Serviceability Report: JaguarPosted 12/15/2004
By Craig Van Batenburg, AAM
This is my third year of asking these questions: Do automotive designers consider ease of service when designing a new car and truck, and are they getting better or worse to work on?
So far we have reviewed Japanese, Korean, German and domestics, including different-type vehicles such as vans, trucks and cars.
Are the English better at serviceability? What did I find out? You may want to read this after work over a warm Guinness.
Ford first approached Jaguar in September 1989, announcing its intention to purchase up to 15 percent of that company. Two months later, Ford approached the Jaguar board with a proposal, which - after a long discussion of the terms offered - led to an agreement. The agreed plans for Jaguar's future stipulated that it was to remain a separate legal entity with its own board of directors. What has happened in the 15 years since this proposal took effect?
Prior to 1989, Jaguar was an English company that started in the car business in the '40s. To make the Jaguar brand a profitable part of Ford, some European Ford off-the-shelf parts were used. Jaguar began 1995 with sales of the new XJ Series soaring to a five-year high with all of the company's major global markets showing impressive gains over the previous year. In May, the company announced two Celebration XJS models to commemorate 60 years of the legendary Jaguar name.
According to Dick Horan, owner and technician from Precision Imports in Manchester, N.H., the newer Jags are much, much better than before. The new V-6 and V-8 engines don't leak oil. The "electrics" are part Bosch and Denso. Visteon is also on board. The inboard rear disk brakes are history, but the front wheel bearing is still a dealer-only item and poorly designed. Of course, you could buy the tools for the front wheels but the cost/benefit isn't there. The worst years for Jags were 1988 and 1989.
I spoke to Troy Guthrie, a senior tech at Motorcars Inc. in Austin, Texas. Guthrie explained that the GenRad scanner is a decent aftermarket tool. The factory scanners are the Jaguar Diagnostic Scanner (for older models) and the PDU, nicknamed " Pretty Darn Useless." The Lincoln LS was close to the Jaguar XJ in design, and after many customer complaints, that is no longer the case.
So what do we say to a good customer who wants to switch to a Jaguar? Advise them not to buy a pre-'95 model. Make sure your relationship with your local dealer is good, as you will need them for parts and some service needs. Don't hold onto your old beliefs that you should turn away this make, but be sure your customer knows that service and repair is not cheap. Instead of owning every tool and factory scanner - given the small numbers - use the local dealership for support.
While researching this make, I found myself in New Jersey - so I called over to Jaguar (only 14 miles away) and paid them a visit. Scott Turner, a longtime "vet" of these cars, gave me a tour of the company's support facility. His title is dealer technical support manager, but he is regular folk. After spending some time with him, I left knowing a lot more, and my old beliefs were changed.
These cars are getting better, and guess who is helping them? Visteon and Denso. Denso with fuel injection, navigation, air conditioning, charging systems and more. Gone are Lucas and many old British companies that didn't adapt to change.
Are things still a little strange? Sure, but not as bad as us techs with long memories think. Automatic transmissions require a certain ability to even check the fluid level. Is that bad? Depends on your point of view. The new 2004 XJ8 has the controller area network with fiber optics; this enables the scan tool to communicate faster with the car. The company's Web site is up to date, although it's still done in England. A lead calcium battery is in the trunk - where else? Remind your customers to clean out their car before service. Use the correct charger when adding current to this battery as it is similar to a glass matte when it comes to handling. The new 2004 is an aluminum body with a steel frame. Don't forget that Rover is in the same family. Jaguar's chain-driven 4.2-liter V-8 is reliable and powerful.
When servicing the Jaguar, watch out for the electronic connectors. It is common for the wires to break, grounds to rust away and electronic control units to die.
Most independent techs make little profit on these cars, and after being burned financially, they just turn them away. If it is an older Jaguar that needs service, think twice. Add inboard rear brakes, last used in 1987, and you have your hands full when servicing an older Jag.
Early XJ8, 1988-1994 - Stay away unless you love a challenge.
Ups: 1996-2004 - Quality got better; less problems with the car. Inboard rear brakes were retired.
Downs: 1996-2004 - Front wheel bearing replacement is old fashioned and expensive. Checking transmission fluid level requires a scanner or at least an infrared temp gun.
Overall rating: The Jaguar series quality is better, and the ease of service is up a couple notches. This car will be a problem for techs who don't service European cars and aren't familiar with Bosch/Denso systems.
Ford/Jaguar needs to design serviceability into their products. The cost to produce a "serviceable" Jag would be similar, but some assemblies just need to be scrapped and the designers start out fresh. If serviceability were designed in, Ford/Jaguar would save money on warranty repairs, customers' bills would be less, and the car would be more technician friendly.
Jaguar has come a long way. With its retreat from F1, maybe it can reallocate those resources to a better product. One can always hope. As for the warm beer, don't keep it in a Lucas refrigerator.
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