Thanks a lot!

D Fleurbaaij

woukd be interesting to know *when* the head gasket repair was done and whether they used the new design steel dowels as locators.

btw. the kind of repair by using additional sealant stuff is not uncommon and needs not be a bad sign. I know from a DE dealer who has found good experiance with that stuff at the k-engine.

Anyway, I think you will find enough arguments due to a reasonable buying contract (warranty on the head repair) and getting a good discount.

Dieter K.

Could you check the dark spots in the coolant tank with a small stick, to see if it is oil or something. If it is oil, the system should at least be flushed and cleaned out.

Johan Slagter



My experience is that Dutch Rover/MG dealers have absolutely no idea of the "specials" on the MGF, like the higher occurence of HGF and what to do about it, the special care to be taken on coolant bleeding, the way to set up the hydragas suspension etc. They just see it as another rover and treat it that way. I do not trust a Rover dealer with my Car, I'm sure the other MGF owners living in Holland can support that. With that in mind, I would not trust any MGF in Holland with these signs, no matter what history tracking the garage will do.


Gee, I do not seem frustrated do I?

But when you do buy a MGF, Dennis, can we start an MGF-Lan-Party-Event? I'm In! :-)


Ehrm where do you know me from :) ? It seems that my rep. is too widely spread ;)

D Fleurbaaij


I was thinking about the problem. We've driven the car and it shows no signs of any problems.

So what would be the worst possible scenario, assuming that the red sealant is a fix.

Will the problem reoccur ? Or is it more in the lines of: "a fix is a fix and therefore it's not broken".

Any thoughts on this would be greatly appreciated.

D Fleurbaaij

Double Dutch to me.
Tony H

Worst case scenario is possibly a new engine when a HGF occurs. On the other hand you may have years of untroubled motoring ahead of you.

If you do buy it, make sure to take out the extra warranty and what this is about. This basically means which insurer they bring the warranty to and make sure they are legitimate at bovag.

If you do decide to buy it join us in Lier,Belgium on August 3rd at the Kempenrit or

Johan Slagter

Hi Dennis,

My thoughts on this are that you should probably leave this car alone.

What Dieter has said is quite correct - some garages do use additional gasket sealant. Perhaps it is a good idea. As Johan says, perhaps this car will motor on for many years giving untroubled service...

What it is not is an officially recognised repair method by MG Rover.

Perhaps this could cause problems with a warranty company?

The other possibility is that this sealant compound has been used to mask a poor repair. Perhaps there is damage to the cylinder head. Perhaps the original gasket has been re-used and this sealant applied to 'repair' it...

The bottom line is that you simply can not tell whether this was a good repair or not.

Decision is yours.
Rob Bell

This thread was discussed between 20/06/2003 and 23/06/2003

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