New XJ6 Owner, under the hood

I’ve recently picked up this beautiful white s3 and am ready to get to work on it. It’s has two owners, the second owner had explained to me that it a rear main seal leak, which after research i’ve discovered can be a pain in the arse. They also said the power steering rack needed replacing. I knew this would be a PROJECT but for the money it’s worth it. I’m determined to keep it as original as possible and have access to exploded parts diagrams and a factory repair manual. I’ve got pretty great access to mechanical tools but am wondering if any mechanically oriented people can point me in a good direction of where to start here…? I’ve done pretty heavy work on my honda so i’m not afraid to get my hands dirty.
It also is going to need paint work :upside_down_face:. Already in the detailing world but i’ve got an older fella who works on older paint correction who’s gonna give me some ins and outs

Welcome aboard. You have a basicaly good car.

  1. Make a choice. Rebuilt rack or good used? Is it that it leaks or has mechanical issues. And, it might be the hoses, or the connections at the rack or pump. if it is a leaking seal issue, snake oil might get a bit more life out of it. Justice Bros. product has had good reports.

2, Main seal. Tolerable leak? My 94 jeep has one of those. I am not about to try to replaceit
Check You Tube for a video on replacing the main seal on this engine. It may or may not exist. Some engines are sealed in a way that makes it doable. others, way tooo much… Remove engine take it apart, etc!!!

Search the archives here, for a parts cataloque. An expanded illustration should give you an idea as to what is involved.

Old oxidized paint can be improved greatly. You have guidance there that is probably better than any I might suggest.

An enjoyable adventure among friends, how good is that!!!


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Thank you for the insight Carl!

Yes i was reading up that people were having lottery spin luck on the rear seals on these. Some can be fixed real quick witha spray of sorts and some elbow grease, some require the engine be removed. Very luckily, I have access to an engine jack if need be used.

And the owner had said the rack “needs replacing“. Not sure if he meant pooped out or actually needs replacing. Definitely will check out some exploded diagrams for those parts and see what troubleshooting i can do.

Thanks, will get back on here asap. Maybe use this as a progress board haha.

Hi Gavin, welcome to Jaguar ownership and this forum. I for one would be very interested to see your progress (and the odd backward step, which is inevitable!). So, for me please keep us updated,



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Welcome Gavin,

I would start by cleaning the engine bay, checking/refreshing the cooling and fuel systems, change all fuel hoses and all fluids, and get the engine running.
Then you can access what is happening and keep us posted.
Rear main seal can also be a blocked PCV system.
Steering rack could be the seals but also the hoses.

You have the 7" headlights and LHD, so I guess you are in Europe?
Put all the info on your profile, it helps.

All the best and good luck.

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So have you driven it to make your own observations, Gavin?

PO may have given you an honest opinion - but based on what? It just may be worn rack bushes, making steering sloppy - some slack elsewhere. Or indeed leaks, of course…

And welcome on board!

xj6 85 Sov Europe (UK/NZ)

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Check the rack for play and leaks, in doubt, replace it or have the seals done by someone because many say they failed. Then, vacuum and power wash the engine bay, look at all fluids, go from there. She‘ll look nice in no time.

The rear main… depends on how bad the leak is, if just a few drips per day, live with it. Otherwise the engine is removed in a say, job done within a week if you have time.

For paint work consider the engine bay and removing the leaper.

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The thickness of the rubber on the front bumper looks like this would be a US market car. Alternatively, the seven inch headlamp suggests either the owner replaced the US market headlamp, or the car was sold new in Canada which did have the cars fitted with seven inch headlamps new from the UK factory. As for the oil leak in the rear main seal, several members of the local Jaguar owners’ club here have postulated that keeping the oil level in the engine crankcase at the lowest level of the knurled patch of the dipstick may solve the problem.

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Haha yessir it really is a luck of the draw… anyways it isn’t running, and was towed to the house, so I haven’t driven it yet. Going to pick up a battery today before I start working on it.


Greetings from the US! I’m a NC native actually and have updated my bio accordingly now haha. My car has got some weird specs I’ve noticed not like the other American specs however I am yet to be able to say it is anything other than a normal 83 XJ6.
Thank you for the great overview of where to begin, definitely will take it as a starting place, as for the seal and rack, I will take note about that when troubleshooting


Some great insight into something I had given up thought on! And thank you, I may try that when looking at the fluids, and see how that pans out…


You can still test the mechanical functions of the rack, Gavin - leaks requires fluid pressure. Anything on the fluid level in the pump?

xj6 85 Sov Europe (UK/NZ)

Morning Frank,

I had gone over yesterday, I’ve got the car over in my family’s garage. The rack doesn’t indicate to be leaking, the two “pans” (for my lack of knowledge of a better word) behind the rack when under the car are collecting very minimal drips of a liquid I didn’t think to check what was yesterday. Checked a bushing on a rack end and doesn’t seem damaged, just worn. The Spacer piece (like brass colored) on it has a little room for play, wouldn’t expect that to be a problem though.

  • and pardon me, I’m still learning my car terms, which pump are you referring to?

The brake fluid in the master cylinder is seemingly very low, engine oil very low
If you are referring to the power steering fluid, I located the reservoir and some important things to note yesterday but forgot to check. Will do that next time I’m over and report back. Thank you Frank for pointing out the obvious I forget haha.
I’ve considered replenishing all fluids, getting a battery, and troubleshooting from there. I will be posting an update later tonight.

The hydraulic pump for the power steering. Black tuna can with a cap, right forward side of the engine. Check the level- is it low? Can take a while to drop. Ah, never mind, you found it. The pump is an integral part of the reservoir or vice versa. Good idea of how to proceed.

Nice to have you on board, any questions I would be glad to help you
Just e mail me through the forum. I had my 78 since 78 and had a lot of
1978 XJ6 ser.2
Still have it, and runs like new.

That’s prudent, Gavin - without a service history; a PO may indeed have been very remiss…:slight_smile:

Mechanical faults are fairly easily detected; just turn the steering wheel and check for play
in that. And then at any connections relating to to steering - there should be very little play anywhere. And the rack itself should not move…:slight_smile:

xj6 85 Sov Europe (UK/NZ)


installed in the car you can check most issues in fact. Frank is right: there should not be much play anywhere. That being said: the engine is heavy, the power assist is strong and the rack rubber bushings are soft. So there should be hardly any play, if the car is on a lift, but don’t be worried, if on the ground the rack moves around half an inch (engine and power assist on) upon turning the wheel from left to right.

As much as I’ve heard these steering racks seldom fail due to mechanical issues. Even the u-joints in the steering column only seldom wear out. The “outer” elements (inner and outer tie-rod ends) were designed for high loads and with our very limited classic car use they have a lease for almost eternal life if cared for appropriately.

Almost inevitably there will be leaks and stuff all having to do with the p/s elements. These will appear only with fluid inside (auto trans fluid “F”) and under pressure.

One last caveat: an Italian lister reported that his steering rack had been mounted so poorly, that the inner tie rod end worked itself loose on one side. Please check!

Good luck


75 XJ6L 4.2 auto (UK spec)