Tuesday 19 May 2015

Goodbye Jaguar

Exactly 3 years ago (I know this, because I've just made the last Finance Payment), I had the opportunity to ease myself into the drivers seat of an X-Type Jaguar.  My previous car had been effectively written-off - whilst still running fine, it was showing it's age and bits were starting to drop off, and the trim looking decidedly grimy and knackered.
Looking around for a new car, this vehicle was found on offer at the right price, right age and with Interest Free Finance.  Only drawback was it was in Hull - a bit of a trek, but I'd never been to Hull before.  The drive there was uneventful, if hard work due to the faceless, flatness of Norfolk, and the boredom that is the M1 and M62.  But the drive back would be in a Jag.

Jaguar, Jaguar, Jaguar - the one car that I always wanted to own, and here I was about to sit behind the wheel and lord it over other road users.

Apart from it being in Hull, there were two other considerations:
  1. It was an X-Type, which is effectively a Ford Mondeo with a body kit, and
  2. It was a Diesel - previous experience of Diesel was not great.  One car suffered a permanent oil leak seemingly from nowhere, and the other died completely with no warning, and never re-started
Mondeo-Schmondeo, Diesel-Schmiesel - this is a Jaaag, let me at it.

And yes, the drive home was a thing of relative joy, comfort and refinement.
I now owned a car with the badge I'd long coveted - what could go wrong now?

Well all was fine for a couple of months, and then I suffered two punctures in a fortnight (the first was due to driving over a bolt which became embedded in the tyre, the second due to a cracked Alloy Wheel which a local trader managed to get fixed up.
Then about a month later, the Turbo pipe split leading to a lack of power and a big white plume of exhaust under acceleration, and the EGR valve became stuck open causing a mis-fire at anything over 2000rpm.

A mere inconvenience - the car is 7 years old after all, and these sort of mechanical issues are to be expected.  A short visit to a local garage fixed the problem, and I was back owning the road.
So, that was that sorted and for the next 6 months or so, nothing disrupted the sheer driving pleasure (even taking into account the Diesel engine).
And the it happened - my  near side wheel found a deeper than average pothole, and changed shape from its usual 100% round to a sort of wobbly oval.
Fortunately it was only one wheel, so I was able to replace with the spare wheel and continue on my way.  Except the Spare Wheel was a skinny space saver, good for 80mph, but absolute;y rubbish at retaining ride comfort and cornering ability.
A visit to a local Wheel outlet was arranged, where I was informed that those particular wheels are not easy to get hold of, and aren't manufactured new anymore.
Bugger!  More expense, but it has been 6 months and the Tyres would need replacing soon anyway.
OK, four new wheels and a set of boots for each corner - and it was a worthwhile purchase, because the new wheels were markedly better looking than the originals.

The vehicle ahd already had one MoT in my ownership, and it passed with flying colours (no reported issues, no advisory statements. no "just keep an eye on that").  So why would the second MoT be any different?  It now had new wheels and tyres and had been running trouble free for nigh on 12 months.

Oh how wrong was I - "Rear Suspension bushes are excessively worn, they'll need replacing".  My immediate response was: "At least its not the front ones as well".
"Funny you should say that" was the reply.

Result: more open wallet surgery

Leastways, I now had (relatively) new wheels and tyres, no mechanical issues, and the whole thing felt tight, strong and responsive,  There can surely be no more issues on the horizon.

Tyres are renowned for wearing out, it is after all what they do - and a proper set should always be there (sensibly boring and safety obvious, but it has to be said - from experience, having nearly killed myself several years ago driving round on virtual slick tyres, I can't emphasis the importance enough).
I knew I needed two, so went down to the Tyre Fitters and bought two "name brand" tyres.  It was during the fitting, that the state of the inner walls of the other two tyres were highlighted - so they would need replacing to.

Any more, for any more?  Oh Yes!

In Autumn last year, om a cold dank wet night, the key fob decides to give up the ghost.  This is not just a battery issue, oh no, the whole fob has decided for reasons best known to itself to lose all programming and signalling capability.  Yes, I can open the car, but I can't get in the boot.
And the only place that repair these things is the Main Dealer.  On the plus side, I wasn't fleeced, and got a full valet out of the deal too.  An unwanted expense, but with a positive result, as I managed to secure a full service and MoT for less than I ever thought possible from a Main Dealer.

In retrospect, I think the Main Dealer Service was the most expensive Car Wash I've ever had.  When the vehicle was returned, it just didn't "feel" right.  Starting from cold became an issue, and the acceleration seemed stunted and the gearchange far "notchier" than I remember.
Driving to work one morning, I put my foot down and the dashboard lit up like a Christmas Tree.  Just about every Warning light was illuminated.  In true IT style, turning it off and on again seemed to cure the fault, but it re-occurred a week or so later.

I took it to a Specialist Garage (having first approached the Main Dealer to be told "This has nothing to do with us"), and failed Injection system diagnosed.
Yet more expense, but I was running again.  The car felt strong, and pulled like a train.
And then, reversing into my driveway one day, I noticed a trail of water on the road.  I've seen this before and it is usually a result of condensation from the Air Conditioning system.  Driving to work next morning, there was no heat coming from the Air Conditioning.  On further investigation the Header Tank for the Radiator/Cooling System was empty.  I refilled it, but when I checked it again later that day it was empty again.

Oh dear, this ain't looking good.

This time, the diagnosis was far more severe - the Head Gasket has blown and all the water is being sucked into the engine and ejected through the Turbo (odd, because I have seen no white smoke, or water in the oil, which are the usual tell-tale signs).

The blown Head Gasket is the Death Knell - I have read it it's Final Rites, and will be disposing of it somehow (Spares and Repairs at a fraction of the prospective re-sale price probably).
I admit to have a tear in my eye when final sentencing was pronounced.

Fortunately, as it is now paid for, the saving that would of been had from the Jaguar Finance is now being diverted to the purchase of a new car.  So now it is a case of:

Goodbye Jag - Hello Vauxhall!

3 years of (sort of) trouble-free, comfortable motoring has now gone (it was running more than breaking down, honest!).
The Car of my Dreams fairly rapidly became a nightmare.  But, in a couple of years time, if I was offered the chance of another Jaguar, despite the experiences outlined above, then I would jump at the chance.

Adam And The Ants - Car Trouble