Eh.. start? no start? roll the dice? jiggle the cable? -
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Go Back > Models > Jeep Cherokee & Comanche Forums > XJ Cherokee Technical Forum > Eh.. start? no start? roll the dice? jiggle the cable?

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Unread 05-21-2006, 08:48 AM   #1
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Location: Isle of Palms, SC (aka Paradise)
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Eh.. start? no start? roll the dice? jiggle the cable?

Being a Jeep owner I carry at least 0.5 of my tools with me at all times .

My 98 XJ Sport has developed a curious habit of suffering total 12V failure when I do the not uncommon act of turning the key to start it... when this happens, all electricity just seems to be elsewhere in the planet, and not in my Jeep. Sometimes I lose the constant 12V feed (and the radio presets go away), sometimes not. Sometimes I can jiggle the (-) cable, and it will start, sometimes the (+) cable... sometimes just removing and reinserting the 50 A batt fuse does the trick.

It NEVER just starts again without me jiggling something. There is mandatory jigglage in these situations.

This is not a starter problem, at least not internal, nor is it a BATT problem. Also related to this problem, when I am driving down the road, my voltage guage goes all the way past 19 volts and I get Mr. CHECK GUAGES - but the Jeep still runs fine... if I turn off the Jeep in this condition (only happened once) then it absolutely will not start.

I have heard tell of ground problems with XJs, and I am figuring that the problem is likely related, but any suggs on what the hell I can do to Dx and repair the problem would be nice. Kinda hard to was romantic with the little lady at dinner in a suit and a tie, only to have to throw on my gloves aand head under the hood to get home... though my sweetie thinks it's sexy (she's a Jeep girl, thank god~!)

Me in a suit and gloves (why are you even interested?):


I thought my XJ was greedy until I met my boat.
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Unread 05-21-2006, 01:56 PM   #2
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Well, you seem to have the weirdest electrical problem i've ever read about. I have no clue...

Thats a funny story with dinner. Nice and dressed up only to have to break out the work gloves for your jeep. Jeep girls are the ultimate find

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Unread 05-21-2006, 03:10 PM   #3
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I had the exact same problem with a Trans Am that I had years ago. It ended up
being the negative battery cable. It was frayed where it attached to the block.

I had to do the exact same thing, jiggle the battery cables then it would start. I took it to Mr.Goodwrench #1, they had it all day and could not figure it out. Told me to just jiggle the battery cables. When I found the problem myself I took it to Mr. Goodwrench #2 and told them to replace the negative battery cable. I got home went to start the car and nothing, they replaced the positive cable. Have not been back to Mr. Goodwrench since (22 years)
Just a slightly modded XJ with a little lift, some armor, four mud tires and a few decals, so far.
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Unread 05-21-2006, 07:50 PM   #4
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If your ammeter is at 19 volts it means you may have a regulator problem or a short somewhere. (Maybe). If your running all the lights and everything else your regulator should keep it around 14.5 or so no matter what.. ECM's control the regulation of the alternator on ECM equipped models. Still, the actual regulation is done by the alternator using signals from the ECM. "Computer Controlled Alternator"

For shorts..there's a trick that you can do to see what it may be by disconnecting the ground and connecting a circuit light tester inline with the cable and the battery post. If it lights it means something is draining. By pulling fuses and re-checking the light, you can find out which system is always on....or shorted.

If your cables are loose or frayed...or not fastened tightly to their respective grounding your engine block and chassis, your starter will click and then the lights may dim. I've actually seen sparks fly from the positive cable when it was not tight on the post. Sometimes those cable clamps only tighten down so much on the post.

Anyway, it sounds like something is definitely loose. I'm talking about a big cable...not necessarily a small one. The issue with the 19 volts seems odd..but may be separate. Normally, your voltage will peak on startup until the system is adequately charged. Then your ammeter should go back down to around 12-13 Volts.

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Unread 05-22-2006, 07:50 AM   #5
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Clients should be paying me this week, I'll start replacing cables. The > 19V ammeter thing seems to be a fluky short kind of thing, because it randomly happens when driving, and usually slowing down makes it go away. I've noticed that when the Jeep is in this condition though, if the AC and lights are on, when the compressor kicks on there is a SERIOUS drain on the electrical for a sec, which seems to further indicate a partial short somewhere, perhaps aggrivated by a heat.

thanks all for the suggs.
I thought my XJ was greedy until I met my boat.
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Unread 05-23-2006, 10:33 AM   #6
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Follow the negative wire to your body ground...remove and completely clean all connections. Check all minor Ground straps. I had a Cadillac do the same thing and it turned out to be a rusty connection to a ground strap.

Also make sure the Red wire is tight to the starter. The fact that jiggling the red wire fixes the problem make me suspect this. When tighting the bolt to the starter make sure you dont ground the rachet against the frame ( wakes you up and make lots of pretty sparks). Might want to think about a new set of battery cables.

When doing this kind of trouble shooting...start with the easy and cheap and work up to the expensive. Your repair shop starts at the other end.
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Unread 05-25-2006, 09:14 AM   #7
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replace your battery terminal things, it did the same thing on my 1998 sport
that fixed everything
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