By on April 9, 2013

TTAC commentator jdmcomp writes:

I own a Jaguar (Ford Era) that gets driven only about once a week, with jaunts of a few miles to several hundred. I keep syn oil in the engine. I have owned this car for several years and the only problem to date is the flat spotting of the tires. What should I do to keep this vehicle in good running condition? Is weekly driving enough?

Sajeev answers:

As someone with more cars than sense I could use, let me tell you: weekly driving is the best place to start.  Driving prevents leaks from dried out gaskets, keeps fuel (especially E10 blends) fresh by never letting it go bad, recharges the battery, keeps tires round, prevents fluids from separating into its base ingredients (coolant turning into jelly or crystals),  brakes (caliper pistons) free of rust and ensures your HVAC system doesn’t get sticky mechanisms/stale smelling.

This driving regiment will highlight “old car” problems: some major enough for immediate attention, others not important enough to ever address for the life of the vehicle. It’s all part of the process, and it’s a fun process.  Why?

Because NOT driving a car is a death sentence. Drive the Jag sometimes and drive it hard.  You already trust it for long journeys, this is a no brainer. The Jag will like it, and you will love it.**

  • Bad day at work? Take the Jag to the corporate car park tomorrow.  Shock/impress/intimidate your co-workers.  They need it, too.
  • Want to make a statement at a party?  Motor in the Jag and come correct, like a Boss.
  • Nervous about a first date? Not in a Shaguar you ain’t!  Yeeeah baby, yeah!

**Weather pending. I’m looking at you, Rust Belt.


Bonus! A Piston Slap Nugget of Wisdom:

In the above, replace Jaguar with Cougar and you have my basic story. My story is the truth, especially once the cat was old enough for classic car insurance. I know my story applies to anyone with a vehicular “toy” in the garage for occasional use.  Man or woman. Rich or Poor.  Black or White.  Bus pass or mundane daily driver. Jaguar or Cougar. 

Please believe: You gotta Do It, To It.


Send your queries to [email protected]com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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25 Comments on “Piston Slap: Limited Use but Unlimited Potential?...”

  • avatar

    Is the idea of “dried out gaskets” still a reality in a world where cork gaskets aren’t the norm any more? I realize that all materials will age and eventually fail but what’s worse for a modern synthetic or metallic gasket, not having oil spashed on it or thermal cycling it? Anyone of the B&B work for Felpro, or Mr. Gasket, or etc. Wouldn’t short drives raise more PCV system problems than leaking non-existant cork gasket issues?

  • avatar

    More on the Ford era Jag please. XJ? XK?

    *shudder* S-Type or X-type?

    • 0 avatar

      I’d drive an X-type, because I know it’s a 2nd gen Contour under the skin.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      Aww, I actually like the X-type. A successful downsizing of the design language from the large XJ. A slate grey X-type wagon is a genuinely good looking car.

      But from what I’ve read, my fondness likely comes from not having driven one or spent any of my own money on one.

      • 0 avatar

        I don’t even think the X-Type necessarily drove that poorly (the Contour/Mondeo was a well-respected car), it just wasn’t that special for the price, and didn’t hide its Ford roots that well. Resale values have helped take care of that, although it’s your call if you’d want to spend the money to keep one properly maintained, since it didn’t inherit Ford operating costs.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I love the look of the X350/X358 XJ. It just seems so confident and above the rat race that BMW, Lexus, Audi and Mercedes-Benz were participating in at that time. And having an all-aluminum meant that that XJ was also quite fast. There’s something so charming about English automobiles, even when they do break down.

      So I hope that particular model is the one in question….

  • avatar

    Dump the Jag and get a nice, gently-used 200 rag top – NOT the retractable hardtop – convertible. You’ll sleep better at night, and when you do take it out, you’ll have more fun for a lot less money.

    • 0 avatar

      Provided you never have to look at it, inside or out.

    • 0 avatar

      when I see a 200 convertible….I don’t think DB…..I think of a nice word that starts with C and ends with T……. sorry, they aren’t even worthy of rental fleets in Orlando.
      When I see you roll up in the Jag, a feeling of old school touring flickers in my brain…..12 cylinders roaring down a cobblestone lane. Even if that’s not what you’re getting with the Nasser era Jag. When I see a 200 ‘rag top’ I think loser that got schooled at the buy here, pay here lot. Lets be honest with one another, its a Sebring. ‘Nuff said.

    • 0 avatar

      Okay, okay…I was just trying to help, knowing that many are just plain…cheap!

