Stumped; battery, starter, alternator, electrical? -
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Unread 03-10-2014, 02:42 PM   #1
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2001 XJ Cherokee 
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Stumped; battery, starter, alternator, electrical?

I'm stumped. 01 XJ Sport. Largely stock under the hood; runs very strong, I fix stuff as soon as there is an issue. A few weeks ago I started having a confusing issue with electrical / ignition. It will appear to have a dead battery; nothing when I turn key. So, I jump it and it is fine. Trickle charged the battery; die hard gold installed about 9 months ago. Today when leaving work it was dead again. Jumped it, started right up. I went to Sears to gripe about the bunk battery, and it tested good. They also tested for power drain somewhere and found nothing. I don't understand how it could be anything but the battery when it starts right up when jumped? Could the added power from two batteries trip a faulting relay? That is my hope, at least. I thought I would post here in the hopes there is a electrical guru who might be able to steer me in the right direction. Thanks for reading.

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Unread 03-10-2014, 04:41 PM   #2
Paradise XJ
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I would start with checking for poor connections at either the battery, the grounds or both. Your battery terminals should be clean and shiny, as should the connectors. Check the cables for corrosion (inside and out) as well as the battery to engine ground at the oil dipstick and chassis to firewall. Everything needs to be shiny and tight.
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Unread 03-10-2014, 05:08 PM   #3
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2000 XJ Cherokee 
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Location: out in the garage - Minneapolis, Minnesota
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As suggested, 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, the ground wires at the coil, and the ground wires from the battery and engine to the Jeep's frame/body. You must remove, wire brush, 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 13.8-14.4 volts.

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Unread 03-10-2014, 05:12 PM   #4
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Thanks for the great info; I'll etch out time to troubleshoot accordingly and will report back.....
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Unread 03-11-2014, 02:13 PM   #5
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Tim is on it. The mentioned testing procedures will give you great info and likely the solution. I'm curious what your battery voltage actually is, next time when you have this no-start. Just for reference. (I knwo you mentioned you checked for a drain, but was your voltage actually low?).

Another cause for the dead battery-like situation, is a faulty neutral safety switch (NSS). This can be verified by trying to start in Neutral, or wiggle the shifter to see if it then starts up. Just a bit more on trouble shooting the same symptoms.

To see how charging systems can be checked, look here

To troubleshoot alternator problems (in case you need some info), go there
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Unread 07-02-2014, 02:28 PM   #6
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Same goes for my 1997 XJ limited, I go to turn the key over and no gauges or any electronics on the dash come up. Won't even make the clicking noise when the battery is dead. I changed the battery and still the same thing. No power any where and no ignition. Had it jump started and it turned over first try as usual. I'm stumped.
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Unread 07-02-2014, 03:56 PM   #7
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Would definately check your grounds and positive cables for corrosion or loose connections. If you have a few bucks it might not be a bad idea to either replace or add wire, I used 4 gauge and just added an extra run of wire in my 96 tbird to help with my sound system(includes extra run from alternator to battery).
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Unread 07-03-2014, 11:25 AM   #8
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Also what's the voltage sitting at after you jump it off? And check wires going to starter see if any corrosion there
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Unread 07-03-2014, 01:47 PM   #9
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Had the same happen to my 88XJ a few years ago. Ended up being the starter relay, right near the battery.
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