Determining Nikasil Upgrade


Hi Guys,

Writing this time not about my own XJ8, Harlem, but a friend of mine’s.

My friend recently bought a non-running '98 XJ8 and is letting it sit it out for awhile. I checked title for her recently and it looks like the PO didn’t re-register the car for about the past 10 years, so presumably she had been sitting (non-running?) all that time, as well. My friend did have a tech take a look at it at her home to see if he could figure out why she doesn’t run, and he was of the opinion it had something to do with the fuel tank (or maybe the fuel pump inside?), per her. Basically r/ring the fuel tank should get her running again, he opined. :crossed_fingers:

If I had known my friend was going to buy an XJ8 ahead of time, I would have warned her NOT to buy a pre-00 MY, due to the Nikasil sleeve liner issue. :grimacing: Anyway, what’s done is done. I was wondering if there is any way to find out whether the Nikasil recall/update was done on this particular car, w/o removing the cylinder head. Did Jag keep a log of XJ8s that were brought in for the upgrade, based on VIN #? If so, we’re in business (unless it has a different engine in it than the original, of course).

If not, I got to thinking … could a person use a LizardCam fiber-optic setup to go down one of the spark plug holes and take a look around inside that cylinder to see if the upgrade has been done? :thinking: If so, how would the appearance of the Nikasil liners look, and would would the difference be visually if it had the upgrade done to the other type of metal alloy? :question:

(bdragon) #2

My understanding is that you can determine this via the engine serial number. According to what I’ve read, the first iron sleeved AJ-V8 was build on 8/18/2000, 10:43AM, thus a engine serial number of 0008181043 (00 - 8 - 18 - 1043). If the engine number indicates a later build, it will be Nikasil.

I can’t answer for the question about using a boroscope down the cylinder to see if its Nikasil or not. However, if the engine runs and has good compression and leakdown numbers, then IMHO it doesn’t matter anymore if it’s Nikasil or not. The high-sulfur fuel that eroded Nikasil liners was banned many years ago due to environmental requirements in the USA and most other countries, so the risk is very low if not non-existent now.

I would be much more concerned about whether the engine has the latest all-metal timing chain tensioners.


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(motorcarman) #3

I have three XJ8s with nikasil engines and there is no issue with them.
The early engines had problems with high sulfur fuel causing the coating to deteriorate.
BMW and other companies experienced similar issues back then. We no longer have that problem be cause that fuel is ‘no-more’.

Engine overheating will also damage the coating as the piston swells and strips the liner.

ALL 2000MY cars should still have nikasil engines unless they have been replaced.
The cast-liner engines were introduced later (AUGUST 2000).

The nikasil engines will likely last longer than the cast liner engines if properly cared for.

Cars fitted with Nikasil engines should not be summarily dismissed on that basis alone.

Just my experience.


(gary breyer, 09 X358 LWB Sovereign, Liquid Silver/Warm Charcoal. Ex Ministerial car.) #4

On this side of the pond there was no recall. Engines were replaced under warranty if the owner was experiencing starting problems and the compression levels had fallen below a certain level. When Jaguar replaced an engine under warranty, a green/silver metal tab was fitted to the block. It was placed just below the head at the rear of the block, I can’t remember which side.

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Wow. Well dang, then that means Harlem, my '00, must have them as well. :open_mouth: I thought I avoided at least that issue by getting a '00. :slightly_frowning_face: It sounds like only the next and next-to-last year of the X-308s ('02-'03) finally got their act together, as far as the liners AND tensioners went. :+1: Still, I guess it doesn’t matter as to the Nikasil issue, from what you guys are saying. I wasn’t aware the issue was the high-sulphur fuel interacting adversely with the liners - I had thought maybe poor quality control or some such made them prone to “slipping” in the cylinder bore while the engine was running or something. :confused:

(Andy) #6

I wouldn’t worry about it.

