Time to buy an XJS

Okay, so you have sat around debating this decision in your head for some time now. You know you always wanted one, but there is that one guy you know who always dominates all the local events and who trashes everyone's desires. You know the one you always try to avoid but he seems to always be around. You would sell your home and move elsewhere, but sell in this buyers market just to get away from him? No way you are ready to go out like that. So although he tends to pull the air out of everyone in the community, you have had enough and you are ready to shut him up once and for all about his claim that you need two Jag's, because you need one to drive while the other is in the shop, and all British cars leak, while the other neighbors agree with him. So you asked yourself, what the heck do any of them know? None of them have ever owned a Jag but they speak as an authority!

The hunt is on for that super hot XJS. Every time you see one, which is rare, you get as excited as you did on your first date and you should! after all, this is no one-night stand. Oh, yes for sure you are going up the aisle with your XJS. But then in the back of your mind, you ask the question how do I make the right decision so you can put a sock in the mouth of the local naysayers? Well for starters as the phone company would say years ago for those over the age 13 would remember "Let your fingers do the walking" Well today it's one finger and rather than pages, it's your touchpad or screen. Oh boy now you started something, the prices are all over the place, so now what? Just keep your shirt on and don't pull your hair out or if like me what's left of it.

That one is for the phone book folks. Now don't get offended and demand I apologize, this is freedom of speech here and I have the right to mention my thinning hair so just chill out so we can get you in the right XJS. Remember I am your XJS advocate. It's those guys near you who always try to put a wrench in your machinery but together we are going to fix that permanently. I have a place in Siberia in the dead of winter for them. Short sleeves are only allowed.

I have a buyers guide here on our site to help you along and you can download it on your phone and it will walk you through while you are out there perhaps dealing with a seller that you would not let him watch your money any more than you would let rover watch your food. The guide speaks for itself and always remember this, there is is no such thing as a cheap XJS. And you may want to skip those enticing listings saying just needs a little TLC which really means The Lousy Crap.

Don't believe me? just go to see all such listings but carry a laughing box along because you will lose your voice after the first few! Where do these people come from? They must have taken the course advertised on late-night TV in the 1980s The TLC course for dummies! So back to getting you ready for this journey. Here is a tip on the most costly mistakes, overlooking things under the hood/bonnet the signs of an engine that is not just right or will die for good the moment you get it home. Now I always recommend spending what may be the best $125 to $200 max for a PPI pre-purchase inspection at a nearby Jaguar dealership or a good Jag specialist nearby and to find them you should look up a local Jaguar club and ask for help here.

Look over all wires and hoses to see first if everything appears to be in place and for any unusual thin wires crossing over any components as this would be a sign that someone bypassed something. Have a good look at all the relays to be sure that they are all in place on the inner fenders on each side. The left side relays are exposed but on the right side, they are under a black cover. Check the oil level by pulling the dipstick on the left side of the engine and pay close attention to the color. If you can read the level through the oil and it slides easily off the dipstick then the oil is clean however if it is very dark, thick, and gritty to the touch between your index finger and thumb then this indicates poor maintenance. And if the oil is gooey/sticky or gritty to the touch then most likely there are some very costly issues present.

As well if the oil shows any bubbles as in separation in the oil, this is most likely a head gasket problem and in such case, you may have some huge surprises so I suggest you walk away. Remember for now there are enough around in superb condition. Check the transmission/gearbox fluid located toward the rear on the left side of the engine just behind the oil. Check for level while the engine is running and warm, however, the most important is the color and smell. The color should be red but if closer to brown this is due to poor maintenance, and if it smells burnt then the unit is on its way out and needs rebuilding, and should this be the case, then this may already show in the shifting while driving. Check the brake fluid located on the left side in a plastic reservoir above the brake actuator/booster that is a large metal unit connected to the firewall area. A well-maintained system will have clear fluid in it. Poorly serviced will look tan or brown.

If it is brown, this is a danger zone and is an indication that moisture has damaged the brake fluid and sometimes this color tends to be particles of rust. It is important to bleed the system as part of your post ownership of the car as the moisture collected in the brake system will eventually cause rust in the system and will be costly to repair or worst cause brake failure when you really need it to operate correctly and safely. There has always been an old rule when acquiring a pre-owned car and that was to drain all fluids and replace them with fresh new fluids. This is a great idea and practice when cars do not have current service records. Check the antifreeze level located in the black metal reservoir on the right side of the engine bay. This is where you will also fill with antifreeze. In front of this, you will see a plastic reservoir with a cap on it, which is for the windshield washer fluid.

When there is an oily or greasy engine bay, something is worn and leaking. The old saying that all British cars leak is no truer than any other car. If neglected any car will leak so do not accept someone trying to sell you the car along with that story. First look at the cam covers for signs of leaking from the gaskets as they will leak when old and need to be replaced as in any car. While inspecting the undercarriage, you will also want to look over the engine bottom and transmission pans for leaks and if they are wet, then look for a leak.

The first line of defense, in this case, it to tighten the bolts but before you do, make sure that you are doing so according to the correct torque specifications or you can very easily make it worst by warping the pans. The power steering reservoir is black plastic and located on the right side of the engine bay below the fuses.

If it is very oily and everything else in this area looks oily and dirty, chances are the top of the reservoir is on wrong. I have had many people ask to buy a reservoir thinking that this will solve the problem but it is a simple fix. For some reason, Jaguar designed the top to screw on counterclockwise. So if it is not ruined, carefully try to fasten correctly and this will solve the problem.

I trust you now have enough info to find a proper XJS to enjoy and we at Jaguar World Corp are always available to help you with any issues during your XJS relationship. We do all we can to answer any repair questions you may have by submitting them to us and we normally can respond the same day. Start your engines and begin your XJS experience.


  • Leroy my message is to follow-up with Steve’s msg. ….
    Steve I’m in the St. Louis area and picking up my first XJS next weekend. ‘95 cabriolet 4.0 and I’d enjoy another local enthusiast if you’d like to reach out.

  • I still like to looks of the Jaguars from the early 1950s. The dream of my youth.

    Ken Artis
  • I have a 1994 XJS convertible and the park brake doesn’t work. The lever can be moved up and down but results in nothing.

    Ted Steiner
  • Thanks for the tips! We have just started our hunt for “the right” XJS. We know we are looking for low mileage, one of the last three years, convertible, and six cyl. We had an XJ6 so we know not all jags leak oil. ;0) Right now we are preparing to interview mechanics and looking for a local club. Any suggestions in the St. Louis area?


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