ignition switch or starter relay/solenoid or starter gone south?
Just had a really odd thing happen. Went outside to start my 78 CJ-5(always starts better the next day if you start it today, even if you don't go anywhere, but let it run a while in the driveway) and tapped the acc twice, as usual to give it a little incentive, then turned the key. it turned over a few times, tried to catch, but didn't, so i gave it another tap and turned the key. same thing (ok, it's a little tempermental if i miss one of those in between days). waited about ten seconds. tried again. got a rapid clicking noise like they do when you are trying to start one with a battery that is almost dead and won't even turn the motor over slowly. I watched the volt meter go to 12 when i turned the key to run, then go to zero as the clicking occurred when i turned the key to start, then go back to 12 at run and zero at off. when i repeated the process, 12 @ run, zero @ start with no clicking, then zero at run. the lights work fine w/o being in run. tried it once more with the same result, then turn to run, the meter wouldn't get off zero. then came inside started this post, took about five minutes, went back out to verify everything, went to run, 12 volts, turned to start, an audible click as the meter plunged to zero, nothing. back to run, meter remained on zero. turned off. turned back to run, nothing (zero), start, nothing, turned off. forgot to add, nothing on the fuel gauge either, i can stick my hand under the dash and physicallyfeel the ignition actuator rod move when i turn the key switch, and also when i turn the key to run, the volt meter deflects about a RCH at best, guess it feels a little something. Another thing I noticed for the past few days when iI was looking at a signal light issue was that when you turned the key to the run position (needed current to check the blinker operation) and then switched back to off, you could 'feel' something 'unloading' when you made the switch, like the bendex was sliding back and disengaging the starter (tell me I'm not crazy.....). Best guess, or best way to trouble shoot? Ignition switch (bought and installed new switch from NAPA in may, 2008)? starter relay/solenoid? starter motor? I got a meter (now sure which part to test first), just wonder which part to one to eliminate from any of your experiences, if any. thanks!!
Last edited by jimdubose; 10-04-2010 at 04:05 PM..
Reason: left out gauge
few hours later, went out to try it again (just for grins), still nothing when you turn on the key, but now the lights will not come on. Battery still reads 12 volts on the meter with the probes on the posts. guess i could check the main ground, but that feels too easy. dark here now, daylight will bring lots of help from youse guys, huh?????
My 84 CJ7 had symptoms like that crop up out of the blue. Worse yet, it would also cut out while driving down the road. Finally pegged it down as the ignition switch (bottom of steering shaft, NOT the key switch) was the culprit. Just ... gave up the ghost afte 26 years (what's up with THAT!!??). (I WAS able to jumper start it, and use a jumper to limp home). The tell-tale was the fact that when it cut out, the Volt meter would suddenly drop to 0 volts - sometimes it would jump back up, and I could let the clutch back out & it would kick start again, but-not for long.
i replaced the ignition switch with a new one from NAPA in 2008 when I had to rebuild my column, and i thought that might also be the problem here, but when now, I show 12 volts at the battery with my meter and now i get nothing from the lights, which are not wired through the ignition switch, but are a direct wire from the battery. still going to look at the switch in the morning, but i feel like now there is a major ground issue or short. weird that it was progressive the way things started going south on me, spreading like poison ivy, still, thanks for your input, man, I am as perplexed as ever with this thing. everything dead as can be dead, but the battery still reads 12 volts at the posts. you'd think the lights would at least come on, even dimly, gotta be the neg ground, right?????
i am beginning to suspect the battery may be the culprit although i have never experienced one of them behaving that way. I purchased this ole puddle jumper in feb of 08 and being not sure of how great the expenses were going to be, i went the local wal mart and purchased a one year battery for it. after i went through the exxperiences of learning how the ignition switch positions actually were (i thought all the way forward was start and one click back run before i saw how the actuator rod pulls the switch backward when you turn your key so i was leaving the thing on all night and sometimes longer and couldn't find the batterey drain, only after i tore apart the column did i figure this out) and having the thing drain the battery several times, i wound up taking the battery back to Walmart a month before the warranty ended and swapped it for a new one in Jan 09, and it being another one year and and almost two now, i figure, mebby it's what is going south on me. this morning i went back outside, turned on the lights and they illuminated, then put the key to run and had voltage and the fuel gauge responded, haven't tried to crank it (was going to look at the connections when i went out there, and still am), but that's next, giving it a try, and jumping it if it will with my pick up and then carrying the battery to autozone to have them test it. i will respond whence i know. thanks
later today, have ruled out the battery, mostly, pushed the CJ to the end of the drive close enough to jumper it with my pickup, which I did, tried it several times with the jumper cables hooked up, the truck running, the truck never lugged down when i connected it like it does when you connect to a dead battery and it pulls from the good one, nor when i tried to start it, like it would if it was turning over the other vehicle's starter, but the jeep behaved the same way, put the key in run, gauges come alive, shows 12 volts, move the key to start, slight click, everything falls off to zero, gauges wuit, lights won't come on, try it again, nothing in run or start. let it sit fifteen minutes, goes back to lighting the gauges in run, and then repeating the same behavior. so i left it for a few hours, moved the truck, then took off the cables, cleaned up the connections (although they did not need it in my opinion, i have seen much much worse that will still deliver current like they're brand new, but it couldn't hurt, right?). no change, other than a stronger click before everything went to zero. anyone out there give me a hint? I feel like I am writing this post to myself. i tried bypassing the starter relay/solenoid mounted on the fender wall by the battery to no avail. looking on the internet for ways to test that relay and the starter. Still thinking about the ignition switch failing also. what i don't quite get is why the voltage comes back to the gauges, yet it will not turn over. i still get 12 on the meter across the battery posts. Any ideas? what and how to test the cirsuit or the affected parts without simply swapping them out? thanks again......
