By on October 25, 2011

Since editor Ed and big Bertel are in transit to Nashville right now, where they will be meeing me and my girls (Vodka McBigbra and Drama McHourglass) for dinner, there’s theoretically no way they could stop me from headlining this article Jalopnik-style, “THIS is the wagon that could kill you to DEATH.” Let’s just pretend I did. Because this really IS the wagon that could kill you to death.

Luckily, you can’t buy it in the United States.

ComputerWorld brings us the news that about 18,000 Jaguars were shipped with defective cruise-control programming. All of the affected cars were diesel X-Type wagons. That right there brings up the question: How the hell did Jaguar sell 18,000 diesel X-Type wagons?

If the fault occurs, cruise control can only be disabled by turning of the ignition while driving – which would mean a loss of some control and in many cars also disables power steering. Braking or pressing the cancel button will not work.

That’s like whoa. During my time as a car salesman in the Nineties, I remember dozens of customers expressing concern to me that “electronical cruise controls” would go out of control and shoot them down the freeway like rodeo riders on a particularly discontented bull. I patiently explained to them that under no circumstances would a major manufacturer permit such a situation to occur. Just for record, I never promised them that the cruise control stalk wouldn’t catch fire. That would have been rash. I just promised that it wouldn’t disregard the brake or “off” switch. Turns out it took Jaguar engineering to make my customers’ nightmares come true.

The fix Jaguar is offering, if I understand correctly, will disable the cruise control and warn the driver if certain conditions are met. Good idea. That’s much better than, you know, actually keeping the problem from occurring. In the meantime, those of you who are pining away for European diesel wagons can thank you stars that, although Jaguar wasn’t smart enough to engineer a cruise-control system, at least they were smart enough to avoid brining that car to the United States…

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73 Comments on “Maybe You Don’t Want That Euro Diesel Wagon After All...”


  • avatar
    threeer

    Too bad your dinner in Nashville isn’t Thursday. I’m heading up from the Rocket City (Huntsville) before flying to Detroit early AM Friday.

    for Bertel…viel Spass im Music City!

  • avatar
    zbnutcase

    If they can screw THAT up, one has to wonder what the rest of the car is engineered like…

  • avatar
    Omnifan

    Lucas is obviously still working his magic in Jags :)

  • avatar
    Pch101

    If the fault occurs, cruise control can only be disabled by turning of the ignition while driving

    I find it hard to believe that shifting the car into neutral wouldn’t remedy the problem.

    Not that a fault that serious is acceptable, but still…

    In the meantime, those of you who are pining away for European diesel wagons

    Jaguar is now an Asian company, so perhaps you should blame India. (Then again, it sounds as if they’re determined to maintain that sacred British tradition of botching anything electrical.)

    • 0 avatar
      cheapthrills

      You haven’t spent enough time hooning.

      In my teenage years, we learned that on an automatic transmission, if you pop it into neutral while on cruise control, the engine will continue to rev until it bounces off the limiter.

      It seems that the Jaguar problem is that it won’t turn off despite brakes/clutch/cancel, so you could shift it into neutral, but you’d still have to restart the car to be able to drive it.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        That’s what I get for driving a stick. Putting a manual transmission into neutral should immediately disable the cruise control.

      • 0 avatar
        cmoibenlepro

        I think that into neutral, the engine would continue to rev, but it would not be linked to the wheels, so the car would stop accelerating. No?

      • 0 avatar
        mikedt

        “Putting a manual transmission into neutral should immediately disable the cruise control.”

        Only works because most companies put cruise cancel switches on clutch and brake pedals. If you could slip into neutral without touching the clutch I bet you’d hit the rev limiter. In fact, I can hit the resume switch on my GTI while in neutral and the engine will rev in an attempt to speed up the car.

      • 0 avatar
        LeMansteve

        I have NEVER understood why this is so. Is this just a design loophole that has been missed over the years? Cars can have ABS, automatic windshield wipers, stability control, adaptive cruise control, air conditioned seats, etc…but can’t recognize when the transmission isn’t engaged to the engine??

      • 0 avatar
        Byron Hurd

        My B4 Passat behaved the same way as mikedt’s GTI. There was a warning somewhere in the car (I don’t recall what form it took) that I shouldn’t attempt to shift the car while cruise was engaged.

        Fortunately, like most Saab/VW/Audi cruise control modules of the 1990s, mine was broken.

