Home » If You Want To Buy A Cheap Jaguar, Here’s An Engine You Should Probably Avoid

If You Want To Buy A Cheap Jaguar, Here’s An Engine You Should Probably Avoid

Achilles Heel Jaguar Ts2
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In the used car horsepower-per-dollar wars, five-liter supercharged Jaguar and Land Rover products seem incredibly appealing. You can pick up an XFR with 510 horsepower for less than $20,000, and it’s still a handsome, well-equipped, and seriously rapid car by today’s standards. However, cheap things are often cheap for a reason, and the early third-generation AJ-V8 engines in XFs, later XKs, final-generation XJs, and several Land Rover vehicles aren’t exactly known for staying in time forever.

Yes, these five-liter V8s had timing chain system issues, notably premature guide wear that can result in seriously expensive repair bills. Let’s dive into what goes wrong here, along with one supercharger-related bug-a-boo, and smart ways to shop around the timing issue.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Over the life of the third-generation AJ-V8, Jaguar Land Rover used two different timing chain designs. Exceptionally early AJ133 V8s got a 6.35 mm pitch chain made by Tsubaki, while everything else got a chain with an 8 mm pitch made by INA. While some will argue about the reliability of either chain system, the fact of the matter is that the primary culprit in five-liter AJ-V8 timing system problems usually aren’t the chains themselves. However, it is worth noting that the Tsubaki chains are no longer available, meaning that if they get damaged, all sprockets and hardware will need updating to accommodate INA chains. Not fun.

Jaguar Range Rover 50l

A technical service bulletin for 2010 to 2012 Land Rover models with five-liter V8 engines reports of a rattle that “may be caused by wear on the timing chain lever, resulting in reduced tension on the timing chain.” That’s a very hush-hush way of saying JLR used a design in which steel timing chain tensioner pistons would ram directly into aluminum timing chain guide rails, and since steel is harder than aluminum, the tensioner pistons would eat into the rails and lead to slack in the chain. The fix? Pull the front of the engine apart and replace both the rails and  the tensioners. On a 2011 Land Rover LR4, a timing job calls for 18.4 hours of book labor, making for an exceptionally expensive job.

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Land Rover Timing Chain Guide Tsb 2

Jaguar 50l Timing Chain

Mind you, worn timing guides aren’t the only route through which a five-liter Gen III AJ-V8 may jump timing. Imported car specialist JE Robison Service out of Springfield, Mass. reports of another failure mode.

We have also seen slipped chains in engines whose the oiler tubes have been torn off by contact with the running chains.  The only way that contact could happen would be for the chains to go slack on overrun, which again suggests tensioners are failing on their own.  If an oiler lube (several inches long) got pulled into a timing gear, it’s not hard to imagine the chain slipping a few teeth in passing.

While it seems from the published technical service bulletin that Land Rovers are affected while Jaguars aren’t, reality doesn’t quite reflect that. Multiple Jaguar owners have reported timing system issues on their five-liter V8s, including one owner who tore down the front of his engine and found it had jumped timing despite previously receiving updated chain guides and tensioners.

Jaguar Updated Tensioner Fail

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Here’s a Jaguar XFR owner reporting diagnostic trouble codes P0016 and P0017 — camshaft position codes that often indicate jumped timing.

Jaguar Xfr Timing Chain Issue 1

And here is one of the worst-case scenarios, an XKR owner reporting that their timing chain jumped hard enough to bend several valves.

Jaguar Xkr Timing Chain Problem

Mind you, timing chain rattle isn’t the only rattle to worry about on supercharged models. According to a Jaguar TSB, a “clatter/knock/rattle” might occur due to “torsional isolator and/or the torsional isolator spring support shaft wear causing excessive backlash in the supercharger drive.” The fix for this is a supercharger isolator kit that takes between 3.4 and 4.7 hours of labor to install depending on model, although if there’s any blade wear or supercharger bearing wear, the whole supercharger will need replacing.