It really sounds like your battery to me.. Maybe try switching batteries with your truck. Cables go bad, if you haven't changed them, I would swap in new ones. If that doesn't work, it could be a bad ground. Battery to engine, engine to frame and battery to firewall.
yeah, i have also been thinking along those lines, don't understand everything I know about batteries, it shows 12 volts on the meter, like i mentioned, but what baffles me is why when you try to start the thing, everything goes to absolutely nothing, and then comes back after is sits a few minutes. also, if the battery is bad, how come when i jumped it with the pick-up, it didn't pull down the truck battery and try to charge? also why didn't it even try to start the motor when i turned the key, you know, do something, try to gring the old starter motor, turning it even a smidgen? I am heading to walmart (rather take a beating), and there is an autozone across the road, I guess i outta pull the battery outta the CJ and carry it over there and let them test it. I thought about picking a cable and replacing the one between the battery pos and the starter solenoid/relay, as well as the ground from the neg to the motor. But I am hoping to find the right thing to eliminate by testing for free rather than by going through some parts house cash register. But thanks for your answer (BTW, I gradumawated from LSU in 88 and think friggin Nick Saban outta have his head examined for working in Touscaloosa instead of coaching Saturday nights in Death Valley). think I'll go pull the battery and get back to you. anybody else, feel free to join in!!!!
What you are describing sounds like a dead battery. When they check it, make sure they load test it. My battery reads like 13 across the terminals.
(I miss Nick, Les is an idiot! I was there from 92-98)
Also the selinoid is cheap and easy to replace but you should be able to jump it with a screwdriver to test it.
I agree with LSU that battery should be load tested. if you are reading 12.0v on your battery that would not be good enough to test. A properly charged battery should read 12.65 volts thats 100% charged. The minimum for testing should be at 12.45volts. Thats considered 75% charged but enough to do a load test. If its plain 12.0 volts, it would fail the load test. Charge it with your cables off for a few hours. Hook your cables back up and turn your headlights on for about 15 to 30 seconds. This takes the surface charge off of it. Take the cables back off then test it with your meter and read exactly what you have.
If your between 12.45v and 12.65 v take the battery out and have it load tested. They will load it at half the CCA of your battery. The voltmeter should not fall below 9.6v after loading it for 15 seconds.
If it passes, then voltage drop tests can isolate the problem.
took the battery to autozone last night and had them test it, put a load on it and there appears to be nothing wrong it, it tested good. I have tried to jump across the starter solenoid switch, but am not sure i am doing that exactly right (even though I had no trouble jumping off my ford pickup with a screw driver outside JC Penny's in the parking lot one disasterouos afternoon because, I suppose, those two posts are oriented so that you can easily get a screw driver between them), have even taken jumper cables and gone from the post on the side with the main cable from the battery to the opposite side and the cable going directly to the starter, thinking that should spin the starter and turn over the motor at least, and nothing (unless I did that procedure wrong, or had a really crappy set of cables). the switch is ten bucks at Napa, and now my plan is to put the battery back in the jeep and try to jump the solenoid switch a little more rigorously (don't trust the load going through those old jumper cables very much, need to figger out a better contact solution with what i have in my tool box), and autozone said if I bring the starter itself up there, they'll test it like they did the battery. tackling the solenoid switch is a less innoculous task to remove and replace and is only ten bucks, but i hate to utilize part swapping as a diagnostic method. does anyone know what the resistance readings should be across the posts (of possible) or another way to test and rule out that switch (or any other part in this line, like the starter, as opposed to crawling under the vehicle with a pair or wrenches and loading up the thing in the pickup and hauling it to a parts house) other than the direction I am heading. What I can't wrap my head around is how the voltage disappears and even the lights won't come on (which seems like something is happening close to the battery either positive or ground side), but then returns on the meter (on the dash) like a fusible link gives up, and then some how repairs itself and restablishes the connection. Any electrical gurus out there got any advice??????
i put the battery back in the jeep and hooked up the neg cable, and for some reason disconnected the heavy wire/cable leading from the downstream side of the starter solenoid switch to the starter and touched it to the pos post before i reinstalled the wire/cable leading to the starter solenoid switch to see if i could rule out the starter and attempt to isolate the switch and see if it was the culprit. of course, nothing happened other than minor sparking at the post and the ring connector which seemed to eat a little away at the post (i was rubbing the ring connector across the top of the post to attempt to make contact, hence the resultant blue sparking), and mebby some corrosion or rust i didn't notice on the ring connector(?) because after nothing occurred, i put everything back together and decided to come back here and check for any responses, and just for grins, put the key into the ignition and turned and it fired right up like nothing had happened. cut it off and repeated the process four more times and it works like it always has.
anyone have any idead? I would like to prevent a repeat of it in the future. I recall hearing about starters having dead spots and don't know if that is fact or fiction, so i am googling that phenomenon. anyone care to wade in on this for me? thanks......
Yep.....that has happened to me. Not just on jeeps. As long as you can verify voltage going to the s terminal of the solenoid. Have someone get in the jeep and while trying to "crank it" take a test light or volt meter to the S terminal of the solenoid, if your getting a light then the starter is the culprit. Your light should go off when someone lets off of the crank position.
The starter wont get any better in this situation, it may happen to you today again, or next week or next month. But yes I have seen this before quite a bit.