      • 0 avatar
        highdesertcat

        I had a 1982 VW Quantum Coupe 2dr hatchback (VWPassat/Audi4000) stick-shift, bought new that had the same intermittent problem. Really weird! This happened only when the Cruise Control had been left on after driving on cruise and went away if the Cruise Control was manually turned off and then turned back on.

        Depressing the clutch revved the engine to redline.

        Turning off the ignition locked the steering wheel, but that was the only way you could turn the key to the Start position. Within days after the warranty expired the problem became moot. The Cruise Control quit working and we soon traded that POS for a new car for the wife.

      • 0 avatar
        FuzzyPlushroom

        At least at that point you’d have power steering, turn signals, and brakes as you coasted to the shoulder.

        Alternatively, I’ve restarted my Volvo 740 at least a dozen times while moving – I put off changing the fuel filter for quite some time, and that would knock loose any debris that partially impeded fuel flow. It’s not that dangerous if you know what to expect (namely, yes, a loss of power steering/brakes).

      • 0 avatar
        patman

        Yes, put a stick in neutral and the car slows down and the engine bounces off the rev limiter. At least, that is what happened to me a couple of months ago when my cruise control module went insane.

        It seemed to be maintaining speed correctly until I was ready to slow down and then it wouldn’t respond to any inputs – neither tapping the clutch or brake canceled it, nor did the steering wheel buttons have any affect and it did not turn off when the vehicle speed dropped below the cutoff point (45mph, I think). I coasted engine-off off the highway to a parking lot and started the engine back up to see if turning the car off and on cleared the problem but the engine raced right back up to redline again so I disconnected the cruise control cable from the throttle body and went on my way.

        Some manual transmissions may have switches to tell the car when it’s actually in neutral but I suspect most don’t – it’s simpler to put a switch on the clutch pedal and assume the driver is using the clutch when taking the trans out of gear. I’m not sure what would’ve happened if the cruise control was working properly and I slipped it out of gear clutchlessly – I don’t know if it’s smart enough to realize that something is amiss if the RPMs are climbing rapidly but the vehicle speed is dropping, it should be though. I will have try that once I get around to fixing it.

      • 0 avatar
        Pch101

        I think that into neutral, the engine would continue to rev, but it would not be linked to the wheels, so the car would stop accelerating. No?

        That was, more or less, the point that I was trying to make. Irrespective of whether the engine is revving, the car can’t go if it isn’t in gear.

        So this comment from the original source article — “cruise control can only be disabled by turning of the ignition while driving” — is somewhat inaccurate. Perhaps it is necessary to shut down the motor in order for the cruise to shut itself off, but putting the car in neutral should be enough to get the car to stop gaining speed and to eventually stop.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        I had a very basic aftermarket cruise control that would recognize when the car was in neutral. It would blip the throttle and b/c the engine revved too quickly it would let go of the throttle. My Honda wouldn’t. I hydroplanned once (FWD) on one side, ruts in the pavement from big trucks on I-40, and it tried to manipulate the throttle several times. Big revs past 4K RPM but never to the red line. I just turned off the cruise and gently slowed until I regained traction and switched to the fast lane where the ruts are fewer.

        The VW cruise module can be rebuilt now. $50 max. If you know what you are doing, you can repair it yourself for less than $15. Just a bad relay and maybe a capacitor.

      • 0 avatar
        300zx_guy

        ha ha, I experienced that too, some 20 years ago. It scared the bejezus out of me for a moment when the car started revving all of a sudden, until I figured out what what going on. Ah, to be young and stupid…. what doesn’t kill you makes for good memories.

    • 0 avatar
      Byron Hurd

      For the record, all of my modern stick-shift purchases can handle this just fine. My VW was the only exception.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      In my BMW you can actually hit resume in say 3rd, and then shift normally through the gears as it accelerates the car. It even rev matches the up (and DOWN) shifts while the cruise is engaged. The cruise also knows how to work the brakes, though I was too cheap to specify the ($2400!!) radar cruise option.

      As to X-type wagons, saw them all over the place in Europe this summer. Europeans really just DO NOT buy sedans. And I would imagine that that majority of them sold were diesel, probably by a WIDE margin.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    Accounts like that sure make the domestic OEM’s look good.

