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Jaguar XK-Series Chain Tensioner Replacement

Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
edited May 2014 in Jaguar
This topic is for discussion of chain tensioner problems on some of the older XK models, and how you deal with them.


  • xkssxkss Member Posts: 722
    1997-1999 XK8s can suffer from timing chain tensioner problems. A 2000 model would be better while 2003-2006 are the best. 2003 XKs had over 900 changes.
  • brucelockebrucelocke Member Posts: 1
    I just spent $4200 to replace the tensioners, chains, etc on my 1999 XK8. Neither dealership nor Jag will do anything to help. I know there are two service bulletins on this problem (303-30 and 303-68). I'm new to the Edmunds forum and I couldn't figure out how to read your posting. Do you have any additional info on the problem or how to resolve it with Jag?
    Thanks, Bruce
  • charlie193charlie193 Member Posts: 5
    After reading of Bruce's problems with chain tensioners for his 1999 XK8, I queried the local dealer and learned the following:

    It's not a matter of "If", just a matter of "When" for failure of tensioner parts and expensive damage. However, if parts are replaced before failure, it's not too bad, less than $1000, parts and labor. Furthermore, there are some special alignment tools needed, such that an owner should not do the work. Five tech hours and abt $350 parts. I will have them do that.
  • boodadaboodada Member Posts: 1
    Charlie- Is this for the secondary (upper) tensioners only? Where did you get the quote?
    Thanks, Bob
  • gregadgregad Member Posts: 1
    My 97 xk8 is in today for upper tensioners as engine was knocking. My shop warned me a year ago that it would come sooner or later. They suggested new plugs and fresh oil too for a total of $1200. It has about 48,000 miles.Gotta do what ya gotta do. Better than a new engine. So has anyone gotten money back from Jag??
  • beaneybeaney Member Posts: 1
    help jag loss compression now won start did not over heat and is still turning over is it time tensioners how do i time the engine up or check it hasn't jumped any teeth
  • rawdadrawdad Member Posts: 12
    I have a 98 XK8 with 54k miles. Bought it in Sep 06 (in storage for the winter right now). It runs EXCELLENT! Had it to the Jag dealer to have it checked out - everything was ok. I asked the dealer about the tensioners and he said the problem was over hyped on the internet - he had never seen a problem with that engine for that reason. He said he hears that it happens - but as long as you maintain the car with frequent oil changes - you shouldn't have a problem. Hmmm.
    I also read a comment in another forum from a Jag mechanic in CA that has seen literally hundreds of Jags with the 4.0 engine from 97 to 99 model years - and never, ever has he seen one where the tensioners failed.
    Is this a real problem or is it overhyped? I am getting contrary advice. Any input?
  • dmonizdmoniz Member Posts: 15
    I'm looking at buying an '01 with 70,000 miles listed for $21k. Is this a good price? What should I look for in this car for possible trouble spots? After reading the last post, I'm not sure if the chain tensioners are an issue or not. Any advice offered would be appreciated. Thank you.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    I think the problem is real.

    Of course, in terms of "percentages of failures" it may not be very much, but if the music stops and you're the one without the chair, well then the percentage rate of failure is 100%.

    But sure, it's not like every 4.0 is eating its tensioners...but I don't think people are making this up.
  • lrsweetlrsweet Member Posts: 1
    I just purchased a 98 XK8 for $20K with a 2 year bumper to bumper warranty. Love IT! It's a beautiful and elegant convertible. Part of my sale included resolution of all existing mechanical issues. One of the mechanical symptoms was: when the engine was cold there was a valve ticking noise. Sure enough, the timing chains, tensioners, blade, guide, several seals and gaskets were replaced. $840 for parts, $1,300 for labor. Warranty paid for it all! Had I not had the noise looked at, the chain would have broken and the engine would have had to have an over haul.

    I've read several articles and I'm only finding minimal reports of issues with this 2nd year AJ-V8 engine which is still in use 9 years later, just a little bit improved.

