Question about 1990 Jeep Cherokee Limited

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1990 Jeep Cherokee Laredo hard to start and won't stay running

My Jeep starts best when cold (most of the time), but idles roughly and dies at operating temp. I usually have to wait for a few hours before it will start again. The only way to keep it running when i have to slow down or stop is to drop it into neutral and give it gas. Even at times this does not always work and it still dies and won't restart. Occasionally, when trying to restart, it makes a small backfire through the throttle body and we get a puff of white smoke from the air filter housing. There's also a problem with the idle surging randomly and then dropping very low.

I have replaced all of the plugs, battery and fuel filter. I can hear the fuel pump working when I turn on the switch and there is good pressure coming from the rail when tested.

Yesterday, after installing the plugs and fuel filter, we had to get it jumped because the battery had drained from trying to start it. After it was started, it idled roughly and began to whistle under the hood on the driver's side, but I could not locate the source. I am not certain if that is related to my problem, but thought it might be worth mentioning just in case.

As of today, it no longer starts at all, but the starter does spin and the motor sputters when I release the key from starting position as if it was trying to engage. The battery is showing a charge and I checked the distributor cap and rotor button; both looked fine with only a small amount of wear.

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  • sekspot May 16, 2009

    Thank you! I will try this tomorrow when the rain stops since I must work outside. Would this be too difficult fix for a DIY with a few friends? I have changed head/valve cover gaskets before, but not an intake.


  • sekspot May 16, 2009

    Head gaskets ****, but valve covers are much easier, at least to me anyway. I have a 4WD, 4.0L, FI, 6 Cyl engine.


  • sekspot May 16, 2009

    You know, you're right. It's been four years since I changed a head gasket and I forgot about the manifolds. That and I am running on two hours of sleep. I will run the test and maybe get someone else to double check for me just to be certain before I start tearing stuff apart.

    Thanks again and I'll let you know how it turns out.


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  • Jeep Master
  • 6,982 Answers

Sounds like a leaking intake gasket. If you can start it again, take about a three foot piece of hose and put one end to your ear and "scan" the intake area for the noise. or , spray carb cleaner at the intake parting line while running when the idle changes you have found your leak.
I could determine this easier if I were there, but odds are I'm right.
good luck...need further help just ask.

Posted on May 15, 2009

  • Richard Scordino May 16, 2009

    If you have done those things then it shouldn't be too difficult. You didn't mention which engine you have though.

  • Richard Scordino May 16, 2009

    If you have done a head gasket then you have done an intake manifold. I don't enjoy certain jobs but ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
    Make sure you check it first though...don't want to do anything unless it's necessary.


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SOURCE: 1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee Laredo .Driving along and

Could be your crank sensor has gone bad.

Posted on Feb 09, 2011

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