    • 0 avatar
      Advance_92

      Considering the X-Type shares a lot under the skin with the Mondeo, who’s to say the same components aren’t in other cars and maybe US Ford applications? Is the throttle electric on the recalled car, and is the part specific to a diesel motor?

      • 0 avatar
        chris724

        No throttle body on a Diesel. Instead, they vary the amount of fuel injected into the air-filled cylinder. There’s no way a Diesel’s “throttle” could be shared with any gas powered engine.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        @ Chris724

        That is no longer necessarily true – many modern diesels DO now have throttles to fine-tune the air supply. But the throttle is not the primary speed control, so you are still mostly correct.

        And amusingly, there are now several modern gas engines (the N52 3.0l in my 328i as an example) that do NOT have throttles, and use valve timing and lift for speed control. Just to keep things interesting.

      • 0 avatar
        Zackman

        Perhaps I spoke too soon.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        For Chris724,

        The new MultiAir and TwinAir motors from Fiat, both gas don’t use throttles either.

  • avatar
    SomeOtherSteve

    Lucas is alive and doing controls programming now.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Lucas has been doing heart pacemakers for a couple of decades now.

      When Triumph was speccing out the initial production for their Hinckley-made bikes (late 1980’s), Lucas attempted to bid on the electrics. They were shown the door before they could even make their presentation. They were told, “We can’t afford to have your label on our motorcycles anymore.” (Got this story about a decade or so ago from one of the Hinckley staff.)

  • avatar
    philadlj

    I just learned that while the X-Type was often decried in its time as a reskinned Mondeo (TIME magazine was even dumb enough to describe the X-Type as the “British Cadillac Cimarron”), in truth it only shares 15-20% of the Ford CD132 platform components. So it’s possible the Ford Mondeo cruise control system wasn’t the same as the one the Jag uses. That there’s no recall (that I know of) for diesel Mondeo wagons would seem to back this up.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Drive one sometime, especially a 2.5 with a manual. If there ever was a car that got an unfair slagging, the X-Type is it.

      • 0 avatar
        The Doctor

        It’s strange that the X-Type was crucified for sharing some components with the Mondeo while the Bentley Continental has been a huge success despite being a Phaeton in drag.

        • 0 avatar
          Lampredi

          You’ve certainly got a point there. My impression is that for some reason, VAG is the only manufacturer which gets away with extensive platform and component sharing without being crucified for it. Conversely, those who try to defend the platform and component sharing of other manufacturers almost always do so by pointing out that it is common practice at VAG….

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        For the record, the similarities between the Phaeton and the Conti are FAR greater than the similarities between the 2nd-gen Mondeo (which we never got anyway) and the X-Type.

        As a multiple Phaeton owner, I can attest that only the difference in forward moment really separate the two. Everything else, from the positioning of the air vents to the bolts for the W12 brake calipers, is about the same.

        • 0 avatar
          Lampredi

          As a multiple Phaeton owner, I can attest that only the difference in forward moment really separate the two. Everything else, from the positioning of the air vents to the bolts for the W12 brake calipers, is about the same.

          And some people actually want VW to buy Alfa Romeo! It boggles the mind…

      • 0 avatar
        Advance_92

        I test drove one when they came out thinking it would be a fancy upgrade from my old Subaru. Other than the fact I didn’t get used to the clutch right away it wasn’t bad other than the price. I’d consider a used one if anything were to happen to my car.

      • 0 avatar
        The Doctor

        “Everything else, from the positioning of the air vents to the bolts for the W12 brake calipers, is about the same”

        Not quite true – in Europe W12 Phaetons get the 8-piston Brembo calipers by default whereas the Bentley only gets the twin piston ATE sliding calipers…

      • 0 avatar
        Jack Baruth

        This is true! However the US-market W12s have Bentley brakes, so to speak. On the other hand, the “Speed” models got the Phaeton W12 brakes. A lot of back-and-forth going on.

        I put a Bentley steering wheel (with VW bag cover) and Conti GI paddles on one of my Phaetons. Easy as pie.

      • 0 avatar
        The Doctor

        I only put the paddles on my Phaeton. Now I just need to find an R32 DSG wheel with the “schaltwippen” for my W8…

    • 0 avatar
      Bryce

      Nor a recall on Peugeots who supply the engines

  • avatar
    Tstag

    Before people moan about Jag engineering, please note that Jag actually did very little of the development work on this car. It was mostly developed by Ford. Well that’s what Jag said before this issue cropped up. So it will be interesting to see if this is actually a Ford problem too…..