I think if there is a green label on the back of the head it’s a replacement engine

(j limongelli) #7

Gary is right, if it was replaced under Jaguar there is a record and a replacement motor tag on both sides of the pond.
Those fuel pumps sitting in ETHANOL gas would destroy themselves.
2001 your completely away from those engines.
WITH THAT SAID…Others are correct , if the motor has not overheated, the fluids constantly changed AND THE TENSIONERS UPDATED, you should be fine.
The cars are worth nothing compared to new, so you really cannot loose.
So your check list is Pumps, Tensioners and all fluids.
The car is good for 100,000 miles. AND THATS IT.
Now an x300 straight 6 is good for 250,000 miles if taken care of.
They got cheap as the years went buy…I LOVED ALL MY X300, They truly were the last diy and old school interiors.
Drive it till it blows baby!


Dang, now I almost wish I could get Scrapper, my '96 X-300 back. But, I sold her cheap to a “little old pastor lady” about 3 years ago when I bought Harlem. I just found out earlier this week that her plan to have it restored is about finished, and the car should be rolling out of the body shop to her home finally later this week. Will be interesting to see what she looks like now, inside and out. :drooling_face: She ran fine when I sold her, except for the seals going out on the rack & pinion (which was what led me to sell her), @ less than 200K miles. So, basically @ 180K miles you’re saying Harlem, by contrast, is ready for the trash heap (?) I always thought those V-8 engines are supposed to last longer than 6 cyl, given the lower RPM operating speed. :confused: But then, maybe Jag is the exception, as it always seems to be :roll_eyes:

(Peter Crespin) #9

My Nikasil 99 Super V8 was on about 230,0000 when I sold it. It was on its second gearbox and axle and ran fine. Joey was right about DIY X300s but joking when he suggested X308s lasted only 100k.

(j limongelli) #10

Pete, Your focused with your car…most are not and not DIY
The transmissions are a breathe away from death anything over 100,000 miles .
AND THATS NOT BAD compared to the 80’s but when a lexus cost less and never ever blows up. People ditched the cars. Fuel pump quality and suspension bushes because of the weight were another issue if you were not DIY.
The 300 was a BETTER built car IMHO as they became cheaper quality in the 308.
IMHO, Milky dash boards, generic cheaper binnacle gages and smaller chrome bumper overrides that were more plastic didn’t help.
Still the best seats in town though!

(Veekay) #11

Most every inline-6 engine seems to be built to outlast everything else. I’m not aware of any v8 that has a reputation to outlive an i6, even the Chrysler i6 is a bulletproof beast that easily makes it to 300,000.

Actually, just delete that first word “most”. I would be comfortable buying anyone’s i6 engine if I were planning to drive a car until it fell apart.

*-supercharged engines not necessarily included.

(Jerry Mills) #12

There - fixed. :sunglasses:
Also applies to Over the Road diesel truck engines.
All the popular stuff is inline 6 and has been for a long time.
Also a lot of 6s in mid sized boats. Don’t know what the big ships run.

(j limongelli) #13

Blow by and tighter emissions stopped the 6 for a long time.
Now they are coming back again because of torque and compact size.
I forgot to add tensioners and ABS warning systems on the 308 that became BIG cost issues as well.
Oh and the cheap PLASTIC THERMOSTAT housing that would crack and leak.
Still a great car for little or no money.
The x300 never had one of those issues.
Oh I forgot the oozing REAR VIEW mirrors that would destroy the wood work on the car as well.

(Peter Crespin) #14

Weight is good for quality ride, as it maximises the sprung:unsprung ratio and forces the suspension to damp the movements rather than move the car around.

But if you don’t like flab then you can’t then complain that they switched from metal to chromed plastic, which is visually identical for about 30% of the mass.

(j limongelli) #15

The point my friend is the x308 CANNOT hold a candle to the x300 IMHO
Its a fact under warranty and resale and reliability. They both cost 2 dollars today to buy but if I had to choose, the x300 wins hands down, IMHO.
Melting goo rear view mirrors
Milky CHEAP dash board finish
ABS everything
PLASTIC THERMOSTAT housing eventually replaced my metal
Fuel pumps
and a transmission that almost made 100,000 miles
None of that happened with the x300.
But for the 2 dollars I would own each if I had a choice of that or German…

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The other day I was looking at photos on Ebay of a new replacement timing chain tensioner for the XJ8 and of a used one for a '94 XJS 4.0 (AJ6 engine) … They were completely different in quality - the XJ8 version was, of course, tiny and flimsy-looking, w. part of it plastic … by contrast, the one for the XJS was much larger and made entirely of solid, heavy-duty METAL, looking like a part off of an army tank or some other military vehicle. :open_mouth: If shown only those parts and asked which engine I wanted in my Jag, no question at all I would opt for the former.

