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Jaguar XJ-S (1975 - 1996)

Last updated 10 November 2015

 
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Buying Guide

Bodywork 

  • Rust is the XJ-S’s worst enemy so closely inspect the car for rot.
  • Rear arches often go and are repaired with filler.
  • Inspect the area around the radius arm’s forward mount (near the back end of the sill).
  • Check behind the rear bumper and the rear window for rust.
  • Floorpans are known to rust.
  • The boot floor can rot, especially around the battery tray and under the rear seat.
  • Rectangular headlamps tend to rot and are often replaced by US-spec ones.
  • The rear edge of the bootlid is a major rust trap, also check the back window and bases of the C-pillar.
  • Cowl areas ahead of the windscreen also rust – repair means removing the windscreen.
  • Does the car smell damp? That might be because of blocked drainage channels.

 Chassis and Suspension

  •  Front cross-members can rot through so if the subframe is shot walk away.
  • Rear suspension mounts are prone to rust, particularly the radius arm mountings.
  • The front suspension mounts can rot through.
  • A favourite hangout for tinworm is the inner wing below the damper mount.

 V12 models

  • The rearmost pair of spark plugs are hidden by plumbing, take hours of dismantling to get at and consequently are rarely changed.
  • Contrary to the horror stories, these big, unstressed V12s can be very reliable and trouble-free if treated and maintained with respect. This means 3,000-mile or six-month fully synthetic oil changes (no later), annual transmission oil changes, new brake fluid and coolant every two years without fail.
  • Fairly apt to suffer front suspension and steering damage, so check this carefully.
  • Any signs of uneven tyre wear - either avoid the car or budget for a big bill.
  • Otherwise, see comments on XJS 3.6/40 and XJ40.
  • If it overheats it's going to be trouble, so leave it alone. A/c on older cars had old CFC gas, now unobtainable. Re-filling with non CFC refrigerant may cause leaks through incompatibility of lubricant.

Slant-six models

  • Fairly apt to suffer front suspension and steering damage, so check this carefully. Any signs of uneven tyre wear - either avoid the car or budget for a big bill.
  • The coolant needs to have been changed every two years without fail or the block will sludge up at the back, overheat, blow its head gasket and possibly warp its cylinder head.
  • Check that standard aircon blows cold. Good news if has been recharged with CFC-free 134A refrigerant instead of old R12 and seals aren't leaking.
  • Look for rust in the flying buttresses at the back, sills and wheelarches.

 

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