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2007 Jaguar Xkr

So what can you do if you still want a V8 Jaguar or Land Rover but also want to mitigate the risk of expensive timing-related repairs? Well, you have a few options. The 4.4-liter engines found in 2005 to 2009 Land Rover LR3, Range Rover, and Range Rover Sport models, along with the supercharged 4.2-liter V8s found in 2004 to 2009 XJRs, 2003 to 2009 XKRs, 2008 to 2008 S-Type Rs, 2008 to 2010 Jaguar XF SCs, and 2006 to 2009 Range Rover Supercharged and Range Rover Sport Supercharged models are substantially more robust and extremely unlikely to run into any timing system issues. In addition, five-liter supercharged models built after 2015 should feature updated parts that are more robust, but as we’ve learned, not completely failure-proof.

Jaguar Xj Supersport 1

Another option, and this both sounds and is crazy, is to build timing guide and tensioner replacement into your budget and replace those items proactively. Figure around $7,500 to have the job done at an independent specialist. That’s not small change, but if you really have your heart set on say, a Jaguar XJ Supersport, it’s best to not be caught by surprise should issues arise. When they work, they’re lovely cars, and the cars we love make us do funny things. Besides, it’s not like BMW’s N63 V8 was a bastion of reliability either, but that’s a story for another time.

Images: Jaguar

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Thebloody_shitposter
Thebloody_shitposter
5 months ago

I can tell you the 4.2 in my 07 XKR (BRG of course) has a very splendid wail at WOT. I was leaning towards an F-Type R but when my buddy called me and told me I should come check this one out, I figured what the hell I’ll take a look. 52k miles, spent it’s entire life in a garage, BRG over biscuit interior. I asked him how much the seller wanted then went to get my cheque book lol.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
5 months ago

This article talks about the supercharged 5.0, without clarifying whether this tendency afflicts the NA version as well.

Asking because at some point I’m going to have to replace my 4.2 2006 XJ8. It’s been rock solid over the last 13 years.

Thebloody_shitposter
Thebloody_shitposter
5 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

If it’s an 5.0 AJ8, it will have the issue supercharged or not.

Michael Beranek
Michael Beranek
5 months ago

Oh, boy! Double overhead cams are so much fun!

Logan King
Logan King
5 months ago

Why do so many European engines use timing chains but screw it up so they are even worse than belts?

Matti Sillanpää
Matti Sillanpää
5 months ago
Reply to  Logan King

It looks better in tests as there’s no fixed service items. The old belief is that chains are for ever. But these days with thin oils and super extended oil change intervals, those oils are not really lubricating much in the later phase as much as grinding pastes. And that chain is also in oil bath, so…

Personally I always change oils max 15tkm intervals on cars and yearly on my motorcycles. It’s the cheapest and best way to maximize engine lifetime and by alot.

Raptor
Raptor
5 months ago

This is an excellent article and I hope to see more like this in the future.

pizzaman09
pizzaman09
5 months ago

I recently needed to purchase a car. I was cross shopping V8 and supercharged V8 Jags with the eighth gen Honda Civic Si. The price point was about the same and an Aluminum bodied Jag was very tempting for someone who was replacing a car that had just rusted out. I ended up with a Civic, but only because the right one showed up first.

Paul E
Paul E
5 months ago
Reply to  pizzaman09

My XJ8 was a very happy, very accidental project car purchase, it has ended up becoming one of my daily drivers. I absolutely love the car. It sounds insane to hear myself say it, the naturally aspirated flavor is plenty peppy, and I don’t really have need or even a strong want for the supercharged flavor.

While the bodies don’t rust, the subframes *do* rust and plenty of the of the hardware underneath rusts as well, especially at the rear of the car. Still, they don’t rust as fast as some GM car subframes.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
5 months ago

So by the sounds of it, the Jaguar V8s to get are the ones developed under Ford ownership and the ones to avoid were developed under Tata ownership.

Lally Singh
Lally Singh
5 months ago

How so? Tata’s the most current owner and these engine issues are with old motors. The 2013 5.0 still had FoMoCo stamps on its oil filter cap.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
5 months ago

A few months ago I was behind a F-Type SVR, a car I think is absolutely stunning. I was actually thinking about how good it looked, how owning one might be attainable as they continue to depreciate thanks to being a Jag and that AJ133 being a reliability nightmare, when the driver hammered the throttle and let that supercharged 5.0L sing. It sounded absolutely glorious and almost made me forgive that V8 for being so unreliable…almost. My next thought was maybe the 3.0L in the F-Type S would be better…until I made the mistake of Googling the AJ126 and realized there is no winning with the F-Type. Womp womp.

