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  • MG TF’s…
  • the-muffin-man
    Full Member

    …are the engines as rubbish as I read about!?

    A tidy looking one has come up for sale near me. Might be ideal for some summer fun.

    db
    Full Member

    Yes, don’t do it.

    or at least check the head gasket is ok.

    the-muffin-man
    Full Member

    Apparently been replaced 6000 miles ago.

    jamesoz
    Full Member

    About due again then.

    the-muffin-man
    Full Member

    🤣🤣

    That bad then!?

    teethgrinder
    Full Member

    K-Series was a really good engine. Until they made it >1.4L.

    Main issue on F’s and TF’s was the radiator pipes from the engine in the rear to the radiator in the front leaking, causing the engine to overheat and kill the head gasket.

    Murray
    Full Member

    Friend had a 205 1.9 GTi. Written off at 250k when hit by a drunk driver. Valve guides replaced at about 120k,  nothing else. Replaced with a MGF, absolutely no problems over 80k. Replaced with a Boxter.

    They’re fine if you look after them.

    db
    Full Member

    replaced 6000 miles

    who by? A specialist in the k series or a local engine shop? If a specialist I would be more confident they have checked the cylinder liners and not just chucked on a fresh gasket.

    martymac
    Full Member

    Mate of mine had a tf for a couple of years, no major issues mechanically, she only got rid because some asshole slashed the roof open. Not to steal anything, there was nothing to steal, just ‘cos they could.
    It’s a used car, buy on condition.

    jamesoz
    Full Member

    Some say K Seal was named after the K Series engine.

    I’m led to believe ‘if’ looked after properly they’re fine. This was explained to me by a friend who had one that was quite frequently broken. I suspect a lot of that was using an old MG as everyday commuting transport.

    I’m great at owning old unreliable sports cars so can’t really judge.

    andylaightscat
    Free Member

    had K series engines in Caterhams with no issues, if head gasket replaced/needs replacing there’s an updated/up rated multi layer one

    masterdabber
    Free Member

    I thought you meant a proper MG TF

    alanl
    Free Member

    I had one, loved it. The head gasket issue should be sorted, the original ones were a different design, and failed easily. I cant remember if it was the MG or a LR that had a coolant pipe modification too, apparently the cooling system was causing a sudden shock to the head when the thermostat opened.
    Mine was scrapped eventually, the suspaension was knackered, but, all the olts holding on the wishbones etc has seized. They didnt use threaded holes to mount them, they used the type of bolts that cut the thread as they went in. And all of them seized, and broke off. Far too much trouble to drill them all out on my driveway, so it went. I’d have another one if it was well looked after, they are all quite old now, so normal rules apply about any old car.

    FB-ATB
    Full Member

    We had a Rover 214 with the K series engine. It had 110,000 miles on the clock when we sold it and had no trouble.

    reluctantjumper
    Full Member

    I had a look into them a few years ago as an alternative to an MX5, they were dirt cheap at the time. The head gaskets are indeed weak when original but if you can find one that has had it replaced with the upgraded version and, crucially, fitted correctly with all checks done then they are perfectly reliable. My advice would be to find one from a club or enthusiast with plenty of history rather than just a random car locally.

    doomanic
    Full Member

    The head gasket issue was caused by corrosion in the coolant pipes. The cooling system is very low volume so doesn’t need to lose much water before head gasket failure is inevitable. There are aftermarket stainless pipes available. ISTR that head gasket failure often warped the head, leading to further premature failures.

    breninbeener
    Full Member

    Im pretty sure the head bolts are 1 time use stretch bolts. Tjis adds to the price of fixing a K series. Coolant leaks arw your enemy.

    defblade
    Free Member

    Looked into these a while ago for my daughter. As well as the HG concerns, there are plenty of other things to watch out for… many buyer’s guides around… read them, make a list, check everything. I think I upset the lady selling hers as I went around and explained, point by point, why a realistic offer was about half what she was asking. I also looked at one for me a while later. It was very tidy and keenly priced, however it turns out I don’t fit well in the driver’s seat…
    But overall, I’d certainly consider one (if I was shorter) and it was in the right condition at the right price. (Sometimes cheap and tatty is the correct answer!)

    And if you branch out to the obvious rival – MX5 – check for corrosion in the front chassis legs. Then check again!

    Northwind
    Full Member

    I also looked at them as an alternative to an MX5, but it seemed like the cheap ones are mostly cheap for a reason and the nice ones are too expensive for what they are. I ended up getting a fat NC MX5- you generally spend a little more for equivalent condition, and you have to be careful of rust inevitably, but the engines are better, maintenance seems easier generally and you get more options like lsds etc. It just became a no-brainer for me. Though the TF is for me definitely nicer looking than the fatso nc.

    BoardinBob
    Full Member

    I had an MGF for many years.. absolutely loved it. Was great to drive. Fast enough and felt faster than it was with the roof down. I had zero mechanical issues with it and put 60k on it with no problems.

