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MG MGF Technical - what do you guys think of the pg1 gearbox

what do you guys think of the pg1 box fitted to your cars . i presume the fact that it never seems to get a mention must mean that it does the job well for you. I drive a 25 diesel using the pg1 box and dont have any complaints and have driven the ZR 1.8 vvc both no problems
garry443 r25 driver

i have problems with mine. but i got a fwd turbo which doesnt help.

the diff bearings have trouble with the power and fall apart, then the diff breaks up.

the std torsen diff does work well. might be of some benefit to you guys. either that of the quaife ATB. torsen is a bit smoother though.

different ratio's are easy to get hold of too, easy to get a shorter ratio box.


Drew Spalding



Did they add reverse as an after thought?

Neil Stothert

How do I know if I have one?

Fine for me too.

Only observation is that I have to select a forward gear before selecting reverse to avoid that head-turning crunching sound.

Best thing I've done to improve the feel of the changes is to replace the gear knob for one that sits lower - much sharper changes with this.

Jim Hosking

Difficult for us to separate out 'gearbox' and 'gear lever linkage' Gary, but over all, I'm pretty happy with my car's gearbox.

One problem I have got - for some peculiar reason, the synchro on the 5th gear ratio seems to be weakening... bizarre...
Rob Bell

>for some peculiar reason
It'll be all those full throttle changes then rob!

I haven't had any probs, but for more power you should see the lotus BBS, as they have the same gearbox, but abuse it more !
Will Munns


If you take a look in the archive, you should find quite a few threads on gearbox issues. The gearbox is not that bad; it copes well with the power and seems to go on for ever, but it lacks syncromesh on reverse which can be embarassing when trying to reverse in public places. I had a replacement gearbox fitted under warranty as an attempt to cure this and I think others have as well.

The cable linkage on the F is basically no better or worse than other cars similarly equipped and if maintained well it is tolerable. Mike Satur makes a replacement gearlever assembly that is so well engineered it is a delight and well worth fitting.

Cars before 1998 sometimes lost oil through a drive shaft seal, (usually LHS), but I haven't seen any posts about this for some time now.

There are lots of variations on gearlever knobs and length, but most of these come down to personal preference rather than faults with the car. The biggest disappointment among these is the Momo gear knob. The leather-covered ball very quickly becomes loose and rotates on its mounting. Mine is now four years old and so far I haven't found a permanent way to stop the thing getting dizzy.


Long while since I messed around with gear boxes but I thought all boxes lacked synchro hubs on reverse - extra safety feature to stop you accidently selecting reverse whilst still going forward at 60 mph!

Ted Newman

As Ted says, I have never seen a gearbox with sychromesh on reverse! You are supposed to stop and then engage reverse. What the earlier versions of the PG1 lacked was a reverse brake which was introduced at some later point. The reverse brake serves to stop the input shaft from rotating when engaging reverse gear so avoiding the grinding noise that is sometimes a problem the PG1. I don't know exectly when it was introduced though.

Spyros Papageorghiou

There is no reason why reverse gear should not have syncromesh provided the gear selector mechanism has some sort of baulk to prevent accidentally finding reverse.

The F box lacks has no such gizmo so finding reverse while changing up from fourth is possible - as my wife once proved. Luckily she realised her mistake in time to avoid letting in the clutch while doing about 60 while pulling out onto the M1.


That ear churning social faux pas called reverse gear? from spending half the summer reversing up cornish lanes to avoid the half hour wait whilst they grockles tried to locate them there gear stiks i discovered that the problem is eay avoided by holding the stick back hard in its furthest extent whilst it engages properly. its only a fraction of a movement but works

The PG1 box is a legacy from the Honda era. It does not have reverse synchro and although we designed a reverse brake system to stop the shafts rotating I didn't think it had ever been implemented, but I might be wrong. As has been said earlier in this thread, if you have difficulty getting reverse, select a forward gear first. Tens of millions of pounds were spent about 3 years ago on a upgrade of the manufacturing facility (hope it was BMW's money, but I doubt it). One thing that was improved was gear surface finnish on the final drive to stop noise being transmited down the drive shafts. The PG1 is a sound design of box and is pretty robust.
Paul Hollingworth

>>>so finding reverse while changing up from fourth is possible
=== how on earth can one do that? it's in completely the opposite direction, IE back towards you while 5th is away from you.
The PG1 is a very good box, being one of the better bits in the Montego turbo - 150 bhp, bags of torque and most have done over 100000 miles these days with no problems. Jim is spot-on, the simple expedient of briefly selecting a forward gear - I use 2nd out of habit - momentarily before engaging reverse avoids any undue crunching and premature wear. This has been the procedure used on many many vehicles over the years and was at one time a standard part of learning to drive.

Other than making a whining noise sometimes when cold, only problem with mine is it's missing a 6th gear! :D

Hi all,
not much to add,most allready said - but be alert on the oil-level as this seems to be a weak point. It is not uncommon that the "F" (dont know how it is on the TF ..) comes witha low gearbox oil-level as standard.And this is one item thats normally not checked at dealer services . One item that can easily be DIY when on a ramp and changing the engine oil....
Any syntetic GL4 /GL5 oil will do. Do NOT use non-syntetic GL5 as it contains to strong additives.

