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Classic Car Reviews: Jaguar XJ (1997 – 2003) & Buying Guide

Classic Car Reviews: Jaguar XJ (1997 – 2003) & Buying Guide


Classic Car Reviews: Jaguar XJ (1997 – 2003) & Buying Guide Introduction. Launched in 1997, this version of the Jaguar XJ was based on the previous generation – the only change being a switch from six-cylinder to V8 engines. Codenamed the X308, the car did away with the old XJ40 and XJ6 (X308) instrument binnacle on the dashboard, this time using three large separate instrument gauges set into the recesses in the curved dashboard. The grille badging and surround was changed, and the car got new indicator and fog lights, but really it was all about the AJ-V8 engine, which was available in either 3. 2 or 40-litre guise. Base model was the XJ8, followed by the Sport, which got stiffer suspension and wider wheels. Sovereign got all the bells and whistles – and there was even a long wheelbase version. And the fun one? That would be the XJR. Powered by a supercharged version of the 40-litre V8, it could hit 60mph in five seconds and boasted a top speed of 155mph. High-spec Daimler models featured softer suspension and wore the fluted radiator grille surround and fluted boot lid plinth. 4th top in the R reg J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Survey. 7th in 2001 Top Gear / JD Power Customer Satisfaction Survey of S and T reg cars. 3rd Top in 144 car 2002 JD Power / What Car? Customer Satisfaction Survey of V and W reg cars. 4th overall in 2003 What Car? J.D. Power Customer Satisfaction Survey. Extremely Low 1 out of 9 point death rate from accidents in this model. Top car out of 137 models in 2003 Top Gear survey. Painted front bumper easy to scratch. No means of checking 5-speed ZF autobox oil level or refilling it. Jaguar says sealed for life, but no oil changes could mean a life of just 10 years. Whine of Eaton supercharger of XJR8 can become irritating, but you only hear it when you boot the car heavily. Nickasil bore liner sulphur erosion problem with pre-2000 model year Jaguar V8s. 1996s, 1997s, 1998s and 1999s could all have residual damage from before mid 2000 when sulphur content of UK petrol was reduced. (Definitely OK from from September 2000 build, or if fitted with a post Sept 2000 build replacement engine as these have cast iron bore liners). Reports of tensioner problems leading to timing chain failures. Front wishbone bushes can go after only about 20K miles causing steering problems, unven tyre wear and, if left unattended, possible suspension damage. Cost to replace can be £700. Jaguars extended warranty does not cover this, but Warranty Directs does. Jaguar had fifth highest warranty repair costs in 2003 Warranty Direct Reliability index (index 126.91 v/s lowest 31.93). 1998-2000 models had poor record for breakdowns, but average for problems and faults in 2003 Which survey. Jaguar 2nd bottom of Reliability Index for 2004 combining high average cost of repair of £483.26 with high 42.16 failures per 100 Warranty Direct policies. Link:- www.reliabilityindex.co.uk. Watch. Desirable to have a full Jaguar dealer service history and must be immaculate to command top money. If the engine feels lumpy, its a sign of serious engine problems. Nickasil bore liner sulphur erosion problem with pre-2000 model year Jaguar V8s. 1996s, 1997s, 1998s and 1999s could all have residual damage from before mid 2000 when sulphur content of UK petrol was reduced. (Definitely OK from from September 2000 build, or if fitted with a post Sept 2000 build replacement engine as these have cast iron bore liners). Front wishbone bushes can go after only about 20K miles causing steering problems, unven tyre wear and, if left unattended, possible suspension damage. Cost to replace can be £700. Jaguars extended warranty does not cover this, but Warranty Directs does. Reports of tensioner problems leading to timing chain failures. Terminal if the secondary tensioners break and throw the chain more than two sprockets. The early X308s had quite a few known weaknesses: tensioners, water pump, gearbox that were sorted out after a few years. Dont buy a 97 – 99 XJ8 VIN from 812256 to 878717 inclusive unless it has had a replacement engine, indicated by a special tag on the nearside of the engine block. Beware of rattles from timing chain as tensioner could be about to let go. Plastic tensioners were later replaced by steel tensioners which can be fitted to earlier cars. Rear dampers prone to failure, particularly with CATS suspension. 18-10-2014: Where fitted, rear air suspension can be prone to failure.

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