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Unread 02-11-2012, 03:02 AM   #1
Xcon0wn4g3
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1990 YJ Wrangler 
 
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Headlights cause sputtering

I have a 1990 2.5L and it runs great during the day but at night it's a different story. When I hit the headlight switch it starts running roughly, dying(sometimes). I have been told numerous times that it's a ground wire. I checked every ground wire and cleaned them even though they were fine to begin with. I was also told it's the map sensor so I got a new one, to no avail. The alternator is fine, I get around 14.8 volts running and the battery has 12.3. Also, pulling the ground off the battery, it stays running. I'm certain this means nothing but, the headlights are extremely bright.

I would really appreciate it if anyone could point me in the right direction.

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Unread 02-11-2012, 06:25 AM   #2
nembudonna
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1990 YJ Wrangler 
 
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Does it do the same thing if you just turn on the parking lights not the headlights?
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Unread 02-11-2012, 06:58 AM   #3
90yeddy
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It doesn't always mean that your ground is bad. It could mean that you're getting a ground where you aren't supposed to. Had an 81 celica with the hood up everything was fine put the hood down, it was doing the same thing. Eventually when the sparks from where my positive terminal on my battery did enough damage to my hood I found the problem. Positive terminal was touching the hood when closed but just enough to short and not spark pop and explode.

On a side note looking back that has to be the funniest troubleshooting I can remember. Car shuts off get out raise hood start it car runs fine, close hood sputter open hood fine. WTH
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Unread 02-11-2012, 04:43 PM   #4
Xcon0wn4g3
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No. I'm pretty sure it's just the headlights causing it to do that. I checked the switch and it looks fine. I don't know why but this behavior is somewhat random. I drove a little over 40 miles one night with no problems. The next night I barely made it out of the driveway. What if I unplugged the headlights and hit the switch? If it still sputtered would that say anything?
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Unread 02-11-2012, 07:14 PM   #5
Xcon0wn4g3
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1990 YJ Wrangler 
 
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I drove it a few minutes ago and I was wrong. It does it with the parking lights also. The second I turn them off it idles steady at about 1k with no problems.
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Unread 02-11-2012, 11:42 PM   #6
bharris68
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Are there any accessories tapped into the headlight wiring? Fog lights or driving lights that may have been installed/removed by Previous Owner? (PO on the board here)

With the Jeep in the garage in the daylight, turn the lights on and measure voltage at the headlight switch and battery - if your headlights are nice and bright, I'm wondering what else is tapped into the wiring between the headlights and the switch.
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Unread 02-12-2012, 05:26 AM   #7
nembudonna
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Try unpluging the switch and then jump it with a wire and see if it still does it. That way you can rule out the switch.
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Unread 02-12-2012, 01:42 PM   #8
wendell
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Also for kicks and giggles, while it's running, pull the positive cable off the the battery. If the engine dies, rethink your alternater.
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Unread 02-12-2012, 05:05 PM   #9
JWELK
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I don't follow your statement, I get 14.4 when running and 12.3 at the battery. Parking lights cause a problem, what about the cigar lighter, or running the fan at high power? There is always the possibility it is afraid of vampires.
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Unread 02-12-2012, 05:50 PM   #10
Que89YJ
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Here is the way to troubleshoot it. Measure the voltage at the battery off engine running then again with the lights on. In all likely hood you have a voltage drop between the light switch that is drawing down but it could be a few different things. The starter solinoid could have too large a voltage drop also the Ignition control module.
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Unread 02-13-2012, 05:27 AM   #11
Xcon0wn4g3
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No accessories have been installed by myself or the PO. There are no splices on the headlight wires.
With it running and the lights off it gets 14.9v and with the lights on it gets 14.8v. But, as the engine warms it drops. It gets 14.6v with the lights on and 14.7 with them off. The voltage at the switch is the same as at the battery. It's .1v less with the lights on.
I pulled the positive side off the battery and it didn't die.

Here is the switch. What do you think?


When I started it and flipped the switch nothing happened. I messed with it for about 10-15 minutes as it was warming up and still nothing. So, I killed it and let it sit for about 5 minutes then started it. I flipped the switch and it went to sputtering pretty hard.
The cigar lighter, heater(on high), blinker, hazard, and radio don't faze it. Even when they are being used simultaneously. It's only when I flip the headlight switch.
Even though the switch cleaned up nicely I guess I could buy a new one just because.

Last edited by Xcon0wn4g3; 02-13-2012 at 05:44 AM..
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Unread 02-13-2012, 07:53 AM   #12
Que89YJ
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That switch is corroded bad! No qurestion on this one. New switch. I still can't figure out how it would drag down the ignition though. It is a battery feed and I can't for the life of me think of a common tie point between the 2 of them.
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Unread 02-13-2012, 08:02 AM   #13
Louie4
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I agree with Que. Get a new switch just because of the condition of that one and they aren't too much money. My headlight switch wouldn't allow me to run my hi-beams. I drove it that way for years because it wasn't my DD. Finally I paid the big $20 for the switch and all is well.

But I don't see how it could drag everything down that bad? I'd still get a new one though since you've seemed to isolate the problem.
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Unread 02-13-2012, 09:53 AM   #14
dancytron
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I don't know if it is causing your problem, but something else for you to check.

Follow the smaller of the two positive battery cables to the terminal post on the starter relay. On that same post are 4 or so 10 gauge wires with fusible links. That is the main power feed for the whole vehicle. How to they look? Clean them up nice and shiny and see if that helps. Replace the cable if it looks bad or like it was the one that originally came with the vehicle.

Is the battery holding its charge?
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Unread 02-13-2012, 09:59 AM   #15
HurricaneRZA
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Mine does the sputtering too sometimes, but not with parking lights, just the headlights. I did the H4 conversion for them, run the headlight harness, amp, aux lights ETC of of the secondary battery posts. Problem went away for the most part but I know my alternator is fading on me, which is what caused that to happen on the first place.
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dying , electrical , headlights , lights , sputtering

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