Starting Series III XJ6 without using the broken ignition switch

Hello Gentlemen,
Today my 1987 XJ6 left me stranded. The ignition switch is brand new and two weeks old, but it broke. I just turns freely. My question is how can I get it started without using the ignition switch?
Thank you,

There are a number of ways to skin this cat.

Here’s one:

Unplug the ignition switch from the harness. Jumper the brown wire of the harness to the white wire. This gives you “key on” power to the coil and fuel injection.

To start the engine, touch the white/yellow wire to the brown wire. This will trigger the starter relay and engage the starter.

If you want accessories to work (wipers, radio, etc) you’ll also have to jumper white/pink to brown.

This assumes a Series III XJ6


Hello Doug,

Thank you very much for the information. The car is sitting in the parking lot at the local golf course. I have towing available but would like to try to get it going myself first. I will get back to you with the results but it might take a few days.

Thanks again for the info and your time!


It might be that the switch has simply separated from the lock cylinder. A quick peek would confirm that.

If so, you could insert a screwdriver into the slot (you’ll see it) of the switch and turn it to emulate the rotation of the key. Then deal with reattaching the switch when you get the car home


Good to know, I hope that is what the issue is! I will check it this weekend .

Thanks again!

I agree with Doug that it is possible that the ignition switch might have just backed out from the lock cylinder. There is a small and difficult to access screw that holds the ignition switch in place and if that screw is missing or has backed out the ignition switch will fall away and possibly act the way yours did. Did you replace the ignition switch yourself or did a shop do this for you?


Hello Paul,
The switch was replaced by a shop, as part of a job to correct stalling out and not restarting. It also involved replacing the voltage regulator and the coil and together that solved that problem, for $1,600! Do you think maybe they failed to put that screw in or did so improperly?
Thanks for your input,

That’s a given.

Considering how much they overcharged you for the work, the least they could do is pay your towing bill.

Hi Kirbert,
Yes that bill was painful! But I’ve owned the car for 11 years and put 7000 miles on it (102,000 total miles) and I have to say it has never given me an issue until now. I’m hoping I can fix it myself this time, and I never have to see those guys again!

Vincent,One possibility is the shop didn’t install the small ignition switch retaining screw properly, but there are certainly other possibilities as well. To be honest that retaining screw is located in a difficult to access location and is always a challenge for me to remove and reinstall when I had to work on the ignition switch.
If this happened to me I would remove the vinyl under scuttle and plastic ignition switch cover and take a look at the ignition switch and its wiring. The ignition switch should be held firmly in place by the retaining screw. If the ignition switch is loose and easily backs out of the lock then you have found your problem.


Ok I will do that. The possibility that it is just that screw has given me hope. I will get back to you after I go look at it this weekend.
Thanks a bunch!

If that screw is lost, good luck! IIRC, it’s a tiny sucker.

You may get away with a shortcut, Vince - somewhat depending. Jumpwire from batt ‘+’ to coil ‘+’ - . Remove main relay and short between socket white and socket brown. Then crank by, on the starter relay, briefly shorting white/red to brown. This can be done in the engine compartment…

The engine should then start and run - to get you home to work at leisure.

xj6 85 Sov Europe (UK/NZ)

And be careful; brown is always hot directly from battery (+)ve and not fused.
Anything white is ignition plus etc. as Doug described. You will want to have brake lights and indicators working as a bare minimum!
So brown-white, brown-white pink should be jumped properly, whether bullet connectors or electrical tape, and a paper clip does it for the starter, and you can do the rest at home. Good luck and enjoy driving, at least you broke down conveniently.
The plastic foam panel is attached by to screws on the side and another one somewhere. Then pull towards you if I recall correctly. Mind the little fiber optic cable that attaches to the ignition switch when you start working in the area.



Wow, you guys are great! I really feel the fellowship of Jag enthusiasts. Thank You All!

So I went this morning (I am a 3rd shifter and have been awake for 24 hours) and discovered that yes the ignition switch had become disconnected from the lock cylinder and the plastic ring around the connection area is broken, but the set screw is still there (at about the 2 o’clock position if looking forward from the drivers seat), so I pushed them back together and held them there while I turned the key and it started right away, so I drove her home (her name is Grace…as in Grace, Space and Pace, lol) and she is in my garage now. So my next step will be to try to tighten that set screw and maybe reinforce the connection by wrapping it tightly with electrical tape maybe? But for now I am having a frosty beverage and heading for bed, relieved that at least I got her home without having to tow her. I could not have done it without your help guys, so again thanks very much.

I will keep you updated on further progress!



I think you meant to say “my next step will be taking it to the garage that overcharged me and make them fix the problem they created.”

25 year auto mechanic speaking here, you paid good money to have problems solved, not new ones created.

Doug’s reply got me thinking about that small retaining screw and that it was possible that the shop made an error installing it properly. I am very glad that our posts helped you get your car running again.
BTW, I modified my Series III Saloons with a fix that I read about on Jag-Lovers. I drilled a hole into the cylinder lock at about the six o’clock position, and then a new hole into the ignition switch to match so that I could more easily remove and reinstall the retaining screw. The original screw was located about 3 o’clock and difficult to access. With the screw located at six o’clock it is a “piece of cake” to remove and replace the retaining screw. If you have removed and replaced ignition switches as many times as I have on multiple Series III saloons you will find it a worthwhile thing to do.


As far as I know, your car does noot have a separate voltage regulator… tht function is within the alternatr…

Yes, I believe that you are correct. The voltage regulator in a stock Series III XJ6 is part of the alternator unit and not a separate component. If the shop that Vince used replaced the voltage regulator then I believe that they would have had to remove the alternator and disassemble it in order to replace the voltage regulator.


Still charged too much for the job.