Prioritizing/DIY vs Shop


I popped on recently as a new 85 XJ6 owner. As a reminder, this car has 99,500 miles but has been very sparsely driven since the year 2000. It needs to be recommissioned. It starts and drives fine but has some things that need to be addressed. Last weekend I spent a few days driving to New Hampshire for my son’s college graduation, so while I was gone to dropped the car off at Top Line Jaguar on some positive recommendations (they are in Springfield, Virginia, near Washington, DC). I gave them some things to look at but also asked them to do an assessment and give me an a la carte menu of recommendations.

I am a DIY guy but don’t have a ton of time anymore (although I retire in 9 years…), and I just want the car as a safe driver so I’m tempted to let someone do the work, but thought I’d check in here for a reality check.

$187 diagnostic fee (I’ll already pay that)
$1,423.15 for a cat-back exhaust replacement (it needs to be done)
$1,053 front brakes/repack bearings
$1,938 rear brakes/rotors/e-brakes/etc
$165 brake fluid flush (I can do this myself but since they’d open the system up…)
$864 wiper motor replacement (it currently has one speed and won’t park properly unless I have it in intermittent mode)
$296 thermostat/coolant flush (the car doesn’t come up to temp, I can def easily do this)

Are these estimate in line? If so (or even if not), which of these jobs would you be more prone to say “let someone else do it?”

PS-They also quoted $675 for a headliner replacement (they would have a local shop do it), but I can’t justify that over the mechanical issues.

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The worst job there is the rear suspension, the others are a lot easier to start and complete (gumption inertia).

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Aye on the rear. I had a shop replace the calipers and pads in the rear. labor only 600. I got the parts from Rockauto. I forgot the number, reasonable No core charge. The old ones are under my bench? why .

I think your local muffler shop can beat that and do it well. The Jag shop might sub it anyhow…

I did my own front pads. Rotors were fine. Local source for good pads. Raybestos, I think .
I was working when I did a lot on my car. Saturdays and holidays.

A tap at just the right time and the wipers will park…

These prices seem reasonable for a professional jaguar shop , except perhaps the exhaust

I do Jaguar repair on a shade tree basis in NH. I can do that stuff for about half the price but I don’t have to pay rent and employees either!

Your wiper issue is the stalk switch, not the motor itself.

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If I’d had the foresight I might have just driven the car up this past weekend for you to work on, John6. My son graduated (Hanover) and I was in town from Thursday through Sunday! :slight_smile:

Hi Matt,
I’ve done every one of those repairs myself, but I have lots of time, a shop and tools. The majority of all those prices will be labor, so if you are able and available to do the work you’ll save quite a bit of $$$$. To me, the price that is most out of line would be the wiper motor. I took mine apart, replaced one small part, greased it and put it back in for about $20. There is a set of brushes in there that had burned and I had to get that part from England, under $20.

But I understand having someone else do the work, sometimes you just flat don’t have time or are comfortable with working on a particular item. In my case, someone else is rebuilding the transmission, a machine shop put the block/heads back in order, and I found a local muffler shop that will cut, assemble, and weld my whole dual exhaust system from head pipes to tail pipes if I buy the mandrel-bent universal pipe kit and mufflers- total cost there is less than your cat-back price.

The rear brake work is by far the most detail type of work, but made much easier by taking the complete IRS cage out and putting it on a work bench.


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Why is the rear brake job so difficult on these?

:slight_smile: cuz the brakes are nowhere near the wheel!

This response may be more than you bargained for.

This kinda depends on several factors;

  • Willingness to jump in with both feet.
  • Skilll level
  • Your complement of tools at your disposal

I do highly recommend getting a Service Manual. the limp wristed Green Series III book can be found on Amazon, eBay, and the usual Jag parts suppliers. as well as (not a fan) have an online version that is, well, wonderful because it covers all of the XJ’s to the XJ40 which is a good read because the earlier service manuals fill in the gaps for the Series III manual. Plus, it has all of the part numbers. Haynes? Not a fan.

What’s their shop rate?
Cat back - a bit steep but it all depends on the grade of Stainless Steel tubing, and brand of mufflers. This can be done at home, liberating the parts from each other after 30+ years can be a challenge. Without a lift, this job is a real PITA. At least for me, If I’m spending any time on my back I better get up a smile on my face.