A. Barth
A. Barth
5 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

let that supercharged 5.0L sing. It sounded absolutely glorious

“That’s a dirty, dirty sound.” – J. Clarkson

From this segment, where we can watch – and hear! – the Stig thrash an F-Type convertible around an improvised street circuit:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WS2Al5YseWg

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
5 months ago
Reply to  A. Barth

Clarkson was on-point in that assessment. Dirty in the best kind of way.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
5 months ago

Tis a shame the newer Jags are less reliable.

I owned a 2002 XJ8 Vanden Plas (4.0L V-8) for 14 years and the engine was rock solid. I only had to replace the Ignition coil packs due to misfires. However, the fuel pumps were another story, they were crap and you have to drop the whole fuel tank to replace them!! Having had to pay TWICE to replace the crappy fuel pumps, I sold the car!

IRegertNothing, Esq.
IRegertNothing, Esq.
5 months ago

I’m sorry Thomas, but I stopped seeing anything you wrote after the idea of a cheap supercharged V8 Jaaaaaag entered my mind.

Vetatur Fumare
Vetatur Fumare
5 months ago

Username checks out.

Mthew_M
Mthew_M
5 months ago

Frequent oil changes (and level checks) is thought to help out a lot too. Have a friend with a very early build 2010 LR4, and no timing issues at close to 150k miles. I’ve asked the independent shop it goes to, and they say the engine doesn’t exhibit any of the symptoms of a stretching chain, and they say they have a few 5.0s with some higher mileage on them, and they all get oil changes before the indicator light says to.

A. Barth
A. Barth
5 months ago

As a former owner of a CPO 2011 Range Rover Sport Supercharged, I’ll throw in my $.02.

My [vehicle’s] timing apparatus was replaced under warranty by the dealer at around 80k miles. At that point the chain slap was becoming noticeable at idle. When I traded the car in at roughly 125k miles there were no undesirable noises from the cam chains or from the supercharger.

On a 2011 Land Rover LR4, a timing job calls for 18.4 hours of book labor, making for an exceptionally expensive job

Is that book figure correct? Even at a shop rate of $150/hr, that’s only $2760 for labor. Of course the parts cost will be added to that but it still doesn’t sound like an “exceptionally expensive” job considering the platform and the nature of the work.

I have to say it the 5.0 SC is a lovely engine but rather thirsty (no surprise there): 11-12mpg around town and 15-16mpg highway. I probably could have done better if – as a friend put it – I kept my foot out of the water pump, but where’s the fun in that? 🙂

Paul E
Paul E
5 months ago

I truly wish there was a relatively easy way to backdate the cars equipped with the 5.0 (and the 3.0 six–even more nightmarish than the 5.0) to the 4.2 V8, which has been an incredibly reliable engine (my ’04 XJ8 has well north of 200k on the odo, and never been opened up). But, between engine management differences and the direct fuel injection setup on the later cars, I suspect one would have to swap *everything* to make a later XJ/mid-XF/later XK work with the older engines. If it were a straightforward swap, I’d have already dragged a broken X351 home already and done a swap, as I’ve wanted a 2011-up car for a long time.

I strongly suspect that direct injection, while helping make terrific power, makes for accelerated timing chain/guide wear, as DI is hard on oils and very unforgiving of long oil change intervals, no matter whose engine we’re talking about.

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
5 months ago

Interesting. The wife has one of the post-2015 XJ’s. It was purchased at low miles though, and for very low price. I guess I’ll tear into it if it starts acting funky. I wonder if you can tell when failure is imminent by oil analysis?

Last edited 5 months ago by Doctor Nine
NojustNo
NojustNo
5 months ago
Reply to  Doctor Nine

I imagine flakes from those aluminum timing chain guides would show up in the oil

Doctor Nine
Doctor Nine
5 months ago
Reply to  NojustNo

Thanks!

Mike N.
Mike N.
5 months ago

So they managed to make a timing chain less reliable than a timing belt, like Audi?

https://jalopnik.com/here-s-why-the-v8-audi-s4-is-an-awful-used-car-1676466510

Alex Zaretskiy
Alex Zaretskiy
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike N.

BMW would like to join the conversation with their M62 engine (e39/e38)

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
5 months ago

I can personally vouch for the durability of the pre-2009 Jag V8.

