My Jeep Wrangler wouldn't start. It would crank fine but wouldn't start. I cleaned the battery cables with baking soda and a wire brush. Now all it will do is flash the instrument and turn signal light when I try to start it. And it won't crank at all.
From your post, it seems that you may have only cleaned the outside of the terminals. The engine was cranking... this tells me that 'though cleaning the terminals is a good maintenence item, you did not have a problem there. Remove the cables and clean the inside of the wire terminals and the battery contacts. This will put you back where it would crank, but not start. (make sure the battery is fully charged while you are there) After you can crank the engine, check for spark at plug wires, fuel supply etc. Problems there will begin to tell you where to proceed! Good luck!
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Jiggle the wire connectors going in to the computer under the hood -- first check battery cables/terminal connections at battery -- beleive it or not, connection could SEEM good because you get crank & lights, but if it's faulty, loose, engine won't start - computer requires good solid voltage flow.. next check a fusible link very close to the battery off of the positive cable. check fusible link carefully. this could cause your problem for sure.
when you state it wouldn't crank, do you mean the starter won't engage or that it just spins over and doesn't start? if no gauges or no starter engagement, then check the battery, battery connections,and the starter for excessive amperage draw. if the starter spins and the engine won't start, then check crankshaft position sensor first. the crank sensor is a more common failure than the distributor or any of the other things you mentioned.
there is only two things left. the crank sensor that is located at the top of the transmission bellhousing or the pick up inside of the dist. it is that black plate that sits between the cap and the dist housing. hope that helps.
This is basic, but first off, try to shift it into neutral, and try to start it. It is easy for the linkage to get out of adjustment, where it thinks the jeep is in gear. If that does not work, make sure you have battery power to the ignition and starter.