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peein77 07-15-2013 05:46 PM

Negative terminal / ground wiring
Hey guys,
94 Grand Cherokee Laredo 5.2 V8 180K miles

I changed the starter recently and noticed the negative terminal was cracked. I'd never had an electrical problem before the starter going out. I'm assuming the terminal had mated itself to create a secure enough connection. But after changing the starter and hooking battery back up it's wanting to die at stop signs. I clipped the old terminal off and I'm having a hard time finding a terminal that accepts 2 wires. I've seen the setups with marine terminals and cables with copper eyelets but with it being still installed in the vehicle I can't get a good enough crimp on it.
Does anyone know where the hidden ground wire goes to? I've replaced the one to the fender but the other one disappears. There is one that comes up and grounds to the alternator bracket. Is that the same one? I guess more importantly, is there splices that branch off and go other places between the battery and where it comes up to the alternator? If there's nothing that branches out under there then I could just buy a new ground wire and run it straight to there, right? Buy one that already has an eyelet and be good to go.
Thanks, and sorry for the ramblings.


HandsOn 07-16-2013 01:16 AM

Back to the top for 'ya.
I only know that on the '98 with the 4.0 the main ground runs down and through the harness along with other wires over to the engine block, where it shares a stud mount with an additional cable.

You could probably run a new one straight on through, but keep the old one in case there are other junctions that need to be maintained.
Personally though, I would open up the harness and follow the old one along to make sure nothing important is ignored. The best thing about doing this is that it might let you see other issues before they become issues. Especially with the positive cables and alternator connections.

Good luck. I'd say you're on the right track. And if you buy the pre-made type with eyes at both ends, might as well spend an extra few cents and get the 2ga versions. Sure, the 4ga is more than sufficient and might even be larger than stock (not sure what the V8's used), but bigger is better, and overkill is just enough when it comes to battery cables.


peein77 07-16-2013 10:52 AM

Hey thanks for the input Paul!
I ended up using the same ground and then attached the other one coming from the fender to the bolt on the side of the terminal. Worked pretty good so I did the same with the positive. I was able to fully remove the short wire going to relay box and got a good connector on it. Then just attached the other wire like normal to the terminal.

Still stalling out at stops though? I know autozone isn't all that reliable but battery, alt and starter all tested good.
Guess I need to look elsewhere, fuel filter maybe? Just seems odd that never had a this problem before changing the starter? Maybe filter got gummed up from sitting more than usual?

Thanks again,

yzjwk 07-16-2013 11:08 AM

If you have disconnected your battery , you could have lost your TPS setting . my 5.2 has done this for years ever since i took it to chrysler once after i changed my throttle body and i got them to set it up on the computer . Now when ever i disconnect the battery, it does not like the base setting of the TPS . I take mine out and do 2-3 wot runs . that seems to reset the TPS and all is good untill the battery is diconnected .
good luck .

HandsOn 07-16-2013 11:48 AM

Yeah, it does seem odd. Kind of an unfortunate coincidence if it turns out to be something totally unrelated.
Not sure about the 5.2, but on the 4.0, there are no starter wires that I can think of that are directly related to anything that would kill the engine. They are dedicated solely to the starter function and don't have any common areas. At least not between the battery and starter that I could see initially. No power take-off circuits like on old GM cars and trucks. No obvious common ground.
Maybe the V8 is different and has such a beast? If so, that'd be where I'd be digging.

Does it die only at lights, or will it act up while driving? If just at idle or near idle speeds, perhaps it's just the ECM needing to realign itself to some sensors that are borderline. Where before it was working ok and knew what to do, now that the battery was disconnected for awhile, it sort of reset itself and is back in a relearning mode?
Any check-engine lights? What about a quick scan with a tool that can pull up codes that don't set the light on? Seems like a bit that would stall the engine would also set the CEL to coming on at least momentarily. But I've seen stranger things on these modern rigs!
Being a '94, you don't have OBD II to help you out. Maybe someone can run you through the procedure to test for hidden codes to head you in the right direction.

Fuel? Yeah, maybe. But does it feel instantaneous like electrical, or is there any bucking and hesitation during the time it's about to stall?
When it dies, does the tachometer instantly go to zero? Or does it slowly go down as the engine stalls?
I would think something like that would set the CEL light to glowing, even if it's not as sophisticated as an OBDII system.

I've never seen an instance on an American vehicle where a defective starter or battery could cause an engine to stall if everything else is working. If your volt gauge tells you the alternator is charging, you have enough juice to run the engine. Even if your battery died, your engine should keep running off the alternator until you turn it off.

But, if the battery or cables were so bad that they couldn't run the engine without the alternator, they'd never be able to crank the engine to get it started in the first place!
So it doesn't make sense from that standpoint.
And if the cables and connections are good enough to start the engine, an alternator could die completely and the engine would still run for a long time on just battery power.

The momentary or intermittent connection you were tracking down could give it fits, but not sure which one it would take going bad to make the engine stall only at a light.
The only thing I can think of that the two systems have in common (and that could cause an engine to stall) would be the computer.
For that I might suspect the main connections (3 or 4 of them?) at the ECM and/or the wire bundles that run out from there to the various parts of the truck.

