Second hand 3 is it a good buy? Review.

7 months 22 hours ago #26551 by simcor
So the MG 3 has its good points and bad points that are well reviewed by journalists as we all know.
Is it a good buy for a second-hand car?
That question is pretty subjective really with cars in general, one person will tell you all about the nightmare they have had with the particular marque they purchased another will tell you how their car has been faultless and they would swear by that particular marque.
I can only comment on my purchase and my ownership of the car which was bought second hand at just over 3 years old
It is the top spec MG3 without the leather seats 3 style on a 63 plate Registered Dec 2013 in Rose Red (i think it is, its the flat red not the metallic).
It had just 23k miles on it at just over 3 years old and I paid £4994 for it less my £400 part exchange so it cost me a total of £4594 to buy at 3 years old.
So how have the 2 years I have owned it been?
Generally OK in most regards, it has not broken down in the 2 years I have owned it, it drives nice enough even if the ride is on the firm side. A trade-off of having sporty handling. Trim seems to have worn pretty well without any real signs of damage anywhere apart from my driver's seat. Because I have my wallet (often full of change most likely the reason) in my back pocket of my jeans the cloth trim has worn quite badly in that place only, so the cloth is not threadbare but it does let the interior down a little.
There are no real rattles of trim anywhere in general, bumpy horrible roads may make a slight vibration of bits of trim but generally OK no worse/better than any other car I have owned.
The radio sounds fantastic with great bass response and clarity and damn loud, Bluetooth generally works well the only annoying thing is the horrendous one ring tome that is awfully loud and you can't select a different tone, sadly that is where that ends for the ICE. 
My DAB radio didn't work when I got it and it was out of warranty anyway, the FM worked OK but the reception could be a bit patchy. The USB socket would charge an Android phone but not an iPhone. The USB would not read a USB stick with music on at all no matter what size memory stick or format. The CD player works well but who really uses CD's these days? So the ICE was a let down in a number of ways. At 3 years old you wouldn't expect the ICE system to have so many functions that didn' work or didn't work properly.
I purchased a second-hand DAB module from a 2016 plate from a breaker for £25 as they were around £60 odd from a dealer. This sits behind the dash behind the air con controls. Replacing the module meant it could now find DAB stations but reception was very patchy/breaking up with more often than not Poor or no signal displayed. I then purchased a new roof aerial from MG, around £30 odd from memory. After replacing the aerial the reception was brilliant for a while, strong signal on DAB and FM. I then replaced the stereo for a second hand one for £65 from a 2016 plate (new being over £235 from memory) and now I was finally able to use a USB stick to play music and charge any phone regardless of Android or iPhone. So far so good it seemed. ON FM you cannot get RDS text on either of the radios I have had, pressing the mode button does not bring up the RDS text menu in FM mode it states in the user manual.
However after a while the DAB reception just got worse again, yes it can find stations and yes you can listen to them if you have a strong enough signal but that is usually only when you are stationary, on the move, it's almost impossible to listen to the DAB.
Engine wise how has it been?
Yes, it's a 1.5 NASP engine with just 105bhp and not particularly frugal or refined, on average it gives somewhere between 35-41mpg dependant on how you drive it and journey types.
It is an engine that really needs working and using the rev range to get it really moving but no worse or massively better than most cars of its size with an engine of that size without a turbo.
Road wind and tyre noise are about what I expect from a £10K car, revving it high does sound a bit raucous but gives a sporty-ish note from the exhaust, Bombing along at 70mph on the motorway you can have a conversation OK without having to shout. That's the end of the good points again here sadly.
It has been let down by poor running and hesitation/missing and a flat spot higher up the rev range, also a rather bad clutch judder when pulling off especially when cold, the over rev in first and second was no issue once I made sure I was even slightly touching the clutch pedal when changing gear. P{ulling off sometimes was very difficult and hard to do with occasional stalls.
It was diagnosed as the timing chain and the timing was a little but out due to this issue. That was quite upsetting that a car with only 30 odd thousand miles on it would have such an issue as chains should generally last the life of the engine and are used for their reliability. (a google shows this isn't only common to MG3 but other marques as well)
After having the Timing chain replaced which included a full service the car drives much better, clutch judder is almost completely gone or barely noticeable and not that easy to stall it anymore pulling off. The exhaust note is more even and a bit of performance has been restored. MPG is still the same and the shudders at idle have gone which was very noticeable when sat at lights for example. The chain cost £525 to have it done an expensive repair on a car that was only coming up for 4 years old. Cost of parts was around £300 so labour cost wasn't particularly bad for a dealer job. 
MOT time in my ownership. How has it been?
It passed its first MOT at the dealership I bought it from with no advisories at just over 3 years old as you would expect.
2nd MOT and it passed with an advisory for the rear bushes on both front lower control arms, they were cracking and some play in them, shown to me by the tester at We Only Mot while it was up on the ramp. That was at 35K miles.
3rd mot not so good news. I was expecting the lower control arm bushes might well be a fail this year after last years advisory. A year later and 10K miles later and yes fail on both lower control arm rear bushes. Given the state of the roads I regularly drive on, I can surmise some of this may be down to the state of the roads causing undue wear on the bushes, or it could just be down to the quality of the rubber bushes. 45K and it requires 2 new lower control arms as it as cheap to replace the whole arms realistically and both bushes are new and new ball joints, although I could replace the bushes myself for a fraction of the cost and my time.
