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Unread 05-13-2011, 05:34 AM   #1
Lukey
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99 XJ Sometimes won't start

This XJ with a 4.0 and 5 speed manual trans has a little over 200,000 miles on it and has been pretty much rebuilt and runs nice. New 75,000 mile motor, put in 2,000 miles ago. I love this Jeep but sometimes it won't start. All the dash lights come on but it won't crank. I can try it several times in the span of a minute or two and nothing. Then all of a sudden it starts. I'd like to fix this problem before it decides not to start up after a couple of tries. Have any of you run across a problem like this? It has done it several times since it was rebuilt and again this morning after I just replaced a faulty ignition key cylinder this week (key wouldn't turn from the lock position without much effort) so I know it's not that. What else could it be? Most of the time it fires right up and then out of the blue - no dice. But again, always after a minute or two and a few tries it works. It's very puzzling!!!

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Unread 05-13-2011, 05:44 AM   #2
little_Jeep
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Give us some information that will tell us something. Do you hear any clicking? Does the tach do funky things during this no start time when key to "On" postion? Horn and headlights work during no start? Have you tried starting while in neutral? Is your clutch safety switch still connected? If so, you make try to pump the clutch several times to see if that makes any change, or you could disconnect this switch. Was this a problem before the engine was rebuilt, or is this a new issue? Jeeps demand good solid connections at the battery. I would make sure that you have this, esp. the ground cable as your starting point, then work you way towards the starter. How old is starter?
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Unread 05-13-2011, 12:21 PM   #3
Lukey
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Thanks for answering - no clicking! It doesn't have a tach and I haven't tried horn or lights so that I don't know. I'll remember that next time to check that out. The clutch safety switch is connected and I have the clutch pressed in but that's interesting. I'll bet that may be the issue here because that's what it acts like - like the clutch pedal isn't depressed. All the electrical connections under the hood are new as I had the engine professionally installed by a guy who owns an XJ himself and I trust him as a mechanic (and it's a new battery).

I don't know if it did it before the new motor as I bought it with a lunched one and had the replacement done before I started driving it. And I'm not sure about the starter as a new one wasn't on the bill so it is either the original or it's the one from the replacement motor. But thanks for the suggestions - I will try playing with the clutch pedal and try it in neutral to see if that could be the problem.
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Unread 05-13-2011, 04:46 PM   #4
little_Jeep
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Problems like yours are harder to figure out than most because you have to do the testing at the moment you are having the problem because rest of the time, everything will be working as it should and the test won't show any problems. There are write ups on the web for by - passing the clutch safety switch.... you could try this, drve Jeep for a few weeks or whatever to see if you still have a problem or not..... you would have to be very very careful as if you fail to push clutch in before you turn key, things could get real ugly real quick.

If I had to guess, and it is a total guess, I would look at the clutch safety switch or the starter as the possible cause. The starter could be showing early, early signs of failure. Auto Zone will test the starter for free, however, unless that can make the problem repeat itself, their test will show starter is good, when it may not be. I personally don't like the idea of replacing random parts just to see if that fixes a problem. Sometimes when you are in the no start mode, you can tap the starter with a heavy wrench or a hammer and Jeep will start..... if this happens, you can feel pretty confident that the starter is on it's way to fulltime failure.
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Unread 05-13-2011, 04:50 PM   #5
AmbuGrl
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I would have the alternator checked and maybe consider a CPS. Any lights or codes yet? Also check your battery ground to make sure its clean and intact.
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Originally Posted by RacerX View Post
WTF is Clockspring??? my Jeep has digital clock
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Unread 05-13-2011, 04:58 PM   #6
little_Jeep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmbuGrl View Post
I would have the alternator checked and maybe consider a CPS. Any lights or codes yet?
The alternator would cause the battery to fail, which would require a jump to get vehicle started so I think we can rule the alternator out since it appears at least at this time he has no issue with battery having a full charge.

The Crank sensor relates to timing. The engine would crank (spin) but it would not attempt to start (fire), or it would fire at wrong time, but typically, it would just spin (turn over). The OP is getting no spin, not even a clicking sound, so I think the Crank Sensor can be safely ruled out.
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Unread 05-13-2011, 05:12 PM   #7
AmbuGrl
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I am aware of what the parts do, but thank you for the refresher course. The OP stated that the battery was new, not that it was tested. It could also be a loose battery ground.
When my alternator was going bad, I had similiar symptoms until it flat out died. (right before it did so, I lost the radio and all electrical power)

Also, when my CPS was going bad it would attempt to start, and even start until I replaced it.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RacerX View Post
WTF is Clockspring??? my Jeep has digital clock
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Unread 05-13-2011, 08:14 PM   #8
little_Jeep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AmbuGrl View Post
I am aware of what the parts do, but thank you for the refresher course. The OP stated that the battery was new, not that it was tested. It could also be a loose battery ground.
When my alternator was going bad, I had similiar symptoms until it flat out died. (right before it did so, I lost the radio and all electrical power)

Also, when my CPS was going bad it would attempt to start, and even start until I replaced it.
My bad, I was trying to explain that even though what you say it correct, it has no relation to the problems that the OP is having. Your comment about the Crank Sensor is totally correct. Unfortunately, the OP's situation is no crank, no clicking, no anything. A Crank Sensor going bad can not cause the engine not to crank.
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Unread 05-14-2011, 06:17 AM   #9
tjwalker
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Some simple testing can help you isolate this.

