[Sean's Jaguar XJS Tech Pages]
Conditions for contacting Sean Straw

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Last modified 2009 AUG 03 18:23:29 GMT

If you want to contact me, please read this entire document before doing so - it'll save us both time if you do. If the content of your email demonstrates that you didn't read this (purchase advice and shop recommendations are the most common), then my only reply may be to direct you to read this page. While I enjoy helping others with their cars, I do have a life, or at least strive to. I don't charge for giving advice, but I am not a professional mechanic and (unfortunatley) am not independantly wealthy, so my time is a very valued commodity.

Reciprocal Links

Simply put: NO. I get innundated with morons trying to improve their search engine rankings by soliciting links from as many other sites as possible. Including wildly unrelated ones. I'm not big on lame linkfests - pages on some site that have dozens or hundreds of page excerpts so that when people go searching for "jaguar repair" they instead end up on some site pitching dishwashers (REALLY - some bonehead outfit called optimaloptimizations.com pitched a reciprocal link to me for this very thing). If it isn't relevant, I'm not linking it. If it IS relevant, I'll find it and add it to my site myself. Oh, and if you DO send an email seeking a Link Exchange, expect it to be reported as spam.

Purchase Advise

Since I do not sell or service cars for a living, I cannot make purchase advice beyond having your vehicle fully inspected (preferrably at a Jaguar Dealership, and if not available, at a Jaguar specialist -- any other mechanic simply will not suffice), and requesting full service documentation from the prior owner. If you want to know whether a car is "worth it", I'll gladly direct you to the Kelly Blue Book site where you can look up the retail and wholesale used car value of your specimen. Above all else in any transaction, value is what you perceive it to be and what you get from the car -- you simply cannot put a dollar value on the happiness you can experience owning the right car.

Why don't I give purchase advise? Well, for one, I don't have your car in my posession, so I simply cannot make a good evaluation of it. Further, I don't have the slightest bit of interest in being blamed for "advising you" that a car was a good deal, when you later discover that while everything looked okay, the seller was misrepresenting the condition of the vehicle and you didn't bother to take it to a dealer for a thorough inspection. Who's to blame? Perhaps the seller if they truly misrepresented the vehicle, perhaps you for choosing to purchase a car with incomplete service history, perhaps the luck of the draw that something just happens to go bad on you right after you purchased it. In any event, if I don't give purchase advise, I can't be blamed, and I'm sticking to that.

Shop Recommendations

To curtail requests for shop recommendations let me point out that if it isn't obvious from looking around on this site, I do much of my own work, for several reasons, including: because I can; because it's difficult (and expensive) to find someone who will go to the extents that a dedicated owner will in diagnosing and repairing a problem; and because I enjoy the experience of getting my hands on the car and becoming that much more familiar with it. Now, that said, to date besides the pre-purchase inspection of my 1988 XJ-SC by my local Jaguar dealership (Jaguar of Marin, part of Marin Luxury Cars), I've only had two things worked on (excluding mounting new tires) by shops: the starter, by Darrick Lucchesi of Jagman, Inc., and the steering rack, by Clint Wright of Ed Wright's British Auto Repair. Both of these were tasks which necessitated having the car on a lift to do the work efficiently, and were early on in my ownership of my first Jaguar, before I was confident in tackling such work myself. I've used the dealership, as well as the British Car Company as local sources of parts, though I also use other parts dealers as per the resources page. Beyond stating that my dealings with these individual companies has been satisfactory and that if I needed further work performed in a shop, I wouldn't hesitate to return to these companies to do that work, I cannot provide you with recommendations to Jaguar mechanics in your area, or otherwise. If you want to locate a Jaguar mechanic in your area, it's time to hit the yellow pages. "Jaguar" may not appear in the name of the shop - "British" is a common theme for shops which work on a variety of English automobiles (most of which share Lucas as an electrics supplier), so home in on those. Transmission work (such as replacement of the filter), can be done by any competent transmission shop, and doesn't require a Jaguar specialist. Same for tires. Everything else though, (including brakes - at least the rear brakes, which are inboard), you should consider having done only by someone keenly familiar with these cars.

General Pointers for Those Seeking to Purchase an XJ-S

Should you avoid a car which doesn't include a complete service history? No, I wouldn't go so far as to say that -- but I'd personally be a lot more picky about the things which the pre-purchase inspection reveals, and I'd definatley look to adjust my offer for the car. The seller should realize that incomplete documentation doesn't support an elevated asking price. Your elevated caution about the purchase could spare you from ending up with a sour deal. OTOH, if you've got a deal presented to you and you're a handy person, you could get a project car which will provide you with hours of restoration enjoyment, and decades of driving enjoyment after that.

