Problems with starting the engine


There are many causes for the car not starting, but one of the most common is when you turn the ignition key and all you hear is a “click”, or maybe this only happens some of the time. The “click” is caused by the starter solenoid failing to engage, and this maybe a fault with the starter motor / solenoid itself, or simply a problem of not enough electrical power.

So, the one of the first to check is that all the all the electrical connections, i.e. the battery clamps and cable terminals, the alternator cables and terminals are clean, not corroded or damaged. Also check the cables going to the starter solenoid itself. If you have a battery in which the electrolyte can be topped up, undo the cap on each cell, and make sure that the level is is above the internal plates - you must use distiled water for this. Keep the top of the battery clean and dry, and smear the terminal posts with petroleum jelly.


Then check the tension of the alternator belt, to ensure that it is capable of charging the battery.

Checking the alternator belt tension.
  1. Loosen the wheel nuts on the rear right hand side wheel, raise the car, and support the car on axle stands.
  2. Remove the rear right hand side wheel.
















  1. Remove the 2 scrivets and the Torx screw securing the fibre 'closing' panel.
  2. Check the condition of the alternator drive belt and renew it if there is any sign of wear or splitting.















  1. Using your thumb, apply a load of about 22 lbs or 10 Kg at the point shown. The belt should move between 1/4" and 5/16" or 6mm to 8mm.
















  1. If it needs to be adjusted, loosen the bolt secururing the adjustment bracket.
















  1. Loosen the two clamp bolts.
  2. Turn the adjustment bolt clockwise to increase the belt tension.
  3. Re-check tension and adjust if required.
  4. Tighten clamp botlts to 45 Nm.
  5. Tighten bracket bolt to 25 Nm.
  6. Refit "closing" panel, wheel and lower vehicle.

For cars with Air Conditioning..........


















Using your thumb, apply a load of about 22 lbs or 10 Kg at the point shown. The belt should move between 9 mm to 10mm.

















  1. Lossen the nut securing the tensior pulley.
  2. Turn the adjustment bolt clockwise to increase the belt tension.
  3. Tighten the tensior pulley securing nut to 25 Nm.
  4. Re-check tension and adjust if required.
  5. Then complete as above

If the tension is correct, then it’s time to test the battery. Batteries do not last for ever – they do have a limited life.

The simplest way to do this is to get hold of a hydrometer.  These are quite cheap – less than £5.00 from an accessory shop such as Halfords, etc.

These work by sucking up some of the electrolyte into a glass tube, which contains a small float. The level at which the float settles indicates the current state of the battery. You will need to do this for each cell of the battery

If the reading is low, then either recharge the battery using a battery charger, or if you are able to start the car, take it for a reasonable drive, and then re-test the battery using the hydrometer.  If the charge level is still low, it’s time to replace the battery. Usually they are available for the MGF in two different capacities. Buy the larger one – it’s worth the investment and you will be glad in the long run to have spent the extra.



There are of course far more complicated ways of checking the state and capablity of your battery. If you want to explore these in greater details, have a look at the following web page.

Car Battery FAQ: www.repairfaq.org