    Wonder if Jag could seek damages from Ford if it’s a defective Ford part.

    • 0 avatar
      Aqua225

      I doubt this is any sort of mechanical problem.

      Sounds like software, as Chris742 mentioned above, this is a diesel, and assuming that it is a currently selling Euro diesel, it’s running some variation of a high pressure electronic direct injection system, and there should be no mechanical throttle connection to the engine, other than the solenoids or piezo crystals in the injectors, which respond to pulses from the engine controller.

      It would be interesting to know how the engine controller gets cruise instructions, or if they are in the same ECU/software set. Or whether it’s the engine controller that coughing up a furball or if there is a separate unit for cruise, whether it is coughing up a furball.

    • 0 avatar
      Greg Locock

      I know that reading the original article is a bit much to ask but it says “The problem lies with engine management control software developed in-house by Jaguar. “

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Ford’s quality may be in free fall of late, but the two worst vehicles of 246 that Consumer Reports had sufficient data to rate for reliability this year were the two Jaguars, the XF and XJ. Ford isn’t that bad, even if you had a Focus Platinum that combined the frangible transmission with the cantankerous intotainment system.

      http://autos.yahoo.com/news/consumer-reports-names-most-reliable-cars-of-2011.html

  • avatar
    dvp cars

    …..re “turning off the ignition while driving”…it’s unclear whether the people recommending this are from “Consumer Reports” or the manufacturer, but this makeshift “cure” could turn deadly if a panicking driver removed the key, or the anti-theft steering lock balked when re-engagement was attempted….. Much better to depress the clutch and endure an over-rev, at least until the car has been braked out of harm’s way. Hopefully the ignition interlock system would not allow the steering to lock up in any gear but “PARK”, but it’s not something I’d want to put to the test going down a winding mountain road at 80mph.

    • 0 avatar
      DC Bruce

      I would imagine that in any modern car, the ECM will not let the car rev beyond its designed limits. I agree that switching off on cars equipped with a steering column lock is potentially extremely dangerous if the driver, in a panic, turns the key to the lock position.

      I have no idea how this would work on the various push-to-start, push-to-stop vehicles, since I don’t own one. Does pushing to stop automatically lock up the steering column . . . or have manufacturers abandoned that feature as an anti-theft device?

      • 0 avatar
        dvp cars

        ……I think Volvo was the first to install locking steering wheels, circa 1962, and they’re certainly taken for granted today……..but despite never reading about any problems, I often wonder whether catastrophic accidental engagements have occurred……anybody know?

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        I don’t have much experience with push button start systems, but on Mercedes models with an electronic fob that still has to be inserted and turned (i.e. not Keyless Go), the steering column is always unlocked as long as a key is inserted.

        Fortunately, the “brake overrides accelerator” feature of all German cars makes such a situation unlikely!

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        …Fortunately, the “brake overrides accelerator” feature of all German cars makes such a situation unlikely!…

        I’d say its safe to say that any modern braking system would fill the bill.

      • 0 avatar
        ciddyguy

        DC Bruce,

        Not all modern cars have a steering wheel interlock, now that virtually ALL cars now have some kind of immobilizer anti-theft system. These systems now often rely on electronic means of disabling the car by disabling the ignition, the fuel injectors or the fuel pump or all three if the system detects an incorrect key being used and shuts down the car.

        So that’s something that may not be the case with the newer Jags but who knows though.

      • 0 avatar
        Marko

        golden2husky – “I’d say its safe to say that any modern braking system would fill the bill.”

        No, not the same thing. Watch this Consumer Reports video for an explanation. Essentially, brake override completely cuts the throttle if the brake is applied (except under specific circumstances).

        In theory, the brakes of a non-override car should be able to stop it if accelerating, but in practice, it takes a tremendous amount of force. With override, car can be stopped much more quickly and easily.

      • 0 avatar
        golden2husky

        Marko, I misunderstood because I know that the brakes in any car can overpower the gas. But if I recall correctly, a number of brands disable the gas with the application of the brake. I guess power braking has gone the way of power slides and neutral drops…

  • avatar
    cstoc

    Everything is all-electronic now, but cruise-control disengage used to be fool-proof. In the old days (into the 1980’s) the throttle was opened by a vacuum servo, with vacuum supplied by the engine or by an electric pump. At the brake (and clutch) pedals were mechanical vacuum-relief valves, which provided the final override over the system. It seems that auto engineering is getting rid of the belt-and-suspenders approach to some things.

