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AlexThePhotoGuy 02-20-2013 10:43 AM

Hard starting on newly purchased 1985 CJ7
Hey all! Long time listener, first time caller.

I just bought my first jeep on Sunday and I'm super pumped about it.

The good:

-Very very little rust,
-Brand new 33" tires,
-Runs well overall,
-Just got the rear main seal replaced to stop an oil leak.
-the only real thing it may NEED is a new radiator to fix the small leak and rusty fluid in it now (I'm confident it'll be an easy fix)

The "challenging": The prior owner had it for 12 years and only really changed the tires and the oil. Everything else is pretty much untouched from when he got it since it was a weekend driver.

I plan to start updating/maintaining/upgrading it over the next year starting off with helping it run better. I'll leave the skyjacker lift etc. for next year. :D

My question to the forum: Day 3, it had a tough time starting up. The prior owner put a new battery in it before selling, but I can tell it was a "gimme the cheapest thing you got" deal. The starter was turning (at a medium pace- not sluggish, but not quick like my '05 Mazda), but the engine wasn't turning over. The only way I got it to start was by flooring it. Once it started, it was fine. It was a cold day, but I don't want that to be an excuse- I want this puppy to run like a TANK!

I'm generally handy with things, but not very good at complex electrical or major stuff (requiring a shop lift). What items and in what order would you recommend me concentrating on first to get it to run better/start easier, assuming everything is at least 12 years old.

Spark plugs/wires? Better battery? Distributor? Other?

I'm on a budget, so please don't say new engine... Thanks guys!!!

AlexThePhotoGuy 02-20-2013 10:53 AM

3 Attachment(s)
Wanted to add some pix for ya'll. :)

Valkyrie0002 02-20-2013 10:58 AM

My 83 was real hard to start 2 yrs ago when the weather turned colder and it happened again this fall. Check for loose manifold bolts. A few of mine were very loose. After tightening them it started right up. The Heat/ Cool cycles cause the bolts to back out.

wblackm 02-20-2013 02:24 PM

I just went through this same thing on an '85

On a 12 year old starter(at least), I would start with the starter. I had mine checked a couple months ago at Auto Zone and Advanced auto, they told me it was working properly.

Long story short, I replaced all the wires in the charging system, searched for bad grounds, I knew I had a new battery, Nothing fixed it, so I finally decided to just get it over with. What do you know, it starts up like a champ now. A reman starter is $65 dollars with the core at advanced auto. If it is the original starter or a very old one, it is going to go out eventually anyways. That's just my 2 cents. The cost would not be wasted even if it turns out to not be the issue.

Matt1981CJ7 02-20-2013 03:16 PM

The proper way to cold start is to floor the pedal once, maybe twice. This sets the choke. Then turn the key with no throttle help.

Once the engine is warm, tapping the throttle should disengage the choke.

It sounds like you stumbled upon how to use your choke....:D


jranger35 02-20-2013 03:41 PM

Nice Jeep and welcome! If it were mine, I'd change everything related to the ignition system and the starter, too. If it hasn't been done in 12+ years, it needs to be addressed. If you don't change the ECU or have a spare on you, you will get stranded eventually. You probably have a combination of weak spark (plugs, wires, coil), timing being off and a worn starter that's trying to get the worn-out ignition system to catch fire. That's also assuming that nothing is wrong with your fuel delivery, which is most likely a poor assumption given the age of the CJ. But I would start with spark since you indicate that your CJ does run once it catches, so you know it's getting fuel, might not just be adequate due to dirty fuel filters, clogged and corroded fuel lines, etc. Do some research on the nutter bypass, you might want to go that route if you do proceed on replacing the ignition components. If you do that, you won't have the ECU any longer but you'll need to keep an extra ignition module for the HEI on you or once again, it will be a matter of time before you get stranded. Not trying to sound alarmist, but I've been stuck twice now becuase of an ignition module going bad and not having a spare.

A jeep starter will never be as quick as one that you'd find in a Mazda I don't think. I had a Honda Civic that went nuts when you turned the key, and then I'd get in the CJ and wonder if my starter was failing becuase it was slower and much more deliberate in its efforts to get the engine to crank. Anything wrong? Nope, just different motors/gears/load.

