Essays : The bitter sting in the TF tail
Simon Brown tells the unfortunate story of his fault-prone, badly-built TF and MG’s resolute inability to honour its warranty.
My MG TF was number 790 built 20 May 2009. I had seen it sitting in the Dealers for about a year before I bought it (they registered it 14 May 2010). In Racing Green Metalic (293), one of only 69 cars in that colour – which was unique to the TF 135, it looked great but I did go in with eyes open to issues given the age of the design. It was within the first batch of 100 cars post-the LE500 so came with leather seats (subsequent cars had cloth seats) – as you can see from the photograph above, the car looked fantastic.
Within a couple of weeks I had some bird ‘lime’ and, despite very careful removal, this left a dull ‘splodge’ on the rear wing – I just put that down to luck (well aware that’s not covered by warranty). Then, well within the first six months, the black grilles (front especially but affected side pods, below rear bumper as well) started rotting – the Dealer removed the fronts and was amazed at the rot (the rust across the rear was considerable).
The Dealer advised that the factory response was to grind off the rust and re-paint but refused given the state of the rust and the replacement parts were put on order – we wait and we wait. The parts are shown on back order, then NLA then back order again. Eventually, I get a call with the option of chrome or black – I chose chrome and these weree fitted and car looked good.
Subsequently, on cleaning the car, I note that paint is shedding off the rear bumper in clumps. MG Motor UK’s response was that ‘ we knew we had a paint problem with the LE500 but not with the TF135,’ The rear bumper was re-painted under warranty. The car then broke down in the fast lane of the M4, just outside the Newport tunnels, and had to be taken back to the Dealer by AA Relay- that was down to a faulty Lambda sensor.
The bumper and front bodywork then started to shed paint with what looks like dandruff appearing across the whole front of the car. Any bird lime eats straight into the paintwork – I dreaded coming out to the car after work in case more birds had ‘done their business’, chips appear across the rear deck also. After lots of phone calls (note I am having to make all the calls) to MG and to the Dealers, a full re-spray was finally agreed. The car looked fabulous when returned – I hoped this was the last of the issues.
Unfortunately, within weeks the boot lid became harder and harder to latch – I ended up parking up around the corner so not to wake the neighbours as I slammed the boot lid to latch it – and at least 3 trips to the Dealers failed to fix to resolve the issue. The engine warning light then came on – another faulty Lambda sensor. The part was put on order and we wait and wait. I chased the factory and had an e-mail promising they were speaking with their Parts Manager, but weeks go by with no response. A new Dealer fixes the boot lid.
The TF then piched up an offside rear puncture. The specific Goodyear GSD2 tyres that came with the car are NLA and you cannot fit the newer GSD3. This meant that I had the cost of replacing two rear tyres with Toyos as you cannot have different tyres on the same axle. Despite all tyre pressures being OK and tread OK, the car thereafter felt unstable on the motorway with any kind of side wind.
Then I noticed that every black bracket under the bonnet had started to rust, paint was peeling off under the bonnet (with rust underneath) and, most concerning in the ‘hole’ in the body where the bonnet latches into, there was just a mass of rust inside.
Meanwhile, my local Dealer had given up on MG so I transferred myself to a bigger Dealer near work in Cardiff. They have a go at the boot lid and stated that the sensor is unique to the TF engine (not compatible because of the revised emission control set up with the old MG Rover parts, not with the MG6 engine) .
Driving home in traffic the boot lid popped open of its own accord again so I diverted straight to my local Mazda Dealer to start looking at MX5s – I had completely given up at that point.
I offered my car to the MG Dealer and, despite three e-mails, I got no response. I rang around and got a great deal on a new, fully lo-aded MX5 Venture. I part-exchanged the MG and was quite honest about the engine warning light – this meant that some garages only wanted to give me £4000 for the car (registered for two years at that point with one year warranty) – but I found a garage that offered more and bit their hand off.
Now I have owned a Triumph Dolomite, anAcclaim and, for nearly 20 years, a Solihull built TR7 DHC but none have had issues anywhere as serious as the above. On a positive the engine required no oil or water between servicing.
