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The Old Car ‘Half Dilemma’, Eight Years After Purchase

Isaac Hunt

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So back in 2003 we purchased an MGZR.  

It wasn’t the most pristine example, been painted down one side and was a bit tatty inside, some splitting of the drivers seat and the odd bit of trim missing, but it was at the lower end of the price range and the 69,000 miles stacked up on service and MOT history.

Shortly after purchase, about three months and 3000 miles, it developed a nasty noise from the cambelt area.  It looked as though it had had a belt and tensioner in the not too distant past.  Turned out the tensioner had been put on ‘upside down’ and was the cause of the noise, bearing failing, a common fault which a specialist told me, the tensioner positioning is actually wrong in some manuals 😲 I put a new cambelt, tensioner, alt and PAS belt on.

Then the clutch release bearing collapsed, so I put a three part clutch in it.

Then the waterpump started leaking badly.  Wisdom says ‘always change pump when fitting belt etc’, which I didn’t.  So on went a new pump.

Then it needed a track rod end and a couple of tyres for the MOT.

Youth then decided he wanted a different car and went out and bought a Fester ST.

The MGZR was ‘sorted’ by that time, so I thought it best to keep it whilst the ST was in our ‘shakedown’ period.

Good decision, as youth blows up the gearbox in the ST, snaps the mainshaft.  

So the MGZR was pressed back into daily service.  Words such as ‘keep it to sensible speed on the Motorway were ignored’ and just as I was finishing the ST gearbox rebuild, the MGZR arrived on a low loader, head gasket was toast.  tBH, it was on its last legs anyway and youth finished it off.  

It was a MLS gasket that had just rotted, the thing fell apart.  I cleaned up the head and block and put it all back together with a std elastomer gasket as I felt the liner heights were a bit to close the tolerance for another MLS gasket.

since then, I used the car as my second car, putting 60,000 miles on it, without any work other than a couple of CV gaiters.  I also put in a set of mint seats from a car down the scrapyard.

March 2021 and it was ‘Covid Carryforward’ on the MOT.  Oct 2021 and the week before MOT, the screen washers packed up, I ordered a new pump with the intention of ‘sorting it’.  But some subsequent illnes in the family meant I just sorned it and parked it up.  I wasn’t really using one car let alone two.

Fast forward 12 months and due to an unfortunate incident involving a Deer, avoid and a hedge, youth finds himself without at car.  

The MG was just sitting there and potentially was a much easier fix, just that washer pump and MOT.

So, washer pump replaced and MOT passed, MGZR back in service.

Folk always say, watch out for the ‘Free Car’ as they can often turn out to be far from free.   This little MGZR owes us nothing.

So, it is now 8 years and 60k miles since cambelt, tensioner, waterpump, alt and pass belts.  Whilst it is not a true cambelt roulette, the belt is bang on mileage change interval and slightly past date change interval, based on absolute history.

It could also do with a new battery, physical oversize currently fitted.  A couple of new tyres as well.

So, do I replace the belts and leave the tensioner and waterpump, or do I do the lot again ?

My experience of ‘not changing waterpumps’ Is 50/50, so i’m thinking, belts and tensioner, run the pump a second time if it looks and feels OK.  It’s not a big job the dive back in for the pump at a later date.

Bangernonics might say ‘just run it till it goes bang’ but you are then left trying to find something else the fill the void.  It could be a few weeks before the ‘hedge trimmer’ is fixed.




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