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MG T Series

Published: 13th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

MG T Series

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The T Series cars are all essentially pre-war in design and layout, which is actually very good news in terms of routine maintenance

How easy are they to work on?

The T Series cars are all essentially pre-war in design and layout, which is actually very good news in terms of routine maintenance. Access to the engine is good, although only one side of the motor at a time can be reached (bonnet is divided/hinged centrally). The running gear components are extremely easy to get at too, just as well, since regular (and very frequent) re lubrication of the steering/suspension components is essential for a long working life. Note 1: Mileage/time intervals shown are suggested for typical use; frequency will need to be increased under harsh operating conditions. Please consult manufacturer’s literature for full details of each aspect of maintenance. Note 2: This feature concentrates on the TB to TF models. Although maintenance requirements of the pre-war TA (now exceedingly rare) are generally similar in many respects, the TA’s 1292cc engine (for example) differs significantly from those of the later cars. Consult MG literature for specific information on this model.

Braking system

Check the brake fluid level at least once a week; investigate immediately any fluid loss. At least every 3000 miles or annually (whichever comes first), remove the brake drums and inspect the front and rear shoes, cylinders and drums. Check also the condition of the brake pipes, flexible hoses and master cylinder. Renew any ailing components AT ONCE. AVOID INHALING DUST FROM THE BRAKE SHOES; IT MAY CONTAIN ASBESTOS. Adjust the brake shoe to drum clearances as required. Rotate the adjusters until the brakes are applied, then back off the adjustment until the wheels rotate without binding. Now check the handbrake operation and re-adjust if necessary. After all adjustments, ensure that the brakes are not binding with the footbrake ‘off’ and the handbrake lever in the ‘off’ position. For full details of procedures, consult MG literature specific to your model. At least every two years, drain the old brake fluid, re-fill the system with fresh fluid and bleed it to eliminate all trapped air.


Overhead-valve (pushrod), in-line four-cylinder 1250cc, 54.4bhp (Mark II TD, 57bhp); 1466cc (late TF from October 1954), 63bhp

Valve clearances

Inlet and exhaust, TB/TC/TD, 0.019in; TF (1250 and 1500), 0.012in. (in all cases with the engine hot). Adjustment is by conventional screw and locknut. Employ the starting handle to rotate the engine to the correct point for checking each clearance (removal of the spark plugs makes it easier to turn the engine). Use the ‘Rule of Nine’; i.e. check/adjust valve No. 1 with No. 8 fully open, No. 2 with 7 open, No. 3 with 6 open, No. 4 with 5 open and so on (in each case the sum of the valve numbers is nine). On re-assembly, examine the rocker gasket, and only re-use the old gasket if in perfect condition (unlikely!). Be careful not to over-tighten the valve cover, or it will be distorted resulting in oil leaks.


Engine oil: The T Series engines rely on adequate oil pressure and clean lubricant in order to survive in long term. Typically these units are capable of at least 100,000 miles before major attention is required. Ideally change the oil and renew the filter (fully cleaning its housing at the same time) at least every 3000 miles or annually (whichever comes first). On completion, ensure that the filter housing and all external pipework are secure. Always use high quality, ‘full-bodied’ lubricant - SAE15W50, 20W50 or 20W60. Please dispose of the old oil in an environmentally friendly manner - local councils provide waste oil collection points. Sump capacity: TB/TC/early TD: Approx. 9 pints (5.1 litres). Later TD (from Engine No. 14948): Approx. 10.5 pints (6 litres). Gearbox oil: Every 3000 miles/annually (whichever comes first), check/top up the gearbox (with the car horizontal). To check the oil level, use the gearbox dipstick, accessible from inside the vehicle. Gearbox oil grades: TB/TC: For ambient temperatures down to 10 degrees F (minus 12 degrees C), the recommended lubricant is SAE 140 EP oil; for cooler climates, SAE 80 EP oil. TD/TF: For ambient temperatures down to 10 degrees F (minus 12 degrees C), SAE 90 EP Hypoid oil is recommended; for cooler climates, SAE 80 EP Hypoid oil. All versions: Every 12,000 miles (approximately), drain the gearbox (ideally following a long run, to fully warm up the lubricant, enabling it to flow more easily), then re-fill with oil to the specs listed as above. Gearbox capacity: Approx. 1.25 pints (0.71 litres). Rear axle oil: Early cars (TB/TC) with spiral bevel type axle: Approximately every 3000 miles or annually (whichever comes first), with the vehicle horizontal, remove the differential level plug (which is on the RIGHT side of the unit) and ensure that the oil is up to the base of the plug aperture. If topping up is required, remove the filler opening on the LEFT of the unit, and add oil until the level reaches the base of the LEVEL plug aperture (on the right of the unit). DO NOT top up to the base of the FILLER plug aperture (on the left) or the oil level will be too high, with attendant risk of leaks into the rear brakes. SAE 140 EP oil is recommended for temperatures down to 10 degrees F/minus 12 degrees C, or SAE 80 EP for cooler climates. Every 12,000 miles (approximately), drain the axle oil after a long run, and re-fill with fresh oil (SAE 140 EP or SAE 80 EP, as above). TB/TC axle capacity: Approximately 1.5 pints (0.88 litres). Later cars (TD/TF) with hypoid axle: Approximately every 3000 miles or annually (whichever comes first), with the car horizontal, remove the differential’s single filler/level plug and ensure that the oil is up to the base of the aperture. If necessary, top up through the filler/level plug aperture with fresh oil. For cool climates, SAE 80 EP Hypoid oil. Every 12,000 miles (approximately), drain the axle oil after a long run, and re-fill with fresh oil (SAE 90 EP Hypoid or SAE 80 EP Hypoid, as above). TD/TF axle capacity: Approximately 2.25 pints (1.32 litres).


