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MG MGF Technical - Starting problems

My trusty F has started first time for more than 3 years, but started giving me problems a week or so ago, immediately after it was serviced. On every occasion since it was serviced it started very reluctantly, often cutting out a couple of times before I could coax it to start. Yesterday it refused point-blank, and I had to push start it (with the resultant side effects for the catalytic converter).

When I tried to start it yesterday, it sounded like the starter motor was spinning - there was a whirring and clicking noise - but it didn't seem to be turning the engine. Does this make any sense?

Does anybody have any idea what might be wrong, and if it could be related to the servicing? I don't want to kick up a fuss at the garage if the problem is unrelated and the timing just coincidental.



Sorry about your problems. I am so old I am pretty sceptical about coincidences. If the car was fine before it went in for service and immiedately after it is not then I would think the action taken at the service is to blame. Whatever happens it sounds like you need to revisit the gargae and the quicker you do it the more chance there is of the garage feeling some guilt for the condition.

Hope it is something minor.



Thanks Patrick,

I agree with you. Coincidence doesn't sound very plausible, although I suspect that the garage will expect me to prove otherwise or cough up again. They aren't the most flexible folks I have ever had to deal with. Trouble is, there aren't too many MG dealers around here so there is little competition.

I'm taking it back on Monday, if I can get the thing to start that is :-(


Had it too this week. Damn thing wouldn't start after I switched it off 1 minute before. (so still warm). Just "whuwhuwhu"! Tried again, but it would not pick up again. So I said "to hell with the cat", so the third time I gently pushed the accel aswell and whops it started correctly.

Dunno what it was/is... was just lazy I guess...
Dirk Vael

Well, I didn't make it to the dealer as the car won't start, and as it is parked in a basement garage there aren't any helpful passers-by to push start me.

Has anybody any idea what the problem might be? It isn't a flat battery, as the starter motor spins. It doesn't seem to be turning the engine though, and produces a fast click-click-click-click noise. Is there anything an unskilled amateur could do to diagnose or fix this kind of problem?



I had a similar problem about a week or so ago, and ended up replacing the battery and alternator which had burnt out. I was quite annoyed because the car only has 10,000 miles on the clock. The garage rang me and said it would cost £450 to replace both, so I got on the phone to MG who said they might replace the alternator for free if the work was done by the MG Garage (Charles Hurst), but it would still have cost me a fortune, besides they wanted £87 for a battery and £15 to fit it. So I bought a new battery in a shop up the road for £28 and ordered the new alternator for £150 and got it fitted for £40 so it ended up being a lot cheaper.

If you are getting click-click-click-click noise, I would recommend getting the alternator checked. Did you get any lights on the dashboard like a battery light, ABS light, PAS light etc, because this could signal that there is know charge in the battery. To get the car to a garage try a new battery which should give you enough charge to get to the garage, and they can check the alternator. It sounds like you have the same problem as I had on a car the same age.


Thanks Archie,

The battery light and the PAS light remain on during my failed attempts to start the car. (No ABS light as I don't have ABS). The "engine overheating" light comes on for a few seconds and then goes off, which is pretty normal as far as I can remember.

The battery seems to be charged, as something spins when I turn the key and all of the electrical stuff works. Usually a flat battery gives other symptoms. Having a broken alternator is a nasty thought - they're expensive! Would a broken alternator prevent the car from starting though? I thought the battery provided the power to start the car and the alternator merely produces voltage once the engine is running to keep the battery charged.

Here I am demonstrating my mechanical ignorance on the - gulp - technical BBS. Embarassing!


In a simple world I would look at the starter motor first to see if the fault lies there.

Ted Newman

Hi all,
Wasn“t there a similare problem about a year ago (Dirk or his brother ?) Hitting the starter with a stick cured the problem temporarly. Starter on our "F" is a bit odd compared with ordinary starters as there is NO ground return via engine block. Instead there is a ground cable going from starter to chassie. The fairly thick black cable can be seen from underneath. Corrosion can give bad connection ,this leading to voltage drop to starter.

Regards , Carl.

Well, it looks like Archie was right. Despite my feelings to the contrary, it was a low-charged battery that caused my problems. The symptoms were so unlike the other times I have experienced a flat battery that I was convinced that the problem lay elsewhere, like in a dodgy starter. There's nothing like feeling like a complete thicko in the dealer's, is there?

Thanks to all that replied.


In late on this one so this is no use to you now Scot, but may be of use to others sometime.

Most problems have a simple cause and it is too easy to think of the more expensive items nneding attention. Finding these problems can often be more difficult.

In the case of a non starting car and no tools are handy a rough and ready guide can be noted by switching all the lights (headlamps as well) on as well as the heater fan and seeing if the lights are bright and the fan is it's usual active self or a lazy slug. Obvious and clear changes in light intensity and/or fan speed when switching electrical loads on or off is a reasonable sign that the battery reserve is low. With the headlights on dip turn the starter swicth to cranking and note how much the lights dim or simply go out. Another sure sign of insufficient power.

In these circumstances the simplest start is to get another car or slave battery to jump start - no cat risk and if the connections are done correctly no other risks. Alternatively a push start will usually result in a very swift start reflecting that what power is available is all going to the engine managment to provide fuel and a good spark.

Now at this stage too many write off a battery and renew it. Before you do this do have it load tested, preferably after being trickle charged. If it fails then replace it. Many batteries get low because of poor connections to the battery posts and simply cleaning these and sealing them allows full flow in and out of the battery. Please also note that many who have replaced batteries and 'solved' the problems they have have done so the expensive way as a new battery is fully charged has clean connections!!

Bad connections also gives alternators a very hard time and will always eventually burn them out, so if the problem is a long term one there is a reasonable chance that the alternator may be sick as well. A simple system check for voltage levels with heavy electrical loads on can usually identify a poor charge rate from any alternator.

Finally things like starter motors do also suffer from bad connections due to the high electrical loads carried. Poor contacts create a vicious circle of worsening conditions, which needs to be broken by cleaning and re-establishing good connection. Also remember that there is an earth lead between the engine and the body which can also gives problems. Only when these simple areas are checked and confirmed as OK should you really need to spend big money.

Roger Parker


Thanks for all the info. I've saved it on disk as I'm sure that it will be very useful in the future.


This thread was discussed between 27/07/2000 and 04/08/2000

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