Going back to your post, you mention "The only way I got it to start was by flooring it." On a carbureted engine, you have to give it gas (i.e. floor it) to prime the engine and get a steady stream of fuel to the carb to be mixed with air for combustion. You can crank until your blue in the face, but if you don't give it gas (and the engine is cold), fuel will never get to the carb and there is nothing to combust in the cylinders. Sometimes when the engine is hot you can turn the key and it fires right up due to the fuel being proximately close to the carb already. Just saying that becuase I don't know if you have any experience with Carbureted engines.

AlexThePhotoGuy 02-22-2013 10:35 AM

Thanks guys! When I mentioned flooring it, I meant I have to floor it while turning the key. I initially tried pressing the pedal one to three times before turning the key (like my Dad's 78 Ford F100), but the only way to get it to crank half the time is to floor it while turning the key. Any suggestions with that clarity?

I changed the fuel filter and flexible hoses (and made sure the filter was oriented properly with the return line in the 12 o'clock position) and it's still doing the same thing. I plan to change the spark plugs and wires. Never done a starter- I can't imagine it's too difficult.

I researched a little on the nutter bypass. It looks like it makes a lot of the engine much simpler, but I'm not sure if I'm skilled enough to try that just yet. I understand much of the engine, but the wiring/electrical still confuses me.

jranger35 02-22-2013 10:58 AM

"Thanks guys! When I mentioned flooring it, I meant I have to floor it while turning the key"

I have to do the same thing to get my 258 to start and I have all new ignition components. If everything in your fuel delivery is optimal, you might be able to get away with setting the choke and not having to pump as Matt indicated, but given the age of your setup, components are dirty and parts are worn, so you have to force-feed the gas into the carb/intake/cylinders to get it to fire. Maybe somebody else will have suggestions to remedy not having to pump the gas while turning the engine over, but it's never fazed me, that's how you get carbed Jeeps to start in my experience.

bligon64 02-22-2013 11:07 AM

I would try checking how clean your carb is. It sounds very similar to what my jeep was doing, but cleaning it did the trick at least till it got dirty again.

jranger35 02-22-2013 11:30 AM

And don't doubt yourself of the nutter bypass or other mods you can't do YET, you have to start learning somewhere if you want to get better with your mechanical skills. Everybody on this forum started out not knowing squat about nothing...

AlexThePhotoGuy 02-22-2013 11:41 AM

Thanks guys. Yeah- the nutter bypass looks like something I may be able to do next year. I want to understand the pros and cons of it first in addition to what I would be doing. I also forgot to say that when changing the fuel filter yesterday, I see the previous owner must have taken out the PCV value that runs to the air filter (back of the engine)- it was just an open hole blowing oil all over the wires. I got a new PCV and plugged it in, but like the one on the front it doesn't fit in very tightly.

Since it looks like the solenoid is newer (may be the only thing he replaced in addition to the battery and the oil), I think I'll do these in the next week or two:

-New starter
-New Plugs/wires
-clean carb
-check for loose manifold bolts (as a side note, it looks like I may be missing a big vacuum hose out of the manifold? It's hard to tell, but it looks like there's just an open hole coming off the manifold?)

Down the road I'll replace the valve cover and gasket, rebuild the carb, maybe replace the distributor, and a few other items. Any tips or thoughts would be great! Otherwise I'll keep you posted!

AlexThePhotoGuy 03-03-2013 08:08 PM

Update- Replaced the radiator, thermostat, and starter this weekend. Aside from a freakout moment:

All went well. Thanks guys!

jranger35 03-04-2013 09:08 AM

Good deal! What's the take on the replacement starter? Much better or about the same?

jranger35 03-04-2013 09:55 AM

And check out this thread, it's got a pic of the tubing that's missing from your OEM air cleaner setup:

AlexThePhotoGuy 03-04-2013 11:55 AM

The new starter is GREAT. Starts up very easily.

The time now is 05:09 AM.

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