Firing order: 1-3-4-2 (No. 1 cylinder at front of engine) Spark plugs: TB/TC/TD: Champion L10S, K.L.G. E80, Lodge HN or HNP or equivalent. Gap: TB, 0.018in;  TC/TD, 0.020in. to 0.022in. TF: Champion NA8 or equivalent. Gap. 0.020in. to 0.022in. In each case, check/clean the plugs every 6000 miles or annually (whichever comes first); renew in any event every 12,000 miles. Contact points: Gap: TB/TC/early TD, 0.010in. to 0.012in; later TD/TF, 0.014in. to 0.016in. Check/clean the contact points every 3000 miles or annually (whichever comes first); fit new points regardless every 6000 miles. Distributor cap, rotor arm and high tension leads: Every 3000 miles, clean and check , ensuring that all components are in excellent condition, and that all connections are sound. Distributor - mechanical aspects: Every 3000 miles, withdraw the rotor arm and apply a few drops of engine oil to the moving contact pivot, the distributor shaft/cam bearing and the mechanical advance mechanism (via apertures in the distributor’s baseplate). SPARINGLY apply grease to the distributor cam. Timing: As a starting point, set the timing at Top Dead Centre (T.D.C.), with the contact points just about to open. The engine can be rotated using the starting handle, until No. 1 piston is at the top of its compression stroke; the rotor arm should now be pointing towards the cap segment for No. 1 cylinder’s high tension lead. Slight re-adjustment may be required after a road test and bear in mind that dedicated fine tuning may be required depending on grade of
fuel used and driving conditions.

Running gear

At least every 1000 miles or once a year (whichever comes first), re-lubricate the following components, using lithium-based, multi-purpose grease… The king pins (two nipples on each side), track rod ends, draglink, front spring pins, propeller shaft (where grease nipples are fitted). Before applying the grease gun, always wipe clean the nipples using fresh rag. Wheel bearings: TB/TC: At least every 6000 miles or annually, re-lubricate (with grease stated as being suitable for wheel bearings) the rear hubs (grease nipple within hub cap). All models: At least every 6000 miles or annually, check/re-grease the front wheel bearings (use grease stated as being suitable for wheel bearings). Steering box (TB/TC): At least every 3000 miles/annually, check/top up the steering box oil. SAE 140 EP oil is recommended for adverse temperatures; SAE 80 EP for cooler climates. Steering rack (TD/TF): At least every 3000 miles/annually, re-lubricate the steering rack (via nipple on unit); take care not to over-fill. Hypoid oil is recommended; for cooler climates, then use SAE 80 EP Hypoid oil. Handbrake cables/operating mechanism: Re-grease at least every 1000 miles/annually and check cable for fraying and decay. See that cable ‘run’ is correct. Wire wheel splines: On examples fitted with wire wheels, whenever the wheels are removed, ensure that the hub splines are coated with copperbased, anti-seize compound (alternatively, use grease), to prevent seizure of the wheels on the splines. Check specifically to ensure that the splines are not worn (indicated by sharply pointed spline profiles); potentially this is VERY dangerous as the brakes may be rendered inoperative. Renew at once all affected components. Another problem, if the splines are worn, is that the ‘spinners’ (retaining nuts) are necessarily over-tightened this in itself can cause damage, and they are also then very difficult to remove. To establish how much wear is present, temporarily fit each wheel in turn without its ‘spinner’ (retaining nut) and attempt to rock the wheel back and forth. Movement on the splines (evidenced by movement at the rim of the wheel) should be minimal. Note that with TD and TF versions fitted with pressed steel wheels, the wheel nuts on the left of the car have LEFT hand threads; DON’T mix them up with nuts from the right hand side! Note too that the ‘spinners’ (sometimes, hexagonal centre nuts) on the wire wheeled versions are also ‘handed’ and similar advice applies.