Owning a Jaguar

If you want to know what owning a Jaguar is like, you'll just have to own one. After I purchased my first, I couldn't drive it enough, even though the V-12 can be a thirsty engine. Off to Muir Woods, Point Reyes, up the coast, down the coast. You didn't have to come up with a good excuse to pop the top and go for a drive. Although I work from home these days, the XJ-SC was my daily driver, not just a weekender car - there was, and is, no reason to relegate such an enjoyable driving experience to just special occasions. OTOH, if you have a brutal commute or travel to places where you're concerned the car won't be treated well, do as I do -- drive another, less precious car for those trips -- it isn't that the Jaguar won't make the trip, just that perhaps you'd rather not subject it to the abuse. After all, that's why they make seemingly throwaway Japanese and Korean import cars.

The better the specimen (typically represented by a complete service history, and where the previous owner took care to regularly service it and address things as soon as any sign of trouble cropped up), the fewer troubles you can expect to have with the ownership. Performing service oneself really isn't that troublesome if you're a bright person and can acquire tools. Servicing them at a shop WILL be more costly than your typical econobox -- these are not mass produced cars (to the extent of Hondas and GM vehicles), and the relatively exotic nature of both the Jaguar, and the V-12 in particular means that parts are not as readily available at your local parts chain. The grease monkey at the local petrol service station probably hasn't had his hands on one for anything more complicated than a simple emissions inspection, if that.

If you're looking for a cheap car, might I suggest you look at getting yourself a Honda or a '70s Chevy Impala. That's not to say that owning a Jaguar means you're buying into a money pit, but if the previous owner, or yourself, have chosen to neglect it, you can expect to pay more to get it back into proper shape. In my experience, keeping it properly running costs no more than any other car (though I must admit that the water pump on the V-12 can be an involved process -- after having completed the service myself, I inquired of the dealer how much the job would cost, and it's about a US$1000 task).

Fables of the Jaguar being a notoriously unreliable car are overblown. For example, my 1988 XJ-SC (the one I actually drive -- the 1985 Coupe is a project car which spends most of its time in the garage, awaiting my attention to some things neglected by it's prior owner still needing restoration) has only left me standing twice - shortly after my purchase, for the exact same problem -- a loose electrical connection between the starter and the +V terminal on the firewall. The shop didn't diagnose that the problem was the connection and had replaced the starter, which gave me precisely FOUR faultless starts (all on the same day which I had picked up the car from the specialist) before it stopped cranking like its predecessor. Once that was addressed, nothing else has ever left me stranded. Such a failure could happen with any car if you have a loose connection - this was certainly not unique to it being a Jaguar. A couple of years ago, I made a 1,400 mile round trip from the San Francisco area to North-East Nevada without incident (not that I didn't make the trip prepared with a toolkit and other useful information for the trip).

Both of my Jaguars are Lucas Digital P injected XJ-S V-12 cars (not the earlier Lucas D-Jetronic or the later Marelli). That's XJ-S (the "Grand Tourer" two door sports coupe type car), NOT a plural of XJ (the four door sedan). While I endeavour to add an XJ6 (or XJ12) sedan to my entourage some day, I don't presently own one -- or any of the service documentation for them -- which plays significantly into any advice you may seek from me. It makes sense that my experience is limited to the characteristics of my own vehicles, so please avoid sending me questions about your XJ sedan, because that simply isn't what an XJ-S is.

Resources

Your best bet for support are the many mailing lists and other resources which may be found at Jag-Lovers. The mailing list forums and their archives offer a plethora of experience from a variety of individuals. I regularly participate on the XJ-S and V-12 mailing lists, as do many other enthusiasts.

Another resource which you shouldn't miss is Kirby Palm's freely downloadable (and frequently revised) XJ-S: Experience in a Book which may be downloaded from links at the Jag-Lovers site. This book for the DIY'er covers a great many of the typical pitfalls of servicing the XJ-S, and also includes a variety of modifications you can make to certain parts and systems to improve their performance or reliability.

Pretty Pictures

Please DO NOT send me photos of your car or other attachments (whether pictures or otherwise) unless I request them. If you feel an urgent need to share, consider posting them on the webspace that your ISP likely provides (or on one of the many free websites out there), and include reference to that in your email message. Further, do not add me to your addressbook to be forwarded jokes and well-intentioned, yet totally inappropriate, virus warnings.

I'm a human, not a bot

The email address here is not a "bot" -- if you send something to me, try to form it as connected English phrases, and if you have a question, pose it, rather than making a declaration of your automotive problem. Time permitting, I am happy to lend a hand in helping people resolve their technical problems, but because as of yet, nobody has shipped me a box full of unmarked currency, I can't make a career out of this. Oddball requests (especially those not pertaining to XJ-S' - that would specifically include "XJ" sedans, which are very different from the XJ-S, which is NOT the plural of XJ), shall generally go unanswered, excepting possibly a recommendation for you to visit jag-lovers.org to use the archives and mailing lists there, which should prove a wealth of use.

PLEASE keep the above in mind before contacting me about pre-purchase advice or some issue you have with your auto. My reply to you may very well advise you to return to this page.

[TOP]

Sean B. Straw
Post Box 751224
Petaluma, CA 94975-1224 USA

EMail to: Sean.Straw+Jaguar@mail.professional.org


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