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Unread 08-10-2012, 03:21 PM   #1
jenrmccoy
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Replacing Positive Battery Cable - not in store stock?

Hello all,

Hoping someone can point me in the right direction. I've been having problems with my 96 Jeep Cherokee starting, and while I got a new battery last week, I'm still having issues. Yesterday the car wouldn't start so I took off all connections to the battery, grounds, and cleaned the connections. I even got underneath the jeep and took off all connections to the starter and cleaned them too. Afterwards the jeep started. It made me think I might have a bad positive cable, or one that's going bad. (the negative cable had been replaced but not the positive).

However, the jeep left me stranded again today, not starting with the same problems. A while back I was having terminal connection issues (my screws were stripped on the cables and I couldn't get it tight enough on the battery) so I thought I should buy a new positive cable and replace it. HOWEVER, the connection at the end of the new cable that run to the starter aren't the same as the cable that's on there now. The positive cable running from the battery to the starter has a funny little plastic fork split, connecting to two spots on the starter/solenoid, and as I said, the new cable the store gave me only has one connection.

Does anyone have an idea for this? I thought maybe the auto store gave me the wrong cable, so I did some hunting online at several auto stores and they all came back with a cable with only one connection.

Help?!

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Unread 08-10-2012, 03:28 PM   #2
inceptus
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Have you checked how the battery charged? Maybe alternator?
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Unread 08-10-2012, 04:04 PM   #3
jenrmccoy
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I have power with the battery. Earlier today the jeep left me stranded when I was out doing errands and I got it towed home. It sat for a few hours and I just went out to see if it would start and it did. Not sure what this means.
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Unread 08-10-2012, 04:41 PM   #4
inceptus
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And what about other electrical systems when she didn't start? Can you turn the light on, can the starter turn the crankshaft or there's no power at all?
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Unread 08-10-2012, 05:06 PM   #5
jenrmccoy
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I can turn on the key and have lights, radio, A/C, but when I go to start, no cranking on the starter - I get no noise at all. It's not the battery, because dome lights/radio don't loose power like it did when I was having battery problems, plus there is no clicking noise from the battery as though it's not making a connection.
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Unread 08-10-2012, 07:59 PM   #6
Cherokeegrrl
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I'll ask the obvious question: is your starter any good?
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Unread 08-11-2012, 05:32 AM   #7
Carl48
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Not real sure what you mean by the existing cable connecting to 2 spots on the starter solenoid??? Typically, the XJ positive battery cable has 2 #6awg red leads on the battery terminal...one lead goes to the underhood fuseblock called the power distribution center (PDC) and the other lead goes to the big stud on the starter solenoid. Battery cables can go bad...the stranded wires wick leaking electrolyte under the insulation and corrosion forms unseen under the insulation and the cable is destroyed from within...this happens most often on the positive cable.
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Unread 08-11-2012, 07:35 AM   #8
jenrmccoy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Carl48 View Post
Not real sure what you mean by the existing cable connecting to 2 spots on the starter solenoid??? Typically, the XJ positive battery cable has 2 #6awg red leads on the battery terminal...one lead goes to the underhood fuseblock called the power distribution center (PDC) and the other lead goes to the big stud on the starter solenoid. Battery cables can go bad...the stranded wires wick leaking electrolyte under the insulation and corrosion forms unseen under the insulation and the cable is destroyed from within...this happens most often on the positive cable.
My cable has a smaller cable that does connect at the PDC, but it has another larger cable that leads down to the starter, where it splits, with one section going to a big stud on the starter solenoid and another smaller one also connecting to the starter solenoid.
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Unread 08-11-2012, 07:36 AM   #9
jenrmccoy
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cherokeegrrl View Post
I'll ask the obvious question: is your starter any good?
Well, I haven't had problems with it until just now. My dad swears it's the cable, but it could be the starter and I haven't ruled it out, but I figured the cable would be cheaper to replace and see if it wasn't that first before buying a new starter.
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Unread 08-11-2012, 08:45 AM   #10
Carl48
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jenrmccoy View Post
...another smaller one also connecting to the starter solenoid.
The smaller wire connected to the smaller stud on the starter solenoid does not come directly from the battery, it comes from the starter relay and energizes the solenoid when the key is in the start position. Even though it may appear to be, it is not part of the positive battery cable, although it may be in the same harness or loom as the battery cable going down to the starter thus giving the appearance of being part of the battery cable. Hope this clears things up for you.
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Unread 08-11-2012, 10:42 AM   #11
Carl48
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OK...here's the deal...did a little more research on this...it looks like later model XJs (beyond mid-90s) had the "little plastic fork split" thing you refer to. It is nothing more than a molded connector that houses the large wire and the small wire at the starter motor termination. It is doubtful you will find a positive battery cable with a connector like this at an auto parts store...it is XJ specific and probably a dealer only item. However, you can still use a generic positive replacement cable... just connect it to the large stud on the solenoid, then cut loose the small wire from the old connector and crimp on a ring terminal and connect it to the small terminal on the starter. (You may have to splice in some wire to extend the small wire slightly if it is too short). Just make sure to disconnect the battery negative lead while you are playing around with this for safety sake.
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Unread 08-11-2012, 11:15 AM   #12
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It sounds like you did a thorough job cleaning everything up. Did you get the braided ground strap that I think goes from the block to the frame on the passenger side? I went through the same deal as you, and people recommended checking/cleaning/replacing that strap if it's frayed or broken.
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Unread 08-11-2012, 06:46 PM   #13
jenrmccoy
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Thanks for all the help and advice everyone. Hopefully tomorrow I can get to the nearest store and get a new cable and use your advice to try and replace the wire.

