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MG MGA - Help! Prince of Darkness has struck me!
|My first trip of over two hundred miles, and several electrical problems arose...May or may not be connected.|
To start with, I knew that I needed a new turn signal switch, but have been limping along, by holding the lever....
Now the list of problems that arose....The first thing, that happened, was holding the switch would no longer make the signals work.
So, I used hand signals to get to the destination....(Norcross Ga, British Car Fayre).
Car started fine, from home, and restarted two or three more times, on the way to the event...Tail lights and headlights were working when I left home.
On the return trip from the event, we stopped for gas.
When I went to restart the car, there was nothing....
Fuel pump was working, but starter would not even click....So we push started the car, and I drove the 75 miles (from there), home, without incident....I did not notice whether the tail lights were working, but the headlights were working.
Drove into the garage, and shut the car off, and tried to restart, but nothing ...just a small click, but no movement at all...
Today, after leaving the trickle charger on the battery, overnight, the car started right up....
I checked to see if the generator was putting out, and it was....Since we were able to push start the car, and get 75 miles, over pretty good size mountain, (with the headlights on and working), I'm pretty sure that the generator was working....(If the battery was dead, and the generator not working, I can't see how I would have been able to get the car push started).
Now, to the lights.....I took out the turn signal switch, and with the key on, there is no power at all at any of the three wires to the switch....BUT, there IS power to the flasher, on two terminals, at all times, with the key on....
One tail light now operates (driver side), but just the red light...amber lights do not work, nor does the passenger side red tail light...Headlights, dashlights, and front parking lights are working.....
Sorry for the treatise, but can't say it any other way.HELP!
P.S. Where the blankity blank is the turn signal relay? I looked all over the car for it.
Thanks for your help.
|Edward Wesson 60MGA|
|There isn't one for a 1600! You'll have to get a workshop manual - indispensible............Mike|
I have the workshop manual...Now I need help.
|Edward Wesson 60MGA|
|Start by checking all of the main battery and charging system connections, particularly grounds. Check the condition of the battery(ies) with a hydrometer.|
My best guess is that your voltage regulator is malfunctioning. As a result your charging system is operating erratically. Sometimes your battery is getting recharged, but mostly it is getting only partially charged. If you have fairly new battery and it is left to sit for a while it may recover enough to run the car but not turn over the starter.
If the generator testing shows the proper output, then test the regulator per the WSM or http://mgaguru.com/mgtech/electric/electr_1.htm . I have been a big fan of replacing the stock regulator with electronic guts from Wilton Auto Electric, http://wiltonae.com/home/index.aspx . I still carry a backup along with other spares.
One thing at a time, then test drive, otherwise you might not pin down the original problem.
|I frequently used to get that starter motor click despite my battery being fully charged. Perhaps that issue could be an intermittent contact in the pull switch, as it was with me. The modern switches are a bit prone to failure after a while, they just cannot cope with the very heavy current going through the copper contact disc inside. The disc very quickly builds up carbon deposits from arcing.|
I have never had an issue since fitting a high torque starter. This is probably because the switch takes a much smaller current purely to operate the starter solenoid; the main electrical current then going straight from the battery to the starter, bypassing the switch.
|I think you may have more than one issue going on here, so a couple of questions ...|
How long have you had the car (have previous owners been 'improving' it?)?
Has the car been 'resting' for a year or two?
Do you have the original 'pull' starter switch, or have a key start and electrical solenoid (relay) been added?
Your intermittent starting problem, one thing at a time
1. Make sure that the connections at the battery terminals are all clean and TIGHT.
2. Make sure the connection from battery (usually the +ve terminal) to the chassis (frame) is clean and tight
3. Make sure the braided earth strap connecting the engine to the chassis has clean an tight connections at both ends(this is at the front left hand engine bearer)
4. Make sure that the connection from the battery (usually -ve) to the under bonnet (hood) starter switch, and from that switch to the starter motor are all clean and tight. (DEFINITELY a good idea to disconnect the battery while you are doing this)
Let us know if you find anything amiss (or not)
|Check to see that both ends of the (+,-) leads from the battery are clean and tight. Same with the lead from the starter switch to the starter.|
|Just to bring this thread up to date....|
First, thank you for all the input..