I guess that not getting a good ground could cause all sorts of issues, so it's good to at least confirm that they're all good, like you already did. I would not hesitate (and didn't in fact) to strip the tape, split-loom, and any wire-ties or other clips away from the wire bundle between the battery, engine, alternator and power center/fuse box there under the hood. Just to make sure all the positive wires are as good as the negatives.
After all, it's simple and easy to replace the covering if you want to.

Look for any junctions that might be corroded under the tape. Clean (again) the ground stud/bolt on the engine block and make sure any secondary cables from there are clean and tight.
Not sure if the layout is the same for the V8, and it probably isn't, but there are always consistent things to check. Just like you found the bad ground cable at the battery, there could be other culprits.
Look for any wire bundles that are near the starter that you could have bumped. Any additional wires on the starter that you don't know where they go, follow them along until you do.

Regarding the battery lug. If you're still having a hard time getting both cables to attach tightly to the lug, get anything that will work. There are the "lead-free" terminal lugs like the factory ones that will accept two wires. I've used the type with a stud and nut for that (rather than the bend-over tab/crimp type). Even the "temporary" kind that have a top strap with two bolts to bite down on a bare cable really work well. They're only meant to be temporary fixes for a failed lug, but they work well!
Sounds like you've already got the cable thing worked out for the grounds, but check the condition of the positive side for sure. That's usually even more damaged with age and corrosion than the negative. Maybe you're just missing another small break like you found on the NEG side?

Kind of an aside, and nothing to help with your issue, but when I use the typical store-bought "starter" cables with the eyelets at both ends, I like to put shrink tubing over the junction between the metal eye and the vinyl jacket. These things are really crimped well at the factory, but I just like to keep as much weather and battery acid out of them as possible. That way they just stay in nicer condition for the decades that you're likely to be using them.

Good luck. I'm just rambling here. Nothing that will guarantee to cure your stalling. Just help with the battery connections. There are a CRAP-ton (scientific term) of threads about stalling V8's. Some with very technical answers. If you haven't already, you might just sit down with a nice refreshing beverage and see what a few hours of searching/reading net you.


HandsOn 07-16-2013 11:50 AM

What yzjwk said!
I alluded to that, but really don't have any experience with it specifically. Sounds like the Throttle Position Sensor would be a good place to start.


peein77 07-16-2013 11:51 AM

Thanks for the reply, pardon my ignorance but what is 'wot' run?
I did notice it ran better a little better when I opened it up on a back road.
Also I noticed just a little bit of oil in my air filter. Pcv valve maybe needs cleaned?

Thanks again guys!

HandsOn 07-16-2013 11:53 AM

"WOT" is just what you did. Wide Open Throttle!

Always keep a clean PCV. Works wonders for how an engine runs.
Can't hurt to clean it. Or replace it if it's got more than 50k miles on it.


yzjwk 07-16-2013 12:02 PM

Ya , wide open throttle and i usually need to do at least 2-3 before she will start and run proper .

peein77 07-16-2013 12:15 PM

Ah gotcha!
Paul, I didn't see your reply before this one until now. Heading to work gonna read up on my lunch break. Meanwhile I'm gonna let 'er eat on the way to work!
Thanks all,

zjosh93 07-16-2013 12:24 PM

FWIW I used a marine terminal on my negative battery connection. When I bought her she had a cheap clamp on lead terminal that had seen better days and I was getting corrosion on both terminals. I used a brass marine terminal and made sure not to clamp it too tight, really easy to crank it down and cut into the lead. I found that the parts stores sell replacement strap type terminals for import cars that come with good eyelets for the cable. I crimped and soldered the ends on and bolted them to the marine terminal using a nut instead of the crappy wing nut it comes with. Did it on the car using a propane torch to solder. Been that way for four or five years, no problems and it cured my corrosion issues.

peein77 07-17-2013 04:46 PM

It seems to be be running a little better after a few 'wot' runs. Still not like it should tho. Does it usually gradually keep getting better or should I expect it to have already been good to go?

Thanks guys!

yzjwk 07-18-2013 11:31 AM

mine has always cleared up after a few wot runs and a few miles of normal driving . I guess you could wait for a day or 2 and see what happens . If it still wants to stall when comming to a stop or even if you just rev the engine, you could have a throttle position sensor that's gone bad . I've been through a few of them on the jeep and other vehicles , and it's been my experience that they do just fail sometimes . cheep part , easy to change .

peein77 07-18-2013 09:31 PM

Well it's not dying on me anymore which is good but it still stumbles at stops. Runs fine while accelerating and driving. But as soon as I let off the gas it will drop to 250 rpms and the voltage drops from 14 to 12. Also I'm getting a pretty drastic headlight flicker while starting the engine.
Still seems electrical albeit not as bad as before.
The wot did seem to help tho, so I got that going for me.

Appreciate your help guys!

peein77 07-22-2013 09:36 PM

Update: This thing is now running better than ever! The wot runs must have done it!

Thanks a ton guys,

The time now is 10:19 AM.

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