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MG TD TF 1500 - Average distance driven before breaking down

Now here's a thought I have been contemplating for a goodly time.

All of us who drive MGs are familiar with the eccentricities and foibles of these cars, especially the part which makes them move. I have had my fair share of irrating stoppages on more than one occassion.

I am wondering if there is any value to the correspondents on this BB for them to write (briefly) the distances they have managed to travel before a breakdown and the reason for it? Maybe that way we can all learn in a condensed manner what we might have to expect, and when, and possibly anticipate the spares we should pack according to the distance we expect to travel.

I can kick the idea off.

Having just completed a complete restoration on my TD, I had not gone more that 5 miles before the petrol pump stopped and so did the car. One of my wife's emory boards cleaned the points and we were under way again.

At the 430 mile mark, the generator shorted out owing to the fan belt being too tight and destroying the rear bush.

5300 miles saw one of the carburettor's jet nut coming loose and car ran roughly. I found the fault before the car caught fire.

6000 odd and the fan belt broke. A pair of nylon tights, reluctantly donated by my wife, got us the ten miles home OK.

7350 water pump leaked, replaced.

9070, the headlights failed, resulting in a collision with a deer and $2500 damage costs.

Now 10,330 and all seems to be well.

So, carry emory boards, generators, fan belts, water pumps and fuses.

Not very brief, but anyone else care to contribute?

Geoff Love

My wife bought her cell phone to call me in case of MG breakdowns. ...usually discovers she forgot it, or it is discharged, when stranded.

I can't tie it around her neck with a string, but have installed 2 cigaret lighters to charge it, that is, if she remembers to take the cord.
Jim Northrup

Following Geoff's logic, after throwing rods through two engines, each with only 5000 miles, I should carry a spare engine in the TD. Instead, I recalibrated the mechanic who made the same mistake on both engines and haven't had a problem since. Cheers - Dave

Oh yes, the mechanic was me :-(
David DuBois

First day on the road...1 mile... rubber hose to the oil pressure fitting burst...6 quarts of oil over about 4 miles...lovely little straight line down the road...replaced with an MGB braided line.(rubber doesn't last 55 years...)

Once every two months - fuel pump...clean with 400 grit emery paper and on the road again....

Broken tappet (probably the one that was stuck when we started the car up the first time.... big repair, but did it myself back at home)....(mileage unknown...maybe 5000...)

20000 - nothing....

50 Miles—Broken rocker
280 Miles—Nut vibrated off clutch rod
284 Miles—Loose ground strap
285 Miles + —OK so far :)
David Werblow

Scary reading. I am planning to go to the Lofoten Islands this summer, that is 1600 miles there and back. And I am not a mechanic :-(
Raymond Wardenaer guys have got me worried now! I bought my TF almost exactly a year ago, have put on about 1,400 miles since, and it hasn't left me by the side of the road yet. I did have a little trouble with vapor lock last summer, but it was only on restarting. And after I put in a heat shield it went away. I guess I'm due, now...

Usually I just get in and start her up, but now before I start out I'm going to have to check my clutch rod, ground strap, jet nuts, hoses, fan belt tension, fuse box...thanks a lot, guys!

Andy T White

I had a 52 TD for 14 years. Only had a couple issues and I drove it everywhere over the years. One time it was fuel pump related, one time it was generator related (front bearing went out of it)and the third time my clutch cable broke- but I was able to get it fixed from the shade-tree machine shop which I just happened to break down about 100 yards from!
Safety Fast to All!
In WV- We drive MG!

For Dave DuBois:- Dave, what did you do with the two engines that caused you to throw the rods? Inquiring minds would like to know (mainly so I don't repeat your experience when I rebuild mine!)

