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Jaguar XK8/R Buying Checks
If you are thinking of buying a Jaguar XK8 or XKR (1995 to 2005) there are some potential major mechanical issues that might just change your mind.

Unless you are prepared to take the time to choose carefully, then you might find that your dream car quickly turns into a financial nightmare.

What Can Go Wrong? Nikasil Engines: If you are looking at buying one of the earliest XKs (1995 to 2000) then check that the engine has had a recent blow by test. XK engine numbers within the range (001036 to 042775) were constructed with Nikasil engine bore liners *.
Timing Chain Tensioners: Both the upper and lower timing chain tensioners may suffer from splitting, consequently leading to timing chain breakage. If this happens then it is likely that severe damage will result to the engine. For this reason it makes good financial sense to check that the engine tensioners have been replaced. If you decide to buy the car and pay for the tensioners fixing yourself, then allow for up to 2 days labour from a specialist Jaguar technician. - An early warning sound for imminent tensioner failure is a rattling noise on engine start up.

Automatic Gearbox: Up to about 60 000 miles auto gearboxes are generally reliable. However, beyond this point you could be looking at a costly replacement. If there is any sign of gear slippage whilst driving, or gear lurch whilst moving off then it would be wise to get the vehicle inspected by a specialist.

Underfloor Corrosion: As with any older vehicle it will be important to check the underfloor for signs of corrison and cracking. Areas of the XK8/R underfloor can be prone to dirt and moisture build up. Also look for any signs of flood damage. Once again any evidence of corrosion or cracking should alert you to possible major repair costs.

Cooling System: Be aware that the engine coolant water pump may suffer from impeller blade failure. Any XK that has suffered from engine over heating and susbsequent coolant system depressurization should be carefully inspected. If you notice a slight rattle on acceleration from the underside of the car, then this could be insulation material that has broken loose from the catalytic converters - these items represent a major cost to get replaced.

Jaguar XK8 Engine Bay Paperwork: Check to see how long the previous owner kept the car. If they only kept the car for a few months then better to be safe than sorry. Take some time to check over the car's service history and any receipts for upkeep. Be cautious of any large gaps in service history. Check that recorded mileages on MOT certificates tally with the car's service book. Check over all paperwork to ensure that the VIN tags and registration/ engine number match those on the vehicle itself.

* Circa 1998, it was discovered that fuel with high sulphur content could lead to early wearing away of the Nikasil bore liners. The only fix for a Nikasil affected engine is to replace it with an official Jaguar steel bore liner engine. Beware, the cost of engine replacement could far exceed the value of the car!

Further Reading:
You and Your Jaguar XK8, Nigel Thorley, ISBN 1 84425 224 8
Classic Car Storage
Classic Car Values