MILES DRIVEN (quarter/to date): 7590.8/20,220
FUEL MILEAGE (quarter/to date): 23.32 mpg/21.58 mpg
FUEL COST (quarter/to date): $710.89/$1,817.10
DAYS OUT OF SERVICE (quarter/to date): Eight/nine
MAINTENANCE: Replace parking brake module, twice (warranty); replace one tire, rotate and balance four tires, four-wheel alignment ($415.53); re-dye back seat (warranty); spit-shine passenger seat (no charge)
As you skim over these words keep the number 66,770 in mind. That’s the sticker price on our long-term Jaguar XJ8, slathered in all the luxury bits any lover of fine cars demands.
By now you know we use these quarterly updates to showcase how our test cars behave on the road and how they help us escape into the joy of driving. This update, however, is different because our experience was different. This story focuses on our dealer experience, a big part of the own ership experience, and we can only hope ours is different from yours.
Last quarter we chronicled the troubles we had with a recurring parking brake fault light, which required a second service. One new battery and parking brake motor later the same problem returned to haunt us for the third quarter—not once but three times. That’s right: Through nine months in our garage the parking brake fault light flashed and stayed
on five separate times.
This time, however, our fancy-pants car garnered dungaree service. Specifically, this quarter (though we put 7590 miles on the car) we endured the worst dealership experience and service that we’ve encountered in 12 years of long-term vehicle evaluations.
We know dealers are independent businesses separate from the factory. But is it not reasonable to believe that a local Michigan Jaguar dealer—one that services Ford’s executive fleet business—would be more attentive, more customer oriented? Yes, you’d think that, and we found you’d be wrong. Also, we know that as a company Jaguar has vaulted toward the top in a number of internal and independent quality audits. Simply, the cars are better today than when Lucas, the "Prince of Darkness,"reigned supreme.
Still, we had problems. To wit: This quarter’s first visit required we give up our XJ8 for seven days to wait for a new parking brake module, as well as to have a damaged tire that we had changed replaced. During that week we made calls daily to
check on the car’s status. Those calls went unanswered; promises of completion dates passed unfulfilled and claims of work completed proved untrue.
When we did pick up the car, we found the spare tire still mounted and the damaged one still in the trunk. To top it off, we found the set of (wrong size) replacement Kumho treads, which we had previously toted to the dealer in the back of a pickup and personally delivered to the service department, chucked into the dove-colored back seat of our Jag. Do you know how tough it is to get tire skid marks off leather?
Two days later, when the parking brake fault light reappeared, back went the car. We finally got the damaged tire replaced and another parking brake module installed. But we weren’t finished.
During the next three days we returned to the dealership three additional times to get the"vulcanized"rear seats cleaned; when that failed, they were re-dyed (which itself was an ordeal).
If you can’t guess what happened next you’re not alone.
The service manager, speaking to how the Kumhos got in the back seat, said, "Our guys would never do that."You fill in the blanks.
But wait... When we went to retrieve our car, we inspected it thoroughly and pointed out a dirt smudge on the back of the passenger seat. The sales manager stopped a service clerk who was running to get some cleaner and right there in front of us proceeded to—no joke—spit-clean our seat.
Ten days later, as we came to the end of this quarter’s review, the stains showed through the dye job and, yeah, that parking brake fault light returned
. One saving grace: Jaguar U.S., alerted to the car’s woes, dispatched help dedicated to getting to the bottom of this brake fault light problem, the result of which we’ll share next update.
What was that number again?