- XJS Forum -

XJ-S info needed

Craig Herter
*

forum user since 2011-11-16

 

Hello,
New to the group.
I am apparantly too dense to find a search feature on this forum so I am asking for some poimnters on what to consider when considering the aquistion of an XJ-S.

In this instance it would be a trade for a car I have.

Tjhe XJ-S in question is an '89 model, have not seen it in person yet but looks to be in good physical shape from the photos supplied.

The owner has not had it long but said he had it inspected and it has some needs. Rear brakes, leaky power steering pump,front end alignment, idle re-set (whatever that means) and an oil leak "maybe the oil pan gasket.

He wants $5800 for it, my car is worth close to that.

So, is that a fair price, I am figuring roughly $1000 for parts needs through the aftermarket and doing the labor myself.

Am I at all delusional?

What would be some key points I should be on the lookout for during a in person physical inspection?

Any helpful input or advice would be appreciated.

Thanks,

Craig








XJ-S info needed

William Brady
Jaguar Owners Club, Inc. *

forum user since 2004-02-15

 

Hello Craig, Go back into the forum and check older posts, much has been written about these cars. Be Careful, What is your current car?

Jaguar affectionado and etc.

XJ-S info needed

Doug Dwyer
Jaguar Car Club of Victoria *

forum user since 2007-03-28

 

XJSs are fantastic cars once sorted out. Unless you're really lucky and/or buy an exceptional car at the top end of the market, it WILL need sorting out. I'd triple your $1000 "fix it" budget.

Here's a brief guide hitting some high points:






Quick Reference Buyer’s Guide
Jaguar XJS
By Doug Dwyer
The purpose of this guide is to briefly outline some important purchase considerations, to answer the most common questions relative to used XJSs, and to illustrate where a used XJSs is and is not different from an ordinary used car. It is not intended as an in-depth history of the XJS nor as a general "How to buy a used car" checklist.

Are some years better than others? Which do I avoid?
We must take into consideration that, the oldest XJS is now 35 years old. Any that are still on the road have survived the test of time. Actual present day condition and the type of care they have received is more significant than any original quality and design issues.
XJS production ended in 1996 so even the last cars are quite a long way from being brand new and some are at a point where time and mileage might have starting taking a toll. Still, though, the 1994-1996 cars, especially those with the 4.0 engine, are often considered the best of the bunch due to their luxury features, build quality, and reliability.

Will I have reliability problems?
Quite possibly you will, yes, especially with the older, higher mileage examples. Many XJSs have not received proper care and some have been outright abused. And, truthfully, these are not drive-it-and-forget-cars even under the best of circumstances. Some owner involvement will always be needed. For most Jag enthusiasts this “involvement” is part of the fun.
To be totally honest if you’re on a tight budget and/or don’t have DIY skills, buying a 14- 35 year old used Jag is probably not the right decision, especially if you buy a ratty example at the low end of the market.
That said, the typical scenario is to spend a few weekends and a chunk of cash sorting out all the problems and routine servicing that the previous owners have neglected to address. With a bit of effort, time, and money you can have an XJS that is easily reliable enough for daily use.

What about electrical problems?
The stories you’ve heard have basis in truth but most Jag enthusiasts agree that they are grossly overstated. Most of the electrical problems can be fixed by cleaning grounds and connectors and replacing fuses. The Lucas starters, alternators, and relays are high grade and as long lasting as any other. Lucas manually operated switches on these cars tend to be lower quality. Many of these items can be opened up and repaired.
The mid-90s models have significantly upgraded electrical systems with corresponding improvement in reliability.


Are they DIY friendly? What about parts?
Most repairs are well within the realm of a typical experienced DIY mechanic. The more difficult repair areas will be mentioned later. Parts support for 80s to early 90s vintage models is generally good. Parts unique to the 70s vintage cars are becoming scarce and, oddly, the last-of-the series “facelift” models from 1992 onward are likewise suffering from parts availability issues. Trim and cosmetic parts can be very expensive on any of the variants but many mechanical parts are surprisingly reasonable.
I should add that later models became increasingly complex. Starting in late 1988 more equipment was added year-by-year. ABS brakes, air bags, security systems, motorized seat belts, and a full host of electronic luxury features. It’s not that these later cars should be avoided, as that’s not the case at all. However, additional equipment can add expense and detract from ease-of-repair.