I have to go against the grain here and say that my TD has been fairly reliable in the 12 years that I've owned it. I had an ignition coil issue when I first got the car, and in the trial and error process leading up to the fault determination, I replaced everything in the ignition system, and rebuilt the carbs and fuel pump. I later had a problem with the pump that was caused by a rusty fuel tank. During the cleaning of the pump, I messed up the membrane and eventually gave up and got a new SU solid state pump. Since that time, around 7 years ago, I have not been stranded even once by the side of the road. I have tried to do my repairs and replacements with an eye toward reliability, therefore the solid state pump. Watch, I'll pay for this bit of braggadocio tomorrow! My wife and I use the car quite a bit for long day trips and have made a few long weekend runs for GOF's, etc. In 12 years and about 14000 miles, I have still not again replaced the points, wires, rotor, cap, or condenser. I have not replaced a single light bulb or switch. I have had similar experience with my previous MGB. I have no problem with Lucas electricals. Several Fiats that I owned back in the seventies, have soured me on Marrelli! Their components are so bad that Lucas shines by comparison!
Geoff, I loved the bit about the wife's tights replacing the fan belt...I wonder if any other marques' enthusiasts would have been so resourcefull!
Steven Tobias

Less than 100 miles after completing restoration an exhaust valve began to stick on the way to the GOF. Car quit the next year while parking during the GOF-pretty embarrasing- the wire came loose on the fuel pump. Otherwise, no problems. George
George Butz

I have said this before...I think these cars get a bad rap from many. With everything that was "wrong" with mine when purchased I am still amazed it ran at all. Carbs: one float upsidedown the other had a hole in it and wrong jets, missing the "bolt" from bottom side on intake manifold. Bad plug wires, coil, broken advance in dizzy. Leaking oil from bad seals & broken bolts. (only 2 left on the oil pump ...out of 8). The "vapor-lock from hell" problems. Dirty fuel tank. The DPO's "modified" ele harness (best descriped as "how many multi colored butt conectors can I crush on (with a rock?)in 3 feet of wire." ect ect ect ...BUT, she still ran and did 100 MPH the day I test drove her. Other than popping a frezze plug at speed and melting 2 pistons (200 miles after rebuild), Izzy has been far more reliable than my 10 year old "ranch king", that begs for attention half way through mowing the grass on a regular basis! The old girl is far easier to work on than our pair of Mit's 3000 GT daily drivers. It does not take 12 hours to change the spark plugs in the TF! (and I have never had problems with "the computer"!)
Best for last....when you break down by the side of the road in a "T" ...far more people stop than when you break down in a dodge pick-up! LOL.
Cheers & keep driving them!
David Sheward

Hi All:

I think that the rule for driving an MG (any series T, A or B) is:

Drive it 5 - fix it 1

Godspeed in Safety Fast
John Crawley

I have had many British Sports cars (Several MGs too) and I find that once you shake it down and get the bugs out they are pretty reliable.

My TD is my everyday transportation to work, and has run flawlessly for probably 2 years now.

I credit 2 main decisions: 1 - SU Electronic fuel pump and 2-pertronix ignition.

That doesn't mean I don't have routine maintenance issues, like a rear axle seal leak that I'm dealing with now, but it hasn't left me stranded. It is a 57 year old car. But that said, my 97 Mercedes has a lot more issues.

L Ayres

If the brown wire that goes to the ampmeter comes out, you stop until it is discovered. This happened while leaving the Waynesboro Va car show and was pretty embarassing but had lots of help. About 600 miles.

tw hager

90 miles after resto and it left me hi and dri. Not sure of the problem. So the clock starts over now to see how long it will go.
l rutt

Brian - The problem was over torqued gudgeon pin pinch bolts. Both failed at almost exactly 5000 miles. Since the last fix (using a freshly calibrated torque wrench), we have put well over 10,000 miles on the engine, so I no longer have to hold my breath.

In all honesty, we have owned our TD since 1974 and was my wife's everyday car for 7 or 8 years before I restored it. The car has been driven all over the western US (including two 5000 + mile trips where the worst thing that happened was a fouled plug on only one occasion). I have told people (and still do) that the TD is without a doubt, the most reliable car we have ever owned. I do carry a fairly complete tool kit, plus a spare fan belt and hoses in the car, but beyond that, just a AAA member card and a cell phone. Cheers - Dave
David DuBois

My "modern" domestics and foreigns may have had fewer "breakdowns" in shear numbers over the years but the magnitude in $ (e.g. $800 to replace a $1 gasket) and inconvienence is way lopsided in favour of the TD!!!!
Randy Biallas

In the first 12 years [50,000 miles] in the life of my TD, a lazy fuel pump was the only delay of a trip. In the last 14 years [16,000 miles] since the completion of it's restoration, no problems on the road. In my case, I would say the car has served my very well, and it is still a thrill to drive it.

