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Jaguar E Type

Published: 8th Jun 2011 - 0 Comments - Be the first, contribute now!

Jaguar E Type
Jaguar E Type

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Scrupulous care of the cooling system is essential on an E-Type. Otherwise internal corrosion (particularly within the cylinder head) plus overheating WILL result.

How easy are they to work on?

It is extremely helpful that the massive bonnet, complete with the front wings, can be tipped forward to provide unhindered access to most engine bay components. The well-proven, twin overhead camshaft XK type engine installed in the six cylinder E-Types is in most respects fairly easy to maintain. However, working on the timing chain and valve gear is more complex. Having said that, attention here is infrequently required, and doesn’t really qualify as routine maintenance. If you do wish to work on the valve gear yourself, refer to the manufacturer’s literature before you start. Changing the engine oil and filter, looking after the ignition system, and servicing the fuel system is all fairly straightforward (although, as with any multi-carburettor engine, adjusting the carburettors can be time-consuming). Examining and maintaining the inboard-mounted rear brakes is a potentially difficult area; access is extremely restricted while the rear suspension assembly is in situ on the car.
Note 1 - Mileage/time intervals shown are suggested for typical use; frequency willneed to be increased under harsh operating conditions.
Note 2 - The information provided in this feature is intended to be helpful, but is necessarily abbreviated. Please consult Jaguar literature for full details of each aspect of maintenance.
Note 3 - The specifications given apply to 3.8-litre and 4.2-litre straight six cylinder models. For V12 versions, please consult Jaguar literature for engine data.

Dynamo or alternator drive belt

Classic 86 Cars For Sale September 2007 At each service, check the condition of the drive belt and renew if worn or damaged. For dynamo-equipped cars, there should be deflection of approx. 3/4in (19mm) under firm hand pressure applied midway along the longest run of the belt. As a ‘rule of thumb’ method of checking the tension, try to twist the belt at this point, under reasonable hand pressure; it should rotate through approximately 90 degrees and no more.
Note: Some dynamos (Lucas C42 type) fitted to late 3.8 versions require the application of a few drops of engine oil to the rear bush bearing, approximately every 10,000 miles. For alternator-equipped E-Types, the deflection under firm hand pressure applied in the centre of the longest belt run should be approx. 1/2in (13mm).
Note: On later examples the belt is automatically tensioned by a spring-loaded jockey wheel.

Cooling system

Scrupulous care of the cooling system is essential on an E-Type. Otherwise internal corrosion (particularly within the cylinder head) plus overheating WILL result. Always use high quality anti-freeze mixture containing corrosion inhibitors, and leave in the system at all times, to protect against corrosion. Every 3000 miles/annually (whichever comes first), have a close look at the radiator, the fan, and all the hoses plus their connections. At least every two years/20,000 miles (whichever comes first), drain the system, flush and re-fill with fresh anti-freeze solution (observe the dilution recommendations of the anti-freeze manufacturer). When flushing the cooling system, engage the heater system to ensure that this too is flushed at the same time. Capacity, including heater: Approx. 32 pints (18.2 litres).


Twin overhead camshaft straight six-cylinder, triple carburettor. 3781cc or 4235cc; 265bhp (UK) and under 200bhp on US examples with smog control.

Valve clearances

Adjustment is not a routine maintenance item (although it is wise to check the clearances approximately every 50,000 miles). The valve clearances are controlled by shims, best with cylinder head removed.

Fuel system

Every 3000 miles or annually (whichever comes first), scrutinise the air filter element, having first unscrewed the two wing nuts holding the air box housing to the SU carburettors. Release the air box from the filter housing, and take out the element. Shake off any loose dirt; in any event change the filter every 12,000 miles regardless of its appearance. Always wipe out the filter housing with clean rag before fitting a new filter element. On completion, ensure that the securing clips are properly engaged. Every 6000 miles/annually, check the condition of all fuel system pipework and connections. Renew at once any ailing pipes, especially the fuel lines. Every 6000 miles, check/clean the fuel pump filter. At each service, check/top up the oil level in the carburetor dashpots; if necessary, top up the piston spindles with SAE20 oil. At every service, check/re-lubricate the accelerator linkages. At each service, check carburetor synchronisation and mixture settings; use proprietary carburetor balancing equipment. Check/re-adjust tickover speed; 3.8 litre cars, 500 rpm, 4.2 manual versions, 700 rpm; 4.2 autos, 600 rpm.


At every service: Examine the master cylinder and reservoir for leaks (investigate if the fluid level is low), also assess the condition of the fluid. Check brake servo operation and assess hose condition/security. Assess all fixed and flexible pipework; renew if damaged/corroded. Inspect the front brake pads, discs and calipers; renew the pads if the friction material is badly worn. Replace the discs in axle sets if their operating surfaces are seriously worn/scored/corroded. Investigate reasons for uneven pad/disc wear. The inboard-mounted rear brakes are very difficult to reach. So, if the rear axle/suspension assembly is ever removed from the vehicle, at the same time it is worth taking the opportunity to fully service/overhaul the brakes, and to replace leaking oil seals. Check specifically for seized rear caliper pistons (commonly encountered on cars used infrequently), also for oil contamination on the discs/pads. Make sure that the handbrake mechanism moves freely, and that the rear brakes are locked with the handbrake fully applied (please consult Jaguar literature). Note that on some examples the handbrake can be adjusted manually; please consult Jaguar literature relevant to your model. At least every 24,000 miles/two years (whichever comes first), renew the brake fluid.