      After all, he didn’t specify what MODEL Jag he had. If it is an X-Type – well, might as well be a 200. An S-Type…a bit better. Anything above that – I’d say it would be a keeper.

  • avatar

    What is a driving regiment? Is that like armored cavalry?

  • avatar

    Definite agreement with the weekly drive. It’s worked very well for my Porsche, to the point that its become the preferred bicycle hauler for my Sunday morning roadwork with the gang. Possibly the only caveat I’ll add is if you end up putting vintage plates and insurance on the car. If you have, watch when you drive it. Here in Virginia, being pulled over with a vintage plate car during morning rush hour isn’t unheard of. Some local sheriff’s department can be real prick about the stipulation that a vintage car is not allowed to be used for daily transportation.

    • 0 avatar

      Excellent points. For regular use, a more normal plate (we have antique and classic car plates in Texas, the classic plate is for regular use) and a collector car policy with an honest yearly mileage allowance is the right move.

      I have classic plates and a few thousand miles mileage allowance on my classic car policy. Totally worth the couple hundred a year to keep the car around.

  • avatar

    I’ve been driving my 69 Mustang at least weekly 12 months per year for the last 25 years. Logged about 100,000 miles in that time. Some long trips, some grocery-getting. Everything Sajeev says is absolutely correct. Lots of driving pleasure. Lots of “thumbs up”.

  • avatar

    Love the old Jags despite them being Jags. Which one, XJ40? X305?

    • 0 avatar

      XJs are the ones I can’t get out of my head. Especially with what you’d pay for one now that they’ve been beaten with the depreciation stick.

  • avatar

    In full disclosure, it is an S-Type, 2003. I love the retro styling (Brit form of Panther love) and find the Ford parts have made this a reliable driver as well as a great saloon for special occasions (I always wanted the 3.8 saloon but do know what it takes, thus the S-Type). Almost 90 K and running well. I find the upright styling comfortable, the creature comforts great and the car rides and handles quite well for such a large car. Yes, there are flashier cars in the Jaguar line, but this is transportation and not a status car. At 65 years it suits me well. (I did own a SS100 replica, which did not suit me at all)

    My daily is an HHR (shooting brake and garden car) and I own a 2012 Kia Optima Turbo and a Yamaha Star Cruiser. I have years of working on Brit sports cars and a full understanding of what it takes to keep one of those classics running, something I really do not care to do at present (or maybe ever again). I was looking for verification that my weekly jaunts were sufficient. Thanks all, and burn a 200 for me.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      To be fair, once you’ve replaced everything that could possibly fail, Jaguars can actually be quite preservable (at least when compared to an Audi, BMW or Mercedes-Benz product of similar vintage) as long as you take care of them…which I see you are doing.

      And you also have a late-model Kia Optima? Clearly you have good taste, mate.

  • avatar

    Three things:

    1) Put a battery charger/maintainer on it. I like the Shumacher SE-1-12S on-board unit (with an extended AC power cord that exits the lower grille area).

    2) DEFINITELY use a fuel treatment such as Sta-Bil. This will keep the fuel (even with E10) from going bad and gunking up your injectors. Even better if you can use an ethanol-free gas (check

    3) Keep your tires inflated to maximum during storage (or even slightly overfill them – 50psi on a 44psi max tire will do no harm while sitting) to avoid flat spots. If you’re really serious about avoiding the flat spots, buy four small scissor jacks and keep the tires just off the ground while the car is garaged.

  • avatar

    ” Motor in the Jag and come correct, like a Boss.”

    I’m a fan of the new XJ, it’s a great car, but there is nothing quite like driving one of the classic XJs. The Series III models have the best looks but the Ford era cars are probably more reliable (though the 6 cylinder “XJ” Jaguar engine is about as mechanically reliable as a machine can be). The classic XJs are proper motor cars. The only better way to arrive, as far as I’m concerned, would be in a pre-war dual cowl phaeton, preferably a Duesenberg, but a Packard, Cadillac or Lincoln dual cowl would be fine.

  • avatar
    George B

    If it was mine, I’d make a point of driving the Jag every weekend. Drive it more than just a few miles like 10 miles or more each way to make sure it gets up to operating temperature. Use the air conditioning at least once a month. I’d probably pay a few cents extra a gallon for one of the higher end gasoline brands like Shell or Chevron. If it’s used every week I doubt you’ll need to do anything special like keep the battery on a charger or add fuel stabilizer. Tires may need to be replaced due to age before the tread wears out.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree on making sure it gets to operating temperature every week. That’s generally a good tip on any car, especially for people who only drive short distances.

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