With my son holding it I pulled out the lower gaskets which looked in even worse shape than the upper ones. I’m quite certain that these at least were original. For some reason the uppers are often replaced but people seem to thing it’s hard to get to the lower. It isn’t, it really is four more easily accessible bolts and it lifts right off. There is no reason to stop beforehand.
In any case, we cleaned up the surfaces again, installed the new lower gaskets (again, six pieces, they are sort of a semi-rigid rubbery plastic – above pic shows an old one above a new one), and then started to button it up again. While we had been working with the garage door open, the wind had picked up something fierce, so while we had stuffed the intake channels to avoid dropping anything into the cylinders, we were very careful about flying debris and even had a shopvac at hand to vacuum it all out before placing everything back together. We had wanted to go deeper and replace the gaskets below the cam covers but after realizing that it wasn’t that difficult to get to this part, we shelved that idea for the future, I suppose we wanted to just get the code issue resolved ASAP and not worry about everything else.
I had decided to use Victor Reinz gaskets for all of this as I had liked their stuff on my Audis back in the day but it seems most people use whatever is cheapest. The costs for the two gasket sets that we used, the full internal gasket set that we didn’t use (yet) along with the six spark plugs and six (also unused) coil boots came to $145, not bad in my opinion and there were multiple cheaper options available.
Anyway, we popped the gaskets in, made sure they were well seated, and back together it all went one piece and bolt at a time, everything had been separated into separate zip-lock baggies and laid on our worktable in order to try and make it as simple as possible. First the lower part, then the fuel rail thing, make sure the upper gaskets are in and keep going.
The hardest part yet again was the hidden bolt after laying the intake down on top of the engine. But once it eventually got started into its threads even that tightened up neatly and quickly.
All told it took us a little under four hours, we worked very leisurely and methodically and took turns at everything. If we had to do it again, we could likely do the whole thing in no more than ninety minutes. Overall it was far less complex than we had feared. We were quite excited as we were putting the last screws into the airbox lid and even more so when it then fired up at first crank and ran smoothly.
Imagine our letdown when we pulled out of the garage, turned onto our street, accelerated and felt it cut out again immediately. Aaaargghhhh! We backed up, straight back into the garage, popped the hood and checked everything again but of course it all looked good. For whatever reason we decided to drive it again and this time the issue had disappeared! We couldn’t believe it. We drove a couple of miles. Then we stopped and turned it off for ten minutes. After restarting it, it still worked great. Alright, progress!
We drove it for the rest of the day for various errands and after starting it in the Home Depot parking lot to return home we noticed that the Check Engine light was no longer on. Yes! If an issue is fixed for good, the Jaguar will self-extinguish its Check Engine light after five or so drive cycles which is exactly what happened. OhBoyOhBoyOhBoyOhBoy!
Not sure if this would last we headed to the Colorado emissions station the next morning. In Colorado (well, at least in the counties on the Front Range of Colorado) we are required to provide an emissions check every two years or when first registering a vehicle. Without this, there will be no license plate issued. I was all ready to just register it at my Wyoming address but always felt it would be far preferable to do it in Colorado. Our emissions inspection stations are run by the state, a test is $25 and involves a gas cap pressure test, an OBD reading, and a dynamometer test, even if AWD. I must have done this twenty or so times over the years now with my various cars.
We pulled in, the attendant did the gas cap test while we were directed to the waiting room, then they hooked up the OBD cable to the car and then while we were waiting and admiring a surprisingly nice Pontiac GrandAm in the other lane they pulled our car through the station to the end. Oh no. I was looking forward to explaining to my son how it all works but now it looked like we failed or something. I flashed back to the pamphlet that said they make sure that the car is safe to operate on their equipment and if something like the tires are bad they will force you to fix that before testing it. Our tires were quite bad, I knew, but was hoping that the crew wouldn’t notice, the best tire was in fact the front left where they were standing.
Eventually the attendant came to us and told us the car passed and to please pay him. Say what? I asked him if he didn’t need to put it on the dyno? He responded that no, the tires were too low profile and their equipment couldn’t handle it so it was okay. Uh, alright, they had no issues pulling our Porsche 911 with far thinner sidewalls and larger tires on to that same exact dyno at the same station four times while I owned it and they seemed to enjoy revving it up, but I’ll take it this time and not quibble. The one bummer is I kind of would have liked to see how it did in fact do in regards to emissions, but I guess I can wait two years now.
After that close call we finally caved regarding buying tires, I’d been looking everywhere for a good used set without success. In the end we decided since it wasn’t looking to be a big snow year we would just get a decent set of all seasons and call it good for now while keeping our eyes open for a set of decent used snows. We don’t have to drive it in bad weather so no real pressing need for both immediately.
Looking around we weren’t willing to settle for some cheap brand we had never heard of but couldn’t justify paying for Pirelli or Michelin’s marketing either. We eventually found a good deal on a set of new Hankook Ventus V2 Concept2 tires, sort of a semi-aggressive(ish) tread pattern with a 45,000 treadwear warranty, good reviews, and actually made in the USA. Having driven various new cars over the last couple of years with Hankooks I couldn’t recall any reason to dislike the brand. Walmart had them on sale online for $87 each in our 225/45-17 size and the local Discount Tire shop was all too happy to match that price.
With tax and installation we lightened our (ok, my) wallet by $478.03 but the car drives better and quieter now. Sadly the rumble is still there from at least one side so perhaps there is still a bad wheel bearing (or two?), something that we need to address soon.
Emission certificate in hand, we went to the County offices on the first day that we were able to get an appointment, paid the Colorado sales tax and registration fees ($225.73 total) and the nice lady handed us a set of new license plates which we attached to the car last week. By luck of the draw we got ones starting with CC. And of course so will 67,599 other residents if you do the math but we’ll just consider it part of that weird effect. We strapped them on and pulled it back into the garage to await the next phase.
We’ve started to order suspension bits, and they’ve started to arrive. I’ve also received a new impact wrench so am looking forward to playing with that as time permits. School started again and it’s gotten cold all of a sudden so we’ll have to pick our wrenching session times carefully (or as they simply permit and find a space heater for the garage), but on the agenda next are various bits of suspension (perhaps all?) to see what improves what, tie rods, brakes, the wheel bearing(s), an alignment, and the installation of some of the great used junkyard parts.
Keeping track of the costs so far starts with the total from the last time of $2,413, now we’ve spent money on junkyard parts, tires, gaskets and spark plugs as well as the emissions test, registration, and sales tax for a total to date of $3,410. I haven’t included insurance or gasoline but am including the rest as it represents the cost of acquiring this and slowly making it suitable and legal for daily use.
The purchase price was just the beginning, while not a huge amount it’ll end up being a relatively smaller portion of the overall total. In return we now have a car that is legal and licensed, has its most worrying issue resolved along with the obvious safety issue (tires). Had those items been handled before it was sold it would likely have gone for more than our total to date. Still, parts (admittedly simple ones to date) have been easily available at quite reasonable prices with numerous vendor and manufacturer choices which is encouraging for a car that has been out of production for over a decade.
It snowed today (still is snowing as I write), a bit of a blizzard, and so I took it out to pick my son up from school and take a few pictures and see how it performed in the snow. While the tires are not winter tires and thus caution is absolutely needed, it powerslides gloriously in an empty parking lot and looks to be much fun once all sorted. And my son approves, eagerly awaiting the day that he can get behind the wheel as well.
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