BR, Carl.
Carl Blom

Don't why, but on two separate occasions my wife has managed to find reverse by mistake. I haven't driven the range of cars most others round here have, but the F has the only gearbox I know where is it possible to select reverse without, for example, first lifting the gearlever over a gate.

Good job it is a robust box, but as with the OEM choice of tyres, it's a pity that a few corners had to be cut to save on cost.


Just my 2p worth.

Never had any problems with reverse or any grinding or crunching when selecting. Only sometimes get the gratifying clunk that you know reverse is properly engaged. Maybe I have the reverse brake system (2001 MPi)?


My old Peugeot had a straight into reverse under 5th gearbox as does my mother's Nissan 200SX.

In terms of syncro for reverse. I had a number of drives in a (1991 ish) dreaded B*W 535i Sport. This had reverse in the top left next to first through a sprung gate. I'm sure this had syncro in reverse as it never crunched and you could engage reverse without any problems while moving forward at speeds up to just over 5mph!!!!
Billy Bob

Entirely agree with you kingsley. I assume you have a VVC, with a shorter final drive. It just needs a 6th gear for comfortable motorway cruising.

Oh dear, what a lot of Luddites with over muscular left legs and matching arms! I'm surprised you don't have vacuum advance levers on the steering wheel and fuel pumps operated with a dash plunger to go with the long outdated manual box (What do you mean, you do?!). Why bother with all the effort when MG provide us with the delightful Steptronic box and two pedals, one for each foot just as God and Nature intended. Sure, the theoretical performance is down a bit, but I have perfect acceleration every time I snick the selector over to sport mode and floor the accelerator, you've got to work at it and concentrate to come anywhere near. I also have the six speed virtual box when I want to play Michael Schumacher with the steering wheel switches on country roads. The fuel consumption suffers a bit, but offset against that the pleasure of poodling through traffic, an increasingly common modern affliction, without all the work, just accelerate and brake. Spot a gap, foot down and go, no fumbling, no need to extract your left hand from the girlfriend, CD player, Glove box, whatever.

I had the misfortune recently to drive about 200 miles in a manual Rover 25 courtesy car, a mixture of M25, A and B roads, while mine was being serviced, I really don't know why you bother with the extra pedal and the stirry stick. Try one, you might be surprised how addictive they are!

Do any of the MGF cup racecars use Steptronic boxes ? If not, why not ?

David, do any of the F1 cars have manual gearchange? If not, why not?

And I would think the MGF cup racecars don't use the Steptronic because of its limited power handling capacity, the same reason it's only available as the TF120.

Seriously, test drive a Steptronic and then weigh up the pros and cons for each, as an everyday practical vehicle, before condemning my viewpoint. You might be surprised.

Oh and mine goes into reverse without any drama at all!!

The F1 cars have an 'automated manual' box. Not a big rubber band with funny V shaped spinning discs as Steptronic CVT 'boxes have. :-)

It's each to their own here... but I firmly believe that it'd remove too much of the driver involvement. A fantastic advance in engineering design that makes city driving a joy... but it's a compromise solution.

Paul Nothard

>>>>before condemning my viewpoint.
===who did then ? - not me :-)
(bit sensitive today are we?)

>>>>before condemning my viewpoint.
===who did then ? - not me :-)
(bit sensitive today are we?)

No, not at all David, I wasn't suggesting you had condemned my viewpoint, wasn't getting at you in any way, was simply saying that BEFORE you did, you gave it a try. Seems fair enough to me. And I don't think I'm the one being a bit sensitive here ;)

Paul, I realise the F1 cars have a different solution, as does for example the Merc or Porsche Tiptronic, and yes, it is a compromise solution, as is dare I say, a manual box. It doesn't alter the fact that your hairy @ssed F1 driver prefers not to use clutch and lever, because it is less efficient. As to driver involvement, this old chestnut is hauled out every time the subject comes up, usually in ignorance from people who have never driven an automatic or feel there is something macho in stirring the stirry lever while pumping the left foot up and down. My comment about the advance/retard lever illustrates what I mean. Sure, if you were still manually advancing and retarding the ignition, you had more control and probably improved performance and undoubtedly more driver involvement when used intensively. However, it was just another unnecesary job for the driver and went the way the manual box will eventually go, the state of our roads and traffic make that an eventual certainty. And the more autos sold, the better they will become.

Believe it or not, I'm happy with my choice of transmission, makes me feel superior if you like, and was really only trying to get the debate going.......

Got one of each.

Auto great for pottering around town and ensure long motorway journeys are over as quickly as legally possible.

Manual for getting the most fun out of your car and testing your own ability! More control and fun from a manual.


