Have you ever heard the expression, “My momma told me that there will be days like these”? Well, we’re having one of those days with our 1995 Jaguar XJ6. Astute readers will recall that we drove it home from the Service Department of the Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Greenhills dealership (All British Cars, Inc. or ABC) on a Friday (January 21st) and felt that we did the right thing by having the repairs done there because our Power Wheels Magazine project car was purring and running like a proper Jaguar should.
On our drive home, our Jaguar X300 crawled smoothly through the usual Friday late afternoon Metro Manila traffic, its temperature gauge showed no signs of overheating, and it attracted a lot of attention and a couple of thumbs-up from other motorists. When we found a short stretch of “open road” or light traffic along the way, we gunned it a little to exercise the 275 horses from its fuel-injected 4.0-liter twin-cam 24-valve inline 6-cylinder AJ16 engine. It was during these exhilarating drives that we feel blessed to have rescued this abandoned British luxury vehicle and called it our own.
Perceptions vs Reality
If you read our previous reports, you’ll notice that we usually ask, “How can we go wrong with a P50,000 Jaguar?” referring in jest on how low we paid for it compared to the perceived market value of 1994-1997 Jaguar X300s. We highlighted perceived market value because current market projections estimate that our project car will be worth between P1,000,000 and P1,5000,000 once we’re finished with its full restoration. After all, a pristine 1997 XJ6 with a smaller 3.2-liter engine was recently advertised for sale at P1,300,000. Please see our story “1994-1997 Jaguar XJ Sedan (X300): Has It Reached Collector Car Status?” in the Retro section of this website. (https://powerwheelsmagazine.com.ph/1994-1997-jaguar-xj-sedan-x300-has-it-reached-collector-car-status/)
Of course, before our P50,000 Jaguar turns into a fully-restored XJ6 worth somewhere between P1.0M to P1.5M, we have to work on it first. And working on it also entails expenses like spare parts, fabrication, and labor costs. At JLR Greenhills/ABC for example, the service work there is charged by Man-Hours. When we restore our project car, most of these man-hours are uncharged because we do the work ourselves. Meanwhile, we farm out to specialists and experts some of the repairs that we cannot do and, as you well know, expertise and specialization costs money – lots of it.
Do It Yourself (DIY)
With our Jaaaaaag (wry English humor intended) in our garage, we decided to tackle some of the “easier” restoration work. One of the things that has been annoying us since we started driving it was the “FLUID” warning message on the liquid crystal digital (LCD) panel at instrument cluster. This warning is meant to call our attention to the low level of the brake fluid reservoir but a visual check showed that the reservoir was full. We checked under the master cylinder for any sign of leaks and found none. Then, we found that the wires were not connected because it was chewed by rats. We reattached it temporarily and the “FLUID” warning message ceased.
Curses! Stalled Again!
James Knowles, the Service Head of JLR Philippines, warned us to expect more problems with our X300, especially since it was left unattended for more than 4 years before we rescued it in January 2021. True enough, our Jag stalled again just two days after we got it home from its one-month-stay at the Jaguar Service shop. “Curses!”, we exclaimed using Dick Dastardly’s voice. The engine would start but it won’t idle and then die, just like it did in December. We remembered what ABC technician Mark Abanes said they did to get the car re-started. They blew compressed air into the fuel line to clear it of possible debris. We decide to give it a try.
After pumping air at around 30PSI into the fuel line several times, we reconnected the hose and the electrical plugs, and then started the engine, which settled into a smooth idle for about 2 minutes and then abruptly died. We tried to re-start the engine but it stalled afterwards. Thinking that we have a weak fuel pump, we stuck a thick screw driver into the fuel filler flap to relieve the built-up pressure within the fuel tank. We started the engine and it idled smoothly for about 5 minutes before conking out. On our next restart, the engine idled roughly and would stall if we didn’t modulate the gas pedal. We were beginning to run out of ideas.
A Little Help From Our Friends
We sought help from friends who are knowledgeable about Jaguar cars and services. Paolo San Mateo, who used to work at a Jaguar dealership abroad, suggested that we should invest in a diagnostic scanning tool, which he reckons will be beneficial for our project car in the long run. He also advised us to check and clean all the sensors and senders before we focus on replacing the fuel pump because our engine problem might be caused by the ECU not getting the information it needs from the various sensors around the car.
Another friend, Norbie Sison, who used to work at the service workshop of the former JLR distributor, had a more practical suggestion. He asked us to remove the six sparkplugs, mark each one with the corresponding cylinder they came from, and analyze if the air-fuel mixture is lean or rich based on the appearance of the sparkplug tips. We did so and found that the air-fuel mixture is a bit rich, which Norbie attributes to lazy, dirty or dead sensors that give the ECU false signals. He also suggested that we hook up our Jaguar to a diagnostic tool for a better understanding of its maladies.
One Problem After Another
After we buttoned up the sparkplugs and individual coil packs, we restarted the engine and it would idle roughly. James Knowles told us that aside from the air-flow meter at the mouth of the intake manifold, the ECU also relies on the signals from the sensors mounted on the exhaust bungs before and after the underfloor catalytic converter to provide the proper air-fuel mixture. If any of these sensors are disabled or disconnected (darn rats!) or if the mufflers are rusted, the ECU will be confused and the car will not run properly. It’s also possible that the catalytic converter can be clogged after 27 years of use.
And just as we were working on a mental plan to fix the rough engine idling, we noticed that there was a leak at the fuel injection rail near the inlet. This is quite dangerous since the fuel could seep down the engine bay, get ignited, and cause a fire. We consulted our friends again and all unanimous agreed that we should prioritize the repair of the fuel rail leak before anything else. The bad news is that we have to remove each individual fuel injector to remove the fuel rail so we can have it repaired by aluminum brazing done by an expert or specialist. Uh-oh…
We had to pause, take a deep breath, and gather our wits before we proceed to the next phase of our repair project. In hindsight, instead of asking “How can we go wrong with a P50,000 Jaguar?”, we should have asked, “What can go wrong with a P50,000 Jaguar?” Well, the quick, short and painful answer to that unasked question is “Plenty”. Thank God for His gifts of patience, resilience and humor. Oh boy! My Mama said that there will be days like this!