Went back and checked for starting function yesterday...I could not get the engine to fail to start...The starter worked every time the switch was engaged...But, we did notice that at idle, (900 rpm), the gen lite stayed on....
We cleaned the contacts at the regulator and turned the lock screw in 1/2 turn...This caused the lite to go out at any rpm above 900 rpm, but the lite would come on until it reached that speed....
I believe that the stop and go traffic , on such a long trip, prevented the battery from getting fully charged.
We will see if it is "cured"....Only time will tell.
Next, we found that one of the tail light elements wasn't working, and replaced the bulb...So now I have tail lights.
The one problem that I can't seem to solve, is the turn signals....All the TS bulbs are good...
Taking the TS switch out of the circuit, and shorting left and right wire to hot, shows that the flasher is bad....Replaced the flasher, and it worked for one left-right use, then the new flasher is burned out!
Testing for power at the flasher shows two hot leads with key on and engine off...Should only be one hot lead????
Reason that I was looking for a TS relay, was that I was using the wrong diagram in the manual. (DOH!)
|Edward Wesson 60MGA|
|Final report: Loose turn signal bulb preventing proper contact....Cleaned socket, replaced bulb, and relay, and all is well in the lighting department....|
Still do not know for sure the cause of starting failure, and must wait to see if it happens again.
|Edward Wesson 60MGA|
|It will, Edward, it will.|
But not until it's really inconvenient.
Always good to see such optimism!
The good news is , push starting is an option....Bad news is, can't use the hand crank yet, as PO installed a standard bolt in the pulley....I have the new one to put in this Winter.
|Edward Wesson 60MGA|
|And when someone complained about the unreliability of Lucas electrics Lord Lucas is reported to have declared, “No proper gentleman would care to drive after dark at any rate.”|
If your starter problems recur I would still put my money on the starter switch. Barney has a bit about it: http://mgaguru.com/mgtech/electric/ss_105.htm and http://mgaguru.com/mgtech/electric/ss_104.htm
When I had my issues and eventually replaced the switch this is what I found inside the faulty/worn out/corroded one (see picture).
Mine went that way after only 52 years
From the way it eventually failed after 6 months of being intermittent, it seemed as if the contacts were eroding to the extent that there was not enough travel for them to actually touch.
I guess 50 years is a reasonable design life
I think that one of mine may have been the original. It was on the car when I bought it as a barn find in 1996. I replaced it in 2011 so that's 53 years! I seem to recall posting on this forum that I was suspicious mine was barely making contact - not enough travel.
Reading Barney's pages it looks like 200 amps worth of juice was trying to go through one small contact point.
|My switch is relatively new....Replaced by a PO less than 4 years ago....However, I had to order a bunch of parts from Moss , anyway, and went ahead and ordered a new switch (everything 15% off right now)...|
If I change it, and it re-occurs, then I guess it will be time to look for a more serious problem, like the regulator, or battery.....
Since the load meter showed the battery to be good, and I drove 60 or so miles on the generator, then I must assume the problem would be with the regulator.
(the connections are good).
|Edward Wesson 60MGA|
If you've checked all the connections, and the pull switch is much less than 50 years old, then the next place I would point to is the brushes on the starter motor.
If (when) the problem re-occurs, get a small adjustable spanner to the front end of the starter motor. You will find that it has a small square end to it. Turn this in any direction about a quarter of a turn and try the starter again. If it now works, there's your problem (probably).
If the brushes are worn down, they may not touch the commutator at some point, hence no action when you pull the knob.
Brushes are cheap.
Thanks for the tip....The "front" of the motor, toward the radiator-end of the car, I assume.....I am going to look tomorrow at the nut you refer to, and find the correct wrench size....That way, I'll have it handy in such an emergency.
Your theory makes sense, as the car would not restart when I returned home from the trip....The only "glich" in the theory, is that it started the next day, after putting a trickle charger on the battery....It could be a combination of more than one fault.
|Edward Wesson 60MGA|
Yep, the radiator end of the starter. It's not actually a nut, it's a square ending to the shaft that the carries the rotating armature.