    However the week after I sold it, the head gasket went…

    sharkattack
    Full Member

    I’d buy an MX5.

    submarined
    Free Member

    My mum had one. No expense spared, and the ownership cost was completely disproportionate to both the value of the car, and the joy she (neve) got from it.
    The cooling system still went tits up, so hg job with new bolts, updated gasket, coolant pipes etc. It’s my understanding that they don’t just go because of the coolant system not being cared for (her’s was) but they also go as a result of using plastic dowels that allow the head to move slightly, and incorrect torque from the factory on the head bolts. My mum’s one had the head bolts re torqued, but the hg still went a few k later.

    I had it for a few months whilst I was selling it for her, at the time my wife had an mx5. The TF was slower, driving position was horrible, sounded worse, and just didn’t handle as nicely. Hers was the 130, so lower power, but the engine felt lethargic had no real willingness to rev. The opposite of the 1.6 in my wife’s 5.

    The 5 just feels nicer to me in every single way. I genuinely can’t see any reason to go for the TF, unless you have mobility issues and like sitting ‘on’ a car. (I have real bugbears about driving position though, tbf, it’s the thing that killed the Puma for me)
    Mum now has an NC MX5, and much prefers that.

    As an aside, an old neighbour had a Rover 25 with the 1.4 k series. HG went on that too.

    timba
    Free Member

    There’s an informative article about the K-series here… https://www.aronline.co.uk/engines/k-series-engine/
    You’ll need to read the whole article but, needless to say, the myth is worse than the reality and some race engineers caused many of their own problems.
    The biggest other gripe that I’ve heard is leaking hoods; if the hood didn’t leak then you had problems with the doors and windows where they meet the hood 🙂

    sharkattack
    Full Member

    I can’t be bothered to type up all the things wrong with the 1.8 series on my phone. The plastic dowels mentioned above were a part of it and they were phased out during the later production years but there’s no way of knowing if you have them.

    One thing I heard from a Lotus mechanic/MG anorak is that the tooling in the factory wasn’t sharp enough to skim the heads correctly. They’d pass a visual inspection but apparently the metal was smeared rather than shaved off (not technical terms) which would hide any tiny imperfections in the surface.

    They’re not a terrible design and they can be built to work very well but they were thrown together for a low price during their lifespan and usually attached to shonky cooling systems.

    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    I think the cooling system is back to front IIRC which was a development for the small city car market, it minimised the volume of cooling water in the engine loop so it warmed up quicker. This then lead to a shock when the thermostat did open and let in cold water.

    That compounded with other issues gave them a reputation. There’s nothing wrong with the engine if built properly.

    One that’s only just had the HG done……. I’d probably avoid it unless either there’s a big bill from a sepcialist that covered everything (things like liners, skimming block and head etc). Or it was genuinely done preemptively (with new bolts, pipes, uprated gaskets etc).

    the-muffin-man
    Full Member

    Thanks all – think I’ll give it a miss! 🤣

    birr97
    Free Member

    Have a look at the MR2 MK3 if you’re looking for a reliable roadster and don’t want an MX5.

    They are a bit short on luggage space but manageable if it’s a weekend car.

    Go for a facelift to avoid the oil burning of the earlier ones.

    alanl
    Free Member

    One thing I heard from a Lotus mechanic/MG anorak is that the tooling in the factory wasn’t sharp enough to skim the heads correctly. They’d pass a visual inspection but apparently the metal was smeared rather than shaved off (not technical terms) which would hide any tiny imperfections in the surface.

    That sounds like one I read about the Triumph motorcycle factory in Meriden. The other bike factories had shut down, so they amalgamated it all in Meriden, around 1973. They put the metal presses on the first floor, with the machine tools on the ground floor. They started having problems with cranks failing, eventually it was traced to when the metal press banged down, and there was a crank in the grinder underneath it, it shook the floor, and the crank was very slightly distorted due to the movement, but it wasnt noticed unti the engine was complete. Another idea they had involved the brake pedal. From the brake pedal, a solid rod ran directly to the rear drum brake. They changed the suspension design, and the rod touched the rear springs slightly, so they redeisgned the rod to have a ‘U’ section in it, to miss the spring. Of course, they used the same size rod, as they had 1000’s of them in stock, and of course, the back brake was virtually useless as the U section made the rod stretch each time the brake was applied. The Management and Designers were not good, something that sounds very similar to the failing MG/Rover group in the late 80’s early 90’s.

    it minimised the volume of cooling water in the engine loop so it warmed up quicker. This then lead to a shock when the thermostat did open and let in cold water.

    Yes, that’s what I was told too, IIRC, there was a modification to the stat and pipes, the original stat was removed, and a remote stat fitted in a new pipe, along with the new layered HG.

    submarined
    Free Member

    The myth probably isn’t as bad as the reality, but the reality is still bad. My wife worked at JLR in data analysis of warranty jobs back when the freelander had the K Series…
    Don’t get me wrong, I love a massively flawed engine (I have to, I’ve owned an RX7 for 14 years) but the 130 engine just doesn’t seem to have any redeeming features to make it worth loving.

    tpbiker
    Free Member

    I had an mgf years ago, loved it. It felt so fast despite clearly not being fast at all. Borderline lethal in anything but bone dry conditions I remember spinning mine about 720 degrees coming off a round about in mildly moist conditions

    Died a death in the end around 50000 miles. Durability wasn’t a strong point as I recall, but it was ace fun before it broke

    andybrad
    Full Member

    I had one. Paid 21k for it! Spent 3k on it in repairs (and 60k, never touched the head gasket) sold it for 2.5k 5 years later.

