Advice for new owners
This is not intended to be the ultimate source of advice for new MGF owners - there is a wealth of information out there if you go looking. Rather, it is just a few of what I think are the main things to be aware of. There are also a couple of links at bottom of this page.
- All engines suffer from misuse, so it pays to treat them well. Let the engine warm up before enjoying the car to it's limits. Be gentle, accelerate gently and don't exceed 3000 rpm until the oil temperature gets somewhere near its normal working temperature. It doesn't take that long and by doing this you will reduce the chance of suffering from head gasket failure.
- For the same reason, get into the habit of checking the coolant expansion water level before or after every run, or every time you open the boot. It only takes a second.
The level of coolant, when the engine is cold, should be half way up the expansion tank, between the two internal steps and around the tanks' joint level. It will fluctuate with temperature, but if the overall level starts dropping, check the coolant hoses and pipes for leaks, and fix them as soon as possible. Leaks usually get worse!
- Don't mix the antifreeze types. Dependent upon your car model, there is AFC or OAT antifreeze - one's green and the other's pink. Use the correct one. Mixing them will harm your engine.
- Don't be tempted to simply keep topping up the antifreeze over the years. AFC antifreeze should be replaced every 2 years, OAT every 4 years.
- Regularly check the engine oil level and condition. It should be clean and look like oil. There should be no milky, creamy brown gunge on either the dipstick, oil cap, nor should there be any oily skim or sluge in the expansion tank. This gunge is often refered to as 'mayo' and is emulsified oil, created by the oil mixing with water.
There can be several reasons for this to happen. If your daily mileage is very low, and there is only a slight evidence of mayo, then you may simply be suffering from condensation within the engine. This would normally get burnt off on longer runs.
- If your daily mileage is higher, or there is a lot of mayo present, then this could be an indication that your head gasket may have failed.
- The cam belt should be changed every 60,000 miles or 5 years, which ever occurs sooner. It's the same for most modern cars. Don't be fooled in to thinking that because you have a low mileage, everything will be okay. Belts deteriorate with age, and if you don't have a full service history, and don't know if it was changed, then get it done. It's not cheap, but it's a lot cheaper than a written-off engine.
- If you have to have the cam belt changed, or you've suffered from a head gasket failure, which means the cam belt will have to come off anyway, insist that the cam belt tensioner and the water pump are changed at the same time. The tensioner costs about £ 48 - it's a sealed bearing and cannot be serviced and it's failure will cause the belt to jump, resulting in at least bent valves and a head strip. The pump is driven by the cam belt and costs less than £ 50, so it could save you a fortune getting it done at the same time.
- If the car is suffering from leaks around the window / hood seals, don't be dismayed. The leaks can be fixed. See other pages on this site.
- Assuming you now have the hardtop off and are enjoying the sun.... :-) ....make sure that you properly engage the soft-top windscreen clamps every time you raise the hood again. The hood has been known to come open at speed, and self-distruct if the clamps are not fully located and secure.
- Also, when you drop the hood, there is no need to unzip the rear plastic screen, if you make sure that as you pull the hood backwards, you gently push the screen inwards with the edge of your other hand, so that it forms an even curve. Be even more careful if there's a frost, since the plastic can go quite brittle and can crack if bent too severely - better to leave it till it warms up a bit if you're not certain.
- Also, assuming it's summer, get underneath and check how well the car is undersealed. Now is the best time for applying a protective coat of Waxoyl or something similar, while the weather is dry.
- Get 'CAT saver' nuts for the CAT-exhaust flanges - they will save you the hassle of sheared bolts when it comes to exhaust renewal time.
- If your car is out of warranty and you are going to do your own servicing, you can find the appropiate MG Rover Maintenance Check Sheets here
on this site.
- Your safety is paramount. Don't work underneath the car unless it's supported on axle stands or ramps. Don't work on the steering wheel, column, or seats, unless you have disabled the airbags.
- Have a look at this website http://www.mgf.ultimatemg.com/group1/info/MGF_buying.htm for a list of further list of Do's and Don'ts
- Go to this website,
http://www.mgcars.org.uk/members/index.html, join, (it's FREE!) and then you will have not only the ability to post your own questions, but also access to the very extensive archives, where you are more than likely to find the answer to your question anyway