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MG MG Y Type - Irregular Service Items


Sorry to yet again bring up a subject that is so generic in terms of classic ownership and not really Y-specific however I'm looking for a bit of advice.

I have had my YT for over 10 years now and other than a bit of painting, a couple of bushes, a new exhaust and the annual MOTs I've never had it looked at "professionally". I've done the regular (annual) stuff myself - oil change, grease points, battery top up etc. However I'm aware that there must be many things that should be done less regularly that I'm simply not getting around to due to my ignorance and the excuse that I only do a few hundred miles a year.
For example I have never done anything with plugs or leads or brake fluid or coils or distributors or lots of other things that I frankly don't understand.

Please can I have suggestions for stuff that I should be doing and how often I should be doing it?
Feel free to email me off list if you think that this sort of info will just clog the airwaves or if it's info that's already available elsewhere and I just haven't found it.

When replying please assume complete auto-mechanical ignorance on my part (as well as extreme laziness).

Huge thanks in advance.

Saul Duck

Due to the low mileage I wouldn't be concerned about the plugs or leads or coils.

I take apart the distributor every three years for cleaning and oiling.

I also take the brakes apart (roughly) every three years for cleaning and refreshing the brake fluid.
If you haven't had the brake fluid refreshed for 10 years it is long overdue. Brake fluid attracts water (unless you use silicone fluid) and it is recommended to flush it every two years. The water in the fluid will cause oxidation of the parts and brake fade under heavy braking.

With your complete auto-mechanical ignorance and extreme laziness in mind, I would strongly advice to have your brakes and distributor refreshed by someone less lazy and more knowledgable.
Willem vd Veer

And I forgot:

You should keep an eye on the tyres. Tyre suppliers would like us to believe that after six years the tyres are to old to use. Personally I take the position that much depends on storage conditions and use of the car. If there are cracks on the sides or between the threads you should budget for new tyres even if the thread is sufficient.

Replacing the cooling fluid is also recommended ones in a while, a ten year interval is too long.
Willem vd Veer

I need to clean my plugs frequently because the mixture is too rich and a lot of carbon deposits on the electrodes, making the engine run irregularly after 1000 miles.

I consider as fundamental the rule suggesting to replace every rubber part on a car at 25 years intervals: brake & coolant hoses, seals (specially in the braking system), etc. If they haven't started leaking yet, you're just pushing your luck.

Tyres can last an average of 15 years without much worry, but I've had to change a set of radials which were that old, not because they were cracked or worn, but rather because of the normal chemical transformations affecting the material which sometimes cause the different layers (steel vs rubber) to start to separate after a long while.
Gilles Bachand


Check your carburettor needle against the recommended ones (see Hints and Tips). I'll bet you are running the wrong needle and will also need to reset your carburettor.

Paul Barrow

Thanks guys.

To replace the brake fluid do I just pump the old stuff out of one or more of the bleed points on the back of the wheels by pumping my foot on the pedal or is there a better way of clearing the old stuff out?

Saul Duck

Hi Saul

Personally I would take the car to a braje shop but before you go check that they have at least 3- 4 pints in of DOT3 or DOT4 brake fluid - I very much doubt that you have Silicon based DOT5 in there. Let them do it but before they start (assuming your brakes are OK) I would suggest they familiarise themselves with the brake pedal feel.

Knowing where you live my personal recommendation is you take the car to the wonderful little garage at Sherfield English and have them do the work - they are VERY GOOD and very understanding of the requirements of old vintage cars rather than taking it to a quick fit dump. The will also have Whitworth sized wrenches so wont damage caps or bleeders. If you go somewhere else you may need to take you wrenches with you.

Remind them the brake filler is UNDER the floor on the driver side and it is not the large cylindrical tank under the hood/bonnet.

Brakes are not difficult but they are essential and worth paying someone to get them right if you are not comfortable messing with mechanical stuff as they will need to be efficienctly bled. Remember, any idiot can make a car go fast!

Paul Barrow

If the brake hydraulics haven't been looked at for 10 years I would take them apart before just flushing them.
I wouldn't be surprised if the bores are rusted and with luck that can be fixed with some honing. If you just pump away in the normally unused travel in the rusted cylinder, chances are that you damage the seal(s) with possibly disasterous results.
Willem vd Veer

Good points Willem.

Saul, again, I would feel very happy if I were you entrusting this work to the garage at Sherfield English. You will be well looked after up there as far as labor and honest charging goes. The may need some assistance in obtaining parts so make sure they have your phone number to call you so you can get the parts for them and you and I can correspond off-line about what you need and where to go to get them etc.

Paul Barrow

Thanks again guys.
I may have slightly over-played my ignorance.
If we were to assume that:
1) I have previously (successfully) bled the brake system and topped up the fluid.
2) There is nothing fundamentally wrong with my braking system.
3) I just wanted to change the fluid and was keen to do this myself.

What is the best way for me to flush out the existing brake fluid?

Saul Duck

<<I may have slightly over-played my ignorance.>>

Aha! So this is only a crafty way to liven up the forum?

Ideally you should buy one of those brake flushing bottles that are powered by an aircompressor, with it you draw the fluid out at the wheelcylinder end. I've used them in the past and they are a joy to use. They are totally OTT for hobby-use, but a man can't have enough tools, can he?

Alternatively you can use the Easybleed kit that pushes out the fluid at the wheelcylinder, being fitted to the reservoir. I haven't got experience with it.

In practice I let one of my children work the pedal while I open and close the bleednipple, whilst keeping an eye on the fluid level in the reservoir.
I start at the cylinder farthest from the reservoir.
Willem vd Veer

You can bleed your brakes without assistance with these little «Speed bleeders»: SB51624L 5/16 x 24 on the front cylinders ( and SB71620 7/16 by 20 on the rear cylinders ( They are marvelous.

I figured that one full stroke of the pedal pushes any air bubble about 18 inches. So if you know the distance between the master cylinder and the wheel cylinders, you can figure out about how many strokes you should need (+ I always add one for good luck). I think I used about 26 to 32 ounces to do the entire system last time.
Gilles Bachand

Having lived with my old Y type a long time now I have found that rust is the problem along with most low mileage cars, take a look at the area above the axle and as far as possible above and to the rear of the fuel tank. The sills can rust from within so all these areas will benefit from waxoil treatment. The interior of the chassis box section can rust where it dips below the rear axle, moisture can rest there. Jack the rear end of the car up and pour old engine oil into the chassis until it drips out of the front end and allow this to drain away. Bryan
B Mellem

Please can Willem and/or Gilles email me off list using

(I just want to go through a few finer details that would bore and appal everyone else).

Many thanks.

Saul Duck


I cannot imagine an Y-related question boring, but you've got mail.
Willem vd Veer

This thread was discussed between 21/03/2012 and 25/03/2012

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