[xj-s] sloppy jag syndrome was: how bad are these cars

I like this term: sloppy jag syndrome I’d flip back
and see who wrote that but my email program isn’t that
hot.

The worst thing about sloppy jag syndrome is that you
usually don’t know you have it. My first sloppy Jag
was a $6500 86 XJ-S that I thought the world of…
Except you could turn the steering wheel half a crank
and not change direction. I thought this was just
common mid 80’s power steering. Heck, my brother’s 81
Caprice was the same way. My friend drove it and said
“Dude, whats wrong with your car!” I put in new
steering bushes and thought “wow what a difference”.
Little did I know this car STILL had severe sloppy Jag
syndrome. On an unrelated note, I wrecked it a year
later in a snowstorm.

My second ill Jag was a $7500 1976 XJ12C. I put new
steering rack bushes in it the same week a I bought
it. Thought it was the bees knees, but again… I
just didn’t know better. The car had a slack feeling
to it, but I thought again thats just what old cars
are like, and heck look at that shiny red paint!

To save on gas, I got an 84 XJ6. I bought this car
sight unseen on ebay for $3200. I knew it needed
paint, but it didn’t have any rust and the seller had
an etype and a 420G and seemed to know his Jags. He
said he did some work on the underside and that
everything was good.

Well the first ride was a revelation. The person who
took my to pick up the car followed me to the gas
station… I got out and said “MY XJ12C IS A PIECE OF
CRAP! YOU HAVE TO DRIVE THIS CAR!” Looking at old
reciepts, he had replaced all the fiddly little rubber
bushes and the car was completely different. It was
amazing.

Which leads me to a question… (this thread did need
a point)

“Stock” or “Upgraded”. I am in the middle of
rebuilding the front end of the XJ12C. The front
subframe is in the middle of my driveway right now. I
chose to replace the rubber parts with “stock” parts.
There were choices of “urethane” this and blah blah…
But I have this hunch… People who go for
“upgraded” parts think they are “soooo good” because
they are comparing them to worn out stock parts. So,
opinions? Stock or upgraded? I have gone completely
stock in my rebuild.

BTW, costs about $500 in parts to cure sloppy jag
syndrome. Definately worth it. If you’ve never
driven a Jag with a new front end, you don’t know what
you are missing.

John

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“Stock” or “Upgraded”. I am in the middle of
rebuilding the front end of the XJ12C. The front
subframe is in the middle of my driveway right now. I
chose to replace the rubber parts with “stock” parts.
There were choices of “urethane” this and blah blah…
But I have this hunch… People who go for
“upgraded” parts think they are “soooo good” because
they are comparing them to worn out stock parts. So,
opinions? Stock or upgraded? I have gone completely
stock in my rebuild.

The $25 polyeuerthane bushings were all it took to change the steering of my
84 XJS. Nothing more, nothing less. I was recommended by a “official Jaguar
dealer mechanic” not to go with the original bushings. It sounded like they
were unresponsive to begine with-and he was/is old enough to know. Glad I
took the advice. Sure the steering wheel shakes to every little bump in the
road like a race car, but dang it: it I wanted to drive a pillow with no
road contact to cush my pampered hiney, I would have bought a Cadillac (the
old boat-like ones). I don’t meant to offend anyone, but I thought the $25
was the best money (in parts) I’ve spent on the car.

Now if I even think about turning, the car does with no phase lag. It is one
of the nicest steering cars I’ve driven. I’ve driven quite a few.

Rob

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John Elwood asks:

“Stock” or “Upgraded”. I am in the middle of
rebuilding the front end of the XJ12C. The front
subframe is in the middle of my driveway right now. I
chose to replace the rubber parts with “stock” parts.
There were choices of “urethane” this and blah blah…
But I have this hunch… People who go for
“upgraded” parts think they are “soooo good” because
they are comparing them to worn out stock parts. So,
opinions? Stock or upgraded? I have gone completely
stock in my rebuild.

