Question about 1989 Jeep Wrangler

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1989 Jeep Wrangler no power when key is in on position

1989 Jeep Wrangler with the 4.2l straight 6 will not start. It will not crank. When the key is in the accessory position it has power, the windshield wipers work great and the radio works fine. When you turn the key to the on position, however, the windshield wipers slow down drastically and the radio shuts off. The starter does not spin. I have replaced the ignition switch, tested the starter relay/power distribution box, replaced the fusible links, battery is new, I still get nothing in the on position. It's like something is drawing power somewhere. All grounds are good according to my continuity meter, everywhere I tested checked out. Any help is greatly appreciated! I need to get her back on the road!

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  • jordanpetry May 05, 2010

    That could be, however the ignition coil is relatively new. Also, when it decided it no longer wanted to start I was teaching my friend how to drive a manual and he was jerking it around a lot. He killed it probably 7 or 8 times and went to start it again and it cranked once or twice and then shut off. Following this was a cloud of white smoke exiting the hood leading me to believe a fusible link was blown. Sure enough a fusible link was blown so before I replaced it I was trying to figure out why. I was snooping around when I noticed the nut on the starter for the ground was about two threads from falling off. So I cleaned it up, tightened down thinking I fixed it and I got nothing. I don't know if that helps at all. Do you think its sheer coincidence that the ignition coil went bad at the same time the starter ground nut came loose resulting in a blown fusible link?


    Prior to replacing all of the above I had NO power when the key was in ANY position by the way.

  • jordanpetry May 06, 2010

    Thank you both for the suggestions. I went to Orielly and got a new coil, only 13 bucks so I thought what the hell. I replaced it, I still get hardly any power when the key is in the run position. Everything continues to work when the key is in the accessory position however. Any more ideas?

  • jordanpetry May 07, 2010

    Thank you both for the suggestions. I went to Orielly and got a new coil, only 13 bucks so I thought what the hell. I replaced it, I still get hardly any power when the key is in the run position. Everything continues to work when the key is in the accessory position however. Any more ideas?

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Honestly, it sounds like a bad ignition coil. When they get corroded inside they will draw power on a scale much higher than anything else on the vehicle. It is a coil and it's job is to take a little power and make a lot of it. If it's only when the key is in the "run" position, that is likely the case. The only real difference between the two positions is that in the run position there is power being delivered to the ignition system. Good luck.

Posted on May 05, 2010

  • micronaut1 May 06, 2010

    The loose battery cable was probably causing the power to disconnect and reconnect to the coil. And the power surges and jolts that the coil was taking were probably enough to damage it. It would be the same effect as turning on and off a flourescent light a bunch of times in a row. It will generate a lot of heat and the temperature probably went high enough to burn up the coil. You are dealing with 50 to 80 thousand volts in the coil. A lot can happen if it's pushed to the limit.

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