I don’t know what went on with Jag/Ford at the time of the development of the XJ8, but I would hate to think what was going through their minds was greed - i.e. “let’s still sell them an $80K+ luxury sedan but with a lot less cost overhead.” :angry:

(Peter Crespin) #17

Greed? You mean as in 'Please can we have a return on the billions we’ve invested dragging this outfit out of the cash-starved stone age?"

All the X300 plus points Joey TELLS US ABOUT are the ARE the result of FORD’S LEVERAGE with component suppliers and their PRODUCTION ENGINEERING EXPERTISE which kicked in with the 6.0L engine and late XJS and 93-94 XJ40, which were all better built than their predecessors.

I have CHOSEN TO BUY one x308 versus six x300, mostly for DIY reasons. BUT I can’t argue that the x300 is a better car overall, just that what the x300 offers is enough for me.

Pardon the ITALIAN NEW YORK ACCENT :slight_smile:

(bdragon) #18

I would also point out that the X300 is the final development of the XJ40, benefiting from 8+ years of development working out the flaws. The X308, while retaining the same basic structure, replaced almost everything else. After 4-5 years of development, almost all the listed flaws of the X308 were resolved.

I think someone at Jaguar (not Ford) was inexperienced or overly optimistic about the durability of plastics, thus the bad thermostat housing failures, the frequent lean code errors from leaking vacuum connections and hoses, and of course the infamous chain tensioners.

Why do I say Jaguar, not Ford? Because as far as I know, the Fords of the same era didn’t have those kinds of problems. (bad spark plug design, yes, like on the 5.4L Triton engine, but not tensioner failures or leaks from plastic pipes and fittings. Not sure about water housing failures.) The Lincoln LS V8 might have had tensioner problems, but guess who designed its engine…

I had a X308 XJR for 15 years and never had milky wood (veneer looked beautiful and factory-perfect to the end), the interior quality was excellent (noticed no superiority of the X300 interior materials and the X308 interior was a nuch nicer design) and the transmission was bulletproof (same unit used in AMG Mercedes and Porsche 996 Turbo automatics.) It did have the bad rear view mirror, but thankfully it never leaked and I got it fixed for about $150.

ABS problems were due to cracked solder joints - fixed the unit myself for $19 (cost of a tube of non-acidic silicone sealer to glue the ABS case back together after hacksawing it apart and soldering two cracked connections.)

The worst problem was the silly throttle body problems that would throw the car into fail safe mode leaving me with 30hp total just as I would be cruising at freeway speeds. Yet, this throttle body sensor was made by Nippondenso - just bad luck to get a bad design from someone considered a leading supplier of reliable automotive electronics.

Probably, Ford showed Jaguar how to get initial quality up to par, but many of the lessons of sustained long-term quality Jaguar still didn’t have down. However, given how much better the X308 drove and performed IMHO, I would still choose an X308 again over a X300. I still sometimes hanker for another XJR…


(Neil Bennett. Patron) #19

I agree totally with both gtjoey and Peter when I was unfortunate enough to buy a 5 year old ‘98 X308 with circa 35K miles which cost me ~ £900 to replace 4tensioners and which I cheerfully sold when I found out that by 42K miles had a Blowback of 43L/min.
I caused quite a few spats with Ross (Sparkenzap) when I cited Ford as the culprit for all of the deficiencies that the X308 had i.e. cheap plastic parts, cost engineered components and practices that had been used in the design and which totally wrecked an otherwise superb car. Agreed sulphur was to blame for Nikasil failures, but Ford for everything else IMHO.

(bdragon) #20

To summarize my long-winded post - if Ford was the problem, why don’t the Fords of the same era have the same problems (especially bad tensioners?)