Engines
The XJS was built with either a 6 or 12 cylinder engine. The 6 cylinder cars, however, were not common in North America until the introduction of the “facelift” XJS in 1992.
The 5.3 /6.0 litre V12 is a great engine and nearly indestructible unless overheated. They are definitely more complicated, expensive, and time consuming to work on. For this reason they’re not for everybody. For those not easily intimidated, though, they are a joy to own and drive. The “HE” V12 was introduced in mid’81 and provides much better fuel economy than the earlier engines...which were notorious gas guzzlers. The 6.0 litre V12 is a real powerhouse, by the way.
The 3.6 and 4.0 litre six cylinder engines are both good and are not likely to cause any grief although some of the older 3.6s could easily be ready for a head gasket change or perhaps even full overhaul by now.


Transmissions
About 350 pre-1980 V12s had a manual transmission. All other V12s used an automatic transmission: the Borg Warner BW12 until mid-77, then the GM TH400, and then the GM 4L80E behind the 6.0 litre versions. All are good transmissions but higher mileage cars might be due for an overhaul.
A fair number of 6-cylinder cars were built with Getrag manual transmissions, very few of which ever came to North America. Those with automatics use a ZF unit. Both are good and neither present any unique problems beyond typical age/mileage considerations.


Brakes
Four wheel discs on all models. The fronts present nothing unique. The rears, however, are inboard mounted until 1993-1994 when a conventional outboard system was used. Replacing pads on the inboard brake system is easy but replacing rotors, calipers, and axle seals is very labor intensive. Proof of replacement of these items is another “plus”. Watch for rusty/contaminated fluid on cars that have been stored for a long time.
Repairs on the later outboard rear brake system are routine and no more difficult than any other car.


Differentials
Very rugged and long lasting unless the above mentioned axle seals haven’t been replaced and the unit runs low on fluid.
Virtually all XJS had limited slip differentials. High mileage and/or hard driven cars may have worn out limited slip mechanisms.


Wheel bearings
Conventional in the front but the rear wheel bearings are rather tricky to install and set-up properly, especially on the inboard brake cars. Check for excessive play...it should be barely perceptible.


Cooling system
Nothing exotic or remarkable on the six cylinder cars.
The V12s have a complicated cooling system that must be kept 100% up-to-snuff. No exceptions. I cannot stress this too much. Neglect can be disastrous to the V12 engine. A well kept cooling system suggests the seller knows about Jaguars and a savvy owner will be happy to boast about how well he cares for the cooling system.
When road testing a candidate car keep an eye on the coolant temperature. Anything above the “N” or mid-point of the gauge is cause for suspicion and requires further investigation.
If you hear wild clattering from the engine then it has been overheated and the valve seats have dropped. Run away from the car.


Climate control
All models used a fully automatic climate control system. Repairs here can be labor intensive and expensive. A fully operational climate control system is yet another “plus” when considering a used Jag.


Suspension
One of the best parts of the car and part of what makes a Jaguar famous. All candidates would be of the age where bushings and ball joints will likely need replacing. Most of this work is DIY friendly except lower control arm bushings on the front suspension,
which are labor intensive. Again, proof of repairs in this area is something to look for.


Body
These cars are built like tanks but even tanks rust. Watch for rust in all the lower body panels and floorboards. Also check the underbody for rust where the rear suspension radius arm bolts to the body. Rust here is a major safety concern. From a purely practical perspective only the rarest variants and most exceptional examples of these cars have enough value to justify the expense of rust repairs.
Front and rear windscreens are somewhat known for leaking so look for damp carpets and moisture behind the dashboard.


Fuel system
Fuel tank rust is a potential problem on all XJSs especially if the car has been stored for long periods.
Fuel odor in the trunk/boot is a fairly common issue and can be caused by a leaky tank or weeping hoses. This problem can be difficult to solve. Even a minute leak can create a strong odor in such a confined space. An odor free boot is a real plus when considering a used XJS.
Fuel hoses in the engine bay, especially on V12 cars, are subject to heat deterioration and must be replaced every few years. This is a very important service requirement. Proof of hose replacement suggests the owner knew how to care for his XJS
All XJSs are fuel injected and over the 21 year production span several Lucas/Bosch systems were used. Detailing potential problems for each system is beyond the scope of this article. However, none of the variants have serious design flaws and all work well but with age and mileage some repairs will likely be needed


