Question about 1996 Jeep Grand Cherokee

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Dangerous on road shutdowns.

I have a 1996 Grand Cherokee, aprox 125,000 miles. It has shut down completely while driving 65+ mph on the freeway. No lights, no power brakes, no power steering. Then I get to the side of the road, turn the key off and turn it back on, I get nothing. No click, no lights, not even hazzard lights.
Sometimes the Jeep will start after about 5 minutes, sometimes 15. It will also sometimes not start randomly. I was shopping today for about an hour, came out to go home, turned the key and got nothing at all. No lights, no radio, no click, no fuel pump etc etc. I have had it in hot and cold temperatures, same behavior.
Any Ideas?

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  • jamesl4012 Dec 15, 2008

    As they say, the simplest answer usually is. I overlooked the main terminals. I cleaned and reconnected the batt. terminals. Made sure they were tight. When I lifted the hood today, one was barely on there. Everything is working smoothly and perfectly since then.

    This morning driving to work, the computer flashed, "check Battery," and the gauge went up into the red on the charge. I don't know what caused that, but I popped the car into neutral for a second, and then back into drive and it went back to normal. That was before I reconnected the batt terminal.

  • erictag Dec 17, 2008

    I had the same problem. Took it to two mechanics before diagnosed correctly. It was a emissions sensor that was not giving the engine correct mixture information- would shut down when hot. Have computer checked on your engine for codes, that should give mechainic direction. cost me 480 to fix.

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Well it sounds like you are having complete power losses, so we'll start at the source, the battery. Check the connections to the battery, make sure they are completely tight and clean.  If there is any corrosion at the terminals disconnect them and clean everything with a wire brush.  Inspect the battery cables for corrosion, trace the negative cables to their connections, and pay particular attention to the connection points on the body and the engine block. Make sure these connections are clean and tight. Trace and check the positive cables (being careful with exposed parts of wires that could shock you) to their connections at the alternator and the power distribution block located behind the battery.  It doesn't sound like a bad battery, but if you notice bloating or cracking, have it thoroughly tested. It sounds like the problem should be isolated to the power source (battery, cables, and distribution block), as no other component failure would cause a complete lack of power to all vehicle systems.  Let me know how this goes, and we'll go from there.

Posted on Dec 14, 2008

  • Ken Wolter Dec 16, 2008

    Glad to hear you got it fixed.  Loose battery cables can cause any number of problems and false warnings. Make sure the battery connections are staying tight and use some terminal protector to keep them clean.

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How to do the drive cycle of a 1996 Nissan pathfinder


How to Perform a Basic Drive Cycle


Step One: How to Prepare Your Vehicle

  • Have the fuel tank between 30 and 70 percent full. Some systems, especially the EVAP system, need to have a specific level of fuel in order for the tests to be trusted. If the fuel tank is near empty or completely full, many of the basic tests will not run at all.
  • The vehicle must also have a good alternator and a strong battery. If you have to occasionally jump-start your vehicle, all of the memory from the powertrain control module (PCM) is erased, which includes the data that accurately tracks the results from various stages of the Drive Cycle. Also, if the battery is weak or undercharged, some of the most important tests will never run.
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  • The keys must be out of the ignition and all of the doors must be closed while the vehicle sits over night because many of the onboard computers "boot up" when the keys are in the ignition. Also, many of the onboard computers still run until all of the doors are closed after the vehicle is shut off and the keys are removed.
Step Two: The Cold Start
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  • Next, put the vehicle in gear and drive through city streets at about 25 mph. Go up to about 35 to 40 mph a few times before slowing down to stop. Don't roll through the stop; be sure the car is really stopped, just like you learned in driving school. Accelerate from each stop in a normal fashion-not overly conservative, but not like you are competing in a drag race either.
Step Three: A Short Freeway Trip
  • After the vehicle has been cold started and driven for a few miles on city streets, the next step is to take it on a short freeway trip.
  • Enter the freeway on-ramp and allow enough room with respect to other vehicles so that you can do a 1/2 to 3/4 throttle acceleration up to freeway speed.
  • When you have accelerated up to around 60 mph and have safely merged into the flow of traffic, stay in the slow lane and maintain a steady speed of 55 to 60 mph for a minimum of five miles. Please use the cruise control to help you maintain speed.
  • Find a nice, long off ramp to exit from the freeway. As you exit, take your foot off of the accelerator and let the vehicle coast down until it stops under its own power as you complete your exit from the freeway. Do not use the foot brake and do not shift gears until the very end of this "coast down" phase.
Step Four: More City Driving
  • After you have completed the freeway trip, drive through the city streets for a repeat of the second part of Step Two.
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Step Five: Wave your Readiness Monitors Checked and Verified
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