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Rusty coolant and dead battery

Please help. I am having problems with my 2000 Jeep Cherokee Sport. For a little over a year the air conditioner has not worked (don't know whether this has anything to do with the problem or not). About a year ago we replaced the battery because when trying to start it, the engine would not turn over at all. It acted completely dead. The new battery worked for a while and then it started not turning over again. We left the jeep sit for about 9 months and finally in May of this year put a new alternator in it. It worked fine for about 2 months. About 2 weeks ago, it was not starting again. It would start after it was jumped, but would not start again without another jump. We replaced the battery again. About this time, we also noticed that we were losing coolant (no leak). I then took it to a mechanic who could not find anything wrong with it. Meanwhile the last time I added coolant to the overfill tank, it seemed dirty looking. I opened the radiator cap and found rusty looking fluid. What the heck is going on and could all these problems be related?

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You have several things going on here. 1. Rust in coolant (likely its a 4.0 or four cyl) A while back, the epa rules became so stringent about mpg that most better iron block engines had to be made thinner and from an alloy that has less zinc in it. Zinc prevents internal rust and acts like a binding agent preventing cracks from normal expansion and contraction. Flush radiator and block as well as you can and pray that larger chunk style particles don't plug up radiator. 2.Your charging system is able to keep a battery charged during normal driving, done at least once weekly. Sitting unused for long periods, even the simple memory in the radio can eventually kill it. I'd invest in a "battery tender"...Then, the computer will not loose its memory and the battery will stay in good condition. If you jumped a dead battery and got it started, the alternator may have been overtaxed and failed, as it's not designed to re-charge a battery, only to maintain it's state of charge . You need to get the system checked and squared away. 3. You need to determine where coolant is going. If there is nothing leaking externally then it's being lost inside the engine. Small leaks can evaporate on hot engine parts and not reach the ground...check hot, cold, with cap on, with cap off (don't open hot though) Rusty coolant points to possibility of insufficient antifreeze...if stored during colder months, this can cause cracks in block and cylinder head. Check engine oil for signs of coolant intrusion (coffee milkshake like residue under fill cap, white smoke from tailpipe are two symptoms) As far as being related, it all goes to kind of storage and maintenence it's getting. You can run these things 'till the body falls off if you take care of them.

Posted on Jul 30, 2009


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