Firing order: 1-5-3-6-2-4 (Cylinder No. 1 at rear of engine) Spark plugs: 3.8: Champion UN12Y or equivalent. 4.2: Champion N5 or equivalent (later specification, N11Y; please consult Jaguar literature or a good Jag specialist). Plug gaps 0.025in. (0.64mm.). Check/clean the plugs every 6000 miles (using a brass-bristled wire brush); renew the plugs every 12,000 miles. Every 6000 miles, examine the high tension leads, distributor cap and rotor arm. Sparingly re-lubricate the distributor shaft and mechanical advance mechanism (using a few drops of engine oil), and apply a smear of high melting point grease to the cam. Every 6000 miles, renew the contact points (check condition every 3000 miles and clean/re-gap if necessary). Set points gap to 0.015in (0.38mm); dwell angle 34 degrees±2 degrees). Every 6000 miles (and always after setting/adjusting the points gap), check the ignition timing. 8.1: compression ratio, 9 degrees BTDC; 9:1 compression ratio, 10 degrees BTDC (mark on crankshaft damper).

Running gear components

Every 3000 miles/annually: Scrutinise all suspension/steering unit mounting bushes; renew in sets if worn. Include in your examination all the coil springs, watching for breakage/corrosion. Look too for corrosion in the trailing arms. Check all shock absorbers for leakage and worn bushes. Look closely at the steering rack gaiters, plus those on all ball joints. Check the steering column and ball joints for wear. Look for lubricant leaks. Every 30,000 miles, clean and examine the front wheel bearing assemblies. Renew the bearings if are pitted, worn or noisy. On re-assembly, re-lubricate with fresh grease (specifically stated as being suitable for use in wheel bearings).


Engine oil: For optimum engine life, change the oil and filter at least every 3000 miles or annually (whichever comes first). First take the car for a long run to warm the oil and to help it flow more readily from the sump. To change the filter element, start by releasing the filter housing drain plug, then take out the housing’s central retaining bolt. Withdraw the old filter element, clean the housing in fresh paraffin and dry thoroughly before re-assembling with a new filter element. On assembly, ‘prime’ the new filter with fresh engine oil. Fit a new filter housing seal, and apply a little fresh oil. Use a good quality lubricant, with a viscosity rating of SAE15W50, 20W50 or a classic 20W/60 oil. On completion, run the engine and check for oil leaks (rear crank oil seal is a known leaker on this engine). Please dispose of the old oil in an environmentally friendly manner - local councils provide waste oil collection points. Sump capacity: Approx. 15 pints (8.52 litres).
Transmission lubrication: At each service (at least every 3000 miles), with the vehicle horizontal, check the oil levels in the gearbox and the differential (watch for evidence of oil leakage). For 3.8 manual models, engine oil (NOT gear oil) was originally specified; for 4.2 litre versions, SAE90 gear oil. For specific information regarding the correct oil to use, please refer to the Jaguar literature specific to your car. Oil capacity, manual gearbox: Approx. 2.5 pints (1.42 litres). For the automatic transmission, where fitted, use Automatic Transmission Fluid (ATF). For information on changing the fluid, please consult Jaguar literature or speak to a specialist. Automatic transmission capacity: Approx. 15 pints (8.5 litres). The final drive assembly incorporates a ‘Powr-Lok’ limited slip differential, requiring a special lubricant. For full information on the differential, please consult the Jaguar literature for your model. Differential lubricant capacity: Approx. 2.75 pints (1.6 litres). On early cars, every 2500 miles, re-grease the driveshaft universal joints (two at each end of shaft), and at the same time assess the condition of the driveshaft couplings.
Running gear lubrication: Before re-lubricating, check all joints for excessive movement and renew if worn. Every 2500 miles, re-grease the upper and lower steering swivels (ideally with the suspension relieved of weight), also the three greasepoints on the steering rack. Every 5000 miles, re-lubricate the rear suspension (six grease points). Approximately every 10,000 miles, sparingly re-grease the front hubs (using the greasepoint on each), also the rear hubs (remove the plug first; take care not to over-fill). Whenever the wire wheels are removed, check the condition of the hub splines; if these have worn to sharp ‘points’ the hubs are in need of replacement. If in good condition, smear a little copper-based anti-seize compound on the splines before re-fitting wheels. Tap the spokes with a pencil. A sharp ‘ping’ means all is well.


Every 3000 miles or annually (whichever comes first): Examine the body shell for water leaks. Inspect the underbody, rectifying any paintwork damage discovered. Ensure that all underbody nuts/bolts are fully tight. Re-lubricate all hinges and catches (wipe off excess lubricant afterwards). Check the cleanliness and security of all electrical connections; inspect all wiring for damage. Assess the condition, security and tightness of the road wheels especially wire wheel spokes where broken spokes must be replaced; closely scrutinise the tyres. Examine the exhaust system. Assess seat belt condition. Check all fluid levels. Check/re-adjust headlamp beam alignment.

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