Jeep died, mid acceleration, burnt smell... any ideas? -
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post #1 of 8 Old 09-26-2010, 04:18 AM Thread Starter
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1990 YJ Wrangler 
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Location: las vegas
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Jeep died, mid acceleration, burnt smell... any ideas?

So, I am taking a turn in my jeep, and half way into accelerating the engine cuts off. I immediately smell a little burn, coast to the side of the road. Try and start the engine again...the thing is trying to start, but doesnt turn over. The lights and other electrical things work. Gas was a little less then quarter tank, even had someone pull over and toss in 1.5 gallons on top for me, just incase gas guage was messed up...still wouldn't explain the burn smell though. After trying to start it a few more times, I smell that burn smell again... give up, and call for a tow

Any ideas?

90 YJ,4.2, howell TBI, automatic.

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post #2 of 8 Old 09-26-2010, 06:00 AM
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1992 YJ Wrangler 
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Timing Chain? take distributaor cap off , have someone crank the engine over and you watch the rotor to see if it turns.
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post #3 of 8 Old 09-26-2010, 06:02 AM
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Check to see if you have any spark at the plugs and take it from there.

For the burning smell I'd suggest checking the fuzable links (look like fat wires) attached to your starting solenoids Battery Terminal. See if any of the wire attached to it appear "cooked".

Solenoid looks like this...

It could be a number of this... such as...
- Wire somewhere chafing and shorting to ground
- Broken wire
- Failed Ignition Module
- Failed dizzy pickup coil
- Failed ECU
- etc
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post #4 of 8 Old 09-26-2010, 06:35 AM Thread Starter
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Thanks for the late night replies! I'll look into these things.
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post #5 of 8 Old 09-26-2010, 07:28 AM
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When you say it "doesn't turn over" do you mean it won't crank, or it cranks but won't start?

If it won't crank, have you tried shorting across the solenoid with a screwdriver? If it cranks when you do this, where it would not before, then you know to start looking through the starting circuit that powers the solenoid.. If you can't get it to crank by shorting out the solenoid, then look into the cables, starter, or solenoid itself..

However, the fact that this happened while driving, makes me think you meant "cranks, but won't start" as opposed to won't crank...

In which case, power is likely no longer getting to the ignition system.. Like others suggested, see if you get spark when cranking.. if not, then you know that is the problem...

Besides the fusible links, the very first place I'd look is for blown fuses.. as they only blow when there is a problem.. Their job is to protect the wiring that follows when there is a short or over current.

If you find a blown fuse or more, then figure out what circuit that fuse protects.. If it is something that is required for the engine to run, then viola.. you know you are on the right track, and can start troubleshooting the circuit that that fuse protects...

The burnt smell is likely electrical.. and 90% of all "won't run" problems are electrical in cause... As to timing chain issues, I can't see how that would cause a 'burnt smell'... but I suppose anything is possible...

Of course, I'm 'assuming' that when you say 'burnt smell' you are referring to that 'ozone' smell created by electrical shorts... and not oil or some other smell..

If after this happened, it wouldn't even crank, and you get no click of the solenoid or anything, then I'd look into the 'run' circuit that comes off the ignition switch... (after first trying to get it to crank by shorting across the solenoid with a screwdriver or needle nose pliers)....

So first get it cranking, and then make sure you have spark at the coil, and then go from there... troubleshooting is nothing more than a process of elimination using a 'divide and conquer' approach to the systems in your vehicle...

The diagram of the starter solenoid that kloppk posted has a number of terminals on it that could give you a clue to the problem.. It is an excellent trouble shooting point, and with all that goes through it, could easily be the problem itself... if not, then it is a good place to check for voltages on the various outputs..... Next time you 'smell that smell' see if you can tell if it's coming from the solenoid...

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post #6 of 8 Old 09-26-2010, 04:53 PM Thread Starter
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Hi, I mean it will crank but not start. I have to go to work a little earlier than expected today, so I won't get much time with it. It's also been forever since I've had a I am having a hard time remembering where things are :P. Definately happy to have a jeep again though...just hope I don't have things going on like this often with this rig.

And ya, the burnt smell definately smells like an electrical burn when a power cord on a iron or something shorts out.

Thanks for the input..I'll get on the case and report back shortly.
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post #7 of 8 Old 09-26-2010, 09:56 PM
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When I finally figured out the same problem on my '89 Wrangler, it was a short in the hot wire to the O2 sensor, and it had fried one of the fusible links. We found it accidentaly at late evening, while trying to start it after replacing the link with a fuse. Sparking from the short showed up really well...
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post #8 of 8 Old 10-14-2010, 03:45 PM Thread Starter
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It ended being the cluster of wires that came in the engine bay around the top right area of the steering column. When they were unwrapped there were a whole bunch of wires burned up real bad. They were cut out, and then new wire was soldered in its place and sealed up.
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