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MG MGF Technical - What Antifreeze Should I use?


I wonder if you can help me!!

My girlfriend recently fell in love with a 2000 MGF Steptronic - As expected we bought the car yesterday and I am now glad to be an MG owner.

I am aware of the HGF issues etc and as such am also aware that a lot of these issues are down to the cooling system.

Can anyone advise me on where and what is the best antifreeze to use in the cooling system.

I have a black cap on the expansion tank from my understanding that means that I should not use OAT and use a Ethelyne Glycol based solution? I went into Halfords and to be honest I had no idea if there solution fitted the bill, i have read that unipart superplus3 is used but cannot seem to find anone that sells this? Can anyone help?

Yes, where can you buy Unipart antifreeze? I'd like to know as well.

Mike Howlett

Mike, I got some from AF Noble in Edinburgh. Now a nissan dealer but still dealing with MGs. incidentally what he gave me is the lovely daygow pink/orange OAT but not Unipart.

Hi Ryan, welcome to the joys of MG ownership! :o)

The steptronic model is a good one - and the CVT gearbox appears to work extremely well and is very reliable.

The issue of head gasket failures is there - although there are things that can be done to avoid trouble.

In terms of driving style, the key one is to not to exploit the full rev-range until the coolant is up to temperature and the oil is at least 60 Celcius.

Other things will cost you money. A good investment is the Brown and Gammons coolant level warning sensor. The small coolant volume used on the K-series means that you don't have to loose much for it to cause big problems - so the kit is a worth while investment.
A remote thermostat is also a good idea - as used on the mgtf from 2003 onward. Something to think about come the next service interval perhaps.

Back to your questions:

>> Can anyone advise me on where and what is the best antifreeze to use in the cooling system. <<

The key is to use a good quality antifreeze designed for use with alloy engines to prevent corrosion. Unipart is a good source of such antifreezes.

>> I have a black cap on the expansion tank from my understanding that means that I should not use OAT and use a Ethelyne Glycol based solution? ... i have read that unipart superplus3 is used but cannot seem to find anone that sells this? <<

The black cap on the expansion tank doesn't mean anything, and isn't linked to the type of antifreeze used. You could have either Superplus 3 in your engine, or the later OAT based stuff. The latter is typically orange (sometimes blue). The former is typically green.

Unipart products are usually available from motorfactors - not necessarily Halfrauds, who will be keen to sell you their own brand. Check out your local yellow pages for motor factors in your area, it should be pretty easy to track down.

I am also sure that Brown and Gammons will sell this stuff to you as well, via mail order - along with all the other usual MGF specialists... :o)

Hope this helps
Rob Bell

Thanks Rob, thats really helpfull.

I don't live a million miles away from B&G and have booked the car in for a checkover on Saturday. So I will ask for advice on which coolant to use then - hopefully I will be able to purchase from them and not to expensive a price. They seem like a good outfit, is that the general opinion?

The car has only done 20,000 miles and is in pretty good nick really we paid 5000 for it which I though was reasonable? It was registered December 2000.

I saw the coolant level sensor and thought that it would be a good idea to have, at least i could then explain to the other half that if it lights up to tell me asap.

I was going to see what the general opinion of this mod was and if it was worth doing? It seems like a good investment to me?

We talked about the HGF for ages before buying, especially reading through some forums you can really get yourself down about it, but we thought what the hell you only live once and it is a fantastic looking car, we would have to spend at least another 5k to get anything else near it i.e. mx5. I drove it home last night and didnt regret buying it one bit!

Just want to make sure I can do everything I can to keep the chances of it happening down to a minimum.


