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MG TD TF 1500 - Front End Issues - Advice Needed

Drove my TF about 150 miles today. First longer trip for me in this "new" car. It was trying. The front end shutters across pot holes and road bumps. Sometime it is scary. Then, the tires squeal with the slightest turn of the wheel, left or right. And, it looks like the inner part of the right tire, and the outer part of the left tire are wearing badly.

I had the rack changed by a mechanic of questionable ability in light of the fact that it felt like it had lumps in it. It was a used rack but I thought it was in good shape. Could it be the rack or the way he put it in? Could it be badly out of alignment? Do I have a dud car?

I know its a lot, but any thoughts, advice, or words of wisdom would be sincerely appreciated. Thanks.

Tom Going

The TD and the TF track well, and are a pleasure to drive. IMHO the cars never should have left the factory without sway bars, as the body tends to lean excessively in even the most minor cornering. It sound like your car is excessively out of alignment. The toe in should be roughly 1/4" castor and camber are "fixed" but something may be bent.
The only issue for me on a trip of that length is the lack of foot room.
D. Sander

Lack of leg room was indeed an issue. At times, I had to use my left foot on the gas as my right foot and leg were pretty uncomfortable. Drove a 67 MG BGT through most of the 70s (which I loved) so I know MGs are not perfect - but I really enjoy them. Anyway, read a few web sites, and it does seem like alignment may be the issue. The steering does not shake, and it seems to track nice and straight. Suggestions on how to best address the issue myself?

Thanks all!

Tom Going

IMHO- Park it, find someone with knowledge of MGs and have them totally go over the front end, as it could have a dangerous problem. Something could be cracked, broken, bent, loose, etc. Shocks could be dry (common for seals to fail over the years), bushings shot etc. I don't think bad alignment would cause that severe symptoms. Except for leaning a bit much with hard cornering, the front suspension should be perfectly tight and very precise.
Also, very common on TD-TFs for the rear axle spring mounting pads to deteriorate, which allows the rear axle to pivot and steer the car all over the place.
How old are the tires, what kind, and what pressure do you run? George
George Butz

Find a nice flat location and let it roll to a stop with wheels straight. It helps to have a helper, but the gist of the matter is to measure the front tires as close to midheight as practical, and compare the measurements front and rear. Tape measure works for me.

Workshop manual calls for zero toe-in/toe-out, but a little toe-in is Ok, but toe-out will cause hunting & shimmy, along with tire wear and early squealing.

Again, "How old are the tires, what kind, and what pressure do you run?" Steel wheels or TF wires?

Our relatively new 5.90-15 bias tires ride about like you describe, but my wife brakes and corners as hard as her TD will let her. Balancing is important if you cruise at 80mph like my honey. A week ago, we had it out on a paved 1/4" oval track- totally out of control at 45mph on the banked turns! The MGBs, MGAs and even a midget took to it like ducks to water!

I get out a couple of jacks and take one front axle and spread the disc pads (your drum brakes might roll freely or back off shoes) so the tires spin freely, and then check each wheel for loose, overly tight and broken spokes, see how true they spin, and then balance each by slowly rotating back & forth to locate and guesstimate balance weights.

Also check to see if the fender to fender support bar is in place. Goes between fan and engine. My 54 TF was a very nice clean car but was missing this bar. I didn't know about it until I found this board. Terrible wobble and shutter at 55 mph.
Peter Dahlquist

Check the inner and outer ball-joints. Jack-up one front wheel at a time, have a friend grab the wheel at 9 and 3 o'clock and shack the wheel as you look for play at both ends of the tie-rods. If the play is on the outer end then get new tie-rod ends, if it's at the rack, check Barney Gaylord's MGA site for repairs.
David Werblow

Tom, I agree with George. Have someone who knows these front ends and have him check it out. It could be a combination of little things, you never know. Shocks could need rebuilding, if they need oil, it means their leaking. Tie rod ends, are they tight? As Jim said, you do not want any toe out! I set mine at 1/4 inch differential from the back of the rim to the front, tracks perfectly. The wheels might be in balance, but are the tires? Could be any one or combination there of. I don't think it would be the steering rack, it might wander a bit if the rack was worn badly, but that's all.
You live in an area where there are a lot of MG people and most of them are very willing to help, as they've been down this road themselves. Check with a local club. JMHO. PJ
Paul sr

Thanks for the advice/suggestions/thoughts. In response to questions, steel wheels, new Nexen tires, and 32 psi.

Tom Going

That 32psi is likely contributing to a harsh ride. I'd drop down to 25 and see how it feels. Even that is probably more pressure than ideal.
I run that in our narrow 5.90-15 bias bly tires, and as I recall, factory called for only 18psi.

32psi is on the high side. It will feel skittery that high, I have always run between 28 and 30 with radials. My car would feel awful at 25, really mushy. George
George Butz

All this great advice brought to my mind a line from a Jackson Brown song from the 70s that goes "you guys are the best".

Anyway, could not help myself, and went home early from work today to see what I could try and figure out. Using your advice (especially from Jim Northrup, Sr.) I checked things out. First, I looked at the new tie rod ends, and there were no threads left - they were all the way in. At first, I thought that there might be an issue with them like with those now sold for MGAs where they are too long and need to be cut to fit and to be able to adjust the toe in(at least according to Moss updates).

That was not the issue. In fact, it appears to have been a toe out issue - front of the tires were 3 inches wider than the back. Made an adjustment so front and back of the tires are the same, and dropped the tire pressure down from about 32 psi, to about 25 psi.

Took it for a ride, and wow, what a difference. No shutter over bumps, no squeal, and it felt very good, like my 67 B of the 70s.

I guess I am too trusting - thinking that a person who holds himself out as British mechanic must have done a good job.

Thanks again all.
Tom Going

Not sure how it was driveable with that much toe-out. Shame on that "mechanic"!
George Butz

I'm curious how you corrected the "toe out" if there were no threads left on the tie rods?
L E D LaVerne

LaVerne - I guess you are right - it must have been "toe in" - "not toe out" that was the issue? I backed the tie rods out quite a bit to get the tires the same distance front and rear. That is, now I can see a fair amount of threads and the tires measures the same distance apart when I measure them at the back and front.

Tom Going

This thread was discussed between 25/08/2013 and 27/08/2013

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