Ignition systems
The early V12s used an OPUS ignition system which doesn’t have a very good reputation. Upgrades and retrofits are common on the “OPUS” cars.
Beginning in mid-81, simultaneous to the introduction the upgraded “HE” V12 engine, the Lucas CEI (Constant Energy Ignition) was introduced and is considered a vast improvement over the older system.
Seized/inoperative mechanical and/or vacuum advance systems are common with the Lucas CEI distributor. Checking for this during a typical used car inspection is not practical but asking the seller about it might give a clue as to how the car was serviced.
Later V12s used a Marelli ignition system which can be very problematic if neglected. Worn parts can cause an entire bank of cylinders to stop firing. Unburned fuel then
accumulates in the catalytic converters causing them to overheat. Actual fires have resulted from this.
In a very brief nutshell the Marelli system is fine if it is properly maintained. Check invoices for replacement of the distributor cap and rotor, spark plugs wires, and spark plugs. This work is expensive so it is often put off....until it’s too late. Proof of proper Marelli care is another “plus” and suggests a savvy owner who knew how to care for his Jag.
The Marelli system was introduced at approximately at VIN 157116 which corresponds to mid-1989 model year in North American terms. Identifiable features include two coil wires in the top of the distributor cap, two square control modules on the radiator upper mounting panel, and absence of a vacuum advance canister at the distributor.


Cosmetics
Paint jobs and rust repairs are hugely expensive, as is new leather, wood, carpet, and chrome. If these things are important to you, find and pay for a car that needs little or no work in these areas. Many Jaguar projects are abandoned when the owner is faced with spending thousands....many thousands.... to make the car look as good as it runs.
Pre-purchase inspection
Having the candidate car checked by a professional is usually well worth the money. Ideally a veteran Jaguar shop should be selected as they’ll know exactly what to look for. However, even a regular repair shop can check the basics and hoist the car for an underbody, brake, and suspension inspection.


Price vs. Quality
These cars can be bought for surprisingly little money. Do plenty of shopping around to get a feel for the cars and the market. If your goal is a Jaguar to really be proud of and enjoy, it pays to wait for the “right car” to come along and buy at the higher end of the market. This is almost always cheaper than buying a scruffy car and bringing it up to the same standard. With used Jags, finding the right car is more important than finding the right price, within reason of course.
If your goal is a project car you’ll have plenty to choose from. There’s great satisfaction in returning an old Jag to its former glory. Just be aware of the expense involved.
Hopefully some of your questions have been answered and you can shop for your dream Jag with a bit more knowledge and confidence.

Doug Dwyer
Longview Washington USA
1995 XJR

Re.: XJ-S info needed

Steven Petry
Jaguar Association of Greater Indiana *

forum user since 2007-02-03

 

Edited on 2011-11-17 10:02:05

It's awfully rare that I feel prompted to add anything to Doug's writings, but I need to here. You mention oil leaks....just so your eyes are wide open, there could be a hefty expense here. The 5.3L with the original paper gaskets were known for leakage; at the sump pan, the sandwich plate and the oil filter adapter. There were updated laminated gaskets made available around 1995, they were far better. If this car has not had that repair made, that alone could tally up to $2500 or better; it is not a job to do at home. That is unless you have a lift and engine support fixtures.

That is NO attempt to scare you, just something to bargain with or to be sure and inspect for.

Otherwise, Doug is on top of his game, as usual.

Cheers,

S Petry
'95 XJR
'97 XK8 Conv.

Re.: XJ-S info needed

Craig Herter
*

forum user since 2011-11-16

 

Thank you all for the input. I will have to pause to consider this car. The current owner has not had it long and all the issues he mentioned turned up in a post purchase inspection he had done. He did say it needed a coolant flush so I would suspect neglect in that department which as mentioned above is a bad thing to neglect.
I am looking to trade him a '68 Ford Mustang.
I am a do it yourselfer where possible. I do not have a lift at home so that might be an issue in getting an oil leak resolved in this instance. I suspect it will require more money than I thought to set it all right.
I have asked if he has any maintenance records and if the car runs hot.
We shall see.
Thanks again,
Craig


Re.: XJ-S info needed

Alice King
JCNA *

forum user since 2011-10-31

 

Hello Craig: All of Mr. Dwyer"s points are so important, but as I have purchased boats, airplanes, and Jaguars, I ALWAYS had a pre-purchase inspection by a reputable company/mechanic. The conclusions of an inspection can then be translated into dollars, which would lead you to conclusions of cost and availability of parts, etc. I just purchased a 1994 XJS CVT, and had an inspection firm called "AIM" do the prepurchase. DON'T use them, as their inspectors do not have the knowledge necessary to appraise a JAGUAR.
The reason I used AIM, is that I bought a Jaguar which was 1000 miles from my home, and this firm sent the inspector to the car.
Listen to those that have the wisdom and experience. Ali

Aleeez Cat
1994 XJS CVT
Member-at-Large
owned:
1996 XJS CVT
1986 XJS HE
1979 TR-7
1978 XJ6

Re.: XJ-S info needed

George Browder Jr
Carolina Jaguar Club *

forum user since 2011-04-16

 

Listen to the forum experts, nothing more needs to be said... About a year ago I bought a 1990 XJS convertible that looked and drove really well. Great price, etc. First thing that I did was to upgrade the cooling system, which once I did that and the coolant was flowing well, discovered that there was a head gasket leak that was pumping air into the new cooling system, Whoopsie, there went another $5,000 to correct. So I now have about $15,000 in this old cat including the purchase price and it seems to be running just fine. Have taken several mountain trips in it with no issues. Still have more details to attend to, but am enjoying the car. Lesson is that if you want to play, you have to be willing to pay ;-)

"Oledawg" - Raconteur, Bon Vivant, Curmudgeon, Other duties depending on Susan's mood at the time...