Fuel system

Every 3000 miles or annually (whichever comes first), closely examine all fuel system pipework and check/top up the carburettor dashpots (ideally use SAE 20 grade oil). Periodically (at least once a year), check/clean the filter in the S.U. electric fuel pump (also, where fitted, the filter in the carburettor’s float chamber lid), and examine the condition of the petrol pump’s contact points. Clean/renew the points if excessively burnt/pitted. At the same time, clean the carburettor suction chambers and pistons. After the valve clearances and all ignition settings have been checked/set, and with the engine fully warmed up, check/re-set the carburettor mixture/throttle stop settings (use proprietary equipment for precisely balancing the carburettors). (Note: If the fuel mixture is excessively rich after all the engine and carburettor adjustments have been made, the problem may be due to worn carburettor needles and jet assemblies. Replacing them with new components will vastly improve emissions, fuel consumption and driveability). Air filter types encountered can vary. Clean gauze type air filters or renew ‘throwaway’ variety elements every 12,000 miles (or sooner if visibly choked; check every 6000 miles). After cleaning, sparingly re-oil ‘ oilwetted’ type gauze filters, using fresh engine oil. On examples equipped with ‘oil bath’ type air filters, the old oil should be drained and the units re-filled with fresh engine oil, having cleaned the housings. Note that some cars may have had pancake type filters (incorporating replaceable elements) retrospectively installed.

Sundry items

Every 3000 miles, or annually (whichever comes first)... Check/adjust free play at the clutch pedal; aim for 3/4in. to 1.5 in. Check the cleanliness and security of all electrical connections. Inspect all wiring for damage, burning etc. Assess the condition and security of all running gear components, including all steering arms/rods, and all the suspension mounting bushes. Check for excessive movement (wear) in the steering joints and king pins/bushes. Examine the springs for corrosion, cracking and other damage. Check to ensure that the front and rear spring ‘U’ bolts/nuts, spring securing nuts and shock absorber mounting bolts and nuts are all fully tight. Inspect the chassis and underbody for damage and rectify any paint damage, to prevent corrosion. Every 12,000 miles, check the hub bearings for wear, and renew if significantly worn. Every 12,000 miles, check the shock absorbers for deterioration/leaks. TD/TF: At least every 3000 miles/once a year, examine the steering rack gaiters for splits/leaks. If damaged, the gaiters should be replaced at once, to prevent the ingress of dirt and moisture to the working components of the rack. Re-lubricate the rack after fitting new gaiters; use oil as specified in our ‘Lubrication’ section. Re-lubricate the hinges and lock mechanisms (wipe off excess lubricant afterwards)

Cooling system/other aspects

At all times, use high quality anti-freeze mixture containing corrosion inhibitors. Every 3000 miles/annually (whichever comes first), carefully examine the radiator, all hoses, the water pump and the fan, also the state of the core plugs (renew if weeping!).Watch for leaks from all gaskets. At least every three years, drain the system, remove the thermostat and reverse-flush prior to re-filling the system with fresh anti-freeze solution (observe the dilution recommendations of the anti-freeze manufacturer these will be printed on the container). Capacity (approximately): TB, 14 pints (8 litres); TC, 13.5 pints (7.7 litres); TD, 12 pints (6.8 litres); TF, 10.5 pints (6 litres). And don’t forget: Every 1000 miles: Re-grease the engine fan bearing and check for undue play/wear. Every 3000 miles or annually (whichever comes first): Re-lubricate the carburettor/accelerator linkage pivot points/controls. Re-lubricate the clutch and brake pedal pivot points. Re-lubricate the dynamo rear bearing (replenish grease cap). Examine the fan belt and re-tension if necessary; aim for 3/4in. deflection at the centre of the longest belt run. Every 12,000 miles, re-lubricate the rev counter reduction gearbox. For the TB/TC, use oil as specified for gearbox and rear axle. For the TD/TF, use grease.

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