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: Shifter would move in gate, but not engage transmission
- Solution: This ended up being loose bolts. There are two bolts holding the shifter cable bracket to the shifter. They were both loose, which caused the shifter to be finicky in engaging the transmission. One bolt eventually backed out completely at which time the shifter would move, but not engage any gear in the transmission. The bolts are easily accessible from underneath the car, with the car on jacks. I was back on the road in under 30 minutes with a new bolt and a little loctite.
- 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. (EDIT: I’ve since installed the Strutmasters coil conversion to remedy this issue following an air spring failure.)
- 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.
I’m now 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.