MG TF (2002 – 2005) Review

MG TF (2002 – 2005) At A Glance


+Good looks, excellent handling and strong brakes. 160 quick enough. Good crash test rating. Better drive than MGF.

-Head gasket problems with K-series four-cylinder engines. Dash trim feels cheap. No glass rear window.

Launched in 2002, the MG TF was based on the MGF. Heavily reworked, the most notable change was the shift away from the MGFs Hydragas suspension to a more traditional springs and shocks arrangement.

Other tweaks included increasing the car's rigidity in a bid to improve dynamics, and a redesigned airflow path for the cooling system to prevent the K-series pulling its usual party trick of overheating.

As well as the side air-intake grilles you can tell the MGF and TF apart thanks to redesigned headlights, bumpers, grille and the rear boot.

Those looking for at-the-wheel thrills had little to complain about. The TF is a mid-engined sports car with double wishbone suspension and delivers on its promise to entertain.

Where it fell down, however, was in terms of build quality. The cabin was a thorn in its side when new - although classic owners have tended to be more forgiving of its shortcomings.

It's still very much a soft-top bargain, however, with low-mileage cherished examples available for not much more than £1000.

Ask Honest John

I have used a cover on my car - why is the interior now damp?

"As a high days and holidays car for enjoyment rather than practicality, I purchased a 2002 MG TF from a respected MG dealer. While waiting to clear out the garage, I've kept the car on driveway for past five months with a semi-permeable protective cover. All well and good when we experienced a relatively mild winter, albeit rainy and windy but no snow. After some harsh frost this past month and I've noticed the interior of car is damp, I've checked usual culprits and the car is free from debris and leaves. Cranking windows open an inch, under protective cover is my first strategy. Have you any advice or opinion as to possible causes of this muggy dampness?"
It does sound like the cover you've fitted hasn't allowed the car to 'breathe'. If this is the case, then it could be the cause of the dampness. Try it without the cover and see what happens. The sooner you can get out and start using the car, the better.
Answered by Keith Moody

How do I fix the window wiper on my MG TF?

"My nearside window wiper has stopped working. The problem is the ball and socket mechanism which drives the wiper is worn and the ball end just comes out of the socket. I have tried to put a rubber glove finger end over the ball to try and hold it in place but with no success. Any advice on someone who can fix it? "
As long as the wiper motor itself is working, you can buy a replacement arm and replace it yourself. If you'd prefer to take it to a specialist, Mike Rolls is in Dorest ( - this is a garage that comes recommended by both the MG Owners' Club and MG Car Club.
Answered by Keith Moody

What future classic should I buy for £2500?

"I have £2500 to spend on my first future classic car and was wondering if you could help? I'm torn between a number of candidates e.g Toyota MR2 MK3, MG TF160, Mercedes SLK 230 or a Mazda MX-5. It will only be used during the summer and needs to be reliable and not too costly to maintain."
All fine cars. I reckon you should go out and drive them - but before you do, make a list of what's important to you. If you want pure driving satisfaction, you make want to go for a Mk1 MX-5, if you like creature comforts then a Mercedes SLK may be more up your street. A car is only reliable as its previous owners, so check the history. Parts prices are a concern with any classic and can be hurt by the fluctuations in currency. You could always price up various items for your shortlist. For example, service items like spark plugs and leads, oil filter etc. Or items like brake pads and discs. But do also check out the prices of panels. Do you have a classic-friendly specialist nearby? How are you planning to store it? You'll need to take these things into consideration, too.
Answered by Keith Moody

What's the best and safest way to sell an MG TF?

"My daughter has an MG TF 160 VVC which she will trade-in for a Fiat 500 Lounge. The garage has offered her £300 trade-in. Is there a better way to sell the car? It is in reasonable condition and has only covered 52,000 miles. We are a bit worried about people coming to the house if we sell privately. "
Your car is worth far more than that - the dealer is essentially offering you scrap value for it because they can't be bothered to sell it. Sell your MG TF privately and you'll get much more for your money - but like you say you'll have to put in a bit of extra work. If the car is in good condition with a decent history and low mileage you're looking at anywhere between £1000 and £2500. Have a look at a dealer's website like Trophy Cars ( to get an idea of current market values at the higher end of the spectrum. Perhaps the best way for you to sell this is through one of the MG Clubs such as the MG Car Club or the MG Owners' Club. It'll possibly be slower than marketing the car across various classic car platforms but it might minimise the hassle. We've got some tips on selling your car here:
Answered by Keith Moody
More Questions

What does a MG TF (2002 – 2005) cost?