My main gripe is that I made all the calls, all the chasing to the Dealer and the factory. There was no attempt by MG to build any brand loyalty and no interest at all in my car. There was no thought by MG that if I was well treated I may buy another MG in the future. It was exactly as if they built these TFs just as a pilot build to test out all their processess with no thought for the customer. I could not believe that well within the warranty period of a new car I would not be able to get parts.
That’s why, you see, I just sense anybody with an MG6 will just have to make the calls and sort their own cars out – and eventually may well give up . I think MG are in the UK just to say their brand is British in order to gain some kudos for the Chinese market.
In a few years time, we may all be driving around in Chinese-built cars – but only when they have learned how to mass produce to German/Japanese standards and given some thought to the customers.
The list of problems
All the below occurred within year two of the three-year warranty period
Car built May 2009
Bought and registered from a main MG Dealer in May 2010
Wrote to MG Enthusiast and What Car? (both published) positive articles about the car – Initial few months loved it!
- Airbag warning light on intermittently when driving – three trips to the Dealer – factory advised Dealer of wiring updates which was then sorted.
- Loss of power and breakdown on the motorway/recovery back to Dealer – faulty lambda sensor replaced by Dealer.
- Engine management light on when driving – faulty lambda sensor again – this time part NLA part on back order and never sorted (several months – two Dealers and escalated to MG – sold the car with light still on) – advised part is unique to ‘new’ TF. MG Rover and MG6 parts not suitable (how many other parts fall into that category?).
- Front MG badge replaced (faded).
- Rear bumper re-sprayed due to paint peeling off when washing the car.
- All black grilles replaced with chrome due to significant rust (inital response from MG was for Dealer to grind and re-paint)
- Authority to replace grilles and due to parts on back order took 3 months to sort.
- Full body re-spray due to continued paint issues (all bird lime immediately burned through lacquer, paint chipping front and rear of car)
- Request for warranty re-spray end of March, authorised end of May, sorted finally late June – just before MGLive!
- Advised had plenty of paint on the car but problem with lacquer (as with previous LE500 cars)
- Bootlid harder and harder to close and then would unlatch whilst driving – three trips to one MG Dealer then one further trip – never sorted
- After re-spray paint, started to strip off rear bumper again and bird lime again started to burn into paint (despite removal same day).
- Underbonnet rust start to appear (see attached) on bodywork and all bracket components under the bonnet
Cars sold with tyres that are no longer generally available (Goodyear GSD2) GSD3 replacement not validated for the car. Rear puncture (accept fact of life!) required both rears to be replaced with Toyo (Factory advise either Toyo or Falken). Rear Toyos and front old GSD2 made the car feel very twitchy on crosswinds.
- Two recalls (for info) rear suspension and elastic straps for roof to aid dropping of roof (I don’t have issue with recalls).
- Outstanding body and parts issues were escalated to Dealer and MG with deadline, initial response was positive but no follow through from dealer or MG so I decided to sell the car with one full year of warranty remaining. Upfront with Mazda Dealer over re-spray and outstanding part on order. Two MG Dealers used, neither provided positive support.
- Vehicle traded for new Mazda MX5 with one year warranty left on MG (felt this one final year would be ‘eaten up’ by all the problems).
- Several significant ‘attacks’ on MX5 from incontinent seagulls (one occasion car completely covered!) all removed with no paint damage at all. I don’t dread going out to the car after work to wonder what I will find anymore! Five months in and nothing at all to report on the MX5 – a fantastic car.
MG had made no real attempt to provide speedy effective support (at a time they were launching MG6). Emails tended to be answered with ‘keep us posted on how you get on with the Dealer’. Agreement for warranty work would take weeks, even months.
I would still have the car if the parts had been available and if the bodywork had not been so shocking (mechanicals fine and no oil or water required between servicing – temp gauge fine). I previously owned Dolomite, Acclaim, TR7 (yes, even a Solihull TR7 DHC!) and Rover 600SLDI (so I have a track record of buying British) – none of those had this amount of issues (nor did a Fiat Barchetta and being a temperamental Italian had cause to be!).
I am not looking for an apology – it’s too late for that – but feel other TF cars sitting in nice and warm Dealers are potential bodywork time bombs. MG completely failed to provide the level of customer support required to build loyalty for the new brand.
Hope you MG6 guys have a better time of it!