Thoughts and advice on the care and feeding of fine automobiles from Machine Aficionado and bestselling author John Elder Robison, owner of JE Robison Service in Springfield, Massachusetts

We are independent restoration, repair, sales and service for Audi, BMW, Bentley, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mercedes-Benz, Porsche and Rolls-Royce automobiles.

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Jaguar convertible tops and bleeding hydraulics

Has your Jaguar convertible's top started going up and down very slowly, or quit working entirely?  If so, there is a good chance the hydraulic fluid has turned to jelly.

The hydraulic fluid Jaguar used from 1997 to the mid 2000s was prone to solidify and block the lines.  It tended to clog worst in the valve up above the rear view mirror.  The photo above shows a 1999 Jag with the header bar removed so the lines and valve can be cleaned out over the drain pan.

This problem is also the cause of excess stress on the hoses, which may manifest itself by lines that blow out and spray oil on the inside of the roof liner, or the dash.

So what do you do about this problem?  You flush the lines and get rid of the old fluid and and chunks of gel.  It's a bit time consuming but it's easier to do when the top still works.  In that case, flushing and changing to synthetic fluid usually takes about three hours.  Changing the hoses from the windshield header back is a bigger job; that usually takes all day.

Other than this, the convertible top mechanisms on XK8 cars is pretty trouble free.  The only other service we commonly do is replace the canvas cover, which gets weathered after 8-10 years in New England.

Robison Service has specialized in Jaguar and other fine British automobiles for 25 years.  We're located in Springfield, Massachusetts.


Jamie said...

Very well said article and car renovation blog. Thumbs up.

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Sid E said...

My 99 xk8 top simply quit opening one day, but the latch opens and closes perfectly every time, it's just that the top doesn't open anymore. So I checked at the pump for the first time ever and noticed that it was low on fluid, so I purchased the new and required Pentosin fluid, then I check which fluid was already present in the pump and it was green like the Pentosin, then I refilled the pump to the proper level then closed it up.

When I then tried to open the top, same thing happened again, the latch opens but the top doesn't retract, and if I persist then it cycles and closes the latch even though I kept the rocker switch in the open the top position, so i then pressed the switch to the close position to close the latch again.

So I went to the pump and opened the pressure valve to release the pressure then tried again, same result and the fluid level doesn't change so I'm assuming that either none was missing in the system and only the level was low even though I didn't notice any leaks anywhere. What am i doing wrong, the level is where it should be?

Thanks a lot, Sid

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