    I tested the mx5, mr2 and the TF160. I thought the TF was the better car at the time for me. There are issues lots of them. But all are fixable and cheap.

    The TF had the rad bypass to try and reduce the thermal shock initially. The thing is it wasn’t just the head gasket. People would sim the head but the heads were case hardened so quite oftent his was removed and a thicker gasket would end up damaging the head. The liners also got disturbed when you did it and not many people reseated them (and new bolts) so there were a lot of failures just after. There was a final fix from LR after MG went bust. This was an uprated gasket and a new stronger ladder rail in the engine.

    There was a period where the front wishbones had different amounts of camber on them from the factory and youll be fighting rust. But as a bit of summer fun its actually really easy to live with. Its just one of those things where there will always be something wrong but the fixes are cheap but constant.

    RustyNissanPrairie
    Full Member

    For any TF fans – there’s an antiques place in Manchester (Old Mill, Failsworth/Oldham Road). They randomly have loads of TF’s on wooden shelves – I don’t know if they are for sale but the whole place is a kleptomania’s dream with clutter and bric-a-brac everywhere.


    thisisnotaspoon
    Free Member

    FWIW I drove a few for work and didn’t think they were anything special? The TF is much nicer than the F, but: The interiors all look like a 90’s Rover, perforated cream leather, analogue clock in the middle of the dash, etc etc. They’re oddly too rubbish (and it wasn’t hard waring so they look tired) to look luxurious like a GT car, but not spartan enough to pull off sporty like an MX5. And they’re just not quick enough to be “fun”, a warm Focus or Fiesta is more fun.

    Somewhere underneath it all there’s probably a really good car lurking, but these days a good one costs as much as a good(ish) MGB. And the B is frankly an amazing car to drive if you keep it away from the road salt.

    finbar
    Free Member

    I don’t know if they are for sale but the whole place is a kleptomania’s dream with clutter and bric-a-brac everywhere.

    I’m not sure kleptomania means what you think it means

    (or if it does – that’s a really dishonest way of thinking about a shop *frowns*)

    mert
    Free Member

    Had a play in a few of them when they were still new, only one that i actually thought was worth buying was the one that you couldn’t, a test mule with the VHPD version of the engine that eventually went into the Elise/Exige. That had been all sorted out for track use. Then they dismantled it and chucked it in a skip after testing was finished 🙁

    Northwind
    Full Member

    The thing with the engine reliability issues is that usually when you hear so many different explanations for an issue, all but one is wrong, right? But in this case, it seems like just about all of the different explanations are true, to some extent, and most of the fixes are also true, but that just means that you can totally fix one problem but not another and get what looks like the exact same failure again. and that creates pretty much the unhappiest end users imaginable.

    The last TF I nearly bought had been intelligently modded and fixed and upgraded over the 15 years he’d owned it, he’d had pretty much all of the standard failures, once, and as far as possible had prevented them from happening again. That’s the car I almost bought, but it was also the car that made me decide not to buy anyone else’s, because if I did, I’d end up being that guy, fixing one issue after another properly for as long as I owned the car then selling it for peanuts after I’d done it all.

    So like I mentioned I got an MX5, and I decided to save time and future distress by buying one that already had a rattly bottom end. Take that, duratec oil starvation gods.

    the-muffin-man
    Full Member

    Oooops! Just stuck a deposit down on one! 🤣😬

    Wish me luck!

    …now what hat for the follically challenged to stop burning and subsequent beetroot head!

    jeffl
    Full Member

    Haha, fair play.

    Was never a fan they always looked as though they were riding too high and a bit tubby. Compare it to an Elise and it’s odd that they’re both mid engined two seaters with the same engine. Appreciate that Elises are silly money now though.

    I imagine it’s a nice enough thing to potter around in with the hood down when the sun’s out.

    Enjoy.

    the-muffin-man
    Full Member

    I imagine it’s a nice enough thing to potter around in with the hood down when the sun’s out.

    That’s all I want it for really! 😎

    A bit under £3k for this. 50ish thousand miles and only done 5000 miles in last 6 years. You can tell it’s been looked after. Headgasket, cambelt and waterpump recently done and comes with hard-top too. Good history, lots of reciepts. No advisories for last 3 MOTs.

    MX5’s just looked too risky at this sort of money. I figured mechanicals are easier to fix than a rotten MX5 bodyshell.

    And I’m not a convertible Audi TT type of guy.

    So at 54 I’m ticking the…

    ✅ mid-engined
    ✅ two seater
    ✅ convertible
    ✅ sports(ish) car
    ✅ (just over) mid-life crisis!
    ✅ no kids to ferry about.

    …boxes! 🙂

    jeffl
    Full Member

    Under 3k that’s a steal in the current market. An MX5 for that sort of money would consist of rust more than anything else.

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