Front brakes can be done in a day. Easy peasy. and for about half of the cost listed. PM me and I’ll provide sources and part numbers. There are a series of rabbit holes associated. Mainly, spindle wear.
The spindles are a tapered fit drawn in by a big ass nut on the back side of the upright. Unmarrying the two is like separating Liberatchi from his jewelry. My experience is it requires lots of heat and a 20 ton press. Spindles are available. Spindle wear will be apparent because there will either be a groove where the bearing has dug into the spindle - or the bearing won’t come off the spindle without some sort of processionary wrenching.

In rare circumstances - the front hub will be worn to the point that a new race just falls into the hub. Like throwing a wienie down a hallway. I’ve experienced this once out of the 5 times I’ve replaced front brakes - not a big deal – it will just lighten your pockets. Hubs are available new and also used my preference

The price associated with this one seems a bit steep. unless the spindles need replacing too. The Bearings are a dime a dozen. The Timken bearings A12 & A13 set (if memory serves) which also keep the wheels spinning on older Ford F150’s, BMW, Lincoln’s, Mercury’s, Triumphs, the Inner seal is unique to Jaguar - and pretty much available anywhere. Same with pads and rotors. Calipers are becoming a bit hard to come by in the remanufactured market, of lets say, in the past 5 years. Use to be pretty cheap to get a quality reman caliper and readily available. Not so much anymore. Kit’s are still avail and relatively cheap. I will be doing a video on rebuilding a front caliper in the not too distant future.

Rear brakes - this one can be a serious rabbit hole field. I have a YouTube channel that covers the tear down and assembly of an Jaguar IRS. Start to Finish.
swapping out the rotors, calipers, and pads is a 7hr job if properly equipped. a 2 post lift is damn near mandatory for this when replacing just the brakes - leaving the IRS in the car. Otherwise you’ve got to figure out how to get the car at least 30” up in the air so the fulcrum, half shaft, and carrier can be dropped down enough to clear the rotor. Then getting the calipers off. The bolts should be lockwired in place. Which isn’t a big deal removing the lockwire – putting it back with the IRS in the car? Lets just say it’s challenging. Also loosening the bolts that hold the calipers onto the diff – is like cutting the lawn with a pair of scissors. A 1/16th of a turn at a time. Oh, and their fine threads too.

The layers of the onion come into play when examining things like the radius arm bushings / hub / carrier bearings & seals, wishbone / fulcrum bearings & seals. If the output shaft seals are leaking - replacing the seals and the bearings. nine times out of 10 if the rear brakes have been neglected, the output shaft seals leak too. the best way of dealing with that is to drop the IRS out of the car and do it on a bench. Then you can address everything that needs to be addressed. I’m quite certain the 2 grand will be just the starting point. This how how I’ve come to aquire 8 Jaguars. Most ready to be crushed because the cost to properly fix the IRS is staggering and costs more than the car is worth. Sadly the parts aren’t that expensive. all the bits to rebuild the IRS has set me back maybe $600.00

brake fluid… can be a bitch cause the rear bleeders are not very accessible. Remote bleeders are a thing for Jaguar IRS’s and do make the job of bleeding the brakes (not you) a whole lot easier. Speed bleeders are also handy. They have a check valve so it’s a one-man operation. If all of the brakes are going to be replaced then I’d highly recommend a DOT 5 silicone fluid. You’ll never have to worry about calipers freezing due to lack of use.
Not related but… How’s the pedal feel is it squishy at all? if so, then the master cyl won’t be too far behind. That’s been my experience anyway. Did the brakes – then a couple months later did the master cylinder, then a year later the brake booster.
Since their doing all of the brakes or quoted for all of the brakes, then I’d think they’d throw in fluid replacement. Because well, they’ll be doing that while bleading the brakes – hopefully…

Wiper motor isn’t hard to replace - once you get to it - If memory serves me - It’s buried & the dash pretty much has to come off. It’s just a big time suck. once it’s off then it’s pretty straight forward. I’m not 100% sure if it’s the wiper motor or the delay switch circuitry causing the issue, If Frank joins in – I’m sure he’ll point out where I’m wrong. Love you Frank! :D. In all seriousness he is an asset to this forum.