    Here are a couple of informative links I enjoyed reading: 20and%20Weaknesses.pdf
  • dave20255dave20255 Member Posts: 1
    Yes, I would say it is. I just bought a 2001 XK8 from a Toyota dealer subject to inspection. I had the inspection done by a franchised Jaguar detail and all was good except leaky cam cover seals. Yesterday it was in for repair and they found the tensioners were cracked. Lucky for me it has 4 months left of Jaguar warranty (100,000 mls/6 years)so they replaced the tensioners, spark plug seals, centre seals, valve seals along with the gaskets for the cam covers! Great service without any discussion needed! Nalley of Roswell, GA,
  • goldcountrygoldcountry Member Posts: 2
    Thsi tensioner thing is a real problem. I have a 1998 VDP with the 4.0 liter engine. With the car out of warranty and with 69000 miles on the engine, one of the chain tensioners failed, resulting in one of the valves punching through a piston. There was no 'noisy engine' symptom prior to the failure. The dealer's recommended fix was a new crate engine at a price of about $9K. That's an expensive failure.
  • gwendolyngwendolyn Member Posts: 46
    OK...just purchased a 97 xk8 with 82k...what is a tensioner....what should i do for this car other than change the oil and get it checked out....? thx , gwen
  • goldcountrygoldcountry Member Posts: 2
    Gwen - The Jag V8 you have uses a chain drive (like a bicycle chain) to drive the cams that open and close the engine's valves. The tensioners keep the chain tight so it doesn't flop around; they work like the spring loaded derailleur on a bike. On the 4.0 liter V8, The designers used some lightweight plastic parts in the tensioner system. These parts fatigue with extended use, and many Jag owners have experienced tensioner failures. When that happens, the failure can be catastrophic as it was in my case.
    Jag has redesigned the tensioner system using much more robust parts, and I believe they sell this upgraded system as a kit. Ask the party you bought the car from if the new tensioners have been installed, and get a copy of their receipts for this work if possible. Take your car to a mechanic experienced with these Jag engines and ask if your engine has the new tensioners. The mechanic may have to do some dissasembly to find out, but it will be far less expensive than replacing the engine.
  • jhimeljhimel Member Posts: 1
    My 2000 Vanden Plas had the same problem !!
    Thank god the chain broke during start up. I had to have my Chain Tensioners Replaced and all 4 of my chains !!! This cost me $2650. I would love to get something from Jaguar. They know about this problem. They have upgraded the
    Tensioners 2 times !! But I BOUGHT THIS $90,000 CAR WITH 65K MILES FOR 15K OUT THE DOOR. I love my Super Charged VDP !!!
    I hope that I will not have to order parts from INDIA someday.
    Please click on this link for more info on Chain Tensioner FAILURES !
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Member Posts: 64,481
    Jaguar depreciation for a year 2000 is pretty drastic. That's about retail for a 2000 VDP SC, shocking as that sounds. Your chain problem is one reason these cars can be bought so cheap. But with the upgrade, you should be okay.
  • cmncmn Member Posts: 1
    I have a 1999 xk8 convertible - 103K miles - have had her for 5 years and drive her lightly - do regular maintenance. Recently, I had it tuned-up and serviced and took it on a trip to the Outer Banks - approx. 400 miles - ran great - 26.6 miles per gallon. Did minimal driving thru the vacation week as 2 family members brought off road vehicles which we used. The day of departure, the Jag would not "turn" - the engine made a horrendous grinding noise. I had the car towed to the neares Jag dealer in VA Beach - unfortunately, it was a weekend and I was forced to return home w/o the car. They told me it was "flooded" - but, the timing chain and tensioners were ready to go - at a qoute of 3K for the repair - I decided to have the car shipped home and consult locally for diagnostic. There was no prior problems w/ the car - it has never left me sit. Any thoughts on this? What has anyone else been quoted for the repair?
    Thanks - any input would be helpful
  • donbldonbl Member Posts: 42
    Bought 2000 new and now has 92K well maintained and enjoyed miles on it.

    Starting to get expensive to maintain (average $4K/yr) without inspecting/replacing the tensioners. Have not decided to replace or to sell the car.

    Been a joy to own and drive on long trips.

    Will miss it as it is the best car I have ever owned.

    The new ones are not as pretty and they are up to $15K higher than I bought mine for some 9 years ago. As I go to dealerships of different manufacturers, I can not find a 2008 car I like as well as my 2000 XK8.

    BTW, for those who haven't, plugging your IPOD into the cassette player is a real treat on the top notch stereo system that is still much better than my Lexus top of the line system.
  • rgh2rgh2 Member Posts: 1
    lights come on and say." Stability failed,and Traction failed. What does it mean,and do I have to have it checked. My Jag is a VDP 1999
  • bhornbhorn Member Posts: 2
  • ducatistiducatisti Member Posts: 1
    As the proud new owner (2 weeks and counting) of an immaculate '97 XK8 coupe, 32k miles from new, I am in the process of equiping myself with tools and knowledge to do some level of routine maintenance myself.
    I have seen on Ebay, a selection of workshop manuals on CD. Some claim to be factory certified others don't. Any guidance here would be appreciated.
    I have also read the past posts on the infamous chain tensioner situation with interest. I have the full service records for my car and it doesn't appear the upgrade has been done. It runs like a dream currently without the slightest hint of a rattle, even on cold start. Is it possible to do an inspection of the current tensioners to assess their condition, or is the fatigue failure such that there is no visual evidence until it fails?
    Finally for this post, my driver side headlamp has moisture in it. Are these sealed units or is it possible to get the unit out to dry out the interior?
    Thanks for any guidance you guys can provide.
  • bhornbhorn Member Posts: 2
  • BorneoDiverBorneoDiver Member Posts: 1
    I have a 98 XK8 with 58,000 miles. The tensioners were replaced about 5000 miles ago at a repair shop (not a Jag dealer) that I now have low confidence in and worry that it was not repaired properly. I am now experiencing a valve noise that only shows up after the engine is warmed up. This is not a rattling noise, but more a tapping sound that tracks the engine rpms. Could this be something related to the tensioners or do I need a valve job? Thanks for any suggestions.
  • als961als961 Member Posts: 8
    I am the original owner of this Jaguar. It only has 70000 miles and been regularly maintained by the local dealer. Never had any issue until a week ago where upon starting the car I got a very rough start. I brought the car to the dealer and they indicated that there it is related to Tensioner which might be broken and the cost $2700 to have everything checked and replaced. I was very shocked and found this article online: I brought up the issue to the dealer and they tried the local market manager of Jaguar to pay for part/all of it and he refused. Jaguar customer care was not helpful and did not do anything. My extended warranty ran out end of 2006, but could have had everything checked out if it was still under that warranty. As I understand it, this is a known problem and Jaguar is aware of it. They have 3 times changed the tensioner series and the latest is no longer plastic (made out of metal) put on 2005 and above. I would like to write an email or letter to Jaguar's President Gary Temple to complain. Anyone has his email or any other suggestions.


  • garydiesalgarydiesal Member Posts: 1
    I have been researching the whole tensioner issue (a tensioner is what keeps the timing chain tight if it break your screwed) and have found that if yours has not been replaced you should have it done ASAP. You should be able to contact the dealer and have them run your VIN to see if it was done. An independent may done it but I would have it checked
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