It's reachable from the open bonnet (hood), assuming that you have the essential MGA toolkit of universally jointed elbows and wrists.
The glitch. Yes, there's a thought. But an overnight temperature cycle might be enough to re-arrange the brushes by a thou or two.
|Following on from my corroded starter switch shown above, I have often given it thought on how to clean up the 'sealed' contacts and so extend the life of the switch. |
I have a couple of spare switches so I just experimented with one. I put it in a vice, attached the shaft to my drill and then spun the shaft, bringing the disc into light contact with the two base plates by pulling against the internal spring. However, if my memory serves me right, the contact disc on the shaft is also free to rotate (someone out there can probably tell me) and may not spin sufficiently to clean off the carbon build up. Nonetheless, it may just rotate the disc sufficiently to bring different areas into contact with the base plates and so extend switch life.
Just a thought!
|The contact disc is free to turn on the shaft. If you spin it too much you could wear out the fiber electrical isolators. But it may help to reposition the disc with just a little twist, which you could do in situ after disconnecting the cable.|
|What! You mean to say that none of you die-hard MGA owners have started your car with a hand-crank!|
|David ... oh so many, many, many times ... dead batteries, poor earth straps, corroded contact breakers, dead batteries, corroded petrol pump points, blocked strainers in the carburettors, dead batteries, blocked strainer in the petrol pump, CB condenser short circuit ... so many, many, many times.|
And all my own fault.
|I've done it a couple of times, mostly to win a beer bet. Otherwise it is usually easier to push start. But mostly it almost always starts itself, and if it doesn't I fix what's wrong with it so it will.|
Last time mine didn't start it was a broken battery ground cable, which I fixed on the spot. When it didn't start once in Alaska in '97 it was a broken battery cable terminal, for which it got a push start and got fixed in the next town.
|Ignition on, till the pump stops|
Choke fully out
Handle in, two full turns
Engage handle at 7 o'clock (from the front of the car)
Fingers underneath, thumbs pointing sideways.
Back straight, pull up smartly by straightening the legs
Starts 1st time ! :o)
|And never go all the way around full circle! If it kicks back you can break your navicular bone in your wrist which is very hard to heal. Ask me how I know....|
|There is another possible intermittent starter fault I once had. |
Behind the starter terminal there is a twisted strip of aluminium that carries the power to the other end of the starter. This had broken but intermittently touched hence sometimes started and other times was dead.
There is quite a story here. It was summer 1970 and I had spent the whole of Thursday night putting the engine back in the A then went to work in Birmingham then drove overnight to Newhaven, all OK so far. When I was going on the ferry I was push started, and the same to get of the the ferry in Dieppe. A garage there appeared to fix it but it soon started playing up again. We camped in Paris and when required my new girlfriend did the push starts including in front of the Louvre (and she still married me!!) I thought that I would try and get a recon starter (as you could in the UK at that time) in Paris but having found a BMC dealer they only sold new units in France which were too expensive for me for my £100 MGA. I carried the starter around all day including around the Notre Dame. Having driven a few miles south we found a small village garage. The mechanic grunted in french at us but fixed by welding/soldering a copper tube a around the twisted strip. This starter is still on the car today.
An unusual fault, and pr0bably self inflicted, but it can happen.
|My brain is thinking laterally again. I must stop it, it is making me go grey!|
Many of you guys advocate putting relays and additional fuses into the lighting circuit to lessen the load on the lighting switch etc. But there is never any mention of doing something similar with the starting circuit by installing a solenoid a la MGB, so taking the load off the modern flimsy starter switches. I have done this with my somehat expensive hi torque pre-engaged starter, but could this also be relatively easily achieved with the standard MGA starter?
I did this to mine in 1973, because I wanted to be modern, and I needed the hole for a reversing light switch. Worked fine for years. I replaced the original about ten years ago because I now prefer the original pull switch.
This thread was discussed between 08/09/2013 and 14/09/2013
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