I know that I’ll get plenty of heat for my opinion on this issue but bring
it on. I’ve got a lot of experience with these and other cars and the thick
skin that I’ll need to not get offended.

I think the vast majority of Jaguar owners would be happier replacing worn
rubber bushings with the original equipment replacement bushings rather than
the “high performance” urethane types. I say this for several reasons:

  1. New Jaguars have always been renowned for there excellent ride and
    handling. Whenever I drove a new Jaguar, it’s steering was never loose. It’s
    reasonable to expect looseness to increase as the suspension ages.

  2. You musn’t compare the feeling of a worn out suspension to one upgraded
    with high performance bushings and make the assumption that the original
    ones were junk! Of course they are junk after 1000’s of miles! That’s why
    you are replacing them. When they were new, they were great.

  3. You might make an argument that the original ones don’t last but that’s
    another issue. In my experience, that isn’t necessarilly true regarding the
    rack bushings. Mine (1980 XJ-S) didn’t need replacement until 2000 and then
    really only because the rack was replaced due to leakage issues.

  4. Due to recommendations here, I purchased the urethane bushings. I wish I
    hadn’t. There was a big increase in the amount of road harshness transmitted
    to the steering wheel along with a somewhat tighter feel. I now feel every
    tiny pebble that I drive over. It’s not BAD, but it’s not what I loved about
    my Jaguar from the beginning. I believe that I would have achieved a similar
    or at least satisfactory increase in tightness with the original bushings.
    Remember, I didn’t change the bushings because there was an issue of
    looseness in the steering. I did it out of convenience because I was
    changing the rack. This was on a 20 year old car.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m all for improving my cars wherever I can. I do
that a lot. I think the urethane bushings are great for those who know what
they are getting, know what to expect and want those changes. If you are
into slaloming and racing, go with the urethane. If you love the feel of a
new Jaguar, stay with Jaguar parts.

Flame suit on,

Ron Kelnhofer
'80 XJ-S pre-HE w/ Digital P

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In reply to a message from John Elwood sent Fri 27 Feb 2004:

I’d like to renew as many rubber bushes as I can find on my car but
I have little idea where to start looking.

Which are the main bushes to replace, i.e. those which would have
the greatest impact on ride quality and handling?

Are they easy to access and replace?

Regards
George–
The original message included these comments:

CRAP! YOU HAVE TO DRIVE THIS CAR!’’ Looking at old
reciepts, he had replaced all the fiddly little rubber
bushes and the car was completely different. It was


1989 XJ-S 3.6
London, United Kingdom
–Posted using Jag-lovers JagFORUM [forums.jag-lovers.org]–

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George wrote, “Which are the main bushes to replace, i.e. those which would
have the greatest impact on ride quality and handling?” Steering rack
bushings usually have greatest impact, both good and bad, because if your
shocks, ball joints and tie rod ends are worn, the bushings exacerbate the
symptoms of the problem(s). For maximum improvement of ride quality and
handling on a 15 to 25 year old XJ-S one would replace the big bushings at
the front of the front subframe, the rear front subframe mounts, the sway
bar bushings, the wishbone fulcrum shaft bushings, the top front shock mount
bushings, and the front and rear bushings on the trailing arms. Full rubber
restoration would be to also replace the engine mounts, the IRS mounts and
the differential mounting bushings.

“Are they easy to access and replace?” Sure, just like everything else on
the XJ-S: how hard is it to get to your wallet and how much time do you
have.

Jim Johnson - NCJOC
'88 XJ-S, V12, Lucas (CEI), TH400 (w/B&M), Dana 2.87
Annapolis, Maryland

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I’d like to renew as many rubber bushes as I can
find on my car but
I have little idea where to start looking.

George Bray sorta wanted a punch list of the bushings
he should replace…

But!

Because of the way the front subframe is assembled, it
doesn’t make a lot of sense to replace a bushing here
and a bushing there. I began this project hoping to
replace just the upper and lower control arm bushings,
but soon realized everything was going to have to come
apart to do this. Once its apart, you just go whole
hog.

