MG=Modern Gauges

MGF & TF Instrument Display Pack Upgrade

A sports car designer will tell you that it’s not just out and out performance, kerb appeal and good handling that makes for a good driving experience but how the car looks on the inside. A great sports car will give the driver the impression of performance at any speed, benefitting from a small steering wheel, low seating position, supportive seats and a well-appointed instrument display that provides essential functionality with smart looks. By tradition sportscars are equipped with more instrumentation as the car is driven harder and so it’s necessary for the driver to monitor engine function more closely. Modern manufacturers recognise the importance of conveying the car’s performance inside the car and so as instrument displays have evolved these incorporate increasing amounts of driver focussed information to accentuate performance.

In the final years of MG Rover it was recognised that the original MGF & TF instrument display pack was in need of a restyle. The traditional white faced displays had been around for many years and owners complained that the large plain white surface and front lit illumination made the dials harder to read in low light conditions and at odds with the backlit displays of the clock and oil temperature gauges. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that MG Motor Company were keen to continue the project in the knowledge that small changes would evoke the greatest impact on owners already familiar with the model. The new MGTFs on sale from 2007 incorporated a well-appointed and innovative Magnetti Marreli instrument pack benefitting from contemporary Italian styling designed to enhance cockpit ambience and offering a number of additional driver focussed features not present on earlier MG Rover models. Most notably the new display benefitted from backlighting of the dial faces and a digital odometer, range and engine coolant temperature read out. This latter feature was notably more accurate than the outgoing analogue engine coolant gauge and therefore significantly more useful to the driver at indicating mechanical issues. The improvements also included a much faster fuel level indication on start-up rather than the delayed and somewhat meandering level gauge of old and the introduction of a low fuel level warning light to avoid out-of-fuel breakdowns.

On evaluating the later MG Rover instrument pack present in my own 2005 produced MGTF I was pleased to find that upgrading to the MG Motor Company display was a simple plug and play affair. Further investigation revealed that MGTFs produced with VIN 4D620549 onwards which incorporated the Security Control Unit (SCU) system, and micro fuse box were suitable for upgrade. The only issue that came to light in conversation with Roger Parker was that the car’s odometer reading was held within the instrument pack and a swap out would result in a lost mileage reading. To account for the change and yet still keep an accurate mileage record I took a dated photo of the original mileage which could be combined with previous MoT certificates and service record book. Thankfully the upgrade doesn’t require any specialist tools or diagnostic equipment and takes around one hour to carry out. 

STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE

  • Check that your MGTF is compatible (I suggest that you pay particular attention to the later fuse board layout shown in the attached images). The upgrade is only suitable for later MGTFs produced from 2004 with VIN number 4D620549on.
  • Take a dated photo of your mileage for your records (this will be lost on swap over)
  • Switch the ignition to the off position, set the handbrake and check for neutral.
  • For safety reasons we advise you to disconnect the battery noting that you may require a radio security code when reconnecting the power supply.
  • Lower the steering wheel using the lever adjacent to the left side of the steering column cowl.
  • Remove the two binnacle surround screws and set to one side.
  • Remove the Phillip screw under the headlight level adjuster and set to one side.
  • Gently remove the binnacle trim and set to one side (note it is easier to leave the headlight level and mirror adjuster switches attached).
  • Remove the four Philips screws (top and bottom) securing the instrument pack to the dash
  • Slide the driver’s seat rearward and open the driver’s door.
  • Remove the service panel that gives access to the fuses located in the driver’s foot-well using a large slotted screw driver or 5 pence piece.
  • Kneeling beside the car identify the white multi-pin double plug connector and release the mounting clip to give better access.
  • Using a long thin slotted screwdriver prise away the engaging lugs securing the instrument harness to the board. Exercise caution and take your time releasing this tight fitting plug as the fuse board clip must remain intact.
  • To remove the instrument pack tilt forward and carefully negotiate the pack sideways and away from the dash whilst ensuring the harness is free
  • Take the new harness and secure the grey and red connectors into the new instrument pack being sure to rotate the black locking cams into the locked position. (Failure to do this may result in a poor connection leading to unexpected warning lamp illumination).
  • Taking the instrument pack in one hand route the harness into position over the fuse box.
  • Transfer the square plastic fixings (nut-serts) from the upper mountings of the MG Rover instrument pack to the new MG Motor pack. (These are required to secure the binnacle).
  • Secure the instrument pack to the dashboard using the four Philips screws previously set one side.
  • Make the loom to fuse board connection being sure to positively locate both blocks.
  • With handbrake on, and in neutral test the instrument pack for functionality, cycling from first to secondary ignition positions checking for light illumination. Next start the engine, the PAS, battery, oil, engine management warning lights should turn off except for the handbrake light and the yellow engine coolant warming light (if the engine has been started from cold). After 30-60 seconds the digital display should provide a coolant temperature read out.
  • Secure the instrument binnacle surround and steering column cowl.
  • Remove the anti-scratch film from the instrument cluster.
  • Return the steering into the preferred driving position.
  • Secure the service panel

The new instrument pack has completely refreshed and modernised the appearance of the cockpit. Having covered some 5000 miles since the upgrade I’ve found the dials are both accurate and easy to read, day or night and have operating without issue. Carrying out work on your own MG is not only an engaging and a financially savvy thing to do but also immensely satisfying with the improvements providing long term benefits for years to come.

PICTURE STEP BY STEP

Scroll to Top