Jaguar Nikasil No Start Cylinder Washing

I recently had several questions on the seriousness of Sulfur and Nikasil and the No-Start conditions that seem to be occurring on the 4.0 v8 blocks between 1997 to 2000. In order to answer this question I need to separate this into 2 parts. 1. Sulfur and Nikasil and 2. No-Start. For now I will only address the no-start conditions in this listing as best I can.

No-start can lead you into many different directions and for this reason you need to organize yourself and first get the OBD codes. In most cases your codes will put you in the right direction. However, at times they can mislead and confuse the best. Get all your codes and write them down. Next, check for fuel. It appears that we are seeing several fuel pumps going bad (1- in xk8 & 2 - in xkr) and they are located in the fuel tank. Also check your fuse for the fuel pumps and the inertia switch. The inertia switch is designed to turn the power off to the ignition, trunk fuse box and fuel pump in the event of an accident to prevent accidental fuel spill.  (The inertia switch is installed next to the fuse box in the LH end of the fascia. When activated, it de-energizes the ignition relays in the engine compartment, driver's side fascia and trunk fuse boxes. It also removes ground inputs from the BPM and windshield wiper stalk switch. This stops the engine and fuel pump, unlocks any locked door, and de-energizes unnecessary electrical systems.  The switch is reset by pressing down on the rubber cap on the top of the switch). This step is often overlooked and does complicate the no-start situation. No fuel no start and you end up draining the battery and looking elsewhere for the problem. Check the fuel pressure (45psi+/- a few psi) and fuel filter. If you have fuel and fuel pressure you need to check for spark. If you have fuel & spark and your OBD codes do not make sense Check the plugs to the Throttle Body They have a mismatch on material and loose contact. or you may have the dreaded washed cylinders. This often takes place when the engine is not up to operation temperature before it is turned off. You say what does that mean? When you move the car from the driveway to the road, starting the car then turning it off and or taking short trips that the engine does not get to the optimum operating temperature. The un-burnt fuel remains in the cylinders causing the fuel to wash the cylinder walls resulting in no compression and resulting in a no start situation. It also appears that Jaguar addresses the over fueling with 2 Technical Service Bulletins (TSB).

This is a list of things you need to check

1. Capture all the OBD codes
2. Check the inertia switch
3. Check for fuel and fuel pressure at the fuel rail
4. Check for spark
5. Check the Throttle Body plugs for proper contact
6. Check the "P" & "N" Transmission switch.  If it does not start in "P" put it in "N" and try again
7. Check that you have sufficient battery power to start the car
8. Is your engine a Nikasil block?

Often cylinder washing can also be identified when attempting to start the car the engine seems to turn over more freely (without compression).

If you had confirmed all the above checks and you car engine block is Nikasil then you will need to do a few things to get the car started.

1.    Have a fully charged battery

2.    Remove all your spark plugs and introduce about a spoon full of engine oil to each cylinder and reinstall the plugs

3.    Press the accelerator to the floor and hold it (this cuts off the fuel to the engine)

4.    Try to start the car in about 15 to 20 seconds at a time keeping the accelerator to the floor and do this about two times.  This will allow the oil to work its way around each cylinder

In order to prevent you from burning up your starter you need to only allow the starter to run for 15 to 20 seconds and allow it to cool down if your car takes more than several attempts to start.

5.    At this time you will want to let up on the accelerator about half way and hold it and begin starting at about 15 to 20 second bursts.  After several attempts the car will begin sputtering and a heck of a lot of smoke will be coming out of your exhaust and this will be normal until the oil in the cylinders are.  Keep the car running by feathering the accelerator.

Comments from Mark who had a successful start:

Hey Gus,
We're up and running. Special thanks to you. You had it nailed, and I just had to figure out how to make it work. Check out the details on Roadfly. Your support was amazing. Hope I can return the favor some day.
Meanwhile, enjoy,

This is a what Mark had done to get his car started:

E-Mail from Mark 1997 xk8:

