Finding someone to align XJSC in San Diego

So after rebuilding the front end of my 92 completely, I knew it would take more than the usual toe jockey to get it aligned correctly. Found a chassis specialist who claimed to have experience with these cars so I put it in his hands.
He called and said he’d gotten it set up, so it would not wear the tires, but could not bring it into specs [he mentioned to upper ball joint shims] because it was “a 30 year old car and things just wear”. Considering that I replaced everything except the cast parts [upper and lower control arms, and shafts] that did not look like they needed replacing, I was disheartened. Asked if the problem was the way i put things together and he insisted it was not.
The fellow was old-school and didn’t trust the new machines. This meant he could not see the results of adjustments in real time and since things are so interdependent I suspect it would have taken him years to play with various shim combinations given the equipment he was using. He’s a very nice fellow and I’m sure he did his best, but I am not sure how the car is going to drive when I pick it up tomorrow.
The dealer already told me they don’t work on anything older than 95.
If anyone knows of a shop with extensive Jag chassis experience in SoCal, please let me know.

Hello Richard - did you provide him the “lock in position” tools used in the front and in the rear, and were your height measurements correct at the start - being
an “old school” alignment person, he probably will get your car correct if you provide the tools to him - I am not near my service manual at the moment, but there is a “hook type” tool used on the rear to lock in the suspension at position, and a “cylinder type” tool used on the front - try a search here in Jag-Lovers XJS section for “alignment” and you may find some posts stating what I am talking about.

I don’t have those tools.
He was saying something about the upper control arms being too close to the shock absorber to shim the upper ball joint according to specs . . . or something like that. That’s what made me think his problems began with my having assembled the upper control arms incorrectly. All the bushings were new. He kept insisting that there were no assembly issues, but I am doubting that.
He did seem to be setting up his lift to lift front and rear, though I could not make out
if he was simulating the tools that would “lock” the suspension in place.
I copied the section of the shop manual on alignment and left it with him though I did not see him consult it while I was there.

Hello Richard - I will be have to get my 1991 XJS aligned soon so I did check and found the need for the tools to get the correct alignment - best I understand, it is easy to make the front blocking “tools” out of a piece of schedule 40 PVC , 1-3/4 inch ID cut at an angle at each end (I am thinking that there is a post from “Artiside(sp)” showing the measurements) - this is placed over the bump stops on the front arms, left and right sides - in the rear, there is a piece of 1/4 inch rod that is approx. 9 inches as measured center to center of the circle and hook ends, with a hook on one end and a circle on the other end - the 1 inch ID circle end is placed over the nut of the bottom shock mount rod, and the hook is place on the frame above - this rod is placed on the forward section of the shock mount rod, on left and right sides - this results in the suspension being locked in to a fixed position for the alignment - I believe this is what is called the “mid-laden” condition - don’t quote me, but I think the car should be set at a height of 7.5 inches when measured on both sides, behind the front wheels and in front of the rear wheels, along the outside edge of the body underside - tire pressures need to be set correctly also if I remember correctly, the front end will have to be pulled down (by some means in the shop) so that the bump stop section of the suspension arms separate enough to place the 4 inch tube (with the angle cuts) then released to lock in place - same practice with setting the rear - again, try to search for this information, as I am typing from memory hear.

Look into Alignment Plus on Grand Ave in San Marcos. They really know their stuff, and it is who Classic Showcase (the Jag restoration specialists) uses and recommends for any alignment work. There are a number of significant collectors who ship their cars from all over SoCal to them also. And despite all that, they are very reasonable priced - I’ve used them for my E type and also a couple daily driver BMWs too.

Having the exact specifics and the measurements themselves would greatly help to understand the problem Richard.
Is it Camber or Caster that can’t be set? Both adjustments move the upper ball joint.
There should be no “wear” issues as you’ve changed all bushings and ball joints, unless something is bent.

If you want to do it properly, the mid-laden tools are absolutely essential, especially the rear.
With out them all your Camber angles will be off, the front a little but the rear even by 1°.

I don’t know if its possible to mismatch the control arms, but if you did your Caster angles would be off the chart on both sides.

I recommend you call Trace at Coventry Cars of San Diego:
Expert Jaguar Service & Repair | San Diego, CA | Coventry Jaguar
His has serviced and repaired all my modern XJ Jags since 1989.

Have you had them do any chassis of suspension work for you?


I’m not really sure. Again, the upper control arm shaft and the shims between it and frame were not removed. It really does not look like the control arms themselves or any of the beefy stuff can bend unless subjected to some major forces and would not do so quietly. It seems to me that if a control arm was aligning too close to the shock, to put in the correct number of shims, that would be a matter of how the new upper control arm bushings and associated washers were installed on the shaft. I also noticed that the shims that go on either side of the upper ball joint come in different thicknesses.
I picked up the car today. Obviously it drives much better than before, but I’m not sure I’m satisfied. I expected a slight deterioration in ride when I switched to the low profile 18" rims, but still … . .
Perhaps I’ll take it to Coventry and have them evaluate the ride and handling.


