Dead Jeep - electrical issue - Alt / regulator / battery? -
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post #1 of 6 Old 09-24-2008, 09:18 AM Thread Starter
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1999 TJ Wrangler 
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Tolland, CT
Posts: 26
Dead Jeep - electrical issue - Alt / regulator / battery?


I was looking for some advise on where to start with fixing an issue I had with my 99 Jeep this morning. I was heading out this morning and drove a few miles when I noticed that the "Check Guages" light was on and the voltage meter was pegged out past 19 volts. The Jeep was running just fine. I had the radio on and that was working also. I drove about 1/2 mile and decided I would turn the key off and start it back up to see if the guage would reset. Dumb move.

AAA just towed the Jeep home. It is completely dead. Nothing happens when you turn the key, even the headlights won't come on.

I checked the big fuses under the hood and they are ok. I'm thinking it is the voltage regulator and/or the alternator. Also not sure how old the battery is but wouldn't think it would just die like that, especially since it just started the Jeep no problem a couple minutes prior. I looked quick and did not see any wires off or broken under the hood.

Any advise would be appreciated. Thanks.

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post #2 of 6 Old 09-24-2008, 10:00 AM
Jerry Bransford
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Location: Escondido, California
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First thing to do is to remove both connectors to the battery and clean them, then put them back on the battery and securely tighten them. That the volt meter spiked makes me think it's simply a bad connection to the battery. It could also be that your battery is toast with perhaps a shorted cell or two. So if cleaning and tightening the connectors doesn't do it, take the battery to a battery store and have it "load tested". Between those two, I'm betting you'll find the problem. Don't make the mistake of just looking at the battery connections and thinking they look ok, odds are they're not ok.

I doubt it's the alternator which is very (!) reliable. Heck mine has 175,000 miles on it now. The voltage regulator is separate and not on the alternator, it is located inside the PCM (engine computer) and it seems to never give problems.

When you have a choice, buy American made.
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post #3 of 6 Old 09-24-2008, 10:23 AM
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Hey well look at us.

Mine did the exact same thing today!!! It is now in my work parking lot sitting there as huge paper weight.

Did you have any other electrical problems mine was with the left turn signal as well but I thought I fixed it. I haven't put new battery wires in yet but I was meaning to after I replaced my battery after my last one fried mysteriously.

Check out this website and if you could try any of those methods that are mentioned on the website could you please let me know so I can fix mine?

OK, I will start by saying I have owned five generations of Jeeps. I just purchased my 5th as a matter of fact. It's a 1997 TJ Sport. My turn signals had the problems everyone her was describing. You can fix the problem yourself. I will explain step by step.

1. take the three screws out that hold the steering column trim together.

2. There are three t-25 screws that has to be taken out of the metal holding clamp.

3. unplug the wiring harness that goes into the back of the multi function switch (brights, turn signal and flasher)

4. pull it out and take the 4 screws out of the housing.

5. being very careful to take it apart as some pieces might fall out.

6. clean all the lithium grease off of the brass terminal and sand down all the contact points.

7. put it back together and test it out.

The problem is that the lithium grease Chrysler uses get very dirty and conducts electricity to more than one point inside and cause all kinds of crazy problems with the turn signals. The same problem with the connectors on the back of the Gauge cluster. They use lithium grease and when the moisture cause its to corrode and connections get messed up. I have figured out everything, but the horn. I can't get it to work. I have replaced the relay and everything else. Still no horn. Hopefully this helped you guys and good luck!

Try that as well.
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post #4 of 6 Old 09-24-2008, 07:24 PM Thread Starter
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Location: Tolland, CT
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Jerry - thanks for your insight. Although I have not had any time today to look much into the problem, I did manage to get the Jeep pushed into the garage and hooked up the battery charger to it. I just wanted to see if there was any life with the charger hooked up and yes, the headlights work and the starter tries to turn over the engine, just not enough juice out of the batt charger.

My guess at this point is that the battery fried. I bought the Jeep last year and have gone through most of it. The battery was one component that was on my list anyhow since I did not know how old it was. The weather in CT this week has been typical autumn weather (absolutely perfect!) where it is in the 40's in the early morning and warms to 60-70s with the sunshine by the afternoon. This is when I've had batteries that are pushing their limit fail, and this happened in the morning when it was cold. It would be nice if it is just a battery failure.

I'll replace the battery and post the results.

91mj97tj: As far as the turn signals acting up, that is funny you mentioned that. Just a few weeks ago I took the Jeep and my family to the beach and noticed that the left parking light was coming on, along with the dash blinker indicator when I stepped on the brake. I saw the reflection in the back of the car in front of me. Was a bit weird but I chalked it up to the turn signal stalk being stuck half way in the left signal on position. I can't imagine that has anything to do with a dead battery especially since the alternator is doing the work. Thanks for the info.

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post #5 of 6 Old 09-25-2008, 10:10 AM
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I fixed mine

my battery was brand new and I put a voltmeter up to it and it read 14 so I knew I was good. I replaced the terminals and also the negative cables. I took off the Positive and it has some sort of custom thing going on at the Starter. I cleaned it up and cut back a little on the positive cable and cleaned it up also the wire going to Alternator through the fuses I cleaned that up reterminated them with some easy add ons from Auto Zone. I hooked them up to some military style terminals and then cleaned it all up put new covering on everything and checked all of the wires. Started it up and it was fine. Good charge everything. I think that positive terminal was just giving me issues.

As far as the turn signal goes it only does it in wet weather. So I have noticed when I run the AC it gets worst it is really weird. Like the left light in the dash will just stay on. Even when I take it off. Also when I turn the left turn signal on and I have the lights on it will cause all of my lights in my dash to blink even the speedo! So I think I just need to check out the wiring and it might be that lithium grease that those crazy germans put on our jeeps around the electrical!

Good luck but I would replace all your terminals and reterminate everything. Clean it all up and put it back.
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post #6 of 6 Old 09-26-2008, 05:03 AM Thread Starter
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Replaced the battery, cleaned up terminals and all is well again....
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