MGB Common Problems: What to Look Out for When Buying a MGB

We asked our mechanic (Will) to give us a list of things to check when looking at purchasing an MGB and have listed them here in the hopes they will be helpful to you! We offer free inspections at our workshop if you wish to bring a car to us to have a check over before buying.

  • Wear on crankshaft/main bearings or tappets over adjusted. If you can hear rocker noise form top of engine, it could be that the tappets have been over adjusted.
  • Rubbing from bottom of engine-wear in crankshaft/main bearings
  • Oil – if whitish means water present. Could be head gasket or at worst damaged cylinder head
  • Usual places for oil leaks – timing chain cover, tappet side covers, gearbox bell housing cover, drain plug
  • Oil in rocker covers after engine running – if frothing; worn cylinder, bores or valve guides
  • Oil filter cap – if sludgy could indicate coolant leaks
  • If engine starts from cold & smokes on start-up – most likely a failed oil seal on the valve gear. Not a huge repair but will mean head coming off to replace
  • If more than one-inch play in clutch & pedal movement – could be master cylinders or slave cylinder pivots worn and needs replacing. Check for fluid leaks from master cylinders, wheel cylinders & slave.
  • If more than an inch of play on steering wheel – wear in the system
  • Test drive: check gears are smooth and overdrive operates correctly. Check clutch feel light and smooth.
  • Test drive: Come on and off the power at 30mph, if lots of clunking means excessive wear in differential, half shafts or propshaft.
  • Test drive: Oil pressure – should be around 15-25psi idle and 50-65 psi when running. If lower could mean. If higher could mean
  • Bodywork: Areas prone to rust; floorplans, check under carpet. Inside wings, esp. along sills. Use a magnet and cloth on panels and check for ripples. Some body panels will be patched with a lot of filler or have rusty sills simply welded over and not cut and replaced.
  • Bodywork: Check panel fit – sign of if the car has had a shunt or if the sill is rusting away and weakening in the middle.
  • DON’T ASSUME BECAUSE A CAR HAS 12 MONTHS MOT AND NO ADVISORIES THAT IT IS IN TIP TOP CONDITION. MOTs do not test everything on a car and unfortunately there are also some garages who are unscrupulous with their MOTs. It isn’t often that a classic car over a certain age will pass an MOT with no advisories.
  • If there is not paperwork to prove work has been done on the car, ALWAYS assume it hasn’t been done. No proof = no work.
  • If the car has been sitting around for several years then be wary. Sitting rots seals, gaskets, rubber etc. Brake hoses & pipes could need replacing. Tyres will need replacing

Did you know we know have a Facebook group for classic & retro car owners offering help, advice and ideas? It is a page where members of the classic car community can come together, discuss & help each other. Click here to join…

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