Re.: XJ-S info needed

Doug Dwyer
Jaguar Car Club of Victoria *

forum user since 2007-03-28

 

Steven, good point about the oil leaks...and thanks for the kind words.

Craig, you're wise to pause and give the matter some thought. Used Jags in general, and V12 XJSs in particular, can be a bit daunting ...but much less so if you learn as much as possible ahead of time.

I'd look at as many cars as you can. With knowledge and perspective you'll know the right car when it comes along.

One of the "upsides" to Jags is great tech support from JCNA and other sources. Many years ago I took the plunge and bought a used Jag. I was scared to death. Much of my fear was unfounded but, still, I would've been lost without all the help from the Jaguar community.


Cheers
DD



Doug Dwyer
Longview Washington USA
1995 XJR

Re.: XJ-S info needed

William Brady
Jaguar Owners Club, Inc. *

forum user since 2004-02-15

 

I smile at Dougs, "brief Guide" could there be more? Actually, the most expensive leak is from the rear seal and the least expensiveis the chain tensioner access plug on the front cover! Nevertheless, a really nicely looked after V12 is still a good car for a (hands on) enthuseist.

Jaguar affectionado and etc.

Re.: XJ-S info needed

Doug Dwyer
Jaguar Car Club of Victoria *

forum user since 2007-03-28

 

Heh, heh...yeah, there could be much more :-). That guide just scratches the surface of things you oughta know about XJSs :-).

One of the most important things to know about an XJS is what great cars they are when you iron out all the wrinkles that the previous owners ignored. I can't tell you how many times I knocked off 600-800 miles in a weekend in my XJS. Fantastic open road car.

Plus, owning a 12 cylinder car is something every car guy needs to do at least once in his life :-)



Cheers
DD.

Doug Dwyer
Longview Washington USA
1995 XJR

Re.: XJ-S info needed

Alice King
JCNA *

forum user since 2011-10-31

 

Hi again Craig: an ebook (free download) is available if you wish to download it, 738pgs!
www.jag-lovers.org/xj-s/book/ written by Mr. Palm. We found it quite helpful, along with ALL the help from the experts. Ali and Stew King

Aleeez Cat
1994 XJS CVT
Member-at-Large
owned:
1996 XJS CVT
1986 XJS HE
1979 TR-7
1978 XJ6

Re.: XJ-S info needed

Craig Herter
*

forum user since 2011-11-16

 

Edited on 2011-12-27 14:22:39

Okay I know I will pay for my impulsiveness on this but sometimes you have to say what the heck.

Sort of an amusing story. The car mentioned above I passed on, discretion being the better part of valor.

Well about a week ago a party responded to my Craigslist ad for the '68 Mustang for sale/trade and asked what kind of Jaguar I was looking for in a trade? I said since dreams are free I would like an E-type but a close second would be an XJ-S.

So he writes back and tells me he has an XJ-S. He sent me a bunch of pictures and the car looked good if not somewhat familiar. I asked a bunch of questions and told him the car seemed very familiar to me. It seemed very much like the other XJ-S that I was considering previously but had never looked at in person.

So, yesterday I met up with this fellow halfway between out two places of residence.

It is a pretty decent car and when I probed further I determined that indeed this was the same car I was considering about a month ago. This person had aquired it in a trade for a different Jaguar.

Now I remembered all the maladies that this car suffered from and had the Jaguar XJ-S buyers guide provided above in my head.

For some reason I was undaunted by the needs as the car really spoke to me and I figured it must be kismet or serendipity or something that the same car crossed my path twice in a month with twop seperate owners.

Maybe I should have taken it as an omen?

At any rate I am now the proud owner of an '89 XJ-S with a few needs that I will endeavour to sort out as time goes by.

Thanks again to all for the help and I guess if everything goes wrong it is my fault alone!

I already have some curious issues which I will post seperately and hope I can get some help with.

So, wish me luck or say a prayer but I am now part of the fold!

Craig



Re.: XJ-S info needed

Craig Herter
*

forum user since 2011-11-16

 

A picture for the curious