Patrick Beet

Automan, I'm lucky enough to have tried both. It is fab for some... but not my cuppa tea. Sorry.
Autos are great for what they do. They suck on track in my humble opinion. My focus is on track days as my suspension and sleeping policeman unfriendly ride height testifies. :o)

However... changing the subject slightly... has anyone read on the new V6TT (or is it TTV6?) which has a two clutch auto box? While peddle is down, engage next gear... when appropriate switch from one clutch to another! WooHoo! No gearchange as such during the "gear change". :-)

Nice idea. Wonder if it'll inject that driver feeling thing back in... or will the auto still rob the driver of decisions. <grin>

Paul Nothard

Paul, fair enough, if you've tried both. It's a personal decision at the end of the day. And sure, the Steptronic is probably less than ideal on the track though I would like to see a side by side comparison, but that isn't necessarily because it's an auto.

I would dispute Patrick's comment that a manual gives you more control, but that's also a personal thing, and would ask where does having six gears on the steering wheel switches or transmission lever(should you wish to use them) and no clutch contribute to less fun or less testing of ability? The beauty of the system is that if you get caught out, ie have to brake suddenly, then put your foot down again, the gearbox immediately picks the correct ratio. No fumbling, no making a fool of yourself when distracted by a member of the opposite sex and making graunchy noises rather than zooming off into the distance.

Driving an auto is a different technique, but no less fun for all that (I would say more) and since I am obviously on a mission to convert the heathen and becoming evangelical I will shut up now!!

It's a pity Automan remains anonymous and that he started with a provocative thread. His arguments would probably have been better perceived otherwise.

There was a thread on here not so long ago called "praising the steptronic" and the one who started it (a chap from Spain I think) was quite convincing.

I regularly drive a car fitted with the same CVT as the F's: my wife's Mini One. I have to say it is fabulous. And I am not a fan of autoboxes, even the most sophisticated ones you get on Jags mercs and BMWs.

OK so I didn't want one for my MGF because part of the fun of driving it is changing gears and using the clutch on the backroads that take me to work everyday. But if I had to spend time in traffic I'm not sure I wouldn't have gone for one. It makes driving in traffic infinitely more relaxing and much less frustrating.

What is good about it is the way it responds to the throttle, and the seamless acceleration it produces:

You put your foot down, say , halfway, the revs will settle at 2,500 and the car will accelerate quite vigourously to 50, very smoothly and with none of the usual autobox "jolts".

I call it the "perfect ratio gearbox" because the ratio will vary constantly depending on the position of the accelerator and the speed of the car. Say you're cruising on the motorway at 70 and you come to a slight uphill section. To keep a constant speed with a conventional box you might need to change down. Not with the CVT: put you foot down a little more, and the gearbox "adjusts" the engine speed to find the right ratio to keep you going at a constant speed. It's really very clever while being simple at the same time.

OK so I hope everyone's convinced now ;-)
Anthony Braham


You are arguing that an automatic requires less skill. I wholeheartly agree and that's why I have stick in the toy and an automatic in the work tool.

You also loss 40bhp by asking the car to do half the driving for you! 160bhp and a manual box should ensure that you can leave most cars on the road in your exhaust fumes. 120bhp and an automatic and even a Z3 might beat you. I could not risk that!


Patrick Beet

Anthony, my name's at the end of this as you've asked, no ulterior motive to being anonymous except to establish a position, and it got the argument flowing!

Patrick, I don't argue that driving an auto requires less skill, simply a different skill but less unnecessary effort. The issue is not what 160bhp and a manual can do compared with 120bhp and an auto, the comparison is 120bhp, manual against auto, and I think that despite the auto transmission losses, the concentration, effort and accuracy required to drive a manual as effectively as the cvt, keeping the engine within the power band whatever the road conditions at all times, and therefore gaining the same performance is rarely achievable with a manual. Sure, on a straight burn up at Santa Pod, the manual would possibly win, but in real road conditions I doubt it. Now you may postulate that all that concentration, effort and accuracy is a skill, I simply consider it a distraction from the business of driving. I regret that the 160bhp is not available as an auto due to the limited power handling of the current cvt box, but there again, I don't get my kicks from passing Z3's (though I tend to - automatically!), I try not to consider driving on the public roads as a competitive sport.

To sum up, to me the F is pure fun, manual or auto, the auto just adds to the fun and makes the car more practical for the horrendous South East traffic.

Ron Tuohy

I guess we will need to agree to differ!

What I love about the F is the get up and go from the VVC and the agility of handling. Getting the gear changes just right is also "fun". I confess commuting in town would not deliver too much pleasure, which is why we also have an auto!

As for BMW, this is surely one of the great delights of the F. I was stuck in traffic yesterday with some poisonous little rep in his 3 Series stuck right up my ar*e for about 20 minutes. We were both in a long line of traffic in front of us and behind us. But still the little oik had a drive as close as he could and every time our speed approached 10 mph he was looking to overtake! Just selfish, intimidating driving.

Anyway joined the M3 slip road and sure enough he moved into the outside lane. I let him get alongside then floored it. In very short order rep was a smudge in the rear view mirror. Deeply, deeply satisfying and surely a message than even the thickest BMW driver would grasp!


Patrick Beet

Naughty Patrick - but I love it:-)

Ted Newman

What is it about BMW drivers that makes them so agressive... they seem to be the same everywhere in the world. Surely these guys aren't ALL physically challenged (u know what I mean)?

This thread was discussed between 02/12/2002 and 06/12/2002

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