George Raham
TD 4224
George Raham

I have over 350,000 miles on my TF. Its on its 4th engine - original distributor with Pertronix. Rebuilt water and oil pumps. Original gearbox. 4.3 diff.

My TF has let me down only twice - jammed ring gear and blown tire on I90 on my way to the Glen.

On separate trips, I've driven it to Pebble Beach, Victoria BC, Sebring, Road America, and most recently, Gatlinburg TN - all with no failures.

I will admit to carrying a spare fuel pump, but so far haven't had to use it.

However the rocker gear is crying for a rebuild, as is the distributor.

Gord Clark
Rockburn, Qué.
Gordon A Clark

As a corollary to my comments about the broken fan belt and the donation of the pair of tights, they did the trick and, I am led to believe, so would have duct tape, also a useful item to have on board.

It was an interesting experience watching my wife getting out of them all the while sitting in the passenger's seat. Like two boy sprouts having a fight in a bell tent.
Geoff Love

All right now...after bragging about my TF's reliability this very morning, this evening I couldn't get it to start out in the parking lot at work.

Luckily the cause was quite easy to diagnose and work around: the starter knob came off in my hand. Which--believe it or not--has actually happened to me before, in the MGA I used to own. Fool me once, add vice grips to the tool roll; fool me twice, there's a lot less swearing involved.

TF 0537
Andy T White

If you're talking about the things that happen after the 'infant mortality' following getting the car on the road after a restoration, I've had very few. There was to flat tire on the Cleveland trip. You can read about that in
Before that there were such things as having tire tread fly off of good looking, but old, tires. For that one, see I must write up about the capacitor (condensor) with the crazy temperature coefficient. Bud (& Lazarus)
Bud Krueger

Hard question for me. Yes, My 1950 TD has had issues, but so does my wife's 2009 Hyundai Santa Fe. Only difference is we just take the Hyundai in to the shop and they fix everything under the warranty. If I really added up the things that they have actually fixed,(not just inspected), it would not be all the different from the issues I have had with the TD. I know more about the TD because I do the repairs.

Last summer, went 40 miles in the TD and the nut on the clutch rod fell off. Quick fix. It then drove 200 miles without a issue at all. Not another issue all last summer. oil change and lube and it is up and running again.

It has only failed me once where it had to be towed home. That was a catistrophic engine failure at about 10,000 miles when the rod bolt broke.
Bruce Cunha

I smiled when I saw this thread title.So applicable to MG ownership.It would make a great replacement for "Safety Fast".
MR Blencowe

You blokes with your super reliable cars and worries about how long since your last problem live in a different world to me and my TF. The question that interests/facinates/obcesses me is the future, not the past: Will we make the next mile?

The car and I have a reciprocal love/hate relationship. It expresses this by random offerings of pure exhilleration (faultless cornering on winding back roads for instance) interspersed with equally random nasty surprises. Like converting a drive down the Pacific Highway from 50 mph on four wheels to 50 mph on three wheels and a break drum. Like suddenly withholding 1st, 2nd, top and neutral in heavy city traffic. Like suddenly refusing any movement in the steering in the middle of a corner (fortunately at very low speed). It has forced me into such nerve-wracking necessities as a 10 mile drive home, up and down hills, through forrests of traffic lights, without the luxury of a clutch; or a 20 mile drive home across Sydney without lights (actually not much different to when they functioned, and it does give the oppertunity to learn back street routes). We will not discuss things like crank shafts, generators or fuel pumps. Surfice to say that the car has a trove of little nasties ready to be trotted out on a whim and it keeps its intentions to itself to maximise surprise.

I regard the car as completly unreliable and approach every outing with this in mind. If I make it out of the garage and to the end of the street, I already feel a warm sensation of accomplishment. Given the ability of the car to inflict surprise, I tend to suggest that a St Christopher medal is more to the point than a box of spares.

Bill McGee
Bill McGee

Haha.... my trip to Gatlingburg a few years ago was the 'every mile' type.... ticked off 850 down and 850 back...computing how far my CAA free towing would get me.....

The lesson here is obvious.
Is there anything that delivers more "smiles per mile"?

I don't think so!
David Sheward

This thread was discussed between 05/05/2010 and 09/05/2010

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