Question about 1996 Jeep Cherokee

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96 jeep cherokee. Started acting up a month or so ago when I was driving in the rain and started driving over a rough road. Problem escalated to point the jeep wouldn't start. I noticed the ground that went from the firewall over to the the top of the valve cover was nearly severed. I replaced this and it still wouldn't start. Ended up being the crank sensor. I had just put a crank sensor on this about a year ago but it seemed to fix the problem. Or at least I though it did. One week later I was driving on a rough road and it was rainingand it started to sputter. Problem went away. Last week driving in the rain the problem began again and even shut the motor down. Turned the car over again and it start right up. This past weekend I replace the plugs, wires, distributor, and rotor button. Took off last night car ran great until I got about 40 miles down the road and the jeep shut off. Pulled off the side of the road, turned the key and it started right up. Turned around and drove it home. Jeep ran fine until I get to my gravel driveway, car shuts off again as I start hitting bumps in the road. Two weeks ago I found a semi damaged wire coming off the wiring harness to the full pump. I stripped the wire back, cleaned it up, respliced it and it still did the same thing. Now tell me, where am I grounding out or what else could this be? I had a suggestion that this may be a cam sensor. Replaced that less than a year ago. Another individual tells me that he has heard of such a thing when the ground that is located under the radiator region is being pinched or damaged. 3 months ago I had a new radiator put in the jeep after my wife hit a deer. Jeep ran fine, then this all began. I had the alternator tested it was fine. Could this be a computer problem???? Any ideas?????????????

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With any loose wire situation, I'd have as much luck telling you which wire to look at as if you would to try and guess which persons shoe was untied in a dark movie theater. There are just too many of them, all of which are important.
One thing you can do to eliminate ground problems without actually finding a problem is to run an independent ground wire from the battery to the right fender, back to the firewall, around to the left fender, then to the front cross bar above the radiator. Use a minimum of 10 gauge wire for this, and do not use separate pieces. Strip away insulation at attachment points and make a loop, attaching with a short self tapping screw and washer. I also discard the factory negative battery cable and use a very heavy wire (I use welding cable) . Same applies to positive cable. Anywhere there is a factory ground lead I connect the new ground wire, cleaning the screw holes and the new ones I added with rough sandpaper, making sure there is no paint on the connection. I also run a separate feeder ground from the continuous ground, through the firewall to the cross brace below the dashboard. This may appear to be "overkill" but I never have to wonder if there is a sufficient ground anywhere. Use a squirt of undercoating on each new ground for rust protection.
Back to your problem...The oldest test is likely going to be the best one for you...Try wiggling the harness at different places and see if the engine stalls or stumbles.Since the problem began after impact, check that the impact sensor and auto shutdown relay are working, and that the wiring is not pinched or damaged. The impact sensor can trigger the airbag so be careful when working with it. Computer problems are not as common as you would think...You see many posts here dealing with them but no one posts about what they have that's working there are many more working perfectly than not...Could it be a computer problem ? Yes. Do I think it is? I doubt it. When running the grounding wire, there are usually at least two ground wires that come from the computer harness. make sure they are properly grounded as well.
As with any no-start problem, do the majority of your testing when it's not starting...when it's working, whatever is not working is not going to show up..I once spent two weeks carrying around test equipment to check an electrical problem on my own vehicle. Problem would always show up two or more miles from my shop and would disappear as soon as I got within a hundred yards of the shop or home. If I hadn't tested it where it died, I would never have found it till it had gotten so bad that I would have gotten stranded. Be safe and don't get out on a freeway, but do carry a volt/ohm meter with you to do quick side of the road or parking lot testing.Try to first isolate what is going down (spark or fuel), then get more specific with tests. Parts you have changed are suspect 'till they have been tested...Quality of parts today is horrible and cannot be depended upon .
It may take some time, but you will find it!
Good luck

Posted on Jul 31, 2009

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