I also thought lately something didn't feel right at the back, it seemed a bit jumpy and skittish on the back at times going round bends. And this was confirmed at MOT with a cracked rear spring.
Cost £475 all in for new arms and a rear spring with labour, again ouch on a car that is only just 5 years old with a fairly low/average mileage. But again it has to be done as now they are classed as Major fails and as such the car has to be repaired immediately as the MOT is now invalid under the new rules. I have instructed the garage to change both rear springs at the same time, replacing just one seems pointless as usually once ones has gone the other is likely to not be far behind. I also prefer to do important parts like suspension and tyre and brake all in pairs as you should rather than skimping on the cost to only have to have it done later.
As for the spring, it could be down too many factors, the quality of the steel used, the diameter of the springs, rust, roads or cold weather. Who really knows but again a disappointment at just 5 years old with 45K miles on the clock.
Its 4th service was relatively expensive at £319 as it required new plugs for its 4th MOT and they are not that cheap at around £70 odd for 4.
5th service not required as it was serviced as part of the timing chain replacement.
General cost in 2 years in repairs.
Radio replacement £60
DAB module £25
Aerial £36
4th service £319
5th service included in cost of timing chain replacement. £0
2 Tyres on front OEM including 4 wheel laser alignment. £218.28
Front disc and pads 60% worn at 36k miles £115.76 (parts bought and replaced by me)
Diagnostics for rough running £72.00
Air con regas (1234fy gas not r134a) for 300g of gas to be added to the system and checked for leaks and dye added. £90
Timing chain and service £525
Lower control arms and rear spring £475 plus a second spring and labour to do that at the same time. Probably an extra £80 or so give or take.
Total cost in 2 years £2016.04 so an average of £1000 a year bearing in mind tyres and brakes are consumables.
Without the timing chain, the cost would have been a bit lower but a 4th service would have been needed. I also chose to do my brakes myself and bought non-OEM discs and pads from Brown and Gammons so save a fair amount there. OEM discs and pads were ridiculously expensive at double the price of the non-OEM parts.
So the summary.
All in all a good car not perfect but I have never claimed it to be perfect or the best car on the road.
Cost? a little on the expensive side for a 5-year-old car even excluding tyres and brakes and wipers as consumables that need changing on any car.
Some of it may be down to luck or bad batches of parts or quality control or our weather and roads etc, who can really say for sure why.
I bought it for £4595 and have spent just over £2k on it in 2 years. So it has cost me £6595 in 2 years in total. It's probably worth somewhere between £2.5 to £3k maybe at the moment dependent on what id be buying to replace it if I was looking to change it currently.
Given the low cost to buy it in the first place for a 3-year-old car, I can't really complain too much about what it has cost me. Even if it has left a slightly bitter taste in my mouth.
Would I recommend a secondhand 3-year-old car well there is a question?
Honestly to an average Joe punter no I probably wouldn't as they just want to buy a car that works and hopefully costs them very little in repairs.
To someone who understands cars and mechanics and can do some or all of the work themselves then probably yes.
Do you expect big problems with a car that is only 3 years old no you don't, does it happen yes it does and not just limited to MG motor cars, do a web search and you read plenty of horror stories of DMF and timing chain issue's along with DPF woes on diesel etc.
It's a hard car to recommend to just anyone, to be honest, would I buy another probably I would but new this time with the now 7-year warranty.
Do I want to buy another one?
As much as like it in general, I find the boot tiny and that irks me but it is a small car. The towing capacity is useless quite frankly other similar cars are rated for a lot better towing weight. It hasn't been perfect and a few issues have been really annoying such as the stereo issue and timing chain, and the recent MOT failure.
I want to like it even more than I do as it isn't a particularly bad car but it also isn't the best.
I quite like a number of things about the ZS and GS having had both as courtesy cars from MG Nottingham when mine has been in for work. But again they both have their good points and not so good points. The new HS looks to be an improvement yet again but so far we only have pictures to judge it on and I don't want an SUV. The new 6 would I buy one very probably if it came here but at the moment it isn't.
So where do I go from here? I stick with this one for the time being and wait and see what happens in the near future and get some use out of this car that I have done some big jobs on (better the devil you know sometimes).
Lastly, the clutch on it is a little heavy which it has been like that from when I bought it so that will want doing some time but not until it becomes a problem which could be many miles down the road yet and I probably won't have it by then anyway.
This is my opinion based on my ownership of my car though, others may have had a better experience. Incidentally, the 66 plate I have just swapped the 68 plate for has pretty good DAB reception yet the FM won't find a single station at all. (they need the demo car back as mine isn't going to be done until probably Friday next week as they have 2 techs on training courses next week).
So it seems the radio quality isn't just down to my particular car. As this one is 3 years newer than mine.
The following user(s) said Thank You: brione

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4 months 3 weeks ago #26661 by Richard_jn
Thanks for putting this honest review on. It’s nice to have some feedback from someone who has actually owned and lived with a car rather than just some of the rubbish motoring journalists go on about such as scratchy plastics and how many water bottles you can fit in the glove box.

i guess you were maybe unlucky with some of the maintenance costs and the DAB radio bits weren’t absolutely essential? As in the FM still worked or aux/usb in and the car still ran.  

I do do really like the way the new MG 3 looks from the front and the 7 year warranty now makes a serious contender when I choose my next car. 

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