@Carl48 - yes, that does clear things up a little more, thanks! I'll see if I can't try to cut that wire and hook it back up.
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Unread 08-12-2012, 12:42 AM   #14
5-90
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jenrmccoy View Post
Hello all,

Hoping someone can point me in the right direction. I've been having problems with my 96 Jeep Cherokee starting, and while I got a new battery last week, I'm still having issues. Yesterday the car wouldn't start so I took off all connections to the battery, grounds, and cleaned the connections. I even got underneath the jeep and took off all connections to the starter and cleaned them too. Afterwards the jeep started. It made me think I might have a bad positive cable, or one that's going bad. (the negative cable had been replaced but not the positive).

However, the jeep left me stranded again today, not starting with the same problems. A while back I was having terminal connection issues (my screws were stripped on the cables and I couldn't get it tight enough on the battery) so I thought I should buy a new positive cable and replace it. HOWEVER, the connection at the end of the new cable that run to the starter aren't the same as the cable that's on there now. The positive cable running from the battery to the starter has a funny little plastic fork split, connecting to two spots on the starter/solenoid, and as I said, the new cable the store gave me only has one connection.

Does anyone have an idea for this? I thought maybe the auto store gave me the wrong cable, so I did some hunting online at several auto stores and they all came back with a cable with only one connection.

Help?!
The OEM positive battery cable, as you've noted, has two leads off of it: one to the starter motor, one to the PDC.

As far as the starter motor proper, there's only one lead there from the battery - the large-gage one.

As far as the other smaller lead (14AWG,) that is the starter motor solenoid trigger lead. Clip it flush with the back of the block, and reterminate it using a #10 ring for 14AWG wiring (blue insulating sleeve, usually.) You'll lose about 1/2" of wire length, but that's not an issue - the rubber block does not contain any electronics, it's merely a "convenience block" used to help to locate the wiring for the technician (but if the tech can't tell the difference between a 6AWG lead with an 8m/m ring on it and a 14AWG lead with a 4m/m ring, he needs to go back to school...)

Email me at JeepI6Power AT yahoo DOT com if you'd like to get an instruction sheet on how to do the job, I've done one to go out with my wiring kits. It's easier than you're probably thinking - if you pay attention and think about the job, you probably don't even need the instructions (but I've done the sheet anyhow.)
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