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Related Posts ==>  Faulty Ignition Relay

Whilst thinking through purchasing options for an MGB, I decided I have limited time to allocate to any kind of restoration project. Accordingly, the criteria for my first MGB experience was either a car that had received a lot of restoration work or one that was original and in very good condition, requiring minimal work.
I had also established a preference for a GT. Living in South East Queensland, with a subtropical climate and long hot summers, a roadster would be too hot.

I had spotted at least one MGB GT that had received a lot of restoration work but I was a little slow in the uptake and that opportunity slipped away fairly quickly. Although I didn’t get the opportunity to look at or demo the vehicle, it was clearly a quality car that had received some high quality work. Speaking to the owner over the phone confirmed the extent of restoration work carried out. Given the very reasonable price, it is no wonder the car sold very quickly.

My next inspection was a roadster listed locally. Although I was looking for a GT, the intention of looking at this roadster was to get a better feel for what to look for. That turned out to be a smart exercise. Although the price was quite low, it was also a substandard example of an MGB and revealed the types of issues to look for. It was a regular drive for the seller, no effort was made to present the car well, it was clearly not well looked after and likely had mechanical issues to match, had obvious signs of rust in the normal places (sills, doors etc) and I couldn’t even test drive the vehicle as the seller didn’t have the key.
The next example I looked at was the car I eventually purchased. It was a reasonably priced MGB GT LE UK edition listed in Melbourne Vic. At the time Victoria was in the middle of a COVID-19 lockdown. Given severe restrictions on movement around town locals couldn’t carry out any inspections. I engaged a local mechanic to carry out a pre-purchase inspection. Based on that inspection I purchased this vehicle for the following reasons:

  • price was very good
  • the seller had carried out limited but key repairs including a new steering rack and new brake system components
  • the seller maintained a file of work carried out, including all work carried out by the previous owner
  • the car had for many years been a club car and been very well cared for and maintained
  • condition of the car was clearly very good and confirmed by the pre-purchase inspection
  • mechanically the car was in very good condition
  • in the words of the pre-purchase inspection mechanic, the vehicle was “faultless”

My expectation on pickup from the depot was to jump in the car and drive it home. Sadly, this was not the case as some issues started to reveal themselves at the depot.
Firstly, the car would not start. I had a new battery fitted but still no start. The car eventually started and I left the deport with my wife travelling behind me. It travelled about 500 meters and stopped – just cut out as it had run out of fuel. As the seller mentioned it was low on fuel I assumed the tank was empty. I subsequently put some fuel in and it started again. Another 500 meters later it stopped again in a similar fashion.

At that point, my wife and I agreed she would drive back to the transport depot and request a tow truck to pick it up and deliver home. My wife and the yard manager returned with some more fuel as there were no tow trucks available at the time. Thinking it was low on fuel the yard manager commenced topping up the tank but it quickly overflowed. So the problem was obviously not fuel. It started again so we decided to give it another shot at driving approximately 15km home. Buoyed by the car driving 5 km further I thought it was going to make it home but sadly it stopped again. It seemed to stop as if it had run out of fuel and some odd electrical things were going on like blinkers not working, dash charge light coming on etc.

The car ended up getting home unceremoniously on a tilt tray truck. A mechanic friend and I were able to carry out some basic checks. Believing it may have been the alternator and or associated voltage regulator, we removed that and had it checked but nothing wrong with that.

I then took it to a local auto electrical workshop and the problem was eventually tracked down to a faulty and burnt out ignition relay. That relay also controls the blinkers and some dash gauges, hence the other odd electrical symptoms also resolved.

It was an interesting learning curve as this little $5 part caused a lot of grief and some unexpected costs (new battery, tow truck and auto electrician).

See this post for further details on symptoms and resolution of faulty ignition relay.

Faulty Ignition Relay