A family member of mine has two LR3’s (2006/2007) that are speced the same with the 4.4L V8 and ZF 6 speed auto. Both have been abused but still maintained at an average level… they both drive like they did when they were new. Zero check engine lights, or any other warning lights (even air suspension is fine).

Both have about 200k on the clock.

The LR3 can still shock people with it’s capabilities off road and the amazing use of interior space on the inside. They even turn a tighter circle vs sedans!

Their only real downfall is that LR3’s and RR Sports are very heavy for their size.

When people where I live keep fawning over Disco I’s and II’s I say forget those and get an LR3, you’ll be surprised at how much better they are and how they actually have less issues… somehow.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
5 months ago

As a Discovery fan who knows better than to buy a Discovery, my struggle with the LR3 is finding one that doesn’t look like it has been beat within an inch of its life. I looked at several last year with under 100k on them where the interior just simply didn’t hold up – deteriorating leather, delaminating dash and door panels, missing interior dash buttons, etcetera. It’s a start contrast to my 20 year old Lexus where my biggest complaint is the sunroof isolators rattle, but otherwise everything else (except for the notorious dash cracks) looks almost pristine. I’m sure care goes a long way, but even the one LR3 I looked at that was always serviced at the dealer looked rough.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
5 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

True, the interiors have their issues, but all Land Rovers did/do. It’s a shame that they put sunroofs in all of them (I think) because the drains clog and the headliners in the front get stained from leaks.

I will say, the family member I mentioned has one with tan interior and one with black. The black interior seems to hold up better between those two.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
5 months ago

Huh, interesting. All of the LR3s I looked at had tan interior, so I’ll keep an eye out for one with a black interior and see how it looks.

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
5 months ago

LR3 & LR4 are both Unibody on a full standalone frame. They’re heavy AF, and structurally over-built.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
5 months ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

Yeah, It’s a VERY overbuilt design. On top of what you mentioned (which is true), if you spend time with one for a few days you realize that literally every surface seems to be made from a thicker gauge material vs any other car I’ve seen.

Roll the front window down, and it’s super thick window glass, the door skins are thicker, the hood metal is thicker. It just keeps going.

Hell, they even put in cast-iron weights that just dangle near the rear bumper for resonance, NVH, or something.

I kinda want one now…

10001010
10001010
5 months ago

Here’s Why You Should Think Twice Before Buying A Cheap Jaguar

I feel like this headline might skew today’s Shitbox Showdown (SBSD?) results 😉

SlowCarFast
SlowCarFast
5 months ago
Reply to  10001010

That Jag’s engine already bombed years ago!

Spikedlemon
Spikedlemon
5 months ago

Jag sourced a lot of their engines from Ford (from their previous ownership) and BMW (also from previous ownership, but also separate new agreements).

Not being intimately familiar with every permutation of JLR’s engine selection: are these, then, JLR-designed engines? Or is that 5.0 a Ford-derived Coyote?

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
5 months ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

Its a Jag engine.

Thebloody_shitposter
Thebloody_shitposter
5 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Asa

Built in the Ford Bridgend Plant and developed under Ford ownership, so it’s a Jag engine with a splash of Ford in it.

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
5 months ago

Its origin was an in-house design started well before the purchase by Ford. Its a Jag engine.

Thebloody_shitposter
Thebloody_shitposter
5 months ago
Reply to  Mr. Asa

And the AJ133 (with the reliability issues) came in 2010, well into Fords ownership of JLR, so again Jag engine with a splash of Ford ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

Mr. Asa
Mr. Asa
5 months ago

It was built in the Bridgend plant, in a Jag specific area with Jag wrench turners.
Jag all day

Matthew Lange
Matthew Lange
5 months ago
Reply to  Spikedlemon

It’s not a Coyote engine but a heavy evolution of the previous generation AJ V8. I’ve always found it a little odd that the wider Ford group was effectively designing two completely separate 5.0 V8 engines at around the same time (even though Tata acquired JLR in 2008 I assume the 5.0 AJ133 was already in development prior to the sale.

M0L0TOV
M0L0TOV
5 months ago
Reply to  Matthew Lange

And lets not forget the Lion diesel that was developed by Ford and used in LR products: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ford_AJD-V6/PSA_DT17

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