    On a related note, some cars now have electrically-actuated parking brakes, so there goes the final backup in stopping a disabled car.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      Yep, had one of those on my ’87 GMC S-15 with the 2.5L ‘Iron Duke’. It worked exactly as you described, having a large vacuum cylinder attached to the driver’s side of the engine compartment with two lines coming from it. You could check the air pressure through a gauge similiar to the ones the Army used to have on the Deuce 1/2. Incredibly easy to install and fix, not necessarily accurate but kept you within 5 mph of speed set.

  • avatar
    swilliams41

    Can’t you just push the clutch or put the auto in N then steer off the road and kill the engine. The ECM should limit the engine to redline or less. Main point, DON’T PANIC—THINK, THINK, THINK!!!

  • avatar
    moedaman

    Come on now, what do you expect? It’s a Jaguar, of course it has bad electronics.

    • 0 avatar
      dolorean

      Girlfriend of mine had an early-80’s XJ her parents bestowed upon her on her 16th birthday. Remember after parking it for a while with the radio on (stop thinking) you had to bang on the dash to get the interior dash lights to come on and the defroster to work proper.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        I’d rather tear into the dash and find the loose wire or connector. My CR-V developed a digital clock that would come and go. We’d see it maybe twice a year (Spring/Fall) and otherwise it would be dark. It always had the right time though. ;)

        I finally tore into it and was able to extract it with a pair of butter knives to release the locking tabs. Under close examination it had two cracked solder joints next to capacitors. Fired up my $12 soldering iron and it was fixed and hasn’t had a problem since.

        Yeah, I still want a Euro-wagon next time. Turbo diesel six speed manual. That leaves me exactly one option in the USA. Fine by me.

  • avatar
    honfatboy

    It’s a good thing they caught the problem. “Brining the car to the United States” would only cause corrosion.

  • avatar
    dvp cars

    …….killer kruise kontrol or not, I’d love one of those Jag diesel 5 speeds…….must be some way of sneaking one in, especially when media coverage of this recall makes them dirt cheap in the EU. Odd that the problem seems confined to wagons, er, shooting brakes…..unless diesels were unavailable in sedans.

  • avatar
    another_pleb

    I thought that this site was “The TRUTH About Cars” and not “The Prejudice, Schadenfreude, Hearsay and Conjecture About Cars”, which I see in worrying amounts in the comments whenever a story like this appears.

    The quote from Jaguar themselves was, “No customer has been affected and there had been no accidents or injuries,” which would lead me to think that this is a problem that manifests itself only in extreme, unusual or rare circumstances.

    I don’t own a Jaguar and I have no interest in them as a company but could we not all try to play the ball and not the man whenever another story such as this crops up.

  • avatar
    dvp cars

    …….anyone from snow country who has owned a rear-drive diesel 5 speed may remember an inherent danger common to all….. When descending an icy hill, if you abruptly let off the throttle, the tremendous compression of the diesel would cause the rear wheels to cease rolling, and effectively go into braking mode…….a few fishtailing close calls and you quickly learned to declutch when not on throttle travelling downhill. This must trigger the ABS in modern cars, but, come to think of it, there are no RWD 5 speed diesels sold over here any more.

  • avatar
    racer-esq.

    Jaguar decided against importing the diesel X-Type wagons when it realized that it would not be able to meet the internet’s requested $14,500 price point.

  • avatar
    MrWhopee

    Um, why the defective cruise control programming is unique to the diesel wagon? Wouldn’t they be the same for sedans with the same engine? How come the diesel sedans are not affected?

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      Perhaps the two body styles have different braking systems because of the greater likelihood that the wagon will carry larger loads that effect weight distribution.

      • 0 avatar
        dolorean

        If I remember correctly, the primary use of diesel wagons in Europe would be for Caravan (Trailer) hauling. Therefore the conditions for the electronic code would be different for the wagon vs. the sedan as would the braking system and transmission gearing.

  • avatar
    grzydj

    Why don’t you call “your girls” Douchy McBigdouche and Douch McDouchlass since you think everybody is such a douche?

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