Question about 1998 Jeep Cherokee

4 Answers

Cranks slowly or not at all, Elec. Short?

1998 Jeep Cherokee Classic (110,000 mi)
Spent a $1000 at a shop for new radiator and some frost plugs. Got the vehicle back and everything seemed fine. A week later, I tried to start it and it barely turned over; cranked very slowly. It barely fired up the first time; then the next day it cranked even slower but not fast enough to start - I had to jump-start it. I DO hear the clicking sound(solenoid?) even when it wont turn over. When it is running, it runs just fine - so I'm pretty sure it is getting fuel and spark. I replaced the battery cable clamps first - seemed to work for about 1 day, then same problems over again. Removed alternator and had it checked - found OK. I read that if you removed the negative battery cable and put a test light between the battery post & the cable, it will light up if you have a short (if your key is OFF). I tried this and it does light up (quite dim though) but then it immediately begins to dim and goes out altogether ( in about 1 second). When I place the test light across the battery itself, the light glows more brightly than in the previous test. This makes me think that wherever this electrical path is, it is a high resistance path. What I cannot comprehend is why the light goes out? If there is a short, I think the light would stay on, right? I put a 50 AMP load on the battery, but don't know exactly how to read the display, so I don't know if things were good or bad(I can take a photo of the display under load, if anyone wants to see it). I still have 6 months left on my battery warranty, so my next step is going to be a free replacement battery. I am also going to be cleaning the connections on the starter, they are pretty caked up with gunk. Also, when I used a portable battery jumper or use another vehicle to jump it, it seems to turn over faster but still a little slow. As I am writing this, I am starting to suspect the starter/solenoid. Any ideas?
FYI: I live in Michigan, so the air temp is around 20 degrees F.


P.S. There is nothing better than when people try to help you with your vehicle problems. Thank you EVERYONE. Even as frustrating as this is, I still feel a little relieved when people try to help.

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  • Patrick
    Patrick Dec 06, 2008

    THANK YOU Mike : ) Very informative solution.



    I decided to forgo the starter removal/testing and just removed the battery and had it tested at AutoZone. Test results said "recharge the battery and retest", so the guy was nice enough to just give me a new battery. Installed that and it seemed to fix the problem; though I am still a little suspicious of a short somewhere.



    About the dash clock, I actually don't have a built in clock. The only clock is on my stereo receiver. When I installed the new battery, I did not do my previous "short" test; so I'm a little "iffy" on that possibility.



    I hesitate to go to a repair shop and ask them about my test light glowing because I don't know how willing the mechanics would be to give out free advice. I know of at least one shop that might be kind enough to advise me, but not sure.





    Thanks Freetek...

    I never would have thought about a situation like that, but I will remember it for future reference. It is very helpful to hear of other peoples' past problems because that could give me insight for my future problems (which I know I will have). Thanks again....

  • Snowhite AL Feb 27, 2009

    Hi guys, I have a similar problem with same product. We replaced the starter last two weekends ago. Three days later it would not start. Cleaned the cable ends, changed to a heavy duty battery and charged it, and mechanic tightened/ adjusted the shifter lines. They were loose and would not go into Park. No problem until yesterday. I left work and traveled about 10 miles, turned it off, and started it 5 minutes later and all I got was the ticking noise. What power was there was completely drain with 3 tries to start. We "jump started" it but unless you kept it at 1-2 rpms the Jeep will not stay cranked. You must jump start it to crank. Mine has a little over 224K miles. No major problems until now. What do you think?

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Nothing like the good old days, take a hammer and bang on your starter, there is resistance in it. Eventually you will need to replace the starter if this method works. Check your ground wires

Posted on Dec 06, 2008

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 I am also going to be cleaning the connections on the starter, they are pretty caked up with gunk.
We have a bevy of Jeeps in the family and on two occasions (shame on us) we didn't pay close enough attention to the (very common) valve cover gasket seepage. Each of these experienced exactly the problem you are having despite having done all you have gone through but disassembling the starters, we found that oil had made its way into the starters over the years, had partially hardened on the copper surface of the commutator, partially insulating it so the brushes were only contacting by accident instead of constantly. Considering that the starter sucks about 100-200 amps, that path has to be clean or it won't turn as it should.
Both cleaned up and even the brushes, once cleaned with solvent and gently sanded with emory, were serviceable again.         

Posted on Dec 06, 2008

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Hi Patrick,

This whole site is about people helping one another. There are experts from just about any field you can think of freely giving the benefit of decades of experience for the asking. I hope we can solve your problem.

From your description (which was quite good BTW) I'm leaning toward the battery over the starter/solenoid.

The reasoning? When you get a jump the solenoid works, the Jeep starts.

Definitely get the battery checked. Most auto parts stores and just about every battery supplier will load test them for you.

You can test a battery for voltage, have it read 12.5VDC (a good reading with the engine off) and still have it barely turn over. Why?

It's called a surface charge. Has the volts but not the Amps. That's what the load test is for. It simulates a heavy amp draw (like the starter). If it reads less than good...., it's bad.

That dim light you see on your tester?
-=>You have a clock on the dash, right?
Why does it go out? Unless the clock stopped, ????????

If any other details come to mind let me know.

Hope this helps
Mike

Posted on Dec 06, 2008

  • 1 more comment 
  • Justin Case
    Justin Case Dec 06, 2008

    A bit more info for you.

    The clicking sound is the starter solenoid engaging the starter.

    Only in this case it's failing to engage the starter. Here's why.

    As the
    starter draws power, there isn't enough left to keep the solenoid
    active and it turns off.

    Since the starter isn't drawing power anymore,
    the solenoid re-engages and the cycle starts over. A series of rapid
    clicks.

    In the 'Let's not over look the obvious' department:
    -=> Have you checked the water level in the battery?

    Let me know how things turn out

    Mike





  • Justin Case
    Justin Case Dec 07, 2008

    Patrick,

    Thanks for the update and the FixYa rating. Both are appreciated.

    Now here 's a little trick for you. It will help you pin point any power drain that may exist (as well as ruling out the radio clock as part of the drain).

    You'll need your electrical tester again. Only this time, instead of checking for a draw at the battery, go to the fuse box.

    Pull the fuses one at a time and use your tester to check for current.

    If it lights up, something is drawing power. If it doesn't, keep looking. When you get a hit, whichever fuse you're on will tell you the sub-system causing the drain. Check the radio first to gauge the response (it should light) Cool huh? I hope you find it useful.

    Thanks again for using Fixya,
    Mike




  • Justin Case
    Justin Case Dec 07, 2008

    Patrick,

    You probably knew this but I skipped a detail of the procedure I just described.

    When you pull the fuses, you're checking for current at the socket for the fuse. One lead to each contact. That's it.

    Sometimes I skip key ingredients.

    Mike


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It sounds like the problem is the starter.. if you take it off autozone will check it for free.

Posted on Dec 06, 2008

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