Basically, if you think your car needs it, you should
just rebuild your entire front end. If upper control
arms are say, a three hour job… and lower control
arms are a 3 hour job… the whole job together is 4
hours… if you get my drift.

The subframe has two forward and two rear bushings.
There are also two motor mounts. To get the subframe
off, you need to support the engine so it doesn’t fall
out the bottom of the car… and unbolt at these six
points.

You can either disconnect your steering rack and let
it hang, or take off the hoses and take it out with
the subframe. Mine is hanging… But there are three
bushings to replace there.

Then your roll ball… this is more complicated on the
XJ-S than my XJ12C … I can’t remember how this
thing comes out. The bracket bushings are relatively
easy to get to on the XJ12C, no so much on the XJ-S…

Brake hoses need to be disconnected and probably
thrown out.

Once you have the front subframe on your driveway you
will need to replace the upper and lower control arm
bushing. While you have it apart you should replace
you upper and lower ball joints. These are easily
destroyed when taking this thing apart.

When it all goes back together, this would be a good
time for new brake hoses. You are bleeding the thing
anyway and they have to come off. Any brake work is
easily done at this time… I didn’t do anything but
replace the obviously ancient brake hoses. You could
also replace the bearings and/or seals on the hub
now… Again, I didn’t bother because someone had
about 5 years ago and it wasn’t leaking or anything…

After trying to replace my lower control arm bushings
without removing the front subframe from the car, I
would highly reccomend complete removal of the
subframe. You can tilt the subframe down and get the
bolt out, but you just won’t have room to swing a
hammer to get it back in again.

So there is the shopping list…
2 front subframe mounts (donuts)
2 rear of front subframe mounts
2 engine mounts
4 upper control arm bushings
4 lower control arm bushings
2 upper ball joints
2 lower ball joints
1 steering rack bushing kit
2 roll bar bracket bushings
8 roll bar end link bushings

and probably…

2 new brake lines
2or3 power steering lines
2 new out tie rod ends for p/s rack
2 new front shocks
2 hub bearing seals/bearings if you need it
plus any brake parts while you are at it… pads,
rotors, etc

Additionally some people destroy thier lower control
arm bolt… the end is easy to mushroom if its tight.
(straight from the book). I was able to salvage mine
with a die. Saved $44.

All in all, your car will be out of commission for
quite a while unless you are really good at this kinda
stuff.

Its a dirty job on a leaky V12.

—John

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dittos, ron.
these were “the best cars in the world” according to
the original reviews… millions (in modern dollars)
spent selecting rubber hardness to perfect the ride…
And some ass in texas who thinks throwing out the V12
for a chevy 350 is an improvement has some “better”
bushings for you too? Riiiiiiiiight.

=>

  1. New Jaguars have always been renowned for there
    excellent ride and
    handling. Whenever I drove a new Jaguar, it’s
    steering was never loose. It’s
    reasonable to expect looseness to increase as the
    suspension ages.

  2. You musn’t compare the feeling of a worn out
    suspension to one upgraded
    with high performance bushings and make the
    assumption that the original
    ones were junk! Of course they are junk after 1000’s
    of miles! That’s why
    you are replacing them. When they were new, they
    were great.

  3. You might make an argument that the original ones
    don’t last but that’s
    another issue. In my experience, that isn’t
    necessarilly true regarding the
    rack bushings. Mine (1980 XJ-S) didn’t need
    replacement until 2000 and then
    really only because the rack was replaced due to
    leakage issues.

  4. Due to recommendations here, I purchased the
    urethane bushings. I wish I
    hadn’t. There was a big increase in the amount of
    road harshness transmitted
    to the steering wheel along with a somewhat tighter
    feel. I now feel every
    tiny pebble that I drive over. It’s not BAD, but
    it’s not what I loved about
    my Jaguar from the beginning. I believe that I would
    have achieved a similar
    or at least satisfactory increase in tightness with
    the original bushings.
    Remember, I didn’t change the bushings because there
    was an issue of
    looseness in the steering. I did it out of
    convenience because I was
    changing the rack. This was on a 20 year old car.