Wahooooo! Thanks all for your support and great suggestions. Looks like your first instincts were correct. I checked everything I could, including a visual on both the Cam position sensor and the crank position sensor and they looked fine. This morning I decided that I had to give it my last, best shot at building compression and get it going before making the dreaded call to the dealer. I felt it important to make sure I had 360 degrees of cylinder oil coverage that would stay without dumping a quart of oil in there to reach the high end of the rings. But how to do it? I got a length of small clear plastic tubing, a bit bigger than a fish tank aerator hose, melted one end closed, and put a hole in the side of it near the closed end. This was to get a spray out the side of the hose. I then mixed up a cocktail of Marvel Mystery Oil and STP. This would surly stay in place and lubricate very well. Then I got the high tech tool. The fully calibrated oral vacuum/pressure pump. I then sucked the oil cocktail into the hose, made sure I inserted the hose all the way through each spark plug hole, and then forced the oil out into each cylinder while spinning the hose around in order to reach the whole circumference of each one. I didn't bother taking another compression test, as this would either work, or not. Well, it took a little convincing, but by alternately fully depressing and releasing the throttle peddle while cranking on and off so as not to overheat the starter motor, the Cat slowly, cylinder by cylinder, came back to life, in a big black cloud of glory. I then opened the garage doors (yeah, details, details) and ran it for about 15 minutes. It was a bit confused at first, not responding exactly to the throttle perfectly, but it ran smoothly. I then took it out for a well deserved fill-up and went to the local Auto Zone with the Check Engine light glowing at me to make use of their scanner. The same 5 codes came up as before. I erased them, ran the car for a few minutes (It's OK, it was warmed up) and scanned again. Just read P1000 and P1643, and the check engine light was out. Still sporting that low coolant light though, but I don't care for now. I'll worry about that later. It did run even better on the way home. Maybe the computer is in re-learning mode. Meanwhile, we're back in business.

Again, thanks for everyone's suggestions and support. Couldn't have done it without you.


These are the OBD codes he pulled:

P0102 – MAFS circuit low voltage
P0112 – IATS circuit high voltage low air temperature
P0444 – EVAPP valve circuit open circuit
P1000 – System check not completed since last memory clear
P1336 - Crankshaft position system
P1643 – CAN TCM token message missing

 Mark mentioned holding the accelerator to the floor. Holding it to the floor turns off the fuel to the engine, crank several times that way and then let up on the accelerator about half way (1/2) while starting, this will provide fuel to start. I would not crank longer than 30 sec +/ – a few and be sure to allow a few moments for the starter to cool off. It is not uncommon to continually crank the car until it starts and you will want to do this. This could and has burn up the starters and I can tell you first hand that starters are expensive.

Don't be bashful; the dealer tech is going to spend a lot of time doing the same thing at $120 per hour.

You will notice that washed cylinders seems to be in the series of Nikasil engines.

Nikasil is a trademarked electrodeposited lipophilic nickel matrix silicon carbide coating for engine components, mainly piston engine cylinder liners. It was introduced by Mahle in 1967. This coating allowed aluminum cylinders and pistons to work directly against each other with low wear and friction. Unlike other methods, including cast iron cylinder liners, Nikasil allowed very large cylinder bores with tight tolerances and thus allowed existing engine designs to be expanded easily, the aluminum cylinders also gave a much better heat conductivity than cast iron liners, which is an important factor for a high output engine. The bottom line is that Nikasil is a slick surface that in my opinion under ideal conditions will allow the unfired fuel in the cylinders to wash the cylinder walls of lubricating oils resulting it the washed cylinder problem, resulting in no compression. This doesn’t seem to be as much a problem with steel sleeve engines.

I can tell you this, the first time this took place with my 99 xk8 I had the system reflashed (TSB 303-35 & 303-52).  I had the same problem 2 times after the reprogramming.  I can honestly say that I did not know about this problem and how to prevent it.  My wife and I would often take short trips and it was not uncommon for me to just move the car to the street.  I am doing this is to help others to understand why the no start takes place.

I found several other reasons for no start, the “J” switch working intermittently mentioned earlier and the key transponder module (KTM) 1998 when the key is turned quickly through position I & II without waiting for the instrument panel warning light to light up. And many others but have not seen them on a post.

This is a 1996 XK8 being started after adding oil to the cylinders to get compression have the car outside or the doors open.  The oil will cause smoke.

Now you will hear several schools of thought on what is being suggested for you to do and I can tell you that I have been recommending this procedure for years on several of the forums (, & and had nothing but success without any repercussions as suggested by a few. If you need additional information on this please let me know, I will do all I can to answer your questions.


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