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Unread 04-04-2013, 01:18 PM   #1
Riley/MN
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1998 XJ Cherokee 
 
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Location: Wabasha County, Minnesota
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No voltage, but no problem...

Well that's how it seems anyway.

I have had several instances now over the last week where my "Check Gauges" comes on and my voltage drops to zero (98 XJ w/4.0). There are no other indication of low voltage - lights, radio, fan, etc are all working. If I shut the engine off and restart it the gauge comes back (my take 2-3 tries).

I am guessing there is one wire that feeds the gauge, but not sure where it comes from. Anyone have an idea on where to look?

Thanks

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Unread 04-04-2013, 01:40 PM   #2
buildin1XJ
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On the back of your instrument cluster there are only two large plug slots that the wiring harness connects into. Most of the time when problems exist at the cluster connections other gauges will also fail. You may have a problem with the wire at the alternator or a alternator starting to go bad.
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Unread 04-04-2013, 05:20 PM   #3
Modstock
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I had the same problem during an expedition I was on and was 150 miles from civilization. Pulled over and a friend checked the battery with a multimeter and said I was getting a charge. Later it went back to normal .
2 weeks later I took it to checker to get it looked at . I was only getting 62 amps charge when I should be getting 120 . I'll be getting an alternator sometime soon.
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Unread 04-04-2013, 06:07 PM   #4
Rob K
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It could be a poor connection for the gauge, a poor connection in the charging system and also a worn alternator. The internal brushes will make contact intermittently for a while before the alternator completely fails. You can have it load tested, but a lot of the time the alternator tests good since the brushes are making contact during the test. I read on the forum some ware out as early as 120k miles and some close to 200k. Seems like most are around 150k or so. The thing to do is go through all your charging system connections and make sure they are clean and tight. This is always a good idea on our older Jeeps. Ideally you get a volt meter on the battery when it is failing to confirm it's the charging system and not the gauge.
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Unread 04-04-2013, 06:34 PM   #5
CJ7-Tim
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Either poor wire connections causing excessive resistance, or a failing alternator.

Perform routine maintenance of the start and charge systems. Remove, clean, and firmly reconnect all the wires and cables to the battery, starter, and alternator. Look for corroded or damaged cables or connectors and replace as needed. Copper wires should be copper color, not black or green. Do the same for the grounding wires from the starter to engine block, and from the battery and engine to the Jeep's frame/body. You must remove, scrape, and clean until shiny, the cable/wire ends, and whatever they bolt to. Jeeps do not tolerate low voltage, bad connections, or poor grounds.

Place your DVOM (Digital Volt Ohm Multi-Meter) on the 20 volt scale. First check battery voltage by placing your multi-meter's positive lead on the battery's positive post ( the actual post, not the clamp) and the negative lead on the negative post. You need a minimum of 12 volts to continue testing. Next, leave your meter connected and take a reading while the engine is cranking. Record this voltage reading. Now connect your positive lead to the battery terminal stud on the starter and the negative lead to the starter housing. Again, crank the engine and record the voltage reading. If the voltage reading at the starter is not within 1 volt of battery voltage then you have excessive voltage drop in the starter circuit.

Typical voltage drop maximums:

• starter circuit (including starter solenoid) = 0.60 volt
• battery post to battery terminal end = zero volts
• battery main cable (measured end to end) 0.20 volt
• starter solenoid = 0.20 volt
• battery negative post to alternator metal frame = 0.20 volt
• negative main cable to engine block = 0.20 volt
• negative battery post to starter metal frame = 0.30
• battery positive post to alternator b+ stud = 0.5 volt with maximum charging load applied (all accessories turned on)
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Unread 04-04-2013, 06:39 PM   #6
buildin1XJ
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To the OP I forgot to tell you how to do a self test of all of your gauges. Here is how.
#1 press and hold your odo reset button on the cluster throughout this procedure.
#2 turn the ignition switch to on/ not start
#3 you should now see all of your gauges move all the way to their highest settings and back down to zero. If all the gauges perform in this test the gauges their self are good as well as their harness connections.
On another note about an hour after my first post to you my alternator went out about 35 miles from my home in a very heavy rain, I got lucky and got into my driveway and the engine died. To Weird that I had posted about a situation like yours and then I have alternator problems. Check your wiring first then have the alt load tested. What is the condition of your battery? If it's old it may not be taking a charge. Good Luck with yours.
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Unread 04-04-2013, 06:44 PM   #7
buildin1XJ
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To the OP I forgot to tell you how to do a self test of all of your gauges. Here is how.
#1 press and hold your odo reset button on the cluster throughout this procedure.
#2 turn the ignition switch to on/ not start
#3 you should now see all of your gauges move all the way to their highest settings and back down to zero. If all the gauges perform in this test the gauges their self are good as well as their harness connections.
On another note about an hour after my first post to you my alternator went out about 35 miles from my home in a very heavy rain, I got lucky and got into my driveway and the engine died. To Weird that I had posted about a situation like yours and then I have alternator problems. Check your wiring first then have the alt load tested. What is the condition of your battery? If it's old it may not be taking a charge. Good Luck with yours.
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Unread 04-04-2013, 06:49 PM   #8
buildin1XJ
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Sorry For the double posts guys.
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Unread 04-04-2013, 07:28 PM   #9
Modstock
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Like a good Jeep, yours waited till ya got home to break.
Good info here.
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Unread 04-05-2013, 08:02 AM   #10
Riley/MN
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Thanks guys! I am headed out of town for about a week tomorrow, so probably won't get a chance to do much before then. When I get back, I have a couple days of work, then my turkey season, so hopefully I will have a chance then to spend some quality Jeep time as well...

Thanks again!
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Unread 04-05-2013, 09:51 AM   #11
JWELK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Modstock View Post
I had the same problem during an expedition I was on and was 150 miles from civilization. Pulled over and a friend checked the battery with a multimeter and said I was getting a charge. Later it went back to normal .
2 weeks later I took it to checker to get it looked at . I was only getting 62 amps charge when I should be getting 120 . I'll be getting an alternator sometime soon.
What indications do you have that your alternator is defective? The amount the alternator is generating is determined by the battery temperature and its state of charge. The alternator could be making 3 amps and still be good.

Regards,

Jim W
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Unread 04-05-2013, 10:03 AM   #12
JWELK
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If there are no other symptoms then it is the gauge or associated circuit. It starts at the ECM. It is difficult to tell whether starting the engine several times solves the problem or the vibration from starting the engine, wiggles the poor connection, or the stuck gauge needle. I would guess the latter, and work from there.
I don't know about the '98, but the '99 is digital. You really won't be able to tell anything by measuring a voltage or lack thereof, at the instrument cluster. It also means the cable from the processor to the gauge cluster is good as the other gauges are operative

Regards,

Jim W
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Unread 04-05-2013, 10:06 AM   #13
Riley/MN
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Yeah, I don't think the gauge is the issue at all - I am thinking more on the alternator end.... just weird the way it comes & goes...
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Unread 04-05-2013, 10:31 PM   #14
Rob K
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What you describe is very typical of worn brushes in the alternator. You won't find any symptoms other than the gauge dropping randomly. Eventually it will get worse, happen more often and then fail completely. There's always the chance of a poor connection somewhere.
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Unread 04-07-2013, 01:41 PM   #15
JWELK
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob K View Post
What you describe is very typical of worn brushes in the alternator. You won't find any symptoms other than the gauge dropping randomly. Eventually it will get worse, happen more often and then fail completely. There's always the chance of a poor connection somewhere.
Really? I would expect dimming lights at the least, and a rough running engine.

Let us know what you find?

Regards,

Jim W
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