Don’t get me wrong here. I’m all for improving my
cars wherever I can. I do
that a lot. I think the urethane bushings are great
for those who know what
they are getting, know what to expect and want those
changes. If you are
into slaloming and racing, go with the urethane. If
you love the feel of a
new Jaguar, stay with Jaguar parts.

Flame suit on,

Ron Kelnhofer
'80 XJ-S pre-HE w/ Digital P

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In reply to a message from John Elwood sent Fri 27 Feb 2004:

Dear Ron
Is there a chance that Jaguar did that and if they did why did
they not use the same grade in oil resistant nitrile rubber.
Is there any room for personal preference?. No doubt the American
press would call the car taught if compared to the usual wallowing
boat of a Cadillac. It is however rather a long way off a fully
rose jointed Formula 5000 Lola.
Maybe I want to be somewhere in the middle. The XJS is a great car
and there are a lot of things you can do to it to change its
character, as in my other post about tracking. (unless your car has
been set up recently by Jaguar with the half compressed suspension
rig up and all bushings renewed) You don�t know how one feels.
Regards Mark–
Bassmec, XJS V12 1977 Coupe
Ipswich, Suffolk., United Kingdom
–Posted using Jag-lovers JagFORUM [forums.jag-lovers.org]–

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In reply to a message from John Elwood sent Fri 27 Feb 2004:

Thank you very much John, and Jim for the previous message, for
excellent guidance. It’s exactly what I was looking for. A big job,
though, by the look of it. My car is now 15 years old. All the
rubber components must be overdue for renewal.

Regards
George–
The original message included these comments:

George Bray sorta wanted a punch list of the bushings
he should replace…


1989 XJ-S 3.6
London, United Kingdom
–Posted using Jag-lovers JagFORUM [forums.jag-lovers.org]–

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My car is now 15 years old. All the rubber components must be overdue for
renewal.

Yeah, unless the oil leaks kept them from drying out! :wink:

Rob

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George
I would look first to the front end, first to the shock absorber and upper
A-arm bushings (which I’ve done), then to the steering bushes (which I
haven’t done).

By the way I agree with Ron K’s earlier e-mail. Use rubber if you want the
original ride characteristics, replace them every 5+ years or so (well, if
you still have the car) depending on mileage and driving sensitivities. Note
that poly can overly stress some components, such as sway bar links (poly
bushings broke the stock sway bar link bolts on my Vette, that’s why sway
bar bushings are often sold in a pack with stronger bolts).

On the xj-s:

  • For the top bushings on the shocks, the job is simple. The top shock bolt
    is readily accessible in the engine compatment - these are the bushings that
    the Book references turn spongy and lead to loose and rattling shock
    washers. Easy, cheap fix with common auto store bubble-pack bushings. No
    special tools.

  • The upper A-arm bushings are a bit more challenging, readily accessible
    except for tight quarters around the inmost (rear) bushing particularly on
    ABS cars due to fittings and wiring in there. Still an easy job with the
    bottom arm jacked up to compress the front coil spring. The A-arm comes
    right off, cleans up nicely, you need a torque wrench. I used poly (they
    were cheaper than the rubber ones, which use metal washers molded in so are
    more expensive to fabricate). In retrospect I would have used rubber.

  • Lower A-arm I didn’t do, it’s a bigger job but others have web sites
    depicting spring removal. I am not sure but I think the lower bushings last
    longer than the uppers.

At 60K miles, my shock bushings had disintegrated, the upper A-arm bushings
were moderately worn. All else in the front looked OK visually.

Steve Sarmanian
Lexington, MA USA
'91 xj-s v12

In reply to a message from John Elwood sent Fri 27 Feb 2004:>

I’d like to renew as many rubber bushes as I can find on my car but
I have little idea where to start looking.