I have a December 2000 Steptronic. The header tank cap should have a yellow collar marked 'OAT' My 'spares' stock includes a few litres from MGR which is Ethylane Glycol based.
Your most important consideration should be whether the 5 year service was carried out which includes the camshaft belt change.
I use my car primarily as a toy for European holidays. The improved steel cylinder head dowels to replace the plastic were introduced in March 2001 therefore I had a 5 year work package carried out. This included the belt plus the head off to upgrade the dowels and head gasket, belt tensioner, water pump and alternator belt (which was about to break at 20K with AC).
I do not use an ex-MGR dealer or an mg specialist which primarily sells 'Shiny' bits so popular with MG Owners.
Geoff F.
G. Farthing

Yes B&G are a very good outfit and will advise OAT coolant probably; it doesn't matter much which you use except Long Life(waste of money)provided the system is fully bled of airlocks.
Fit the level sensor like many of us have, but if it ever goes off (the buzzer is more noticeable than the LED)STOP the vehicle don't wait to be told. Good investment.
An MXfly would never get near an MG for fuel economy, speed, handling or fun; but it may not have much go noticeably wrong and would cost loads more in the first place and be just as unsaleable later.
You probably will not regret your decision in spite of some negatives. Is fun important? You bet ;o)
C.R.B. Simeon

Thanks for the comments - I will definatly be fitting the coolant sensor.

I went into B & G this morning and they sold me some xpart antifreeze - Green in colour, they were also suprised that my 2000 wasn't using OAT. They reccomended that if the system is bled to replace with OAT?

Mixing the two would be a big mistake apparently so I am glad I asked.

Geoff just out of interest how much did that work cost? My car is at a very similar age/mileage - I might ask B&G if they do something similar?

Is the cambelt/alternator belt something they would check in the healthcheck I have booked on Saturday?

Good decision regarding the sensor - and B&G are a good choice too - they've got a well-equipped workshop (MG Rover standards) and are cheaper than MGR main dealers.

Regarding the coolant level sensor, the bit that really jars with me is the aftermarket warning light. Typically this is fitted into a switch blank. A personal bug-bear of mine - I hate this sort of thing. You may be okay with it, but you could ask for the lamp to be wired into a redundant warning light in the main instrument cluster, or even left off completely (the buzzer is loud and probably the only warning that's really needed).

Never mix ethylene glycol based antifreeze with OAT stuff. Worth changing to OAT? It apparently extends the service life of the coolant, so perhaps worth considering when the coolant is next changed. But the Unipart stuff is perfectly servicable.

Health check: they can't check the health of cam belts. In reality the only approach is to replace if you don't know whether it has been changed or not - the consequences of a snapped belt don't bear thinking about. And if you replace the cam belt, you might want to change the tensioner at the same time.
Rob Bell

Hi Ryan,
My wifes car is a TF160. Most motor manufacturers went over to oxalic acid technology or similar to meet environmental loading criteria, which implies less challenge to the environment by reduced drain and refill periods of the cooling system. The new OAT additives can remain in the system with confidence for up to 4 years, which is double that of conventional ethylene glycols.
In South Africa Caltex Extended Life Coolant( marketed in the UK as a Texaco product) is used as OE replacement.I use Castrol SF in all my other MG's( A, B-V8) which is similar.Both are pink orange in colour
As a matter of priciple , do not mix coolant brands or types unless in an emergency.Also bear in mind that a flush of the F or TF coolant system requires a special approach to avoid airlocking.It is best to do the flush by a feed and bleed such that the expansion tank level is never lost.
Head gasket failure can be minimised on pre 2002my cars by careful warming up before hard use and religious checking of the expansion tank level( i.e. everytime your girlfriend goes shopping and opens the boot!).Improvements were made by MG Rover to the cylinder head dowelling in 2002 which seem to be successful in solving HGF.Toothed camshaft drive betls are perfectly reliable if replaced on time, are not oil contaminated, and if the gear wheel bolts are renewed and torqued correctly with Loctite threadlock.

Thanks Tony.

I went to Browns and Gammons for the Health Check.

Couple of things were brought up.

Oil Filler bracket was broken 34.00
rear shock Absorber Mounts were adrift 120.00
Alternator Belt was incorrectly fitted by last garage (it wasn't wide enough) 43.00

I've also decided to get the cambelt changed 245.00 and the Low level kit fitted 185.00

Just over 600 all in all but I think thats pretty reasonable - especially having the peace of mind with a new cambelt and the warning kit.

Was very impressed with Browns and Gammons - If anyone else is buying a new car it is well worth the 30 to have them check over it, if you are technically inept like me.

Thanks for your advice guys.

This thread was discussed between 05/07/2006 and 11/07/2006

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