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jaguar parked by opera house

2004 Jaguar XJ Long Term Update – 11 Months

When it comes to luxury cars it’s often said that you should ask yourself not only can you afford to buy the car, but can you afford to own it. Maintenance and repair costs on high line vehicles can often exceed the resale value of the car. Fortunately, as evidenced by the lack of Jaguar repair posts on the site, I’ve experienced few surprises over the past eleven months of ownership of my 2004 Jaguar XJ8.

The XJ has been my daily driver since I bought it, and I’ve now put over 14,000 miles on it. Lest you think I’m babying the car I’ll remind you that in addition to countless road trips and a handful of camping excursions, I spent a day thrashing the Jag at Dominion Raceway a few months back. It was pretty fast.

Though the Jaguar has had a few minor issues, I would say no more than any other used vehicle would be likely to have. So, what were the exact problems and solutions?

  • Problem: Check Engine Light with Restricted Performance message on dash
  • Solution: A new hose clamp! I was able to drive the car home, scanned it with my OBDII reader and got codes for a lean condition. Once under the hood I quickly located a broken hose clamp where the intake tube connects to the throttle body, which caused a massive vacuum leak. Simple fix.
  • Problem: Front suspension leaks down in extreme cold temperatures
  • Solution: I actually haven’t fixed this yet. It’s only happened twice, both times when it snowed and the car sat for a few days in freezing temps without being started or driven. Since it pumps right back up and holds air once the temperature warms up a few degrees I suspect the leak is at one of the fittings rather than an air bag.
  • Problem: Leaking Coolant Expansion Tank
  • Solution: Replace Coolant Expansion Tank. With the hood up, getting ready to do an oil change I noted a small amount of coolant puddling outside of the expansion tank. It was not yet enough to trigger a low coolant light, but it was clearly leaking. I bought a new OEM equivalent expansion tank online for about fifty bucks, and replaced it. Easy DIY job.
  • Problem: Flat tire
  • Solution: Swap on the full sized spare. Ok, so this isn’t really an issue with the car, but it happened. I thought it was worth noting the Jaguar holds a full sized alloy spare. No donut, not even a full sized steelie. A nice spare to match the rest of your wheels.
  • Problem: Headliner is beginning to sag in a few places
  • Solution: I haven’t addressed this yet, but plan to replace the headliner in the near future.
  • Problem: Windshield wipers sometimes park in the middle of the windshield when you turn them off
  • Solution: This has been an intermittent issue that I haven’t addressed yet either The most common cause of this issue appears to be one of the two relays in the wiper system going bad. If replacing the relays doesn’t work, it may need a wiper motor. I’ll update when I get to fixing it.


The XJ8 is really a pleasure to drive. It’s comfortable, smooth, and powerful. It has just about every power and convenience option you could ask for – or at least that you could have asked for in 2004. The factory sound system is fantastic. The climate control works seamlessly. Even the heated leather seats still work perfectly. Ironically, despite my initial hesitation to purchase a Jaguar, the XJ has without a doubt been my best used car bargain.

Aside from the minor issues listed above, our complaints are trivial. My wife doesn’t like getting in and out of the car because it’s so low to the ground. And I get slightly irritated with the entertainment system, mainly that the radio doesn’t display station identifiers and that I can’t remove outdated features like the car phone integration from the interface.

The only nagging concern is what to do about the aging air suspension system. At some point there will be a major component failure in the suspension and we’ll need to decide how and what to repair and replace. The cheaper and overall easier solution would be to replace the air suspension with coil overs. There are several high quality coil over conversion kits available ranging from about $1,200 and up, and feedback from owners who have completed the conversion is overwhelmingly positive. The advantage of these kits is that you will never have to worry about the air suspension again. On the downside, you lose the Jaguar’s self leveling suspension and DSC, or dynamic stability control. If you opt to keep the air suspension you could easily pay upwards of three times the cost of a conversion by the time you replace the XJ’s four air springs, a list of sensors, compressor, air tank, distribution block, lines, and fittings. Of course, every component will not necessarily need to be replaced at the same time – but does that leave you always wondering what and when the next failure will be? We’ll let you know what we decide if and when we get there. I’m coming up on a year of ownership of this car and am getting the itch for something different. To date though, the Jag is pretty high on the list of favorite cars I’ve owned, and I think it’s likely I’d buy another one in the future.


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