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Unread 06-18-2013, 05:12 PM   #1
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: maryland
Posts: 88
please help (charging problem)

i was coming back home from a 200 round trip when the check gauges light came on, everything was normal except for the voltemeter gauge, it was all the way down, but the car was running ok, about 20 miles later died, i was able to jump start it twice but it didn't hold any charge, towed it back home and the next day replaced the alternator and jumped it and started, but today the light came back on again so i also replaced the battery end the terminals (just the ends) test drove it and it happened again, i'm lost, what should i do next, thanks in advance.

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Unread 06-18-2013, 06:06 PM   #2
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CJ7-Tim's Avatar
2000 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Apr 2002
Location: out in the garage - Minneapolis, Minnesota
Posts: 22,573
Sounds like a low voltage issue from:

  • a failing alternator
  • a failing battery
  • dirty, corroded, or loose wire connections
  • internally corroded battery wires
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)

Test the output at the alternator with your volts/ohms multi-meter. You should be measuring 13.8-14.4volts. Load testing the alternator is still recommended.

Have the battery and the alternator Load Tested for proper functioning a test machine that applies a simulated work load. Handheld testers are inaccurate and will often pass faulty parts.

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Unread 06-18-2013, 06:22 PM   #3
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2000 WJ 
Join Date: Jun 2009
Location: Warren M.I.
Posts: 106
I just had a similar thing happen to me last Saturday, tried to fire it up in the morning to head to work and the dash gauges kept turning off and on and acting weird, when I tried to start it I got one click, then nothing, I let it sit for a minute and it did the same thing, I hooked up the charger and tried to start it and I saw a little smoke from the battery.

So I unhooked my battery and took the battery off my Wife's car, used jumper cables to connect the leads and it started so I picked up a new battery with 840 cold cranking amps!! It cost a little over a 100$ bucks but it started up and has been running great since!!!
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Unread 06-18-2013, 06:42 PM   #4
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1999 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Apr 2011
Location: Ceiba, PR
Posts: 815
The only item left is the ECM. Before you buy anything else, I suggest you disconnect every large red and black cable and clean them to shiny bright. Check the cables for swollen areas, these indicate water intrusion, you can't repair it just replace them if defective.
Follow CJ's advice above.

Jim W
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Unread 06-19-2013, 01:01 AM   #5
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1997 XJ Cherokee 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Location: maryland
Posts: 88
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