Thanks, Jeffrey. I will try Coventry for an evaluation because they are a lot closer to Chula Vista where I live. Does Alignment Plus do suspension repairs as well as alignment?


No, as far as chassis/suspension, I’ve never needed anything more than an alignment

Richard, those are fairly large wheels for that car. I’ve done slightly larger on mine (17”) and will be going through the whole front suspension alignment process due to bushings , ball joints and uneven tire wear on the left front. Although you would never guess any alignment issues as the car drives straight.
Can you post a picture to see what your wheels look like?

Here is the picture, which also dramatically shows off the ding in the rear fender someone was kind enough to provide me. Hoping that paintless dent removal can handle it.
I went with 255/40/18 in the back and was advised that 225/40/18 was the largest the front can accommodate. I probably should have gone with 225/50/18 in the front which is an inch

taller but the same width.
Although wheels come off a Jag and fit the hub perfectly, in the front the grease cups protrude too far out to accommodate the center caps. Has anyone worked out a fix that still allows for removal of the center cap?
Also, when I was shopping for a new top I discovered that the top was affordable but the installation would be another $12-1400. Apparently fitting a top to the frame requires considerable time and expertise, and worst of all, must be absolutely correct the first time. I therefore found a decent complete top and frame assembly for $450 which I will install in the next week or so.

Please tell me all this is not necessary with a post-facelift, like Superblue. She is up for this next week, as I have gone through yet another pair of Cooper Cobra GT tires on the front, this time in less than a year/2,500 miles (on 40,000 mile tires! :slightly_frowning_face: ). Was told by NTB that camber is the problem, as they are wearing on the extreme inside edges (i.e. wheels need to be brought more “vertical” into position). Of course, they flunked my state safety inspection (I was already past the deadline for re-registration), b/c, getting down onto one knee and shining a flashlight at the tires the inspector caught one tiny glimpse of metal starting to show through in the worn track area of the LF tire. :angry: In honest stupidity, before Covid broke I did go to another NTB and they were going to do the alignment back then, but first told me I would have to pay almost double (i.e. almost $200) for the job b/c she would need “special shims” and extra labor to do the job. They supposedly ordered the “special shims” and that was the last I heard from that store. They even still have my spare wheel there (or at least they better have) as I had them take the tire off of it to use as a temporary front tire until my new ones came in. :pray: From what I was advised on here afterwards, (1) no “special shims” should be required nor (2) extra labor to do the job, so I never went back. Supposedly the extra shims are mounted somewhere on a holder of some kind on the inside of the wheel wells (correct?). :thinking: Anyway, I searched the Internet for one entire night and, instead of the $150.00 Cooper Cobras, found a tire called Accelera Plush-something for only $87 apiece on WM’s website and will have them in and installed by them on Monday (no charge for basic install there, btw). No white lettering on them, but they’ll do the job. Wish I had known about them a LONG time ago … :+1: Then it will be back to the NTB store that I first went to, but this time they better not try to talk smack to me about the alignment job. :angry:

btw, for anyone interested, here are the tires I purchased (also putting them on the back, as they are “bald” according to NTB last week - they were actually moved backward after they had worn badly on the front):

Accelera Eco Plush 225/60R15 96V A/S All Season Tire

Qty 1


btw, disregard the “this tire won’t fit your vehicle” disclaimer by WM. WM apparently has it (incorrectly) in their data base that tires for the '94 XJSes are 16", not 15". :roll_eyes: There is a 16" wheel, but that one is optional with the '94 MY XJS.

Hello AttyDall - go to then look at the right hand column of the TSBs - scroll down to XJS and click - then scroll through the TSB list to “60-5” (alignment) and click - on page four, of this PDF, is the information concerning the XJS alignment requirements - there you will see the statement of use of the tools, along with the other requirements - note at the top of the TSB states that this is the revised latest information in 1996, which would lead me to believe that this also applies to your 1994 - Tex.

Isn’t the front sitting way too high?

For camber issues, you need to have correct ride height. If ride height is correct, camber shims are just washers, available anywhere. Caster shims are not added or removed, just their position is moved from in front of ball joint to behind, or the reverse- the total number stays the same. Shoulder wear is more often the toe in being out of spec, which any shop should be able to adjust.

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I just let down the jack after installing the tires. I’ll have to drive it to see if the the suspension “settles” at all. If not, back to the alignment shop. I’m pretty sure he did not use mid-laden tools or some equivalent so it is possible the ride height is off.

The front control arms are specific to each side and they can easily be mismatched because to the naked eye they look the same. If I remember correctly they have different part numbers.