Get a meter. If you don't have one, buy one. You can get a low end one which will work great at Walmart for about $15. Everyone that plans on doing any work on their XJ needs a meter! Absolutely invaluable.

With the key in the ON position, you should have approximately the same voltage directly at the starter as you have at the battery. If you do have that voltage, the starter is suspect. If you do not have that voltage, then you need to start working your way back into the engine bay to figure out why (bad cable, ground, or some other piece of control electronics)

The crankshaft position sensor has nothing to do with the engine turning over. Completely separate circuits. If the crank sensor is bad, the engine will turn over all day long, it just won't start. So for this owner's issue (engine intermittently will not turn over) the problem is not a crank sensor.
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Unread 05-14-2011, 07:21 AM   #10
Lukey
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Thanks for all the good ideas. It is happening more frequently now (like every other time I try to start it). And when it happened last night I did hear some clicking but I'm not sure where it was coming from (fuel pump?). I'll pick up a meter this weekend so I can verify that all the battery connections are good (as I suspect they are). And I can try tapping the starter next time it happens because I'm not sure if it's the one that came with the vehicle (in which case it would certainly be suspect as it seems like every mechanical component was shot when I got it - good thing the body was in such great shape or it wouldn't have been worth all this trouble and expense).

I hope it's not the thing in the steering column but that would be par for this course. But I have to get this sorted out. This is my DD and I don't like the idea of being stranded somewhere. And I've already replaced so many major mechanical components that I'm pretty confident that if I can take care of these minor starting issues, I'll be pretty much in the clear (knock o wood)...
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Unread 05-14-2011, 07:50 AM   #11
little_Jeep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lukey View Post
Thanks for all the good ideas. It is happening more frequently now (like every other time I try to start it). And when it happened last night I did hear some clicking but I'm not sure where it was coming from (fuel pump?). I'll pick up a meter this weekend so I can verify that all the battery connections are good (as I suspect they are). And I can try tapping the starter next time it happens because I'm not sure if it's the one that came with the vehicle (in which case it would certainly be suspect as it seems like every mechanical component was shot when I got it - good thing the body was in such great shape or it wouldn't have been worth all this trouble and expense).

I hope it's not the thing in the steering column but that would be par for this course. But I have to get this sorted out. This is my DD and I don't like the idea of being stranded somewhere. And I've already replaced so many major mechanical components that I'm pretty confident that if I can take care of these minor starting issues, I'll be pretty much in the clear (knock o wood)...
Does anyone know if Auto Zone or a parts house like this test starters while they are still on the vehicle? I know they will test them for free, if you remove the starter and walk it in. My thinkining is you probably have a poor electricial connection between the battery and the starter, or you have a starter that is going South. The clicking sound, did it come from the front of the vehicle or the rear? I suspect from the front, as the fuel pump is in your gas tank and it shound hummmmm like a small electricial motor running, not click. However, a poor electricial connection, or failed starter will click. The clutch safety switch that we discussed probably is Not your problem as this switch typically would work, or not work. Either the vehicle would start, or it would be totally dead, no clicking. Now keep in mind, I am doing nothing more than armchair Quarter backing what maybe your problem the cause of your problem, you will need to do a little work to isolate the exact problem, you can do this by starting at the battery checking for good clean tight connections at the battery, then follow both cables to confirm the same at the other end. Then you can use a meter like TJ suggested, or you can pull the starter and have Auto Zone or another parts house test it for you (free test).
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Unread 05-15-2011, 11:32 AM   #12
Lukey
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Thanks again everybody! I hear the hum in the back (fuel pump) and a clicking that sounds like it's coming from the fuse box. I disconnected the battery & ground, cleaned everything and put it back together and no good. So I bought a tester and I am headed back out to check the voltage at the starter and I may try tapping it. I'm beginning to suspect that it might be the starter. It went out on me at the grocery store this morning (started fine twice prior to that stop) and I had to drift start it to get it home. And it still won't start in the driveway after a couple of hours and several tries, so it has definitely gotten worse. I kind of hope it is the starter so I can replace that and be done with it.
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Unread 05-15-2011, 11:48 AM   #13
little_Jeep
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lukey View Post
Thanks again everybody! I hear the hum in the back (fuel pump) and a clicking that sounds like it's coming from the fuse box. I disconnected the battery & ground, cleaned everything and put it back together and no good. So I bought a tester and I am headed back out to check the voltage at the starter and I may try tapping it. I'm beginning to suspect that it might be the starter. It went out on me at the grocery store this morning (started fine twice prior to that stop) and I had to drift start it to get it home. And it still won't start in the driveway after a couple of hours and several tries, so it has definitely gotten worse. I kind of hope it is the starter so I can replace that and be done with it.
When it is in the no start mode, tap starter with hammer or heavy wrench as someone turns the key. Sometimes this will work.
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Unread 05-15-2011, 02:30 PM   #14
Lukey
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Okay - the starter tested out fine. I guess I'll get it back in and then see if I can figure out why it isn't getting juice.
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Unread 05-15-2011, 02:33 PM   #15
Lukey
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Originally Posted by little_Jeep View Post
When it is in the no start mode, tap starter with hammer or heavy wrench as someone turns the key. Sometimes this will work.
Thanks, I tried that and that didn't do anything. And now the starter has been tested and it is fine. So for some reason the power isn't getting to the starter when the key is turned. I wonder now (again) if it isn't the clutch safety switch. Is that on the clutch pedal or in the fuse box as I think I saw someone say?
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