Coolant pretty straight forward not easy to get the lower radiator hoses off, and the water pump bypass hose on - off is easy - cut it. Also finding the right upper radiator hose and the bypass hose can be a challenge. Not because they aren’t available, it’s just a matter of getting the right one - THEN CUT IT! I don’t know maybe is just me, but if I purchase a molded hose – I shouldn’t have to cut it.
If you’re flushing the system I’d highly recommend Evans waterless coolant. Once it’s done, you’ll never had to address this one again. Another plus is, since it doesn’t have water in it - it doesn’t corrode the internals. win win!
Evans waterless coolant does run about 10 degrees hotter than regular coolant. I installed a 160 degree thermostat that fits in the hole – drilled 3/32 hold in the flat metal bit of the thermostat – put a cotter pin in the hole to substitute for a jiggle valve. I don’t have any issues with overheating. Now.
Evans is not cheap at about 50 smackers a gallon. BUT considering you’ll only have to do it once, and it protects the waterways from corrosion, to me, its a bargain.


They seem to aim for items replacement or full refurbishment, Matt - using original parts and fair labor. Which is fair enough - given necessity…

I’d say you can easily save some $3500 DIY - at the cost of 15 hours work. or much more…:slight_smile:

xj6 85 Sov Europe (UK/NZ)

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Thank you all for the food for thought, and Mark, I appreciate all what you wrote in the response that “may be more than I bargained for.” :slight_smile: Nope, it’s all great and I appreciate it.

I do have the background/patience to do probably all of this. This isn’t my first silly car. I’ve done cam belts/valve adjustments on a Ferrari 308 and even rebuilt the waterpump myself (cheaper than getting a new or rebuilt one). I’ve pulled the motor out and disassembled it in my 57 Bel Air. I’ve done lots and lots of work on my ‘39 Rolls-Royce Phantom-III to include a roadside carbeurator rebuild thousands of miles from home (yeah, I was carrying a rebuild kit with me). So I could do all this, and any tools I don’t have I could acquire. I don’t have a ton of space – my garage is 20’ x 30’ and has two cars in it already that can’t stay out, so any job that’s more than a couple hours is going to sit outside and I’ll have to do it “in the elements” on an asphalt driveway (which is unfortunate, as my garage is climate controlled).

I need to think hard about what to save for my driveway and what – if anything – to have the shop do. In my brief searching of the forums (which I did before posting this, but I didn’t want to pollute opinions of the "is it too expensive question), I found only one real review of the shop where my car is at. It basically suggested that while this shop is competent in our cars, their prices can be quite high and communications can be lacking. So far, their comms have been ok – it took them a week after I dropped it off to hear back, but I now have their list and we’ve talked again since.


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Hi Bill,
I don’t think the mechanical part of taking one apart and putting it back together is any different than other cars. The difficult part is working on it in the car, taking it out is pretty easy, but lowering/raising it and getting the cage out from under the car has to be considered. The detailed and most important aspect of most any work is alignment and adjusting clearances when you put it back together.

If you remove the calipers to replace the pads, you have to center the calipers on the rotors. This can be done by shimming the caliper or shimming the rotor. If you shim the rotor, you have to also measure and adjust the rotor shims to maintain wheel camber. If you rebuild the lower wishbone you have to set the preload on the inner bearings with shims. If you rebuild the output shafts, you have to go through a detailed measuring/shimming process to set the clearance of the output shaft bearings. If you go into the differential you will have to measure and adjust the ring gear and pinion preload and contact pattern, all with shims and a small torque wrench.

You can see, this would all be extremely difficult/impossible with the IRS in the car.


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My compliments as to so much useful information. well organized and written.

Not long after I bought our jaguar circa 2001, I saw a Haynes at the parts store. I thought I had the Rosetta stone. Wow, when I tried to read it with some degree of understanding I was underwhelmed. The information is there. but what and where? it is copies of Jaguar manuals. Mostly I & II cars. with an insert for the II cars???
an organizational screwup. It lies at rest somewhere in my volumns of Jaguar lore.

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Thank you for the kind words. I agree trying to ferret any details out of a Haynes manual is exhausting.

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I’m just realizing this is an XJ post and I have an XJ40 … so, two things:

  1. Please tell me the XJ40 rear brake job is a piece of cake, and

  2. Please accept my apology if I’ve wasted your time!

XJ40 = totally normal brakes. Good luck!

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Are you serious, or are you messing with me?!

Completely serious. I have an X300 XJ12 and rear brakes took less time than my Ford F-250.