Which are the main bushes to replace, i.e. those which would have
the greatest impact on ride quality and handling?

Are they easy to access and replace?

Regards
George


Stay informed on Election 2004 and the race to Super Tuesday.
http://special.msn.com/msn/election2004.armx

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In reply to a message from stephen sarmanian sent Fri 27 Feb 2004:

Steve

Thank you for your input. I recall mentioning a problem with
slightly uneven front tyre wear to a Jag mechanic a few years back.
He said a rubber bushing ‘‘high up at the front’’ had probably
disintegrated but that an MOT inspector would be unlikely to notice
because it was hidden from view. I’ve never known which component
he meant (and named), and I still haven’t done anything about it!
Ride and handling seem fine.

I’m sure I would use rubber throughout - all the Jaguar parts for
once - as you suggest. I hope the original parts will continue to
be available for many years to come. Or does the supply of little
bits like bushings become less and less certain, this long after
pre-facelift XJ-S production ended? My XJ-S was the newest car I
ever bought at two years old, and it’s now far and away the oldest
at age fifteen. Back in 1991, I didn’t realise I was buying a
classic car, and I’m very pleased I did.

Regards
George–
The original message included these comments:

I would look first to the front end, first to the shock absorber and upper
A-arm bushings (which I’ve done), then to the steering bushes (which I
haven’t done).


1989 XJ-S 3.6
London, United Kingdom
–Posted using Jag-lovers JagFORUM [forums.jag-lovers.org]–

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At a little over 200,000 kms I’ve never felt what I would
consider as “steering slop”. I wonder if the steering bushings
were a problem in earlier cars or in cars that leaked oil.
I’ve yet to add PS fluid so I can’t be leakin’ much!

If I had to complain about “sloppy Jag syndrome”, I’d pick
on those rear shocks. Mine had me convinced that an XJS
plain handled poorly for a 4000 lb car (from 40K).
I finally replaced them and wow. New character altogether!

Richard Drozdowski
1992 XJS-4.0

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  • Lower A-arm I didn’t do, it’s a bigger job but others have web sites
    depicting spring removal. I am not sure but I think the lower bushings last
    longer than the uppers.

Perhaps my experience is an aberration, but I feel the upper wishbone (A-arm)
bushings are much longer lived than the lower. We completely rebuilt my front
suspension in early 99 using stock parts. Last summer, we had to replace the
lower bushings because they were badly worn-one had the rubber worn away to the
point there was metal to metal contact between the steel sleeve and the eye of
the wishbone. We replaced the bushings with polyurethane items, but the upper
stock bushings showed no noticeable wear. The replaced bushings had approx.
45K miles on them when we did the repair. So far, the poly bushings haven’t
resulted in any breakage, and, if anything, have improved the handling of the
car. Perhaps the ride harshness has increased slightly, but I can’t say for
certain if that is the case.

Steve Sarmanian
Lexington, MA USA
'91 xj-s v12

CYa,

Colleen
79 XJ-S

// please trim quoted text to context only----- Original Message -----
From: “stephen sarmanian” s2steves@hotmail.com
To: georgebray1961@hotmail.com; xj-s@jag-lovers.org
Sent: Friday, February 27, 2004 12:54 PM
Subject: RE: [xj-s] sloppy jag syndrome was: how bad are these cars

I have a 95 XJS 4.0L coupe, now with 68k miles. I have had it for 4
years, drive it 4-5 days/week, and have not had even one single problem
with the engine. Rock solid - runs perfectly. In the past 2 years, the
car has not been in the shop at all, except for 60k service and oil
changes.

I went went the latest model for 2 reasons. Six cylinder reliability,
and dual airbags.

Certainly not as reliable as a Toyota, but who wants to drive around in
a Japanese appliance?

Lee Miller
San Francisco
95 XJS 4.0L Coupe

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